Inspiring Stories 2022

Welcome to our third season of storytelling and conversation on complex issues we all care about. The Guibord Center and IslamiCity bring together people with rich spiritual backgrounds and diverse perspectives to share powerful stories from the heart. These live online events invite you into the conversation with an opportunity to connect with the speakers and others in Q and A sessions and breakout rooms after the presentation. 

Check our Calendar for upcoming events.

Dr. Lisa Patriquin

Inspiring Stories: Effective Practices for Bridging the Red/Blue Divide

Inspiring Stories: Effective Practices for Bridging the Red/Blue Divide

Moderated by Samia Bano and Lisa Patriquin

Our October Inspiring Stories speakers responded to one another as they shared the importance of creating a safe spiritual place – whether a mosque, temple, or church –  to discuss challenging topics! Listen to how they welcome opposing points of view. Learn about the resources they use to engage people in positive and rewarding ways.

The Stories

The Conversation

Kenyatta Bakeer

Kenyatta Bakeer

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Kenyatta Bakeer has demonstrated a life-long commitment to inner-city education institutions, community-based non-profits, and the local Muslim community.  She has helped open several schools, including her preschool and Islah Academy,...

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John Silvers

John Silvers

John Silvers has always been an active community leader. His communication skills and leadership qualities were passed down to him by his parents, Arthur and Trudi Silvers, an interracial couple who were Civil Rights activists in the 1960s. His father, Arthur, worked...

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Rabbi Eric Solomon

Rabbi Eric Solomon

Rabbi Eric Solomon is the leader of Beth Meyer Synagogue in Raleigh, NC.  He completed facilitator training with Re-Setting the Table and has led his congregation in bridging conversations.  Rabbi Solomon is the founding co-chair of the North Carolina Jewish Clergy...

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Inspiring Stories: Discussing Politics in Religious Spaces

Inspiring Stories: Discussing Politics in Religious Spaces

Moderated by Lisa Patriquin

How do we discuss politics in our religious/spiritual spaces? Should congregations set boundaries around political topics?  How do we make such talks a positive experience for all participants? Our speakers share their ideas and offer some useful resources.

The Stories

The Conversation

Wendy Silvers

Wendy Silvers

Rev. Wendy Silvers helps moms embody their highest potential, raise healthy, empowered kids and change the world through vision and grace. Nicknamed 'Mama Wendy' by her clients, she is the founder of the Million Mamas Movement, creator of The Awakened Mother TM...

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The Rev. Mark England

The Rev. Mark England

Mark England has served congregations in Virginia and Houston, where he has worked with youth and adults to build relationships, grow in their leadership abilities, and recognize how the life of Jesus shapes their life. He wants the communities he serves to see times...

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Mohamed Dewji

Mohamed Dewji

Mohamed Dewji was born in Kenya and has been living in Canada since 1976. Mohamed’s engagement with his mosque community began at the age of 16 as a Sunday School Instructor at the Az-Zahraa Islamic Centre.  Since then, he has held various administrative roles at the...

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Inspiring Stories: Inter-sect marriages

Inspiring Stories: Inter-sect marriages

Moderated by Samia Bano

Marriages between people from different branches of the same spiritual tradition can be just as complex as interfaith marriages!

Our storytellers share stories from inter-sect marriages (e.g., Sunni/Shia, Orthodox/Conservative, Protestant/Catholic), which can have many of the same challenges and blessings as marriages between people from two distinctly different spiritual traditions.

Introduction

The Stories

The Conversation

Charlie and Mary Matthews

Charlie and Mary Matthews

Charlie and Mary Matthews have been married for 28 years and have three adult children.  Raised in Southern California, Charlie grew up in a Quaker Friends church where his parents hosted youth groups. Mary was born in Lebanon, attended an Armenian evangelical school,...

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Saira Sayeed

Saira Sayeed

​Saira  Sayeed was born in Pakistan to a Christian mother and a Muslim father and migrated to Canada with her parents when she was three years old. She and her husband, Shakeel, have been married for 30 years and have raised four amazing young adults together. Saira...

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Inspiring Stories: Interfaith Marriage Across Generations

Inspiring Stories: Interfaith Family Life Across Generations

Moderated by Dr. Tanya Sadagopan

Interfaith marriage is on the rise in the United States and other countries. This is the third in a four-part series exploring (the experiences of interfaith families.

We continue our four-part series on the rewarding and complicated experiences of interfaith families. In this session, our Keynote Storytellers explore the richness and challenges of weaving interfaith family life across three generations. 

The Stories

The Conversation

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...

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Kersi Bhikhaji Shroff

Kersi Bhikhaji Shroff

Mr. Kersi Bhikhaji Shroff, a Parsi born in Karachi, India, is an independent student of the Zoroastrian religion and its traditions. His early years were spent at the tail end of colonial British rule in India and saw the creation of the new country of Pakistan...

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Claire Dietrich Ranna

Claire Dietrich Ranna

The Rev. Claire Dietrich Ranna is the Rector of Christ Episcopal Church and the Chaplain to Ventana School, a Reggio Emilia inspired Pre- and Elementary School in Los Altos, CA.  She is a member of the Los Altos Rotary Club and serves on the board of Community...

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Inspiring Stories: Raising Interfaith Kids

Inspiring Stories: Raising Interfaith Kids

Interfaith marriage is on the rise in the United States and other countries. This is the second in a four-part series exploring (the experiences of interfaith families.

Parents in an interfaith relationship who raise their children in two or more spiritual traditions have a unique richness and complexity to their family lives that practitioners of one tradition struggle to understand.  Join us as we hear how some couples have made this work!

The Stories

The Conversation

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...

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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...

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Janet K. Allen and Farrokh Mistree

Janet K. Allen and Farrokh Mistree

Janet K. Allen holds the John and Mary Moore Chair in the School of Industrial and Systems Engineering. Farrokh Mistree holds the L. A. Comp Chair in the School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma. Both have been...

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Inspiring Stories: Interfaith Family Choices

Inspiring Stories: Interfaith Family Choices

Interfaith marriage is on the rise in the United States and other countries. This is the first in a four-part series exploring (the experiences of interfaith families. Their stories offer us a glimpse of) how people rely on their deep love for one another and their spiritual traditions to work through challenges and build flourishing relationships.  

In this session, we ask:

  • How do interfaith family members navigate the choices they make about their spiritual journey, together and individually?
  • How can both partners practice their spiritual traditions in ways that support one another?
  • And how do interfaith families find or create communities that understand their unique experiences? 

The Stories

The Conversation

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...

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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....

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Inspiring Stories: dismantling racism

Inspiring Stories: Dismantling Systemic Racism

Moderated by the Reverend Jen Bailey

This event, the fourth in our four-part series on racism, brings us to the next crucial part of our journey. In previous sessions, we’ve listened to people courageously sharing their experiences with the pain and injustice of racism. How do we now apply this knowledge in our own lives and help create an antiracist world that dismantles systemic racism? Join us as we hear from compelling storytellers whose personal reflections open a space for deeper exploration and transformative engagement on this problem.

Resources Mentioned by our Speakers

Organizations, Thought Leaders, Artists

In this episode of Inspiring Stories, The Guibord Center is honored to lift up the work of Faith Matters Network, a womanist-led organization that catalyzes personal and social change by equipping community organizers, faith leaders, and activists with resources for connection, spiritual sustainability, and accompaniment.  Rev. Jen Bailey, Executive Director, was our Guest Moderator for this episode.

Keynote Storyteller, Rev. Margaret Ernst, recommends Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), a national network of groups and individuals organizing white people for racial and economic justice.  Margaret is also the Director of Learning and Integration for Faith Matters Network

Keynote Storyteller Harmeet Singh works for Interfaith America (formerly known as Interfaith Youth Core)

Deepa Iyer  The Map: Social Change Ecosystem

Books, Zines and Music

The Cotton Patch Gospel by Clarence Jordan

The Cross and The Lynching Tree by James H. Cone

Faith in Full Color, an interfaith zine living online and in print edited by Harmeet Singh

Bernice Johnson Reagon: I won’t crumble with you if you fall

Podcast

Roots of the Spirit bridges the past to the present by having honest conversations about history, identity, “race”, racism and other social justice issues that intersect.

Solidarity is This explores how individuals and institutions are experimenting with cross-racial and cross-movement solidarity in America’s changing racial landscape.

The Stories

The Conversation

Reverend Jen Bailey

Reverend Jen Bailey

Reverend Jen Bailey is an ordained minister, a public theologian, and a national leader in the multi-faith movement for justice. She is the Founder and Executive Director of Faith Matters Network and Co-Founder of The People’s Supper. The Center for American Progress...

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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...

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Harmeet Kaur Kamboj

Harmeet Kaur Kamboj

Harmeet Kaur Kamboj (they/them) is a Sikh American interfaith educator, scholar, artist, and zine-maker. Harmeet is currently a Program Manager at Interfaith Youth Core, as well as a teaching aide at Union Theological Seminary and an instructor at the Moksha Arts...

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Reverend Margaret Anne Ernst

Reverend Margaret Anne Ernst

Reverend Margaret Anne Ernst is pastor of St. Paul's United Church of Christ in Birdsboro, Pennsylvania. A passionate writer, community builder and organizer, she has worked alongside faith communities to fight for racial, economic and immigrant justice since 2013....

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Inspiring Stories: We stop perpetuating racism

Inspiring Stories: How Do We Stop Perpetuating Racism?

Moderated by Suzanne Edwards-Acton

Recent tragedies in our nation have awakened many of us to how we perpetuate racist thoughts and behaviors, knowingly or not. Hear from people who have realized the damage inflicted by unconscious racism and turned to their spiritual traditions for guidance and strength to change.

The Stories

The Conversation

Suzanne Edwards-Acton

Suzanne Edwards-Acton

Suzanne Edwards-Acton is the founder of MyWorkToDo.com, a program designed as a space for white people to build stamina for conversations on race. Co-chair of the Program Group on Black Ministry for the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, she is the immediate past Vice...

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Samia Bano

Samia Bano

Samia Bano is the Interfaith Coordinator for IslamiCity and a member of The Guibord Center Advisory Council. She serves as co-host of the Inspiring Stories online series, a collaboration between the two organizations. Known as the Happiness Expert, Samia is author of...

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Ally Hawkins

Ally Hawkins

Ally Hawkins was born and raised in the American South. There, she spent the majority of her life in what she considers radical evangelical fundamentalist religious spaces, steeped in both white supremacy and Christian Nationalism. She homeschooled her four children...

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Donald Quick

Donald Quick

Donald Quick is a science educator at Rosemead High School and a parishioner at All Saints Episcopal Church, Pasadena. He has participated in and co-facilitated My Work To Do online affinity spaces, fostering anti-racist understandings and stamina building for social...

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Inspiring Stories: How Survivors of Racism are Healing

Inspiring Stories: How Surviviors of Racism are Healing

Listening to the experiences of racism survivors is crucial in order for healing and change to take place. Join us as our storytellers share about how their spirituality has helped them overcome the trauma and pain of racism.

The Stories

The Conversation

Sedona Jacobson

Sedona Jacobson

“Ya'aat'eeh” is Sedona Jacobson’s greeting as the 21-year-old student introduces herself. She is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in agriculture science at Diné College, the first tribally controlled and accredited collegiate institution in the U.S. Sedona resides in...

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Kandake Ameena Siddique

Kandake Ameena Siddique

​Kandake Ameena Siddique is a Muslim American who is committed to criminal penal reform, equity in education and community relations. She is the Finance Manager at the Association of Legal Administrators in Chicago and a board member of the Learn Charter School...

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Emily Bowen Cohen

Emily Bowen Cohen

​Emily Bowen Cohen is an artist, writer and enrolled member of the Muskogee (Creek) Nation. She grew up in rural Oklahoma, the daughter of a Native American man and a Jewish woman.  Today, she draws comics based on her experiences as a Jewish person of color. Her work...

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Inspiring Stories: Exploring the Injustices of Racism

Inspiring Stories: Exploring the Injustices of Racism

The Guibord Center sees racism as a spiritual issue, as a hardening of the heart that damages the whole of the human family. It attacks our willingness as well as our capacity to experience the sacred in every living being, thereby depriving us access to the richness of a world of mutual respect and empowerment.

We are committed to opening our own hearts and programs to explore the many ways that people of different faiths and perspectives grapple with racism and changing a system that affects each of us profoundly.

Dr. Lo Sprague, January 2022

The Stories

The Conversation

Rick Sforza

Rick Sforza

Rick Sforza is a spiritual director, photographer, veteran, and co-facilitator of an anti-racism workshop. He worked for more than 30 years as a photojournalist, journalist and photo editor. During that time, Rick discovered that simply listening to a subject helped...

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Imam Amiin Al-Musaddiq

Imam Amiin Al-Musaddiq

Imam Amiin Al-Musaddiq is a native of the United States of America's urban community who reverted to Islam in 2001. Currently a student at Madina Institute in Atlanta, he serves as acting Imam at Masjid al-Mu'un in Chicago. Imam Amiin also is a certified life coach...

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Walt Cunningham, Jr.

Walt Cunningham, Jr.

Walt Cunningham, Jr. is an accomplished pianist and musical creator and producer with an eclectic background. He attended West Point Academy, the distinguished military school, where he became one of just over a thousand Black American graduates and served as a...

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Forrest S. Cuch

Forrest S. Cuch

Forrest S. Cuch is an enrolled member of the Ute Indian Tribe. Born in 1951, he grew up on the Uintah and Ouray Ute Indian Reservation in northeastern Utah. Forrest was raised in the sacred Ute/Shoshone Sundance religion and joined his father and uncles as a sun...

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