Isaac Luria is a leader in the multifaith movement for justice and a pioneer in using digital tools to make social change. As the brains behind the Groundswell digital platform, he helped grow the online faith-based social action network to a community of 100,000 people committed to faith-based social change in just 18 months. Isaac is a trusted strategist, trainer, and coach in how to use digital organizing and media strategies to break through the noise, raise money, and build constituency. Isaac writes and comments frequently on the intersection of movement building, politics, technology, and social change on Twitter (@isaacluria) and as a blogger on the Huffington Post. Previous to his current role as Vice President of Auburn Action at Auburn Seminary, Isaac was the Vice President of New Media and Communications at J Street where worked passionately to build the political constituency in the United States to advocate for a secure Israel at peace with its neighbors. From 2007 to 2008, Isaac was awarded a prestigious year-long fellowship from the Dorot Foundation to spend the year in Israel.
Valarie Kaur, Founder, Groundswell is an award-winning filmmaker, civil rights advocate, and interfaith leader who centers her work around the power of storytelling. As founder of Groundswell at Auburn Seminary, she provided the vision and mission to form what is now the largest multifaith online organizing force for social justice. She has led national campaigns on hate crimes, racial profiling, immigration detention, marriage equality, and solitary confinement. She is a prolific public speaker and frequent political contributor on MSNBC to the Melissa Harris-Perry Show. Her opinion essays regularly appear on CNN, The Washington Post, and The Huffington Post. Valarie earned degrees at Stanford University, Harvard Divinity School, and Yale Law School, where she founded the Yale Visual Law Project to train students in the art of storytelling for social change. The Center for American Progress calls Valarie, a Sikh American, “a standout figure in the world of interfaith organizing and activism” and one of 13 national faith leaders to watch.
Michelle Reyf, Campaigns Manager, Auburn Action, studied Government and Anthropology at Dartmouth College. Upon graduating, she put her love for politics, people, and the Internet together as part of the New Media team of J Street. After a New Media Bootcamp at the New Organizing Institute, Michelle was Director of Digital Media at Auburn Seminary. Today she is the Campaigns Manager for Groundswell – part online organizer, part campaign coach, part digital strategist.
Dan Greenman, Technology Manager, Auburn Action, has worked with nonprofits for the past decade, focusing on operations, production, development and technology. Prior to joining Auburn, Dan was label manager and director of administration at JDub, a noted record label and Jewish cultural organization. Previously, he worked in documentary film production and as a journalist. Dan earned his B.A. in Journalism from Ithaca College.
Rev. John H. Vaughn, Executive Vice President, Auburn Theological Seminary, led the Twenty-First Century Foundation’s response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita from relief to rebuilding. He created the Black Men and Boys program that is forming a national policy agenda shaped both by and for local communities. He also served as one of four senior pastors at the historic Riverside Church as Minister for Education and Social Justice.
Macky Alston, Director of Auburn Media, leads Auburn’s efforts to provide informed, engaging coverage of religion in the media. Alston is an award-winning filmmaker and an organizer in the worlds of media and religion. He has received the Sundance Film Festival Freedom of Expression Award, the Gotham Open Palm Award, three Emmy nominations, and appeared widely in the press, including The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Today Show and The New York Times. Alston is currently making a documentary film about the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire and the church/state battle over LGBT equality entitled The Truth Will Set You Free.
Last weekend, participants of the Interfaith Weekend of Prayer and Compassion met in their churches and communities to preach, pray, converse, light candles and write letters to the children at our borders.
After witnessing the destruction of rainforests in his South American home, the Pope is calling our failure to protect the Earth a “sin of modern times.”
Thousands of people of faith have signed the Groundswell petition calling on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development to stop bullying the workers rights group VOZ over LGBT equality, and the media coverage keeps on coming, but the hard truth is that VOZ took the right moral stand — and lost a big grant.
This morning, President Obama issued a long-awaited executive order ending discrimination against LGBT people in hiring by federal contractors — without the so-called religious exemption loophole that some conservative religious leaders had called for.
Right now, our response as people of faith to the humanitarian crisis of migrant children at our border will not only decide what policies our leaders pursue, but also what values the soul of our country will reflect.
Lucky for all of us, Auburn Seminary and the Center for Progressive Renewal will be in the same place at the same time this summer – the National Church Leadership Institute, August 7th-10th in Atlanta.