Board of Advisers

Maria Leppakari

Rev. Dr. Maria Leppäkari

Director of the Swedish Theological Institute in Jerusalem (STI)

Motivated by 22 years of professional relationship with Jerusalem, Rev. Leppäkari encourages people not to be afraid to build bridges of understandings through intercultural and religious dialogue: Rev. Dr. Leppäkari holds a Doctoral degree in Theology (2002) from Åbo Akademi University, Finland and is Docent (Adjunct Professor) in Comparative Religion. Her expertise spans from academic research to applied leadership. In September 2019 she was the first woman to be ordained Reverend in Jerusalem in the Arabic speaking congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL). She has published extensively on Jerusalem, and is best known for her book Apocalyptic Representations of Jerusalem. Her most recent book is Pilgrimage and Tourism to Holy Cities: Ideological and Management Perspectives, co-edited together with Dr. Kevin Griffin.

Swedish Theological Institute in Jerusalem

Rabbi David Rosen

Rabbi David Rosen

International Director of Interreligious Affairs of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and Director of AJC's Heilbrunn Institute for International Interreligious Understanding

Rabbi Rosen, former Chief Rabbi of Ireland, is a past chairman of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations. He also serves as the Adviser on Interreligious Affairs to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel; is a member of the Chief Rabbinate’s delegation for Interreligious Dialogue; and serves on the Council of the Religious Institutions of the Holy Land. He is the only Jewish member of the Board of Directors of the King Abdullah International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue, established by the King of Saudi Arabia together with the governments of Austria and Spain. In  2005, Pope Benedict XVI made Rabbi Rosen a Knight of the Order of St. Gregory the Great for his contribution to promoting Catholic-Jewish reconciliation; and in 2010 H.M. Queen Elizabeth II made him a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) for his contributions to interfaith relations.

For videos of Rabbi Rosen on religion and ecology, see:
Dr. Mohammed S. Dajani

Dr. Mohammed S. Dajani

Dr. Dajani is a Weston Fellow at The Washington Institute, founded the Wasatia movement of moderate Islam and previously worked as a professor of political science at al-Quds University in Jerusalem. A Jerusalem-born scholar and peace activist, Dr. Dajani holds doctorate degrees from the University of Texas and University of South Carolina. He is the founding director of the Jerusalem Studies and Research Institute, chair of the board of directors of the House of Water and Environment in Ramallah, and a member of the board of directors of the Jerusalem International YMCA. He has written extensively on Arab culture and politics, including an International Herald Tribune op-ed.

Marilyn C. Burke

President - The Julia Burke Foundation (United States)

The Julia Burke Foundation is based in the United States and has wide-ranging projects on five continents. Marilyn is a long-serving board member of The HALO Trust, an humanitarian organization that removes landmines and other explosive remnants of war throughout the world. Marilyn also served for four years as a member of the Board of Directors of The Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development.

She holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of San Francisco, and lives in California and Hawaii.


Most Rev. Bishop William Shomali

Auxiliary Bishop and Patriarchal Vicar for Jordan

Most Rev. Bishop Shomali was born in Beit Sahour (Palestine) in 1950. He earned a B.A. in philosophy and Theology and was subsequently ordained as a priest in Jerusalem in 1972. He earned a Doctor of Divinity degree, and served as professor of liturgy, vice-rector and dean of studies at the Faculty of Philosophy and Theology of the Major Seminary of Jerusalem. In 2005 he became Rector of the same seminary. In 2009, he became Chancellor of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. In 2010 he was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI as Titular Bishop of Lydda and Patriarchal Vicar for Jerusalem and Palestine on April 7, 2010; and ordained Bishop on May 27, 2010 in Bethlehem. On February 4, 2017 he was nominated as Patriarchal Vicar for Jordan.

Shelly Bengiat

Shelly Bengiat is an Israeli, Australian and Colombian citizen, wife, mother of three, educator, businesswoman, technologist and environmentalist passionate to educate about Eco-Theology and learn from spiritual ecological teachings from interfaith and indigenous communities. Shelly is the founder of several Australian companies, including Study-Id, Envirotech Education, and Envirotech International, which she owns with her husband Noah Bengiat. Today they operate three Australian campuses and continue to invest in innovation, environmental management, sustainability, marine habitat conservation and restoration education. Shelly is very proud to employ many excellent marine, sustainability and education experts from several countries. Shelly’s passion for international educational and industry collaboration motivates the formation of unique international linkages and educational collaborations for marine conservation and restoration projects.

Dr. Joan Lurie

UN/NGO Representative of the International Council of Jewish Women and Member-at-Large of the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development

Dr. Lurie is a physicist and business development consultant living in New York City and dealing with applications of satellite imagery and technology transfer. Her current interests include using satellite imagery to study the environment and the assessment of sustainable development projects. At the United Nations she represents the International Council of Jewish Women, and is a member of the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development where her work emphasizes the relationship between women’s rights and sustainability.

Rev. Dr. Angela W. Zimmann

Vice President for Advancement; Adjunct Professor of Homiletics, United Lutheran Seminary, Pennsylvania

Prior to arriving at LTSG in 2014, Zimmann served in Jerusalem, Israel/Palestine as Pastor and Special Assistant to Bishop Munib Younan, (President of the Lutheran World Federation) and co-pastor of the English congregation at Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem. She has also served as pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Riga, MI, ran for congress in the 5th District of Ohio, and taught full-time at Bowling Green State University from 2008-2013. She has taught preaching courses at Gettysburg Seminary occasionally since 2007. While in Jerusalem, Angela served on the Board of the Anglican International School in Jerusalem (AISJ). Angela is married to Rev. Martin Otto Zimmann, Ph.D., and is the mother of two children, Seth and Chelsea.

Professor Pankaj Jain

Professor Pankaj Jain

Head, Humanities and Languages, Chair, The India Centre, Professor, Philosophy & Religious Studies, FLAME University.

Pankaj Jain is an internationally recognized academic leader in Sustainability, Jain Studies, Film Studies, and Diaspora Studies. He is the Head of the Department of Humanities & Languages and the Chair of The India Centre at FLAME University. Earlier, he was the founding co-chair of India Initiatives Group and Associate Professor in the Departments of Philosophy & Religion and Anthropology at the University of North Texas. He is currently co-editing the Encyclopedia of Hinduism and a volume on Indian and Western Philosophical Concepts in Religion. He is also the author of the award-winning Dharma and Ecology of Hindu Communities: Sustenance and Sustainability and Science and Socio-Religious Revolution in India: Moving the Mountains.