The Burlington Forum on Coexistence Videos – Recorded December 7, 2018
In honor of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration for Human Rights, Grace Initiative Global and The Episcopal Church in Vermont hosted “The Burlington Forum on Coexistence” at the Cathedral Church of Saint Paul in Burlington, VT, on Friday, December 7, 2018. The purpose of the event was to promote dignity, respect and coexistence, and to offer a roadmap for addressing hatred, anger and exclusion. The Forum featured brief remarks from faith leaders and community members working to combat economic injustice and violence, and those defending migrants, refugees, and people marginalized by gender, race or religion. Videos of the featured speakers are presented here, lightly edited.
Yvonne Lodico, founded the Grace Initiative Global in January 2016, and conceptualized, implemented projects on sustainable peace including: workshops at the United Nations headquarters; UN Women CSW events on empowering women in peace and restorative development; workshops in Washington on healing, empowering and transforming lives of rural women. Further, Yvonne created three retreats in Vermont, including the first UN G77 retreat on sustainable and resilient communities held in the US; UN CSW event; and, a retreat with Harvard Program on Refugee Trauma. Grace Initiative is registered in Vermont and in Colombia, has developed partnerships with leading Colombia NGOs including Caritas Colombiana. Further, Grace Initiative co-sponsored the Boston Forum on Coexistence. Grace Initiative’s goal is to create an innovative peacebuilding organization. Prior to the founding Grace Initiative, Yvonne served 15 years with the UN, including as head of an office in New York and eight and half years of service on peacekeeping missions in sub-Sahara Africa and as a special advisor for the Secretary-General on the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste. Also, she was a lecturer of Human rights law at Univ. of Melbourne, Australia. Ms. Lodico has published and given presentations on democratic governance, peacekeeping, humanitarian intervention, stem cell research and faith, faith and pluralistic societies. Ms. Lodico has received awards and scholarships from Yale University Divinity School, European Academy of Economic and Cultural Relations, and New York State Bar Association. Ms. Lodico holds advanced degrees in law, international affairs, and religion from New York University, Columbia University and Yale University. Ms. Lodico owns a farm in Australia and has a wonderful son.
Dr. Muhammad Hussain
Dr. Muhammad Hussain is representing Al-Khoei Foundation and participated in the Boston Forum. He is an Adjunct Professor in Islamic Studies at Drew University in Madison NJ. He has extensive experience in interfaith and intercultural peacebuilding. Recently Muhammad Hussain played a central role in organizing a conference at the United Nations called, Reclaiming the Intellectual Primacy & Promoting Just & Peaceful Societies, attended by Muslim and non-Muslim scholars from around the world. Before leaving for USA, Mr. Muhammad Hussain served as a Subject Matter Expert in Islamic Peacebuilding for an Islamabad-based leading peace organization, Peace and Education Foundation and has contributed to a large-scale social change within Pakistani conservative religious communities by promoting peacemaking, democratic principles of pluralism, inter-religious tolerance, human rights, and educational excellence. He has developed textbooks, teacher guides, training manuals, and has trained hundreds of interfaith leaders, social activists and youth belonging to diverse communities.
Rabbi Amy Joy Small
Rabbi Amy Joy Small has been the Senior Rabbi of Ohavi Zedek Synagogue in Burlington, VT, since January 2016. For two years prior, she created New Jersey based Deborah’s Palm Center for Jewish Learning & Experiences, designed to provide experiences for adult learners to access meaningful, spiritual Jewish living. Rabbi Small previously served congregations in New Jersey, Michigan and Indiana. She is a past president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association and The Partnership for Jewish Learning and Life of the Jewish Federation of Greater Metrowest, NJ. She is a fellow of Rabbis Without Borders, a Senior Rabbinic Fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute, and a Storahtelling Maven. Rabbi Small was awarded a Doctor of Divinity, Honoris Causa from RRC in 2012. She has served on many national and local boards of Jewish and interfaith organizations, including the Jewish Federation of Greater Metrowest NJ, the Gottesman RTW Academy, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (RRC) and Jewish Reconstructionist Communities, and was a Vice Chair of the National JNFA Rabbinic Cabinet. Rabbi Small was previously Dean of Academic Administration and Director of the Education Program at the RRC. Ordained from the RRC in 1987 with an M.A. in Hebrew letters, she earned an M.A. in Education from Villanova University and a B.S. in Education from Temple University. Publications include selections in A Women’s Haftarah Commentary (ed. Rabbi Elyse Goldstein), Three Times Chai: 54 Rabbis Tell Their Favorite Stories (ed. Laney Katz Becker), and Text Messages (ed. Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin.) Her blog, “Raviva” is found at: https://rabbiamyjoy.wordpress.com/wp-admin/
Maurice L. Harris
Maurice L. Harris is the communications minister for The Episcopal Church in Vermont and serves as co-convener of the diocese’s Racial Reconciliation/Racial Healing Network. He also consults with several nonprofits and women-and-minority-owned business in Ohio and New England. Social justice and human dignity are prevailing themes in Maurice’s work, and he leverages his various roles to champion racial justice, economic justice, LGBTQ equality, inclusion, and diversity. In the early aughts, Maurice led a successful and, at the time, controversial effort to achieve same-gender partner benefits and LGBTQ outreach strategies at Fifth Third Bank, one of the largest money managers in the Midwest, while working there as an Assistant Vice President. He was later named a lifetime member of the Women’s City Club of Greater Cincinnati for his role as a media producer and consultant in the organization’s campaign to raise awareness about income inadequacy. Since relocating to Brattleboro, Vermont with his husband Might in 2016, Maurice has been engaged in the Racial Reconciliation/Racial Healing Network as an extension of his communications work. He has also been busy completing his PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Ethical and Creative Leadership and a specialization in Martin Luther King Studies and Social Change at the Union Institute & University. Drawing on his early career as a songwriter for television and film, Maurice has been studying about and composing popular music for social change. His most recent work includes “A Vision for Our Lives,” a collaboration with singer/actress Jennifer Fouche inspired by the Movement for Black Lives.
Robin Lloyd is a peace activist and co-founder of the Peace and Justice Center of Burlington VT. She is a member of the board of the Burlington branch of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom which is sponsoring a Human Rights poster exhibition at the Fletcher Free Library in honor of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, starting Dec. 7 from 5 to 7 pm. All are invited!
Jeff Mandell, MS is devoted to bringing peace and joy to the world by teaching his own blend of conflict management skills, circus, and acroyoga. He designs and leads fun, dynamic, and experiential trainings and workshops that give skills to better communicate, build trust and foster community. Having led the Vermont and New Hampshire chapters of Kids4Peace International for over 5 years, he has prepared youth to be public leaders; breaking down stereotypes to foster supportive, mature friendships rooted in spiritual values of equality and respect. Jeff is sought out by corporations, colleges, nonprofits, schools, and communities to deliver innovative ways to facilitate difficult decisions. Find out more at http://www.jeffmandellacroyoga, and IG: @jeffmandellacroyoga
The Rev. Earl Kooperkamp
The Rev. Kooperkamp is the Rector of the church of the good shepherd in Barre Vermont. He is a board member of Vermont Interfaith Action and this year helped to organize the Poor People’s Campaign in Vermont. He has served parishes in Harlem and the South Bronx and worked as a community organizer in New York City. He also taught church history at Sing Sing prison in New York State. His wife Dr. Elizabeth Kooperkamp is a child psychologist and they have three children and three grandchildren.
Bor Yang is the Executive Director and Legal Counsel of The Vermont Human Rights Commission (VHRC). She joined the VHRC in 2015 as an Administrative Law Examiner where she investigated allegations of discrimination in state employment, public accommodations and housing. She completed her B.A. from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and her J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School in 2003. After a clerkship in District Court, Bor practiced in the areas of family law, government benefits and social security law, representing indigent clients and victims of domestic violence at a non-profit organization. Prior to joining the VHRC, Bor was a solo practitioner, qualified neutral mediator and college instructor in a legal studies program in Minnesota. Additionally, she was a volunteer attorney with the Minnesota Volunteer Lawyer’s Network and provided instruction and training to legal and non-legal professionals on serving immigrant populations. Bor provides training on implicit bias, fair housing laws, bullying, harassment and hazing and more.
The Rev. Canon Nicholas T. Porter, KStJ
Canon Nicholas Porter is the Executive Director of Jerusalem Peacebuilders, a non-profit organization that partners with Jewish, Christian and Muslim educators to provide Middle Eastern youth with the skills, relationships and support they need to be effective leaders and change agents. The former International Chaplin to the Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem, Canon Porter’s commitment to peace and human dignity also involves serving on the board of the American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem that supports 36 different hospitals, schools, orphanages and training centers in Jerusalem, Israel, Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon and leadership service to the Order of St. John the largest provider or ophthalmic health care in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. Canon Porter holds advanced degrees in Middle East Studies, Theology, War Studies, and Conflict Transformation. A two-time graduate from Yale University, he served on the board of the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale, initiating key projects in theology and in Jerusalem. In 2016 Dwight Hall at Yale awarded him the Curran Prize for distinguished public service. An Anglican/Episcopal priest and educator, he served at St. George’s Cathedral in Jerusalem, the American Cathedral in Paris, Emmanuel Church in Geneva and Trinity Church in Southport. He and his wife, Dorothy Meek Porter, live on Acer Farm in Guilford, Vermont. They have three daughters.
Mark Oettinger has practiced law in Vermont for 38 years. His practice focuses on public and private international law, education law, and litigation. He has worked extensively in international judicial reform and is Co-founder of the Russian American Rule of Law Consortium, active between 1991 and 2011. Currently, he is Director of the World Court of Human Rights Development Project, an effort which has received the unanimous endorsement of the World Chief Justices. He has taught for many years as an Adjunct Professor at Champlain College and Vermont Law School and has published extensively. He is Chair of the Vermont Bar Association’s International Law & Practice Section and serves on the Board of the Vermont Council on World Affairs. He is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Albany Law School, and taught law in Russia as a Senior Fulbright Scholar in 1995. Mark is a US, Swiss and German citizen, has been a National Ski Patrolman for 48 years, and plays competitive duplicate bridge.
Mark Hughes is Founder and Executive Director of Justice For All VT (JFA) a grassroots organization that peruses racial justice within Vermont’s criminal justice system through advocacy, education, and relationship building. JFA is a member of the Vermont Human Rights Council among other coalitions. In 2017 JFA founded the Racial Justice Reform Coalition, a 30-organization coalition that went on to orchestrate the successfully passage of Act 54, Racial Disparities in the Criminal and Juvenile Justice System Advisory Panel in 2017 and in 2018, Act 9, an Act created for statewide mitigation of systemic racism. Mark is former Tri-Chair of the Vermont Coordinating Committee of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, former Vice-chair of the Criminal and Juvenile Justice System Advisory Panel and serves on the Board of Directors of Rights and Democracy (c4). He is a retired from the military where he specialized in cryptography and has had an extensive career in cyber security. An Iowa native, he has resided in Vermont for the past nine years. Among his affiliations are the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium, the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign War and the ACLU.
The Rev. Dr. Arnold Isidore Thomas
The Reverend Dr. Arnold Isidore Thomas is Pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Jericho, Vermont. He has served a variety of ministries, including Pastor of the First Congregational Church (now Faith United Church of Christ) in Little Rock, Arkansas; Chaplain and member of the faculty of Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut; Lecturer in Preaching at Yale Divinity School in New Haven, Connecticut; Pastor of First Congregational Church in Williamstown, Massachusetts; Conference Minister of the Vermont Conference of the United Church of Christ; Minister of Education, Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations at The Riverside Church in New York City; Senior Minister at Wilton Congregational in Wilton Connecticut; and Interim Senior Pastor at Charlotte Congregational Church in Charlotte, Vermont. Before pursuing a career in ministry, Rev. Thomas seriously considered becoming an actor having won several awards as a youth in humorous and dramatic interpretation and, as a young adult, playing lead roles at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre in Little Rock, Arkansas. He is also a lyricist whose words have been published as hymns. He and his wife, Vicky Short, live in Underhill, Vermont, and are the parents to three adult children.
Sylvia Knight is representing Migrant Justice, where she is active in their work. She is a member of the Cathedral Church of Saint Paul, Burlington and active in the Jubilee Justice Team at Saint Paul’s. She is a tireless advocate for justice, human rights and the dignity of all. She is also hosting out hospitality today, for which we are most grateful.