Tanya Sadagopan

Tanya Sadagopan

Rev. Dr. Tanya Sadagopan is an ordained United Church of Christ minister who has served at First Congregational UCC in Janesville, Wisconsin, for the past seven years. This Open & Affirming and Immigrant Welcoming congregation has provided the groundwork for her innovative ministry.  In her 15 years of ministry, she has served in rural, urban, and suburban settings seeking innovative ways to bring renewal to congregations by focusing on local resources and creating community partnerships. 

She and her husband, Sriram, a South Indian Iyengar, are celebrating 25 years of marriage together this year and have raised their two children in both Hindu and Christian traditions throughout their lives. Tanya’s doctoral research on 56 couples from multiple faith traditions worldwide focused on how Multicultural Interfaith couples are social change agents and peacemakers in their communities.  

Storyteller, Inspiring Stories: Raising Kids in Interfaith Families

Moderator, Inspiring Stories: Interfaith Family Life Across Three Generations

Michelle Mekky

Michelle Mekky

Michelle Mekky is an award-winning broadcast journalist and public relations executive and a passionate advocate for interfaith issues.   The daughter of immigrants from Poland and Ireland, she is married to an Egyptian Muslim.  Michelle was raised in a very observant Jewish family, attending a private Jewish school in her elementary years and learning fluent Hebrew.

While working for the Israeli Tourist Office in Chicago as Director of Public Relations, Michelle met her now-husband who came into the office to sell a new computer system. Her husband was born in the US but was raised most of his childhood in Cairo as a practicing Muslim.

They are now married for almost 23 years and have two kids aged 20 and 18, whom they raised to honor both of their religions from a cultural perspective, with a high level of respect and compromise. Michelle often jokes that her kids are the future peacemakers of our world. 

Storyteller, Inspiring Stories: Raising Kids in Interfaith Families

Lisa Patriquin

Lisa Patriquin

Lisa Patriquin is The Guibord Center’s Program Director for Youth and Young Adults.  She forms partnerships with schools and educators to increase religious and interfaith literacy, and promote open discourse about religion and spirituality as an aspect of identity. Programs include bringing speakers for classes, facilitating workshops for educators on Integrating Spirituality in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and collaborating with teachers to create customized curricula and special events for elementary and secondary students.  Lisa met the Rev. Dr. Gwynne Guibord (founder of The Guibord Center) in 2006 when she was invited to represent the Synod of Southern California and Hawaii (PCUSA) for the Christian-Muslim Consultative Group, and later served in the same role upon the formation of The Guibord Center’s Advisory Council.

Lisa is a lifelong Presbyterian and an ordained Ruling Elder.  She has been a professional Christian educator since 2004 and has been active in education and mission at several churches in Southern California and Colombia.  

She started her interfaith journey as a child with close family friends who were Jewish and expanded her interfaith friendships in college.  In 1986, at the height of tensions between the US and Iran, she married an Iranian who grew up in the Shia Muslim tradition. They have one son, who decided at age twelve to be baptized in the Presbyterian church. 

Prior to her career as a Christian and interfaith educator, Lisa worked for 18 years in English as a Second Language.  She holds a PhD in Higher Education (University of Southern California), a Masters in Latin American Studies (UCLA), and a Bachelors in Linguistics  (Macalester College).

Matthew Hom

Matthew Hom

Matthew Hon grew up in a Chinese and Ashkenazi Jewish family in Cerritos, California. After studying history and music at the University of California, Irvine, he earned a master’s degree in Jewish studies at New York University. Matthew has since pursued a career in social justice organizing, currently as a Faith-Rooted Organizer with CLUE Justice. Previously, he worked with the California Democratic Party and Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) on electoral campaigns and census outreach. He has volunteered in leadership roles with Bend the Arc and Never Again Action. 

A Hebrew school teacher at Temple Isaiah, Matthew is a member of the Boyle Heights Chavurah. He also serves on the Grant Advisory Committee of the Jews of Color Initiative. Matthew feels called by his faith and identity to help build a multiracial democracy in Los Angeles in solidarity with workers, immigrants, and our diverse communities.

Storyteller, Inspiring Stories: Interfaith Family Choices

Gail Kennard

Gail Kennard

Gail Kennard is African American, Muslim and a native Angeleno. She converted to Islam more than 40 years ago while in graduate school at UC Berkeley. Today she attends the Islamic Center of Southern California and the Women’s Mosque of America, where she has delivered talks or khutbahs since 2015.

Gail is president of one of the West’s oldest African American–owned architecture firms, founded by her late father, Robert Kennard. A mayoral appointee to the City of Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission, she serves as its vice president. 

Storyteller, Inspiring Stories: Dismantling Systemic Racism