Keynote Speakers 2018

Keynote Speakers 2018

 

Barbara A. McGraw

Barbara A. McGraw

Interfaith Leadership for Transformational Social Change

by Barbara A. McGraw

Today, all religious and non-faith communities are called to take action together to bring us back from the brink of potentially cataclysmic divisions now roiling our country, our communities, and our families.  Reaching across divisions is not easy, certainly.  But it is just as certain that it is incumbent on all of us to take leadership in small and large ways to overcome in-group/out-group biases and reach out to those with whom we disagree to find the threads of connection through which we may hope to find, through our common humanity, ways to work together for positive community and social change.

In my own interfaith leadership work on behalf of religious minorities, I have learned that bridging divides to achieve positive change requires deep self-reflection, working hard to overcome one’s own biases to try to see and, more importantly, feel where others are coming from.  It takes open-hearted dialogue for understanding – not to “win” an argument but rather to be present in empathic connection with everyone involved, even those with whom you disagree, so that compassionate solutions can be found.

We all need to rise to today’s challenge because we are at a tipping point.  Which way will we tip? – toward entrenched tribes that divide and seek to be the victor over and dominate other people and nature, or toward a vision of one humanity, beautiful and strong in its interconnections with each other as children of the earth?

Barbara A. McGraw is Professor, Social Ethics, Law, and Public Life and founding director of the Center for Engaged Religious Pluralism, Saint Mary’s College of California. Recipient of the 2014 Mahatma Gandhi Award for Advancement of Religious Pluralism, she is a thought-leader in the emerging interfaith leadership field. She speaks on, and is an advocate for, interreligious understanding and cooperation in business, education, and government institutions and is author or editor of works on religion, interfaith leadership and religion, law, and politics, including Rediscovering America’s Sacred Ground; Taking Religious Pluralism Seriously (with Formicola); Many Peoples, Many Faiths (with Ellwood); The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Religion and Politics in the U.S.; “Religious Pluralism at the Crossroads,” and “Toward a Framework for Interfaith Leadership.”  Formerly a corporate finance attorney with the international law firm Skadden Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom, she holds a Ph.D. in Religion and Social Ethics and Juris Doctor Degree from the University of Southern California and is a member of the bar of the United States Supreme Court.