The URI Global Council is pleased to announce our new Interim Executive Director: Swamini Adityananda Saraswati. She will begin March 1, 2021. In partnership with Anchor Advisors, members of the Global Council executed a thorough and precision-based recruitment process.
Swamini Adityananda has served as a URI Global Trustee since 2014. With 30 years of nonprofit and communications experience, she brings to her new role a strong background in interfaith leadership, as well as expertise in policy advocacy, public relations, partnership development, campaigning, strategic planning, and fundraising.
She began her career as a broadcast television producer/writer/director for networks including Discovery International, PBS, ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, CBC and the TV Guide Channel.
She later served as Director of Communications and Development for a crucial interfaith non-profit agency which resettles refugees and violence survivors from around the world. Witnessing the intense suffering of countless people, she went on to co-found the Pan-African Association, which has enabled tens of thousands of survivors of war, hunger, genocide, persecution, and torture from across the world to survive and thrive for over 17 years.
Later in her career, she served as a Director and United Nations Relations Manager for a large international nonprofit, often working within the UN Secretariat, World Bank and IMF on issues including water scarcity, world hunger, climate change, education, HIV/AIDS, conflict resolution, disaster risk reduction and response, and women’s rights. She also helped spearhead anti-poverty campaigns in the United States, Africa and Asia.
Her goal over the past decade was to help create a new NGO which would bring the leaders of all faiths together - from the ground level to the United Nations level - to create meaningful change. That organization, the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, was launched at UNICEF World Headquarters, in partnership with UNICEF, the Government of the Netherlands, and USAID. Since its founding, she was responsible for its strategic plans, development, operations, partnerships, fundraising, and programmes.
Said Swamini Adityananda, “When hearts and hands join forces through the coming together of all faiths, incredible strides can be achieved for our world. URI represents a bright light in that respect: touching lives, building bridges and enabling peace within 112 nations. I am deeply proud of URI, which I’ve served for seven years as a Global Trustee, and salute the grand and powerful vision of its Founder and President, Bishop Bill Swing and the leadership of Global Chair, Kiran Bali, MBE JP, and the URI Global Council. It will also be a wonderful honour to work with URI's compassionate and very dedicated staff, volunteers and friends. I feel humbled and inspired as I now dedicate myself to this new role as a servant to URI’s great and noble cause.”
Please join us in welcoming Swamini to her new role! You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Valarie Kaur is a Sikh activist and civil rights lawyer who writes about the “revolutionary love” of “seeing no stranger.” Though René Girard believed the Gospel could transform our impulse to scapegoat, people of the Sikh faith have been more faithful to practices of nonviolence and compassion than many Christians. Valarie writes: See no stranger has become a practice that defines my relationships. . . . Seeing no stranger begins in wonder. It is to look upon the face of anyone and choose to say: You are a part of me I do not yet know. Wonder is the wellspring for love. Who we wonder about determines whose stories we hear and whose joy and pain we share. Those we grieve with, those we sit with and weep with, are ultimately those we organize with and advocate for. When a critical mass of people come together to wonder about one another, grieve with one another, and fight with and for one another, we begin to build the solidarity needed for collective liberation and transformation—a solidarity rooted in love. . . . Out in the world, I notice the unconscious biases that arise in me when I look at faces on the street or in the news. To practice seeing each of them as a sister or brother or family member, I say in my mind: You are a part of me I do not yet know. Through conscious repetition, I am practicing orienting to the world with wonder and preparing myself for the possibility of connection. (Sometimes I do this with animals and the earth, too!) It opens me up to pay attention to their story. When their story is painful, I make excuses to turn back—“It’s too overwhelming” or “It’s not my place”—but I hold the compass and remember that all I need to do is be present to their pain and find a way to grieve with them. If I can sit with their pain, I begin to ask: What do they need? Listening to more stories, learning about a community’s history, or showing up to vigils or marches or memorials gives me information for how to fight for them. I seek out organizations that are already fighting for them and offer my voice or time or money or labor to assist them. When I worry that I’m not enough, I ask myself: What is my sword and shield? How will I fight? What will I risk? When I get overwhelmed, I ask: What is my role in this moment? I remember that I only have to shine my light in my corner of sky. Richard here: Holy Saturday, the liminal time between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, is a day of waiting, of not knowing, of grieving all we have lost, all we have done, and all we have left undone. May Valarie Kaur’s questions inspire our own as we wait in expectant hope for the new life to come.
Experience a version of this practice through video and sound.
Valarie Kaur, See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love (One World: 2020), 310, 311–312. Emphasis in original. Image credit: Dorothea Lange, Village dwelling. Escalante, Utah (detail), 1936, photograph, public domain. Image inspiration: Closed and shuttered, this house offers no welcome to a passerby. The sharp shadows of an unseen tree evoke the shadow of our often unacknowledged biases about who is “in” and who is “out.”
News from the CACA New Email Series Exploring the Sacredness of Every ThingMany of us feel disconnected from truth and justice in these difficult times. Our hearts long to experience God’s love more deeply in ourselves and the world. Join us for a free email series with five specially curated exercises from Every Thing Is Sacred delivered to your inbox each morning, designed to help you embrace the deep beauty of God, even amid the uncertainties of life. Interior Castle: Registration is Open!Journey through the seven mansions of St. Teresa of Ávila’s Interior Castle with James Finley, Mirabai Starr and spiritual seekers all over the world in this interactive 8-week online course. Financial assistance is available for those who apply.