GPIW Board of Directors 2016 – 2017
Dena Merriam, USA
Founder and Convener of GPIW. Serves on the boards of the Interfaith Center of New York, AIM for Seva and Dharma Drum Mountain Buddhist Association. Former member of the board of Harvard University Center for the Study of World Religions and the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy. Co-Chair of the Millennium World Peace Summit, the first summit held at the United Nations General Assembly for more than 1500 of the world's religious leaders.
Joan Brown Campbell, Rev. Dr. , USA
Chair of GPIW. Currently the Director of the Department of Religion at Chautauqua Institution, a center for religion, the arts, education and recreation. Holds numerous national and local offices, including: past member of the U.S. State Department Advisory Committee on Religious Freedom Abroad, Trustee for the Council for a Parliament of the World Religions, the Fund for Education in South Africa, the Advisory Committee for Americans for Humanitarian Trade with Cuba, and life member of the NAACP. She was the first woman clergy to serve as the Secretary General of the National Council of Churches.
Benedictine Sister Joan Chittister, USA
Co-Chair of GPIW. Past president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the national organization of 75,000 Catholic religious women leaders in the United States. Served as prioress of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, PA for 12 years. Elected fellow of St. Edmund's College, Cambridge University, Distinguished Alumni of Penn State University, and a member of the Niwano Peace Committee. She held the Brueggeman Chair of Ecumenical Theology for 2001 at Xavier University, Cincinnati.
Marianne Marstrand, Denmark/USA
Since her early years Marianne has been drawn to spiritual practice and the wisdom traditions. She had the great fortune of meeting the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa, head of the Karma Kagyu Lineage of Tibetan Buddhism when she was in her teens, marking a turning point in her life. In 1979 she began her work with the Lindisfarne Association helping to organize and bring together innovative thinkers, spiritual teachers and religious leaders around issues of global concern. For ten years she resided at KTD, H.H. Karmapa's monastery, in Woodstock, New York and was then asked to move to Crestone, Colorado to help coordinate the Karmapa's project there. This work included the construction of the 41 ft. Tashi Gomang Stupa and the creation of infrastructure for a major center there for the Kagyu lineage. In 2001 Marianne began to work with Dena Merriam at The Global Peace Initiative of Women (GPIW) in New York. In her capacity as the Executive Director, she has had the privilege of helping to organize dozens of major gatherings around the world dedicated to interfaith understanding, peace, conflict and healing of earth's ecosystems and strengthening of the voices of women and young leaders --- issues that deeply touch her heart.
GPIW International Advisory Council 2016-2017
Swamini Pramananda, India
Swamini Pramananda Saraswati is a teacher of Vedanta and developer of educational materials on Vedic culture. She has been conducting Vedanta and Vedic Heritage classes for adults and children in India and abroad for over two decades. She also gives Vedic Heritage seminars for the Educational Institutions creating cultural awareness and training teachers for sharing the Heritage Programme with children and adults. For many years she served as a resident teacher at Arsha Vidya Gurukulam, Coimbatore, India, where she taught short and long term courses in Vedanta. Swamini Pramananda lives in Uttarkashi on the banks of the Ganga River and has worked in the local communities to educate villages on how they can participate in cleaning up pollution in the Ganga. She is also a strong advocate of a free-flowing Ganga, unhampered by dams. Swamini recently organized in conjunction with GPIW a program in Rishikesh, India for 25 young Asian leaders on climate change and inner development. Swamini also serves at the GPIW director for India.
Sraddhalu Ranade, India
Scientist, educator and preeminent intellectual on the teachings of the late Indian sage, Sri Aurobindo. Resident scholar at the Sri Aurbindo Ashram in Pondicherry, India. International speaker on Vedic philosophy and ecology, integral education, science and spirituality, spiritual evolution and Yoga, as well as organizational management and self-development. He has authored a book on integral education and produced several DVDs on the aforementioned themes.
Ven. Mae Chee Sansanee Sthirasuta, Thailand
GPIW Co-Chair and ordained Buddhist nun and community leader. Founder and Director of Sathira Dhammasathan, a center for the education of Buddhist nuns, lay women and young children in Bangkok, Thailand. Her center serves as an oasis of beauty and healing in the midst of a busy city. Along with the recent construction of a natural healing center her programs over many years have served tens of thousands of local and international visitors. There is a particular focus on working to promote compassionate leadership in young adults. Ven. Mae Chee Sansanee has traveled extensively across the globe with the Global Peace Initiative of Women promoting international peace and cultural understanding.
Teny-Pirri Simonian, Switzerland
Lay theologian and a researcher in sociology of religions. Pirri-Simonian is a member of the Armenian Orthodox Church, Catholicosate of Cilicia, Antelias, Lebanon. Leadership positions held with the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) and the World Council of Churches (WCC), paying special attention to women in the Orthodox Churches. She is the Vice President of the Ecumenical Relations Committee of The Catholicosate of Cilicia. Member of the Commission on Churches and Religions of the Council of Churches in the Canton of Vaud (Switzerland) and co-founder and coordinator of the European Project for Interreligious Learning (EPIL). She has written extensively on the role of women in the church and society, and on women living together in religiously pluralist societies.
Dr. Ha Vinh Tho, Vietnam & Bhutan
Dr. Ha Vinh Tho is the founder and chairman of Eurasia Foundation, a humanitarian NGO developing educational programs for children and youths living with disabilities, as well as ecological projects in Vietnam. He has been the Head of training, learning and development at the International Committee of the Red Cross from 2005 to 2011. He has recently been appointed as project coordinator to create the Gross National Happiness Learning Centre in Bhumtang Valley, Bhutan. He is a Buddhist teacher (Dharmacharya) in the Tradition of Vietnamese Zen Buddhism (ordained by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh).