Virtual HIV Interfaith Conference
Resilience and Renewal: faith in the HIV response
Biographies of Speakers & Presenters (in order of APPEARANCE)
REV. AQUARIUS GILMER
Rev. Aquarius Gilmer, is the Associate Director of Corporate Alliance and Policy at Gilead Sciences. In this role, Aquarius works to build the internal and external partnerships that advance unfettered access to comprehensive treatment and care for people living with HIV, Hepatitis, Inflammation and Cancer. Prior to joining Gilead, Aquarius served as the Director of Government Affairs and Advocacy at the Southern AIDS Coalition. While at SAC, Rev. Aquarius advanced equitable public policies with an intersectional lens in state chambers and throughout Congress. He hosted Congressional Briefings, Field Hearings and Congressional Roundtables throughout the South concerning the impact of health disparities in Black, Latino and Indegious populations with both Republican and Democratic elected officials. Aquarius' passion for public health began as an undergraduate student at Tuskegee University where he graduated with a B.S. in Political Science and Bioethics. Upon graduating from Tuskegee University, Aquarius attended Candler School of Theology at Emory University where he concentrated in Religion, Health and Science. During his matriculation at Candler, Aquarius' passion with public health melded with faith while studying the faith and actions of Social Gospel theologians. While attending Candler Aquarius lived in Mozambique. While in Mozambique Rev. Gilmer worked with national and international development corporations to assess home-based care and micro-finance loans for women living with HIV. Upon returning from Mozambique, Aquarius served as a Chaplain at Grady Memorial Hospital and on various public health and community advisory boards. He is known for his expansive and bold partnership development within the governmental, community development, public health and faith sectors. In 2016 Aquarius was ordained by Pastor Michael A. Walrond Jr., and in the community of the First Corinthian Baptist Church in Harlem-NYC. Aquarius is a ferocious reader, world traveler and aspiring chef.
ARCHBISHOP EVSTRATIY ZORYA
Deputy Head of the Office in the Department of External Church Relations, Orthodox Church, Ukraine
SHEIKH YUSUF NASUR ABUHAMZA
RABBI BURTON L. VISOTZKY
BA, University of Illinois; EdM, Harvard University; MA, Rabbinical Ordination, PhD, and DHL (hon.), The Jewish Theological Seminary; Life Member, Clare Hall, University of Cambridge
Rabbi Burton L. Visotzky serves as Appleman Professor of Midrash and Interreligious Studies at The Jewish Theological Seminary; he joined the faculty upon his ordination in 1977. Visotzky is a former dean of the Gershon Kekst Graduate School and founding rabbi of the egalitarian Women’s League Seminary Synagogue. He serves as the Louis Stein Director of the Finkelstein Institute for Religious and Social Studies at JTS, programming on public policy. Visotzky also directs JTS’s Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue.
Rabbi Visotzky holds an EdM from Harvard University, and has been visiting faculty at Oxford, Cambridge, Princeton, and the Russian State University of the Humanities in Moscow. He has served as Master Visiting Professor of Jewish Studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, where he met Pope Benedict in 2007. In 2014, Visotzky served as Distinguished Visiting Professor in Rome at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (the Angelicum), where he met Pope Francis. He has been adjunct faculty at Union Theological Seminary since 1980.
Rabbi Visotzky has published in the United States, Europe, and Israel. He is the author of 10 books and over 120 articles, and co-editor of four other books. His book Aphrodite and the Rabbis: How the Jews Adapted Roman Culture to Create Judaism as We Know It was published in 2016. Dr. Visotzky recently served as co-editor of The Changing Face of the American Jewish Family (JTS Press, 2018). He is currently co-editing a three-volume compendium, Judaism: I. History, II. Literature, III. Culture, to be published in 2019–20 by Kohlhammer in Stuttgart, Germany, as part of the distinguished series the Religions of Humanity.
Rabbi Visotzky served on the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Committee on Ethics, Religion, and the Holocaust. He was a founding member of the Roundtable of Religious and Faith Based Organization Leaders, advising then–World Bank President Jim Yong Kim. He was national co-chair of Rabbis for Obama 2012 and served on the executive committees of CancerCare and Kent Affordable Housing. Visotzky is a member of the J-Street advisory board.
Rabbi Visotzky currently serves on the steering committee of the “Plan of Action for Religious Leaders and Actors to Prevent Incitement to Violence That Could Lead to Atrocity Crimes” for the UN Under-Secretary General for Genocide Prevention. He also serves on the United Nations Inter-Agency Task-Force’s Multi-Faith Advisory Council. Visotzky is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Rabbi Visotzky participates in interreligious engagement in places as diverse as Washington, Jerusalem, Warsaw, Rome, Vienna, Madrid, Cairo, Doha, Muskat, Marrakech, and Abu Dhabi. He was the winner of the 2012 Goldziher Prize, awarded by Merrimack College for work in Jewish-Muslim relations. In 2017, Rabbi Visotzky joined the board of governors of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations, the official body representing the Jewish people to the Vatican, World Council of Churches, and other international religious denominations.
Rabbi Visotzky is active as a lecturer and scholar-in-residence throughout North and South America, Europe, and Israel. He has been featured on radio, television, and in print. In 1995 and 1996, he collaborated with Bill Moyers on the 10-part PBS series Genesis: A Living Conversation. He consulted DreamWorks on their 1998 film Prince of Egypt. In 2012, Visotzky worked with Christiane Amanpour on her four-hour mini-series Back to the Beginning.
Rabbi Visotzky has been named to the “Forward 50” and repeatedly to the Newsweek / Daily Beast list of “The 50 Most Influential Rabbis in America.” He and his wife, attorney Sandra Edelman, live in New York City and Kent, Connecticut.
Winnie Byanyima is the Executive Director of UNAIDS and an Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations. A passionate and longstanding champion of social justice and gender equality, Ms Byanyima leads the United Nations’ efforts to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030. Ms Byanyima believes that health care is a human right and was an early champion of a People’s Vaccine against the coronavirus that is available and free of charge to everyone, everywhere.
Before joining UNAIDS, Ms Byanyima served as the Executive Director of Oxfam International, a confederation of 20 civil society organizations working in more than 90 countries worldwide, empowering people to create a future that is secure, just and free from poverty.
Ms Byanyima was elected for three terms and served 11 years in the parliament of her country, Uganda. She led Uganda’s first parliamentary women’s caucus, championing ground-breaking gender equality provisions in the county’s 1995 post-conflict constitution.
Ms Byanyima led the establishment of the African Union Commission’s Directorate of Gender and Development and also served as Director of Gender and Development at the United Nations Development Programme. She founded the Forum for Women in Democracy, an influential Ugandan nongovernmental organization, and has been deeply involved in building global and African coalitions on social justice issues. A global leader on inequality, Ms Byanyima has co-chaired the World Economic Forum and served on the World Bank’s Advisory Council on Gender and Development, the International Labour Organization’s Global Commission on the Future of Work and the Global Commission on Adaptation.
Ms Byanyima is a recipient of several awards, including an honorary doctorate from the University of Manchester, United Kingdom, an honorary doctorate from Mount Saint Vincent University, Canada, and the 2018 Human Rights and Solidarity among Peoples Prize, awarded by the Latin American Council of Social Sciences.
She holds a master of science degree in mechanical engineering from Cranfield University and an undergraduate degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Manchester.
Ms Byanyima is married and has one son. She loves birds, gardening and hiking. Ms Byanyima has seven given names, one of which is Kyegiragire, which means “I can make myself whatever I want to be”. Ms Byanyima says this has shaped her attitude to life!
AMBASSADOR DEBORAH BIRX
U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator & U.S Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy, PEPFAR
The White House has appointed world-renowned global health official and physician Ambassador Deborah Birx to the Office of the Vice President to aid in the whole of government response to COVID-19 as the Coronavirus Response Coordinator.
Ambassador-at-Large, Deborah L. Birx, M.D., is the Coordinator of the United States Government Activities to Combat HIV/AIDS and U.S. Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy. Ambassador Birx is a world-renowned medical expert and leader in the field of HIV/AIDS. Her three-decade-long career has focused on HIV/AIDS immunology, vaccine research, and global health. As the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, Ambassador Birx oversees the implementation of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the largest commitment by any nation to combat a single disease in history, as well as all U.S. Government engagement with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Serving as the U.S. Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy, she aligns the U.S. Government’s diplomacy with foreign assistance programs that address global health challenges and accelerate progress toward: achieving an AIDS-free generation; ending preventable child and maternal deaths; and preventing, detecting, and responding to infectious disease threats.
In 1985, Ambassador Birx began her career with the Department of Defense (DoD) as a military-trained clinician in immunology, focusing on HIV/AIDS vaccine research. From 1985-1989, she served as an Assistant Chief of the Hospital Immunology Service at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Through her professionalism and leadership in the field, she progressed to serve as the Director of the U.S. Military HIV Research Program (USMHRP) at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research from 1996-2005. Ambassador Birx helped lead one of the most influential HIV vaccine trials in history (known as RV 144 or the Thai trial), which provided the first supporting evidence of any vaccine’s potential effectiveness in preventing HIV infection. During this time, she also rose to the rank of Colonel, bringing together the Navy, Army, and Air Force in a new model of cooperation – increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of the U.S. Military’s HIV/AIDS efforts through inter- and intra-agency collaboration. Then known as Colonel Birx, she was awarded two prestigious U.S. Meritorious Service Medals and the Legion of Merit Award for her groundbreaking research, leadership, and management skills during her tenure at DOD.
From 2005-2014, Ambassador Birx served successfully as the Director of CDC’s Division of Global HIV/AIDS (DGHA), which is part of the agency’s Center for Global Health. As DGHA Director, she utilized her leadership ability, superior technical skills, and infectious passion to achieve tremendous public health impact. She successfully led the implementation of CDC’s PEPFAR programs around the world and managed an annual budget of more than $1.5 billion. Ambassador Birx was responsible for all of the agency’s global HIV/AIDS activities, including providing oversight to more than 400 staff at headquarters, over 1,500 staff in the field, and more than 45 country and regional offices in Africa, Asia, Caribbean, and Latin America. Recognized for her distinguished and dedicated commitment to building local capacity and strengthening quality laboratory health services and systems in Africa, in 2011, Ambassador Birx received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the African Society for Laboratory Medicine. In 2014, CDC honored her leadership in advancing the agency’s HIV/AIDS response with the highly prestigious William C. Watson, Jr. Medal of Excellence.
Ambassador Birx has published over 220 manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals, authored nearly a dozen chapters in scientific publications, as well as developed and patented vaccines. She received her medical degree from the Hershey School of Medicine, Pennsylvania State University, and beginning in 1980 she trained in internal medicine and basic and clinical immunology at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the National Institutes of Health. Ambassador Birx is board certified in internal medicine, allergy and immunology, and diagnostic and clinical laboratory immunology.
JESSE MILAN JR
Jesse Milan, Jr., a tireless community advocate and nationally recognized expert on HIV/AIDS policies and programs, joined AIDS United in June 2016 as interim president and CEO and assumed the permanent position on November 28, 2016.
A person living with HIV for over three decades, Milan is a recognized leader in the HIV community. He brings 30-years of experience in executive roles in the public and private sectors and has directed multi-million dollar budgets and staff for federal, state, local and global public health agencies. Notably, beginning in 2002 he served a five-year appointment as co-chair of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)/Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Advisory Committee on HIV and STD Prevention and Treatment (CHAC) and in 2007 was designated a Fulbright Senior Specialist in Global HIV/AIDS.
Most recently, Milan has been working as both a leadership development consultant with the Dorrier Underwood firm, and as a subject matter expert consultant for clients including the CDC, NMAC, HRSA and the Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy, within the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health. Further, he currently serves as Chair Emeritus on the Black AIDS Institute board of directors, on the Scientific Advisory Board for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and on the Dean’s Advisory Council for the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.
A lawyer by background, Milan has received numerous honors including the 2015 Public Service Award from the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care (ANAC) and was awarded the HRSA’s HIV/AIDS Bureau Administrator’s Award for his leadership in the global fight against HIV.
He has addressed millions on television and radio, has given hundreds of presentations and workshops, and represented the U.S. State Department on three international speaking tours to seven African nations. He has been an inspiring keynote speaker at national and regional conferences and events including at the White House.
“I love working with people and groups devoted to changing the trajectory of HIV/AIDS,” said Milan. “I have admired AIDS United since its founding and believe in the pivotal role it plays in our nation’s response to the HIV epidemic.”
NSOFWA PETRONELLA SAMPA
Nsofwa Petronella Sampa, a truly RESILIENT young woman from Zambia, inspires to recommit to a holistic and comprehensive response to HIV that acknowledges the innate dignity of every human person.
Sampa lost her sight because of TB, meningitis compounded with HIV and medication defaulting. She is an HIV activist and clinical psychological counselor. Sampa is now working with young people living with HIV and disability, and she never misses to advocate for the value and importance of treatment adherence and retention. She is currently running Positive Movement, which aims at creating an inclusive society for all.
Sampa is a recipient of the PEPFAR Champions Award and a 2017 Mandela Washington Fellowship.
Don’t miss her Talk on Living Life Beyond Disability
THE MOST REVEREND DR THABO MAKGOBA
Archbishop of Cape Town, Anglican Church of Southern Africa, South Africa
PUJYA SADHVI BHAGAWATI SARASWATI JI
Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, PhD is a renowned spiritual leader in India. She is President of Divine Shakti Foundation, a charitable organization bringing education and empowerment to women and children.
She is Secretary-General of Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, launched by UNICEF, the first alliance of religious leaders for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene. Sadhviji is also Director of the world-famous International Yoga Festival. Originally from Los Angeles, and a graduate of Stanford University, Sadhviji has lived at Parmarth Niketan, Rishikesh in the Himalayas for 24 years, where she gives spiritual discourses, satsang and meditation, and leads myriad humanitarian programs.
DR A.K. MERCHANT
Dr. A. K. Merchant is a National Trustee, The Lotus Temple & Bahá’í Community of India; General Secretary of Temple of Understanding India Foundation; National Trustee, Sarvodaya International Trust; Associate Secretary, Global Warming Reduction Centre; Secretary, Parkash Foundation; Life Trustee, Shanti Sahyog Centre for Peace & Conflict Resolution; Member, India International Centre; Visiting Faculty, Centre for Cultural Resources & Training, Ministry of Culture, Government of India. A subject expert for research scholars enrolled for “interfaith education and Indian culture” of the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund; Honorary Director, Messrs. MK Aromatics Limited, Chennai.
VENERABLE HALYALE WIMALARATHANA THERO
Venerable Halyale Wimalarathana, is a Sri Lankan Buddhist monk in ordained in 1977 and completed his monastic education 1987. Following his University education in B.A, M.A. & Diploma, he has served as a monastery Teacher for the last 21 years. He is also actively engaged in various interfaith fora and takes up leadership roles in peacebuilding activities. From 2010, he heads the International Buddhist Foundation, in Geneva. He also serves as a Director of a Welfare project (MDM foundation) in Sri Lanka. He is proficient in Sinhala, English, French, German.
RABBI JOSHUA LESSER
Joshua Lesser proudly serves as the Senior Rabbi at a progressive and creative synagogue Congregation Bet Haverim for over 20 years. He currently serves on the board of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association and is the Chair of the City of Atlanta’s Human Relations Commission. He has been a committed advocate for racial justice working on issues of mass incarceration, bail reform and challenging systems of white supremacy. He is the rabbinic editor of Torah Queeries, a Weekly Bible Commentary and the founder of the Southern Jewish Resources Network for Gender and Sexual Diversity. During seminary, he was an active member of ActUp and an HiV sex educator; he remains committed to advocating for heath care equity.
Technical Officer, High Impact Events Preparedness, Global Infectious Hazards Preparedness, Emergency Preparedness, WHO EPI WIN
Shannon Hader joined UNAIDS in March 2019 as the Deputy Executive Director, Programme, and Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations. She leads UNAIDS’ efforts in promoting an expanded and integrated United Nations system response to HIV at the country, regional and global levels, providing the strategic direction, advocacy, coordination and technical support needed to catalyse and connect leadership from governments and communities to deliver life-saving HIV services.
A public health physician, her career has reached across research, programme, policy and politics. Dr Hader holds a degree in biological sciences from Stanford University and doctor of medicine and master of public health degrees from Columbia University. She is board certified in internal medicine, paediatrics and infectious diseases.
In 2014, Dr Hader was appointed Director of the Division of Global HIV and Tuberculosis, United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), providing technical leadership, funding, evaluation and programme support to help to achieve an AIDS-free generation worldwide.
Prior to that position, Dr Hader served as Vice-President and Director for the Center for Health Systems and Solutions at the Futures Group (now Palladium). She also held the position of Senior Deputy Director, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD and TB Administration, for the District of Columbia, United States of America, from 2007 to 2010 and served as Director of CDC–Zimbabwe from 2003 to 2006.
Dr Hader brings to the position more than 20 years of international experience in global health, from responding to HIV and infectious diseases to strengthening health systems. She has served in key health leadership roles, emphasizing accountability, scale and impact for sustainable responses.
MD FRACP, Senior Technical Advisor HIV Care and Treatment, PEPFAR, Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator, Department of State PEPFAR Technical Guidance in Context of COVID-19 Pandemic
NANTONGO JOSEPHINE MUGUME
Nantongo Josephine Mugume, from Uganda, holds a Master of Medicine in Paediatrics and child health. She specializes in Paediatric patient’s clinical care, teaching medical students and coordinating HIV, Malnutrition and Paediatric Tuberculosis programmes. She has held several positions in hospital paediatrics and infectious control in Uganda (Kisiizi and Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital) and is currently the HIV Coordinator & Paediatrician at Kisiizi Hospital. Nantongo Josephine Mugume is part of the Uganda Paediatric association and the Uganda medical association.
Phumzile Mndzebele is an HTS advisor for PEPFAR Eswatini. She holds a master’s degree in Public health and has extensive experience in HIV programming. She is the Faith and Community Initiative (FCI) focal person for CDC Eswatini and a member of the FCI Technical Working Group (TWG)
Program Manager for Community Engagement at the Center for AIDS Research, University of Alabama Birmingham
REV. KIMBERLY JACKSON
Episcopal priest and co-facilitator Sacred Voices: Black Gay Men’s Religious and Spiritual Perspectives, Emory University
Director of the Campaign to End AIDS and co-facilitator of Sacred Voices
REV. CHRISTO GREYLING
Rev Christo Greyling is serving as the Senior Director for Faith – Advocacy and External Engagement in World Vision International. World Vision is a global Christian relief, development and advocacy organisation dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation.
He works passionately towards building strategic partnerships for greater scale and sustained impact towards child wellbeing and achieving the sustainable development goals. He was co-responsible for the development of the Channels of Hope methodology which catalyses faith leaders to respond to difficult development issues such as child protection, maternal and child health, HIV and gender. This methodology has catalysed over 400,000 faith leaders in 48 countries
Rev Greyling is a Dutch Reformed reverend with a Masters in Public Health. He serves on multiple boards and reference groups of international NGOs and networks. Christo is a South African, living with his wife and two daughters in Hilversum in the Netherlands.
Founder and Chief Executive of Rozaria Memorial Trust and African Union Goodwill Ambassador on Ending Child Marriage, former General Secretary World YWCA
NUKSHINARO AO (NARO)
Nukshinaro Ao (Naro), from Nagaland, India, is a woman living with HIV and also a drug user. She started her journey in the field of drugs and HIV in 2005 under churches Alliance for Community Support, Eleuthorus Christian Society by engaging in outreach activities and providing counseling to both people who use drugs and PLHIV community in her hometown. Thereafter worked with Nagaland State AIDS Control Society, Govt. of Nagaland 2008- 2012 as GIPA coordinator. Later joined the Asia Pacific Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (APN+) in the capacity of Women Coordinator. As a woman living with HIV advocate and a drug user activist, she has represented women who use drugs from Asia in various national and regional platforms highlighting the specific issues faced by women who use drugs in the region and advocated on issues that affects their lives.
She had served two terms in the Executive Board of the Asian Network of People Who use Drugs as the Women Rep (2015-2017 and 2017-2019) and is currently the Vice President of Nagaland Users Network, Nagaland India.
Waheedah Shabazz-EL is a retired US Postal Worker, Community Organizer/Trainer, Faith & HIV Consultant- diagnosed with AIDS in 2003. Waheedah is a founding member of Positive Women's Network-USA, Interim Program Director of The Reunion Project. She is a member of Muslims for Progressive Values, El-Tawhid Jumma Circle Unity Mosque in Canada, Positively Muslims South Africa and RAHMA in the US. She serves as U=U steering committee, board member AIDS Law Project of PA-board and Goodwill Ambassador for Philadelphia FIGHT.
SR DEE SMITH
Maryknoll Missionary, Guatemala - on resilience in faith communities
Prashant Sharma, is one of the most known activists representing young communities affected and afflicted by HIV , Viral Hepatitis TB , drug use. His activism in the area of health and human rights based public policy led to the amendment of th draconian anti drug law called Sikkim Against Drug abuse in 2015 which discriminated people who use drugs and prevented them from accessing HIV prevention and Harm Reduction services by promoting non scientific and in humane drug policies and the infamous 'war on drugs'. Due to a high number of deaths in the last decade because of HIV and HCV co-infections amongst young drug users in Sikkim , Prashants contribution led to improved access to life saving HCV and HIV services including in prisons. Currently Prashant is spending most of his time mobilising and building community networks to advocate for humane drug policy and generate demand for HIV and health services for people of use drugs.
GEORGE S. KERR III
Elder George Kerr, III is a nationally renowned community activist and grassroots non-profit executive who is a staple in the fight against HIV in the Greater Washington DC Metropolitan Area for more than 27 years. He serves as a volunteer Co-Moderator for The Presbyterian HIV Network (PHIVN) PHEWA, Presbyterian Church, USA. We welcome those who advocate with and care for persons and families who have been infected or affected by HIV. He is now the CEO of G III Associates. G III Associates is committed to advocating, educating, and collaborating for social justice. Together we can build a healthier community. The reason he is participating in this amazing event is to put his faith in action. As a community, an interfaith response is needed if we are going to end the HIV epidemic. The faith community and Harm Reduction Community working together.
ScD, MHSc Team Lead, Epidemiology, UNAIDS - Strategic Information Department
ULYSSES BURLEY III
Dr. Ulysses W. Burley III is the founder of UBtheCURE, LLC – a proprietary consulting company on the intersection of Faith, Health, and Human Rights. Ulysses served as a member of the Executive Committee of the World Council of Churches as well as the United States Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) under the Obama Administration. He has been recognized by the National Minority Quality Forum as a top 40 under 40 Minority Health Leader for his work in faith and HIV in communities of color and serves on the NMQF Advisory Board. Ulysses is an internationally recognized speaker and award winning writer on topics including faith, HIV/AIDS policy, LGBTQIA, gender and racial justice, food security, and peace in the Middle East.
Renatta is from the island of Dominica in the Caribbean. She studies at the University of the West Indies with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science, Gender and Development in 2016 and hopes to complete her Masters in Gender Studies and Development in January 2021.
She has travelled to more than ten countries attending conferences and volunteering. Her experiences included being a Volunteer Rapporteur at The International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa and most recently being the Youth Representative at the UN Consultation regarding Social Enablers and Community Led Responses.
Renatta has extensive volunteering experience with Rotoract, churches, faith- based organisations and HIV support agencies. She is currently developing her interest in young women's rights and assisting those recovering from gender-based violence.
She now sits on the board of Y+ Global; the Global Network of Young people living with HIV, CRN+; the Regional Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS and she is a member of the PANCAP Regional Youth Steering Committee.
Asina Ali Shenduli is a Program Director for the National Muslim Council of Tanzania (BAKWATA) National HIV/AIDS Program where she has the overall responsibility of coordinating and managing HIV/AIDS and health related interventions in Tanzania. She represents BAKWATA in key meetings with government representatives, non-government organizations, international organizations as well as faith based organizations. She has over 15 years’ experience in areas of administration, training, community involvement and participation in health projects.
PhD, MS, Senior Advisor for the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator & Senior Advisor in Global Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
CAPT Susan Hillis serves as a Senior Advisor for the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and as Senior Advisor in Global Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Her research spans domestic and global regions and has led to over 120 peer-reviewed publications addressing HIV, violence against children, sexually transmitted infections, orphans and vulnerable children, and COVID-19. She currently serves as a liaison for the contributions of FBOs at the intersection of HIV and COVID-19. Dr. Hillis is dedicated to using the best of science to strengthen governmental, faith-based, and private partnerships.
Executive Director, Circle of Hope Zambia:
Program Manager, CARE for AIDS, Kenya:
ECHO VANDERWAL & COLIN MOODY
Echo VanderWal serves as managing executive director of The Luke Commission (TLC) in Eswatini. VanderWal and her husband, Harry, have lived in Eswatini since founding TLC in 2005.
Colin Moody serves on the executive leadership team of The Luke Commission (TLC) in Eswatini and as a senior strategist for TLC
FR RICHARD W. BAUER
MM, BCC, LCSW, Director of Spiritual and Psychosocial Care, EDARP Kenya
IMAM DANIEL HERNANDEZ
Daniel Hernandez is Imam of the ISGH Pearland Islamic Center, President of the Houston Imams Association, and Co-Founder of the 3 Puerto Rican Imams Project. He was born in New York and is of Puerto Rican descent. He accepted Islam as a way of life 1999 and has been Pursuing Islamic Knowledge for the past 15 years. He has earned a Master's Degree from the Islamic University of Minnesota and is currently pursuing a PHD. Imam Daniel Hernandez has a passion for public work such as Interfaith, Civic Engagement, Relief work and Rallying for Justice.
Saphira Rameshfar is a Representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations Headquarters in New York. Her areas of work include gender equality, youth empowerment and peace and security. Saphira currently serves on the Executive Committee of the NGO Committee on the Status of Women in New York. Ms. Rameshfar has worked for over a decade on projects aimed at the empowerment of youth in Australia as well as in communities throughout the Asia Pacific region and North America. She has worked at the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) in New York and for the Australian Federal Government.
SWAMI ADVAYANANDA SARASVATI
Swami Advayananda Sarasvati heads the ArshaVidya Ashram in Reunion Islands. He is also a board member of the International Network of Religious Leaders Living With or Personally Affected by HIV & AIDS (INERELA+). After his studies at the Lycée de Guéret, (Creuse) then at The Paris University Institute of Technology (IUT), and two years of Chinese language at Paris-Dauphine, he returned to his native island to work. In his interest to learn the Tamil language, he took lessons with the priest of the Hindu temple of St Paul (Reunion) and gradually began to learn about Hindu prayers and rites. He continued his education in Hindu religious practices, with Swami Pranavananda in Mauritius, who initiated him into the philosophy of Vedanta. He further studied in Mumbai, India with Swamis Chinmayananda, Dayananda and Viditatmananda, to master Sanskrit, and various Hindu scriptures such as the Upanishads, the Bhagavad-Gita. Over the last 30 years, Swami Advayananda Sarasvati has been accompanying communities in Reunion Islands, and his ashram (monastery) has become one of the most active local Hindu teaching sites. He is also a prominent leader working across Faiths to promote Peace and in working to end stigma and discrimination in the context of HIV, both nationally and internationally.
Chief, Community Mobilization, Department of Gender, Human Rights and Community Engagement, UNAIDS
HIS EMINENCE CARDINAL MICHAEL CZERNY
SJ, Migrants and Refugees Section, Integral Human Development, Vatican
Cardinal Czerny is a Czechoslovakian-born Canadian Catholic Priest, whose work in Canada, Latin America, Africa and Rome has focused on serving faith and promoting social justice. He was appointed Cardinal Deacon and protector of the Church of San Michele Arcangelo, Rome, since October 2019.
Cardinal Czerny joined the Jesuits in 1964 and was ordained Priest in 1973. He holds a doctoral degree (PhD) in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Chicago.
Between 1979 and 2016, among other responsibilities, Cardinal Czerny founded and directed the Jesuit Centre for Social Faith and Justice in Toronto; was Vice-Rector of the University of Central America in San Salvador and Director of its Human Rights Institute; founded the African Jesuit AIDS Network; served in the Social Justice Secretariat at the Jesuit General Curia in Rome; headed the office of Cardinal Peter Turkson at the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.
In 2016, Pope Francis appointed him Co-Under-Secretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.
Team Lead, Alfajiri Network, Kenya
Kunal is the Associate Director: Drug Use and Harm Reduction at Alliance India. Kunal carries over 15 years of committed expertise in harm reduction, drug control, human rights, civil society and community systems strengthening. He has sound experience on policy advocacy, community led campaigns, programme management at the national and regional level in the Asia region. He worked in variety of settings which includes the government, civil society, UN and other international/bilateral organisations. Prior to joining Alliance India, Kunal was leading the Drug Prevention and Health work at the South Asia Regional Office which covered the SAARC countries.
Derrick Malumo is the Founder/Executive Director of Prisoner Reintegration and Empowerment Organization (PREO) based in Zambia, which advocates for prison health, continuum of care for inmates on treatment and to facilitate reintegration of released inmates into society.
Luann Hatane is Executive Director at PATA. Luann is a social worker by training and an experienced project manager in the HIV and development sector. She started working in HIV as a clinic manager to the Triangle Project over two decades ago and later headed up the National AIDS Convention of South Africa (NACOSA), as well as coordinating HIV programming at CARE South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. Luann has provided technical assistance to various development sector projects over the years in Southern and Eastern Africa. In addition to a degree in social work, she holds an MPhil in development studies.
Luann is committed to working with health providers and communities to develop responsive programmes for adolescents and young people, with a focus on strengthening service delivery models that are youth-centred and stigma free. She is an active member on the Adolescent Treatment Coalition and the Coalition for Children Affected by AIDS and has contributed to several papers and tools focusing on peer support and clinic-community collaboration. She most enjoys facilitating linking and learning PATA Forums for those on the frontline of service delivery.
founder, Reaching All HIV+ Muslims In America (RAHMA)
Khadijah’s experience as a HIV/AIDS activist began in college when she learned a friend had contracted the virus. Aware of her own ignorance, she started advocating on her college campus and organized the first AIDS Awareness Week. Due to her efforts she received prestigious awards from her University and the State of Connecticut. She continued on to volunteer at AIDS Project New Haven and organized a team to walk in AIDS Walk New Haven. After graduating in 2009, Khadijah relocated to Washington DC and completed an internship at NMAC and began volunteering in the community. In 2010 Khadijah received the President Obama award for Volunteerism for her efforts. Khadijah later began work at Islamic Relief USA, a humanitarian nonprofit. There she realized her passion was not sitting behind a desk, but being directly in the community serving others. In 2012, Khadijah joined AmeriCorps and served at Horton’s Kids in Washington, DC where she created partnerships with local organizations to provide HIV testing and educational workshops to inner city youth and their families. Khadijah holds a degree in Public Health with a concentration in Health Promotion. She is also a Certified HIV/AIDS Community Health Worker, HIV Tester and Counselor.
A Connecticut Native and graduate of Southern Connecticut State University, Khadijah founded RAHMA in 2012 as she recognized the need to provide HIV education in the American Muslim community. Khadijah experienced several encounters with Muslims living with HIV who expressed the hurt and pain they felt due to stigmatization and isolation within their own community. As RAHMA’s President, she has overseen and built crucial programs to tackle this issue in the Muslim community and other faith communities. Khadijah continues to look for innovative and powerful ways to make a greater impact and eliminate stigma including evolving RAHMA to focus on HIV in all Faith communities, founded National Faith HIV and AIDS Awareness Day and most recently joined the movement to end Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C).
Dr Manoj Kurian is a medical doctor from Malaysia and the Coordinator of the WCC-Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance. Following his postgraduate training in Community Health in India, he worked for seven years in church-related institutions in different parts of India. From 1999, he directed the 'Health and Healing' programme at the World Council of Churches (WCC) in Geneva until 2012. Following this, he managed the Policy and Advocacy work of the International AIDS Society. From 2015 he Coordinates WCC-EAA. He is also an Adjunct Faculty at College of Public Health, Kent State University.
Subhi Dhupar is a peace educator and trainer who works to promote interfaith harmony and religious inclusion among people of diverse cultures. Ms. Dhupar has pursued her honors degree from Lady Shri Ram College and South Asian University specializing in History and International Relations respectively. At present she is currently the Regional Director at United Religions Initiative (URI) – one of the world’s largest grassroots interfaith communities with a presence in 105 countries. At URI, Ms. Dhupar works on building sustainable peace by encouraging cooperation that bridges religious and cultural differences.
Her willingness to serve the community and approach interfaith harmony pragmatically has helped her diagnose local problems and devise creative solutions on the field. She has been modelling intergenerational way of working as an important solution to sustenance and effectiveness for over 60 grassroots groups that she mentors. Her mentorship includes guiding grassroots workers on resource mapping, capacity building, communications, and experiential learning. She also presented these experiences in 2019 at the Hoover Institution Stanford University at the Accelerate Peace Conference reiterating the role youth can play in bringing interfaith harmony. She has also contributed to youth in interfaith dialogues to Mr. Knox Thames, Special Advisor for Religious Minorities in the Near East and South/Central Asia at the USA embassy in India on his special visit. At present she is also acting as a technical and program advisor to major faith-based organizations and programs of Global Fund, United Nations to counter issues like drug use, harm reduction, environmental emergencies and climate change respectively.
She has also conducted several welfare programs for women and children for the civilians with the help of the Indian Army in Kashmir; advocated for inclusivity at the African Union as the Madam Chair at the World Interfaith Harmony Week and single handedly organized an international interfaith conference in 2019 November with the UNESCO Chair at Banaras Hindu University involving over 40+ faith leaders, 600+students and 230+ grassroots civil society groups.
Her strong belief in the power of empathy and strength of human relations makes her an impactful community trainer and faith based facilitator. Her core competence in experiential learning helps participants from diverse backgrounds reflect not just on their identities but also understand the complex play of diverse religious backgrounds in polarizing societies. This has inspired her to engage with several international and national universities (Marquette University, O.P Jindal Global University, Banaras Hindu University etc) diverse background groups, and youth-based organizations from countries like Afghanistan, Ghana, Nepal, and Turkey.
Manager, Research Projects, Interfaith Health Program | CHAMPS Network, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University
Francesca Merico is a passionate human rights and children’s rights activist with experience on advocacy around HIV and AIDS with Faith Based Organizations, United Nations organizations and Pharmaceutical companies. She currently is engaged with highlighting the role of faith communities in the HIV response through the PEPFAR-UNAIDS Faith Initiative and the Faith and Community Initiative. Previously, she coordinated the World Council of Churches – Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance campaign on HIV “Faith on the Fast Track” and the Caritas Internationalis HAART for Children Campaign to prioritize paediatric AIDS and TB. She holds a Degree and Master Degree in Law from the Università dell’Insubria Como (Italy) and a Master of advanced studies on children’s rights from the University of Fribourg (Switzerland).
BISHOP YVETTE FLUNDER
Bishop Yvette Flunder is a native San Franciscan and third generation preacher with roots in the Church of God in Christ. Bishop Flunder is an ordained minister of the United Church of Christ and holds both masters and doctorate degrees in Ministry from the Pacific School of Religion and the San Francisco Theological Seminary, respectively. In 2003, she was appointed Presiding Bishop of The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, a multi-denominational coalition of over 56 churches and faith-based organizations from all over the world.
Bishop Flunder is a trustee and adjunct professor at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California. She is an active voice for the Religion Council of the Human Rights Campaign, as well as for the National Black Justice Coalition. Bishop Flunder is a highly sought after preacher and religious educator as evidenced by her having spoken at divinity schools nationwide including those at Duke, Yale , Drew, and the New York Theological Seminary. She is the author of Where the Edge Gathers: A Theology of Homiletic Radical Inclusion, published by Pilgrim Press. In addition to her memorable sermons, Bishop Flunder is also known for her beautiful singing voice, made famous through her gospel recordings with Walter Hawkins and the Family, the City of Refuge Choir and Chanticleer.
IMAM ABDUL AZEEZ
Resident Imam of Al Masjidu Adam Community life Center for Human Excellence, President of Ash Shifaa inc Executive Board of CWSC community wide shura Conference, Director of the CWSC NLAC National Leadership Advisory Council, and Director of the CWSC's Ambassador Program
RABBI DENISE EGER
Denise L. Eger was raised in Memphis, TN. She received her Master's Degree from Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion in 1985 and was ordained as Rabbi in 1988 at the New York campus of HUC. Rabbi Eger is a Sr. Rabbinic Fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute and received her Doctor of Divinity from Hebrew Union College in 2013.
Rabbi Eger is the editor of the groundbreaking book: Mishkan Ga'avah: Where Pride Dwells: A Celebration of LGBTQ Jewish Life and Ritual. She is the co-editor of Gender & Religious Leadership: Women Rabbis, Pastors and Ministers by Lexington Press
Rabbi Eger believes that activism is an important part of her rabbinate. She has worked extensively with people with AIDS. She served as co-chair of the Community Advisory Board of the Shanti Foundation and is a past Chair of the Spiritual Advisory Committee of AIDS Project Los Angeles. She is past Co-Chair of the Institutional Review Board for Search Alliance, an AIDS drug research organization.
Rabbi Eger is a Past President of the Central Conference of American Rabbis which is the largest organization of Rabbis in the world with more than 2000 Reform rabbis world-wide. In March of 2015 she became the 60th President of the CCAR becoming the first openly gay or lesbian rabbi to that position. Rabbi Eger is also past President of the Southern California Board of Rabbis (the first woman and openly gay person to do so) and a past President of the Pacific Association of Reform Rabbis.
She is a noted speaker on the topics of human sexuality, LGBTQ issues and Judaism, AIDS, the changing Jewish Family, Spirituality and Health issues in Judaism and Politics, Progressive Judaism and the Radical Right. Rabbi Eger has appeared on numerous radio and television programs. Rabbi Eger blogs at Walking Humbly Seeking Justice Living with Hope.
Rabbi Eger is married to Rabbi Eleanor Steinman and has an adult son living in Texas.
Esther Mombo is an associate professor in the theology department at St. Paul's University in Limuru, Kenya, where she was previously deputy vice chancellor (Academics). She teaches church history and theologies from women’s perspectives and interfaith courses and writes on women’s issues, evangelism, HIV/AIDS, Christian-Muslim relations, and poverty in Africa. She works closely with the Programme for Christian and Muslim relations in Africa and is a member of the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians. Her areas of service include networking among Christian and Muslim women leaders on issues of Dialogue. She has previously served on the Inter-Anglican Doctrinal and Theological Commission. Mombo earned her B.D. from St. Paul's United Theological College, M.Phil. from Trinity College Dublin, and Ph.D. at Edinburgh University
Sandy serves as the Chief Strategy Officer in the United States Department of State’s Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Health Diplomacy. In this role, she works closely with Ambassador-at-Large Deborah L. Birx, M.D., U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and U.S. Representative of Global Health Diplomacy, to coordinate all of the U.S. government’s global HIV/AIDS activities to achieve an AIDS-free generation, ensuring transparency, accountability, and impact.
Throughout her career, Ms. Thurman has held important leadership positions, including leading the Office of National AIDS Policy under President Bill Clinton; Presidential Envoy on HIV/AIDS; Senior Advisor for Strategy and Development at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and as Director of both the Interfaith Health Program and the Joseph W. Blount Center for Health and Human Rights at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University. She also served as Director of Advocacy Programs for the Task Force for Child Survival and Development at the Carter Center and Executive Director of AID Atlanta, the oldest and largest AIDS service organization in the South. She also serves on the faculty at the Rollins School of Public Health and on numerous nonprofit boards and committees. Ms. Thurman has an M.A. in Community Pastoral Care and HIV/AIDS from St. Paul’s University in Limuru, Kenya and a B.S. from Mercer University.
MONSIGNOR ROBERT J. VITILLO
Secretary General, International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC); Health Attaché, Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See at the United Nations and other International Organizations (Geneva), Switzerland
Msgr. Robert J. Vitillo completed graduate studies in theology, clinical social work, and management. He is a Catholic priest of the Diocese of Paterson, New Jersey (USA). He served in Catholic Church-related charitable agencies at diocesan, national, and global levels. Between 2005 and 2016, he coordinated the Caritas Internationalis Delegation to the UN in Geneva and served as its Special Advisor on Health.
In June 2016, he was appointed to serve as the Secretary General of the International Catholic Migration Commission, a global network of Catholic Bishops Conferences engaged in responses to people on the move. ICMC also provides protection and humanitarian assistance to refugees and migrants in emergency situations, with 500 staff in 40 countries of the world, and convenes civil society in several major global, migration-related advocacy networks.
In addition to his leadership of ICMC, Msgr. Vitillo serves as an Attaché for the Permanent Mission of the Holy See to the UN in Geneva.
He has served as an advisor/consultant and has authored books and articles related to child protection, humanitarian assistance, global health issues, migration and refugee movements, global pandemics including Ebola, HIV/AIDS, and Tuberculosis, spirituality and health, and Christian-Muslim dialogue.
David R. Barstow, PhD. After a thirty-year career as a computer scientist, internet entrepreneur, and business consultant, Dr. Barstow felt a personal calling to join the fight against HIV and AIDS. He founded EMPACT Africa, a non-profit focused on the role of faith and religious communities in confronting the epidemic. He has worked with pastors in Southern Africa to help them deal with the stigma of HIV and AIDS and has worked with international organizations, such as UNAIDS and the World Council of Churches, involved with the faith response to HIV at the global level. Most recently, he coordinated the Faith and HIV in the Next Decade strategic planning initiative. He is the author of HIV and AIDS in 2030: A Choice Between Two Futures.
Dr. Stuart Kean is an independent consultant who has worked for the last 20 years on policy and advocacy related to children affected by HIV. Stuart co-chairs the Advocacy Working Group of the Regional Inter Agency Task Team on Children and AIDS in Eastern and Southern Africa, and he’s a member of several networks including: the HIV Strategy Group of the World Council of Churches Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, the Coalition for Children Affected by AIDS and the Child Survival Working Group. Stuart’s work has included: policy analysis on HIV policies, research related to children and HIV, and strengthening local advocacy capacity.
Julienne Nyirankusi Munyaneza was born and grew up in a Christian home in Rubengera, Karongi, Western Province, Rwanda and pursued higher education in Nairobi, Kenya; Mainz, Germany, and London. Julienne Munyaneza specializes in teaching, administration and management, international development, faith-based/church and political leadership. Since August 2016, she is working as a Consultant with UNAIDS Faith Engagement in Geneva. She currently lives in Wolverhampton, West Midlands, UK and is married to Rev. Dr. Malachie Munyaneza, Minister of the Presbyterian Church of Rwanda and United Reformed Church in Great Britain and has 3 children and 6 grand-children. She has published a book “Grace in the Midst of Genocide”.
Nkatha Njeru, is an experienced public health specialist who has worked with the faith sector in Kenya and regionally for the past 15 years. Nkatha has extensive experience in health systems strengthening where she has worked to support non-profit organisations (especially faith-based sector) in organizational development, Policy formulation, strategic planning, human resources for health, as well as health financing. She is experienced in project design, coordination and management having provided project leadership and oversight for funding from various donor agencies and governments. She is the team leader for the Africa Christian health Associations Platform (ACHAP). An umbrella body for Christian health Associations around Africa with membership in 32 African Countries. In the past year, Nkatha has been involved in work with religious leaders in Kenya developing their capacity as champions for HIV care and treatment as well as developing an HIV counseling guide for religious leaders.
Stefano Nobile earned a Master Degree in International Relations at the University of Padova, Italy. He joined Caritas Internationalis in 2009, as Advocacy Officer and Focal Point for Health and HIV. His principal responsibility is to coordinate the response of the 168 national members of Caritas Internationalis to pediatric HIV and HIV-TB co-infection, Anti-Microbial Resistance, Non-Communicable Diseases as well as health emergencies preparedness and response. He represents health-related concerns of the members of the Caritas Confederation at international organizations, specialized agencies and other multi-lateral organizations, and advocates for global solutions inspired by person-centered approaches and the principles related to Integral Human Development.
The Rev. Michael Schuenemeyer is the Executive Director of UCAN, the United Church of Christ HIV & AIDS Network, based in Cleveland, Ohio. Rev. Schuenemeyer provides leadership in the U.S. and globally on issues concerning sexual orientation and gender identity, comprehensive sexuality education, and HIV and AIDS. With more than 35 years of involvement in HIV response, he has been a strong advocate for faith-based collaborations. Mike is a Co-Moderator of the HIV Strategy Group of the World Council of Churches Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (based in Geneva Switzerland), Chairs the US HIV & AIDS Faith Coalition, and leads the effort to implement the Framework for Dialogue in the U.S.
LYN VAN ROOYEN
Director of the Department for Work with the Regions, “All- Ukrainian Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS”, Ukraine