This American Moment: Bridging Religious Divides

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On behalf of Interfaith Youth Core, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, and the Council on Foundations, it was our pleasure to invite you to a half-day symposium entitled “This American Moment: Bridging Religious Divides” on January 31, 2018 at the Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute in Washington DC.

During a time of growing partisanship, polarization, and religious bigotry, this event explored the current fractured state of religious diversity in America and opportunities for action.

Alongside activists, policy makers and experts, foundation leaders explored the role philanthropy can play to bridge religious divides, supporting the philanthropic sector’s efforts to build a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive country.


11:30 a.m. — Event Registration

12:00 p.m. — Lunch Begins

12:15 p.m. — Welcome Remarks

  • Vikki Spruill, President and CEO, Council on Foundations
  • Peter Laugharn, President and CEO, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation
  • Charles Haynes, Interim President, Newseum Institute/Religious Freedom Center

12:30 p.m. — Opening Keynote

  • Eboo Patel, Founder and President, Interfaith Youth Core

1:00 p.m. — Plenary I: Engaging the New Face of Religious Diversity in America

  • Jennifer Bailey, Founder and President, Faith Matters Network
  • Ruth Messinger, Global Ambassador, American Jewish World Service
  • Rami Nashashibi, Executive Director, Inner-City Muslim Action Network
  • Bob Roberts, Senior Pastor, Northwood Church, Keller, Texas
  • Moderator: Robert P. Jones, CEO, Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) 

2:45 p.m. — Plenary II: Role of Philanthropy in This American Moment

  • Nancy Cable, President, The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations
  • Hilary Pennington, Vice President, Ford Foundation
  • Kashif Shaikh, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Pillars Fund
  • Moderator: Laurie Goodstein, National Religion Correspondent, New York Times

4:15 p.m. — Closing Keynote

  • David Brooks, Best Selling Author and Columnist, The New York Times

4:45 p.m. — Call to Action

  • Tonya Allen, Skillman Foundation President & CEO

5:00 p.m. — Reception and Networking

  • Across the street at Fiola da Fabio Trabocchi - 601 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Washington D.C.


Dr. Eboo Patel, Founder and President, Interfaith Youth Core

Eboo Patel is a leading voice in the movement for interfaith cooperation and the Founder and President of Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), a national nonprofit working to make interfaith cooperation a social norm. He is the author of Acts of Faith, Sacred Ground and Interfaith Leadership. Named by US News & World Report as one of America’s Best Leaders of 2009, Eboo served on President Obama’s Inaugural Faith Council. He is a regular contributor to the public conversation around religion in America and a frequent speaker on the topic of religious pluralism. He holds a doctorate in the sociology of religion from Oxford University, where he studied on a Rhodes scholarship. For over fifteen years, Eboo has worked with governments, social sector organizations, and college and university campuses to help realize a future where religion is a bridge of cooperation rather than a barrier of division.

David Brooks, Best-selling Author and Columnist, The New York Times

David Brooks has a gift for bringing audiences face to face with the spirit of our times with humor, insight and quiet passion. He is a keen observer of the American way of life and a savvy analyst of present-day politics and foreign affairs. He holds several prestigious positions as a commentator: Bi-weekly Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times, Regular analyst on PBS NewsHour, and NPR’s All Things Considered.

David’s newest book, The Road to Character, “explains why selflessness leads to greater success. He tells the story of ten great lives that illustrate how character is developed, and how we can all strive to build rich inner lives, marked by humility and moral depth. In a society that emphasizes success and external achievement, The Road to Character is a book about inner worth.” His previous book, The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character and Achievement, uses the story of a fictional American couple to explain the importance of neuroscience and sociology in understanding America’s politics, culture, and future. His other books, Bobos in Paradise and On Paradise Drive are in a style he calls “comic sociology”—descriptions of how we live and “the water we swim in” that are as witty and entertaining as they are revealing and insightful. Bobos in Paradise was a New York Times bestseller.

David is currently teaching a course at Yale University. He holds honorary degrees from Williams College, New York University, Brandeis University, Occidental College, among others. In 2010, Brooks became a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. David Brooks has worked at The Weekly Standard, joining the magazine at its inception and serving as senior editor. He has been a contributing editor at Newsweek and the Atlantic Monthly. He worked at The Wall Street Journal for nine years in a range of positions, including op-ed editor.


Rev. Jennifer Bailey, Founder and President, Faith Matters Network

Named one of 15 Faith Leaders to Watch by the Center for American Progress, Rev. Jennifer Bailey is an ordained minister, public theologian, and emerging national leader in multi-faith movement for justice. She is the Founding Executive Director of the Faith Matters Network, a people of color led collaborative supporting and amplifying the leadership of spiritually-rooted  social justice advocates, organizers, and activists from the margins. Based in Nashville, TN, Rev. Bailey comes to this work with a decade of experience at nonprofits combatting intergenerational poverty.

An Ashoka Fellow, Nathan Cummings Foundation Fellow, On Being Fellow and Truman Scholar, Rev. Bailey earned degrees from Tufts University and Vanderbilt University Divinity School where she was awarded the Wilbur F. Tillett Prize for accomplishments in the study of theology. She as written for a number of publications including On Being, Sojourners, The Washington Post's Lily and the Huffington Post. Her first book, tentatively titled Confessions of a #Millennial #Minister is currently under contract with Chalice Press. Rev. Bailey is an ordained itinerant elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Dr. Nancy Cable, President, The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations

Nancy J. Cable was chosen as President of the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations in October 2012. A nationally recognized leader in higher education, she served as Dean and faculty member at Denison University, Guilford College, Davidson College and the University of Virginia. Prior to assuming her current role at the Foundations, she served as Interim President of Bates College in Maine. Dr. Cable currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the National Trust for the Humanities, as Past Chair of Ken Burns’s Better Angels Society Board of Directors and on the Board of Directors for the Council of Independent Colleges. The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations was founded in 1962 by Mr. Davis who was an innovative and highly regarded national corporate leader as the President and Chairman of the Alcoa Corporation. The Foundations has as its key philanthropic program priorities private higher education, public educational media for children and adults, interfaith leadership and religious literacy, environmental education and solutions, and palliative and end of life care.

Laurie Goodstein, National Religion Correspondent, The New York Times (Moderator)

Ms. Goodstein looks for stories that will bring to life how Americans live out their faith in an age of increasing religious diversity and conflict over the limits of religious expression. She has won respect in the field by refusing to treat each faith or religious group as a monolith and reporting on the variety of voices and debates inside of groups — including Roman Catholics, Jews, Mormons, Muslims and evangelical Christians. She makes frequent appearances on television, radio and the internet, and speaks at colleges and universities.

She was an associate producer on and appeared in the documentary film, "Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God," about deaf men who were sexually abused as children by a priest and spent decades pursuing justice. She has received awards for her work from the American Academy of Religion, the Religion News Association and many journalism organizations. 

Robby Jones, CEO, Public Research Institute (Moderator)

Robert P. Jones is the founding CEO of PRRI and a leading scholar and commentator on religion and politics. He is the author of The End of White Christian America, two other books, and numerous peer-review articles on religion and public policy. Jones writes a column for The Atlantic online on politics and culture and appears regularly on Interfaith Voices, the nation’s leading religion news-magazine on public radio. He is frequently featured in major national media such as MSNBC, CNN, NPR, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and others. Dr. Jones serves as the Co-Chair of the national steering committee for the Religion and Politics Section at the American Academy of Religion and is a member of the editorial boards for the Journal of the American Academy of Religion and for Politics and Religion, a journal of the American Political Science Association. He holds a Ph.D. in religion from Emory University and a M.Div. from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Ruth Messinger, Global Ambassador, American Jewish World Service

Ruth W. Messinger is the Global Ambassador of American Jewish World Service, an international human rights and development organization dedicated to global social justice which she ran from 1998-2016.  She works currently to engage rabbis and interfaith leaders to work against poverty and oppression.  She also does social justice work as the Finkelstein Institute Social Justice Fellow at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America; is the Social Justice Activist at the Joseph Stern Center for Social Responsibility at the Jewish Community Center of Manhattan; and is a member of the World Bank’s Moral Imperative Task Force to end extreme poverty. Previously, Ruth had a twenty-year career in public service in New York City as a city council member and Manhattan Borough President.  She has 3 children, 8 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren.

Dr. Rami Nashashibi, Executive Director, Inner-City Muslim Action Network

Rami Nashashibi is the executive director of the Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN) and a 2017 MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellow. He received a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Chicago and has taught courses at multiple universities since, recently completing a three-year teaching appointment at the Chicago Theological Seminary. In 2016, President Barack Obama appointed him to serve on the President's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Rami also serves on the board of the Marguerite Casey Foundation and is an advisor to a number of strategic initiatives across the country. His work with IMAN continues to feature in many national and international media outlets.

Dr. Hilary Pennington, Vice President, Ford Foundation

Hilary Pennington is the foundation's vice president for Education, Creativity, and Free Expression. She leads the foundation’s work on school reform in the United States and higher education around the world, next-generation media policy and journalism, and support for arts and culture. She also oversees the foundation’s regional programming in four offices based in Africa and the Middle East.

Hilary is a national expert on postsecondary education and intergenerational change. Before joining the foundation in 2013, she led the Generations Initiative, a project funded by national foundations to develop effective responses to the dramatic demographic shifts occurring in the United States. Between 2006 and 2012, Hilary served as director of education, postsecondary success, and special initiatives at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, where she guided grant programs across the country and worldwide. Before joining Gates, she was a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and president and CEO of Jobs for the Future, a research and policy development organization she co-founded.

Hilary is a graduate of the Yale School of Management and Yale College. She holds a graduate degree in social anthropology from Oxford University and a master’s degree in theological studies from the Episcopal Divinity School. In 2000, she was a fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Rev. Dr. Bob Roberts, Senior Pastor, NorthWood Church, Keller, Texas

Dr. Bob Roberts, Jr., founding/Sr. Pastor of NorthWood Church, Ft. Worth, TX. NorthWood has started over 200 churches in the US and a center for training new pastors.  He is a leading practitioner and writer on Glocal transformation of individuals, religious communities, NGOs, cities and global engagement, having worked extensively with the UN and various State Departments globally.  He is a nationally and internationally recognized speaker and author of books including Transformation, Glocalization, Real-Time Connections and Bold as Love. Bob is married to Nikki and they have two children and three grandchildren.  

Kashif Shaikh, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Pillars Fund

 Kashif Shaikh is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Pillars Fund, an organization that invests in and amplifies the talents, narratives and leadership of American Muslims. With over 11 years of experience in the philanthropic sector, Kashif is a leading voice in the field of institutional philanthropy and the important role it plays in empowering vulnerable communities. Kashif helped found Pillars in 2010 in partnership with the Chicago Community Trust. Kashif, along with his co-founder, helped grow Pillars into a leading voice for the American Muslim community. Nationally recognized for its unique and innovative work, Pillars has invested over $2M into some of the country’s most important nonprofits that are actively working with and alongside the American Muslim community. Pillars has partnered with some of the country’s most important civic institutions, including the Ford Foundation, Kellogg Foundation, the Aspen Institute and Auburn Seminary, to ensure American Muslim community voices are an important part of our country's national discourse on cultural and civic identity.