Meet our Cultural Ambassadors
H.E. Ambassador Mussie Hailu
H.E. Ambassador Mussie Hailu is a peace activist who is working at national, regional and international level in promoting peace, reconciliation, interfaith & inter-cultural harmony, disarmament, world citizenship, building right human relationships, constructive dialogue and building bridges for international cooperation and promoting the teaching of the Golden Rule which says “Treat others the way you want to be treated” as a guiding principle to enhance respect and human dignity. He also actively works against the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in Africa.
He served as Diplomat and Ambassador at large. He is a founding member of United Religions Initiative (URI) and currently serving as Global envoy of URI, Representative of URI to the African Union and UN office in Africa, Regional Director of URI for Africa. He also service as special advisor of the African Union –Economic, Social and Cultural Council (AU-ECOSOCC)
He participated for many years at:
- UN General Assembly in New York
- African Union Heads of States Summit
- Peace, environmental protection, security and counter violent extremism conferences at national, regional and international levels.
Amb. Mussie Hailu travels extensively to most parts of the world addressing the issue of Culture of peace, Reconciliation, Environmental Protection, Right human relationships, Interfaith & inter-religious harmony, dialogue among civilizations, eradication of poverty, the need to practice the Golden Rule and Compassion.
Amb. Mussie Hailu promoted people to people relations between many countries and pioneered positive initiatives in Africa including an interfaith movement in his own country of Ethiopia and in many other African countries. He also took the initiative with the Former President of Ethiopia to establish a Council of Former African Heads of States and Governments for Environmental Protection and Climate Change in Africa. His initiative includes a “Declaration for Peace” distributed worldwide during the 50th anniversary of the United Nations in 1995. This declaration was intended to encourage people to make a personal commitment to stand for global peace, human rights, environmental & animal protection, cooperation and International Unity.
After the 1994 genocide in Rwanda he worked with the National and Unity Commission of Rwanda on the issue of peace and reconciliation in Rwanda.
He introduced Golden Rule Day to the world to foster inter-religious, inter-cultural harmony and to build a culture of peace and constructive dialogue and respect in the world. The Golden Rule Day is now celebrated in many parts of the world and he is also the one who drafted the Golden Rule Proclamation which is endorsed by organizations in over 120 countries
Dr. Phramaha Boonchuay Doojai
Dr. Phramaha Boonchuay Doojai is a senior Buddhist Monk from Chiang Mai, Thailand where among his many roles he is a lecturer at Graduate School Center, Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University (MCU). He was also a vice rector of MCU, Chiang Mai Campus. For decades Phramaha Boonchuay has been a leading interfaith activist in Thailand and abroad and is the Chairperson, Asian Interfaith Network on HIV/AIDS. He is also involved in Peace Building in the troubled southern part of Thailand and other parts of the country. He is Vice Chair for the Niwano Peace Prize Committee in Japan and was the Convener and Host for the first U DAY Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand in 2012.
Haji Syed Salman Chishty
Haji Syed Salman Chishty is the 26th Generation Gaddi-Nashin (Hereditary Custodians/Key Holders) through his Chishty family which has been engaged in serving at the globally famed, acknowledged and renowned center of Peace and Unity for the whole of Humanity – THE BLESSED DARGAH AJMER SHARIF SUFI SHRINE of the 11th Century Sufi Grand Master Teacher Hz.KHAWAJA MOINUDEEN HASAN CHISHTY(R.A.), whose blessed Shrine’s keys have been passed on to the present family of Gaddi-Nashins through generation to generation over the last 800 years.
From an early age he has been passionate about the World Sufi Spiritual Traditions with a special focus on the Chishty Sufi Order. After completing his basic education from Ajmer Sharif, he got a Bachelors Degree in Economic and Commerce from Wilson College, University of Mumbai. Subsequent years have been completely dedicated towards his practical Sufi spiritual research studies on World Sufi Traditions and their impact on the different cultures and traditions of the world and vice versa. His passion and deep longing towards the mystic World of Sufi’s and Spiritual cultures of the world has enabled him to travel across various Sufi destinations globally where he has been regularly invited to speak and participate in International Sufi and Inter Social Conferences on Spirituality, Interfaith Dialogue, top Global University Conferences such as Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University’s annual Student Events, as well as interactive sessions on campus through conducting workshops on Chishty Spiritual Understandings with a special focus on Khidmat e Khalq (Service towards Humanity), Importance of Sufi Musical renderings in Chishty Sufi Order, Sufi Arts, Sufi Poetry, and Sufi Literature. He has represented the Chishty Sufi Order in countries as diverse as Al Hijaz – Arabian Peninsula, Egypt, Turkey, Morocco, Senegal, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Singapore, United States of America, United Kingdom, Greece, Bosnia Herzegovina, The Netherlands, Iran, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, China, Hong Kong, Myanmar, and many more.
He has been constantly engaged in sharing the blessed Sufi teachings of great Sufi Grand Masters; teachers such as Hz.Khawaja Moinuddin Hasan Chishty(ra) and Hz.Mevelana Rumi(ra), as well as other great Sufi Spiritual Masters- teachers from last 1400 years through The Islamic Art of Calligraphy, Islamic Architectural Sacred Designs patters, Islamic Monuments Photography, Sufi Poetry Culture and Sufi musical renderings which unite all of Humanity in Oneness towards the feelings of Truth and Divine Reality.
Dr. Mohinder Singh
Dr. Mohinder Singh is presently Director, National Institute of Panjab Studies, Bhai Vir Singh Sahitya Sadan, New Delhi. He also served as Member, National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions, Government of India, (2010 – 2014) . He was Director, Guru Nanak Foundation, New Delhi (1982-1990). Professor of Eminence, Punjabi University, Patiala (2012 – 2016). Visiting Professor of Sikhism, Centre for Global Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara (2016)
In 1974 Dr. Singh was awarded Fellowship by the Indian Council of Historical Research to carry on his research work on the Akali Movement in the United Kingdom, which later earned him his Doctorate. Author of several standard works on Sikh history and religion, Dr. Singh sits on the Advisory Boards of several national and international organizations. He has lectured on Sikh studies at several Indian and foreign universities including the University of California, Berkeley and Santa Barbara, Dr.Singh had the rare privilege of representing Sikh religion in various international forums and had audience with Queen Elizabeth II during Commonwealth Observation Day at Westminster Abbey in June 1975, and with Pope Francis in November 2014 in Vatican and in September 2016 in Assisi.
Ahmed Tijani Ben Omar
Ahmed Tijani Ben Omar was born in Accra, Ghana. His hometown is Asamankese, West Akim Municipal District, Ghana. He specialised in Islamic Law and Jurisprudence, including comparative religion, astronomy, spiritual science and healing, divine poetry and chanting, fine arts and culture.
Tijani is a leader of the Tijaniyyah, which came to the United States in the 1970s. He is also the National Advisor International Association of Sufism USA; Advisor Islamic Studies and Research Association ISSRA USA; President and Imam Universal Islamic Center USA; Member of the World Council of Religious Leaders under the auspices of The United Nations Millennium World Peace Summit.
He has traveled to over 115 countries worldwide giving numerous lectures and presentations at conferences, universities and public gatherings around the world. Hosted and directed several national and international Islamic conferences for peace.
Tijani spends his time between the United States and Africa. He has been involved in peacemaking work in Chicago’s inner cities and inter-faith activity across the world. He is an ardent public opponent of literalism and extreme Wahhabi theology.
Rabbi Gabriel Hagai
Gabriel Hagai is an Orthodox Rabbi, lecturer, linguist, philologist, paleographer-codicologist, mediator, poet, calligrapher and singer. Educated in Jerusalem and Boston, he is a researcher and a guest lecturer at a number of Parisian universities and higher institutes.
Very invested in interreligious dialogue, he is an active member and a councillor of several interfaith organizations in Europe and worldwide. Father and grandfather, he is also a Master-Initiator in a non-dualist mystical tradition of Sephardic Judaism whose uninterrupted spiritual lineage goes back to Moses.
Gabriel Hagaï is co-author of the books: “Rites – Fêtes et Célébrations de l’Humanité” (dir. Thierry-Marie Courau et Henri de La Hougue), Bayard, 2012; and “L’Aventure de la Calligraphie” (dir. Colette Poggi), Bayard, 2014.
Dr. A. K. Merchant
Dr. A. K. Merchant is a Trustee of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of India since 1989 & the Lotus Temple in New Delhi; Trustee & Executive Secretary, Temple of Understanding India Foundation. He also serves as National Trustee, Sarvodaya International Trust; Member, Governing Board, Shanti Sahyog; Secretary, Parkash Foundation (Resource Centre for differently-abled children); Visiting Faculty, Centre for Cultural Resources & Training, Ministry of Culture, Government of India. A subject expert for research scholars enrolled for “interfaith education and Indian culture” of the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund; Honorary Director, Messrs. MK Aromatics Limited, Chennai.
Dr. Merchant is the author of three monographs: (i) Communal Harmony—India’s Greatest Challenge (1991), which has been quoted in one of the Supreme Court Judgments on “Babri Masjid—Ram Janambhoomi” dispute, and (ii) Hindu Dharma evam Bahá’í Dharma (1999), (iii) Five Basic Human Values & the Bahá’í Faith (2009), and over two hundred articles and research papers that have been published in national and international dailies, journals and books.
Dr. Merchant has addressed many international and national conferences, symposia and seminars in India and abroad since 1985. He represented the Indian Bahá’í Community at the 8th Asian Buddhist Conference for Peace, September 1990, held in Ulan Bator, Mongolia. He is an alumni of the United States’ State Department International Exchange Program 2005 for the project on “religious diversity in America post 9/11”; he was invited by H. H. Pope Benedict XVI as National Trustee of the Bahá’í Community of India to the interfaith conference to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Assisi and the World Prayer Day for Justice and Peace held at the Vatican and Assisi, 26-28 October 2011. He has been participating and contributing to the deliberations of the Parliament of the World’s Religions held in Chicago (1993), Cape Town (1999), Barcelona (2004), Melbourne (2009), Salt Lake City (2015). On several occasions he was invited by the H. H. the Dalai Lama to address interfaith conferences and assist with organization of international conferences and seminars in India. He is an active promoter of the interfaith movement; gender justice, world peace, Agenda 2030–Sustainable Development Goals of the U.N., inter alia.
Chief Phil Lane Jr.
Hereditary Chief Phil Lane Jr. is an enrolled member of the Ihanktonwan Dakota and Chickasaw Nations and is an internationally recognized leader in human, community, and economic development.
During the past 50 years, Chief Lane has worked with Indigenous Peoples from the Americas, Micronesia, South East Asia, China, India, Bhutan, Hawaii, and Africa. He served 16 years as an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Education at the University of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada (1980-1996).
On August 15, 1992 in recognition of his hereditary lineage of leadership and longtime service to Indigenous Peoples and the Human Family, Indigenous Elders from across North America recognized Phil as a Hereditary Chief of the Hinhan Wicasa and Deloria Tiospayes of the Ihanktonwan Dakota, through a Traditional Headdress Ceremony.
Since 2008, Chief Lane has stepped into global leadership. He currently serves as a member of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, (AISES), Council of Elders. He is host of the Shift Network’s Global Indigenous Wisdom Summits. As well, Chief Lane is an Honorary International Advisor to the Help Foundation of the Beijing Women’s and Children’s Development Foundation and is a co-founder and Global Trustee of the United Religions Initiative.
In 1982, with Indigenous elders and spiritual leaders from across North, America, Chief Lane founded the Four Worlds International Institute (FWII). FWII became an independent Institute in 1995. With Chief Lane’s guidance and applied experience, FWII has become an internationally recognized leader in human, community, and economic development because of the Institute’s unique focus on the importance of culture and spirituality in all elements of development.
Mindahi Bastida Munoz
Mindahi Crescencio Bastida Muñoz is the Director of the Original Caretakers Program, Center for Earth Ethics, Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York (2017- ), and General Coordinator of the Otomi-Toltec Regional Council in Mexico, a caretaker of the philosophy and traditions of the Otomi-Toltec peoples, and has been an Otomi-Toltec Ritual Ceremony Officer since 1988.
Bastida Muñoz is also the President of the Mexico Council of Sustainable Development, a member of the Steering Committee of the Indigenous Peoples’ Biocultural Climate Change Assessment Initiative (www.ipcca.info/ ), and has served as a delegate to several commissions and summits on indigenous rights and the environment including the 7th World Water Forum in Daegu and Gyeongju, Korea, April 12-17, 2015.
Born in Tultepec, Mexico, he holds a Doctorate of Rural Development from the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana He has written extensively on the relationship between the State and Indigenous Peoples, intercultural education, collective intellectual property rights and associated traditional knowledge, among other topics.
Sam Cook has an extensive career in the arts and entertainment industry spanning close to thirty-years. A retired musician, she was the Director of The Dreaming Festival and a programmer of the Woodford Folk Festival.
Artistically, Sam is a playwright, writer, visual artist and graphic designer. Administratively, Sam started working in publishing ahead of becoming the CEO of a leading Australian Theatre Company before launching her company KISSmyBLAKarts which has tentacles into Artist Management and Apparel. Recipient of the UK Arts Council Fellowship in 2007 and 2011, winner of National Aboriginal Youth of the Year in 1999 and Broome Aboriginal Artist of the Year in 1998, Sam’s the founding Aboriginal columnist for Artshub, Tracker and founder of Australia’s Black History Month. Most recently she led a 20million global movement through #SOSBLAKAUSTRALIA and has recently founded Kaltja International an ethical economic disruption and cryptocurrency for Indigenous people worldwide.
Jason currently works as a Koorie Engagement Support Officer with the Department Of Education. Jason’s passion for the job is in supporting the development of Individual Education Plans that identify and meet individual students academic points of need in numeracy and literacy. Also developing strategies for social connections and setting short term GOALS that enable young people to experience measurable academic success that leads sequentially to long term success.
Jason is the Mutthi Mutthi Wuthunghi (man) responsible for ceremony and calling on the ancestors in ceremonies such as funerals or healing and cleansing ceremonies such as traditional smoking ceremonies.
He led the smoking and welcoming ceremony in Balranald for the Return to County of Mungo Man, and his passion is healing through our connection to mother earth, our ancestors, and the universe.
Jon Eliot Ramer (born 1958) is an American entrepreneur, civic leader, community organizer, inventor, and musician.
He was a co-founder of Unity Project Seattle with John Hale and the Interfaith Amigos, Imam Jamal Rahman, Pastor Don Mackenzie and Rabbi Ted Falcon who started working together after 9/11.
He is also the designer and co-founder of the International Campaign for Compassionate Cities, that led the effort to make the city of Seattle the first in the world to affirm Karen Armstrong’s Charter for Compassion. There are now over 400 cities around the world that have started similar campaigns.
Most recently, Ramer conceived of and produced the “Compassion Games: Survival of the Kindest” in response to a challenge from the mayor of Louisville, Kentucky to other cities to outdo Louisville’s compassionate action as measured by hours of community services and numbers of people served. In five years the Compassion Games has served over fifteen million people in over 40 countries.
Warm greetings! My name is Darcy Demas. I’m a Dakota man from Pipestone, Manitoba, Canada. I was born August 12, 1964, and was raised in Manitoba until 1996. I was raised in poverty, high rates of alcoholism and violence. I moved to British Columbia in November 1996 with my six-year-old daughter Desirae.
I have been involved with Dakota culture for more than thirty years. I have danced in the Sun Dance for twenty years. I have been singing and assisting the elders for eleven years now. My passion is teaching my Dakota culture. I specifically appreciate being able to sing and write songs in my Dakota language. I am, also, a Dakota cultural artisan. My understanding of my cultural values and beliefs are the spiritual foundation in my life and have given me sobriety and the ability to maintain sobriety.
I am also a member of the Four Worlds International Institute (FWII) NGO.
Rev. Deborah Moldow
Rev. Deborah Moldow is an ordained interfaith minister committed to assisting in the transformation of human consciousness to a culture of peace through her ministry, international peace work, interfaith efforts, speaking, writing and singing, all part of the movement of awakening humanity.
Deborah is the founder of the Garden of Light, an online platform for the emerging global spirituality. The purpose of the Garden of Light is to provide a virtual home for a new community rooted in shared spirituality that transcends differences of culture so that it can become visible as a powerful force in uplifting the human spirit.
She is Co-Director with Diane Williams of the Evolutionary Leaders circle, a project of the Source of Synergy Foundation that brings together visionaries committed to the acceleration of the conscious evolution of humanity in these critical times.
Deborah served for more than 20 years as the Representative to the United Nations of the World Peace Prayer Society, which promotes the universal prayer “May Peace Prevail on Earth,” and has traveled the globe to conduct Peace Pole dedications and World Peace Flag Ceremonies sending peace to every nation. At the United Nations, she co-chaired the International Day of Peace NGO Committee and the Values Caucus, and founded the United Religions Initiative multi-faith cooperation circle.
Rev. Deborah leads monthly Interfaith Sundays at the Chapel at Croton Falls, facilitates a local Spirit Salon, and has a practice in spiritual counselling.
Monica Willard is the Main URI Representative to the United Nations and coordinates the team of URI Representatives to the United Nations.
She has worked with the UN Department of Public Information (DPI) on the annual Student Observance for the International Day of Peace at UN Headquarters since 1997. She served as a founding member of the International Day of Peace NGO Committee at the UN in 2002 and is currently serving as the Co-Chair. As President of the Committee of Religious NGOs at the UN (2010-2013), she organized programs for World Interfaith Harmony Week, including two held in the UN General Assembly. She was a founding member of the Tripartite Forum, a group of UN Member States, UN Agencies and Religious NGOs who worked together from 2005-2010 to promote cooperation within the UN system on religion, peace and development. Monica was Chair of the 49th Annual DPI /NGO Conference at the United Nations.
Her awards include the Spirit of the UN Award from CSVGC-NY and The Chapel of the Four Chaplains Award.
Lama Doboom Tulku
Lama Doboom Tulku was born in the Kham region of Tibet in 1941 and recognized as the reincarnation of the previous Doboom Tulku at the age of two by Phurchog Jampa Rinpoche. At the age of 12, he joined Drepung Monastery in Central Tibet and studied Buddhist Philosophy. He came to India in 1959, and lived in a monastic camp in West Bengal to continue his studies. At the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies then under the auspices of Sanskrit University, Varanasi, he studied Buddhist Philosophy and received Geshe-Archarya degree in 1972. He was awarded an honorary doctorate degree in Buddhist Studies by the Mahachulalongkorn Buddhist University of Bangkok in 1999. From 1972 until March 2011, he worked in various academic, cultural and administrative institutions of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He pursued a millennium project of World Festival of Sacred Music which became a worldwide event with festivals at over dozen venues in different continents.
He is currently engaged in inter-religious and cross-cultural activities through art and culture, as the Founder Managing Trustee of World Buddhist Culture Trust. He is author/editor/compiler of Buddhist Iconography (English, 1989), Buddhist Translations: Problems and Perspectives (English, 1995), Mahayana Buddhism-History and Culture (English, 2008), Buddhist Path to Enlightenment (English, 1996), Gyalwai Choetsul (rgyal bai chos tsul, Tibetan, 2008), Ngulkar Melong (dngul dkar me long , Tibetan, 2011), Dodang Sayi Tenchoe (rdo dang sa yI bstan bcos, Tibetan, 2005), Tsodang Dawai Tenchoe (mtso dang zla bai bstan bchos, Tibetan, 2012) and Words Well Spoken: Maxims of Earth & Stone (English, 2012) and Maxims of Ocean & Moon (English, 2013). He co-authored several academic works.
Confirmed Artists and Participants
King Shiloh Sound System, based in Amsterdam, Holland, is an international, independently operating, roots reggae sound system, founded and inspired through the inspiration of Jah Rastafari.
Grammy nominated musician and activist, Rocky Dawuni, straddles the boundaries between Africa, the Caribbean and the U.S. to create his appealing Afro Roots sound that unites generations and cultures. A galvanizing performer, Dawuni has shared the stage with Stevie Wonder, Peter Gabriel, Bono, Jason Mraz, Janelle Monae and John Legend, among many others. Named one of Africa’s Top 10 global stars by CNN, he has showcased his talent at prestigious venues such as The Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center and The Hollywood Bowl.
Kristin Hoffmann is a Julliard trained singer-songwriter-musician with extraordinary artistic range. Her music has been heard on major record labels, film and television, and she has performed throughout the world, collaborating with musical luminaries on projects ranging from individual albums to grand symphonic productions.
Kristin’s songs reflect her personal luminosity, her warmth, and her talent for bringing out music’s healing power.
Premik Russell Tubbs, a composer, arranger, producer and an accomplished multi- instrumentalist, performs on various flutes, soprano, alto and tenor saxophones, wind synthesizer and lap steel guitar.
Since 2008, Premik has been part of the house band for Sting’s Rainforest Foundation Fund benefit concerts at Carnegie Hall, where he has backed up such diverse artists as Sting, Elton John, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, Lady Gaga, James Taylor, Vince Gil, Rosanne Cash and many others. He has been collaborating and performing with Kristin Hoffmann since 2003.
(African Artists Peace Initiative Ambassador, AAPI)
Sydney Salmon was born in Kingston, Jamaica and now lives in Shashamane, Ethiopia. Sydney’s mission is to use music to promote and support the Jamaican Rastafarian Development Community (JRDC) Organization in Shashamane. (Video). His lyrics have weaved their way into the hearts of reggae loving Ethiopians with his unique brand that incorporates traditional Ethiopian styles and melodies with a pulsating Jamaican drum and bass. Tune in to Sydney Salmon music on iTunes.
Lyla June Johnston
Lyla June Johnston is of Diné (Navajo), Tsétsêhéstâhese (Cheyenne) and European lineages. She is a musician, poet, anthropologist, community organizer and servant of humanity. She is currently working with an intergenerational cohort of Diné peoples to develop a community based curriculum and summer school. Her poetry, her music and her message has been honored nationally and internationally for its allegiance to non-violence, women’s health, faith and forgiveness. Her dream is to revitalize indigenous systems of sustainable living.
From the remote community of Ivanhoe in Western NSW, proud Ngiyampaa man Dane Kennedy has performed along side acts including Christine Anu, Coloured Stone, Bonja, Sarah Mcleod, Dean Lewis and Jeff Martin, and co-written with the likes of Kevin Bennet, Mike Carr and Fanny Lumsden.
Dane is based in Wagga Wagga NSW and has travelled to the USA to record his first original track titled “In My Mind” at House of Blues in Nashville, which was written after the loss of his brother. It expresses his struggle to come to terms with this tragic event.
“Chi” Suwichan Phatthanaphraiwan
“Chi” Suwichan Phatthanaphraiwan is a prominent Karen artist, musician, composer, educator and community activist based in Thailand. Chi is no ordinary singer. There is passion in his words and a seraphic quality to his lofty pitch that gently drifts among the rolling mists and towering pines of his beloved homeland. Chi is a member of the Karen tribe of northern Thailand. His people have lived there for centuries, yet the current Thai government does not recognize them as citizens. Chi becomes a prominent voice of the Karen people, both for his music and also for his many years of being at the forefront of indigenous peoples’ activism — fighting for their rights.
- High ranking representatives of the Thai Buddhist Clergy have agreed to attend the event and ceremonially pass the “Torch of Unity” to Ethiopia.