Center for Interfaith Cooperation

Hoosiers of Many Faiths in Community

Speakers Bureau

The Center for Interfaith Cooperation Speakers Bureau connects communities in the Greater Indianapolis Area with notable and knowledgeable religious, civic, and academic leaders.

Contact Charlie Wiles: with any inquiries.

Mr. Muzaffar Ahmad

Photo of Mr. Muzaffar Ahmad
Ahmadiyya Muslim CommunityIndiana Chapter Home Phone: 317-855-8139

List of Speaking Topics:

  • Islam.
  • Muhammad.
  • Human rights in Islam.
  • Freedom of speech in Islam.
  • Pakistan.
  • Interfaith cooperation.
  • Extremism.
  • Terrorism.
  • Muslims for peace,
  • Loyalty and Life.
  • Diversity among Muslims.
  • Ahmadiyya Muslim Community

Some of my public speaking videos:

Invite Muzaffar Ahmad to Speak


Muzaffar was born in Pakistan and has lived in Indianapolis since 2000.  He has a master’s degree in Computer Sciences earned in Pakistan, an MBA from the University of Indianapolis, and a Certified Project Manager certification.

Muzaffar lives with his wife and two daughters in Fishers.  When he is not working or at the gym, he loves to spend time with his family and volunteer.  He has worked for religious, cultural, disaster relief and public speaking organizations.  He has been the treasurer and spokesperson for the Indiana Chapter of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community since 2001.  He has also served as president and general secretary of the Pakistan American Friendship Association, regional coordinator for Humanity First, board member for Seeds of Learning, and a member of Spiritual Oneness group.  Muzaffar loves playing cricket and squash and watching the Indianapolis Colts win football games.

Muzaffar has spoken about Islam at several churches and universities throughout Indiana and has been on several radio and TV programs promoting Islam as a religion of peace, just like other major religions of the world.  His message for Hoosiers is that our enemy is extremism, not Islam.  He has also written several articles in the Indianapolis Star educating readers about the peaceful teachings of Islam.

Why is Muzaffar interested in interfaith?

Growing up in Pakistan, Muzaffar was persecuted for his religion.  Several of his community lost their freedom, careers, and lives due to their faith.  His own brother was killed for belonging to the family’s religion, the peace loving Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.

These experiences motivate Muzaffar to speak about his faith and religion in general.  He believes that it’s not due to religion that people hate each other.  It is because people use religion to hate.  He wants to harness the immense power of religion to promote peace, understanding and cooperation among those who may look, dress, speak or believe differently.

Favorite Quotes:

There shall be no compulsion in the religion
Faith matters, but humanity comes first
Love for all, Hatred for none
We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.


Waseema Ali

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Administrative Director Desmond Tutu Center for Peace, Reconciliation and Global Justice

List of Speaking Topics:

  • Women’s rights in Islam
  • The status of women in Islam
  • Islam 101
  • Civic engagement
  • Interfaith youth involvement


Waseema Ali is Administrative Director of the Desmond Tutu Center at Butler University and Christian Theological Seminary. The Desmond Tutu Center for Peace, Reconciliation and Global Justice is North America’s only academic center in a university and seminary setting named after Archbishop Emeritus Tutu. The center’s mission is to honor the Archbishop Emeritus’ legacy of justice and reconciliation, making it vivid and accessible to people around the world for generations to come.

Waseema is a graduate of Valparaiso University School of Law, where she concentrated her studies on human rights. She also holds a Bachelors of Science degree from Purdue University. In the past Waseema has served as Chief of Operations of the Muslim Alliance of Indiana, and has worked with the Julian Center and Amnesty International. She also co-founded BRIDGE, a civic engagement nonprofit to empower communities through service. A native of Skokie, Illinois, Ms. Ali served as a youth advisor for the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) before moving to Indiana for undergraduate studies and then professional school. She currently lives in Fishers, Indiana.

Invite Waseema Ali to talk:

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Yaron Ayalon

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Ball State UniversityDepartment of History Website:


Yaron Ayalon (pronounced Yah-rone Ah-yah-lon) is a historian of the Middle East. His new book, Natural Disasters in the Ottoman Empire: Plague, Famine, and Other Misfortunes, explores how people in the eastern Mediterranean dealt with various calamities from medieval times to the twentieth century. Yaron has published several articles on topics such as natural disasters, Jews in the Ottoman Empire, and literacy and reading in the Middle East. He also serves on the editorial board of the Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World. At Ball State, Yaron teaches the core history class The West in the World, as well as courses on the modern Middle East, such as Introduction to the Middle East and The Arab-Israeli Conflict. Previously, while working at Emory University and the University of Oklahoma, he has taught courses on Sephardic Jewry, the Ottoman Empire, charity, migration in the Muslim world, and Israeli society and politics. Yaron earned his BA from Tel Aviv University in Israel, double-majoring in Middle East history and education, and his PhD from Princeton University in 2009.

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Chad M. Bauman

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Associate Professor of Religion and Chair, Department of Philosophy and Religion and the Classical Studies Program Butler University Work Phone: 317/940-8705 Website: Publications

bauman bookList of Speaking Topics:

  • Hinduism
  • Buddhism
  • Hindu-Christian Relations
  • Indian Religions
  • Indian Religions in America


Professor Bauman’s earliest research focused on the interaction of low-caste Christians and Hindus in colonial Chhattisgarh, a state in India where he lived for several months in 2004. He has published several articles and book chapters on the topic, and his book, Christian Identity and Dalit Religion in Hindu India, 1868-1947, was released by Eerdmans Publishers in 2008, and won the prize for Best Book in Hindu-Christian Studies, 2006-2008, from the Society for Hindu-Christian Studies. Professor Bauman has also conducted research on Sathya Sai Baba, a popular, miracle-working Indian guru with an international following that extends even to the city of Indianapolis. Since 2008, Professor Bauman has been conducting research on Hindu-Christian conflict.  He is currently at work on two books on the topic. The first, written with support from a grant from the Center for Religion and Civic Culture (at the University of Southern California) and the Templeton Foundation, is under contract with Oxford University Press (New York) and will focus on Pentecostalism in India and its relationship to violence against Christians there. The second will be a more general and theoretical volume on conversion and Hindu-Christian conflict in contemporary India. In addition to teaching and chairing his department at Butler University, Professor Bauman is currently working as a commissioned scholar of the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, & World Affairs at Georgetown University.


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Michael G. Cartwright Ph.D, M.Div

Photo of Michael G. Cartwright Ph.D, M.Div
Dean for Ecumenical & Interfaith Programs University of Indianapolis Work Phone: 317-788-3233 Website: Ecumenical & Interfaith Programs, University of Indianapolis

Why Interfaith?

Interfaith engagement is crucial for peacemaking. As a Christian scholar who is committed to seeking unity with Christians (ecumenism), I believe that working with persons of other faiths is crucial for the greater good of the city of Indianapolis as well as the Midwest and the wider world. Where possible, I think that “breaking bread” together is a great way to proceed in building ecumenical and interfaith relationships.

Background & Publications:

I was born in California, raised in Arkansas (as a Southern Baptist preacher’s kid).  My graduate training is in Christian theology and Ethics.  My scholarship explores conflicts of interpretation. I teach at a United Methodist-related university, and I am an ordained elder in the Indiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. I have served as Dean of Ecumenical & Interfaith Programs of the University of Indianapolis since 2002. For an example of my interfaith engagement, see my article “Sharing the Table of Study: Jewish-Christian-Muslim Trialogue on Jonah Texts” in The Journal of Scriptural Reasoning Vol. 3, No. 1. For more information about my scholarship, with a selected list of publications, see

Favorite quote (sacred text, story, poem, other):

A prayer from Kenya  — “For the Spirit of Truth:  From the cowardice that dares not face new truth, from the laziness that is contented with half-truth, from the arrogance that thinks it knows all truth, Good Lord, deliver me. Amen.” [Source: The United Methodist Hymnal, (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Publishing House, 1989)


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David Craig

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Associate Professor of Religious Studies IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI Work IUPUI Cavanaugh Hall 335A 425 University Blvd. Indianapolis IN 46202 Work Phone: 317-274-3689 Website:

BtppsM2IIAAuexuList of Speaking Topics:

  • Jewish and Christian approaches to heath care reform
  • Religion and politics in the United States
  • Christian ethics
  • Ethical consumption


David Craig is the author of two books, Health Care as a Social Good: Religious Values and American Democracy and John Ruskin and the Ethics of Consumption. Locally he has organized a two-year campus and community conversation about sustainability, and he has partnered with congregations and health care providers seeking to promote healthier communities. He holds a doctorate in religion, ethics, and politics from Princeton University, a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard University, and a BA in politics from Oberlin College.

Watch David Craig on Video

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Dina David

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Interim Director Holocaust Education Center

List of Speaking Topics:

  • Holocaust Studies
  • Judaism 101
  • Civility


Currently an adjunct faculty member at IUPUI’s Department of Communication Studies, Dina David grew up in Israel, where she took a bachelor’s degree in English from Tel Aviv University. She moved to Indianapolis more than two decades ago to teach Hebrew for the Bureau of Jewish Education. In 1989 she received her M.S. in Telecommunication Arts from Butler University. Dina teaches about and is personally committed to peaceful intercultural communication and is especially concerned with the historical lessons of the Holocaust (the Shoah) for the contemporary world.


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Kelly E. Hayes

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Associate Professor of Religious Studies IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI Website: IUPUI bio

51oOVnViKlLList of Speaking Topics:

  • Afro-Brazilian religions
  • Vodou
  • Santeria
  • Candomblé
  • Religion in Brazil
  • Religions of the African diaspora
  • New religious movements in Brazil
  • Women and religion


Kelly Hayes is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis, where she teaches courses on women and religion, comparative religions, theories of religion, religion and healing, and religions of the African diaspora. Her special area of expertise is Afro-Brazilian religions (Candomblé and Umbanda) and other religions that developed among African slaves and their New World descendants (Vodou, Santeria). Since 1998, she has conducted ethnographic research in Brazil with practitioners of various spirit possession religions. Her book Holy Harlots: Femininity, Sexuality, and Black Magic in Brazil (University of California Press, 2011) explores contemporary beliefs and practices connected to the controversial Afro-Brazilian spirit entity Pomba Gira. The book includes a companion DVD containing the film Slaves of the Saints: Afro-Brazilian Religions in Rio de Janeiro, which grew out of Hayes’ long-term research in Rio. She earned a Ph.D. in the history of religions from the University of Chicago and has been the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards.

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Ruth Ellen Homer

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CIC Board Secretary & Education Co-Chair

Speaking Topics:

  • Mormon  Life
  • Mormon History and Doctrine
  • Family History Skills and Online Resources
  • The Role of Brigham Young University in Digitizing the Dead Sea Scrolls


Ruth Ellen Homer is a sixth generation Mormon, born in Salt Lake City, Utah.   Her dedication to religious history and the world of the Bible began during a semester in Salzburg, Austria, where she studied the Reformation.   After earning a B.A. in English Literature from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, Ruth Ellen began daily study of Bible related disciplines, a habit she follows today. As a church volunteer, she teaches family history and serves in Public Affairs.  Ruth Ellen and her husband John moved to Indiana in 1972 for his graduate work at Purdue and made their home here.  They have five children and ten grandchildren.

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Andrea R. Jain

Photo of Andrea R. Jain
Assistant Professor of Religious Studies IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI Work Phone: (317)274-1721 Website: Andrea Jain\’s IUPUI Bio

selling yogaList of Speaking Topics:

  • Hindu and Jain traditions
  • Religion in India
  • The history of yoga
  • Asian religions in the United States


Andrea R. Jain is the author of the forthcoming book Selling Yoga: From Counterculture to Pop Culture (Oxford University Press), a co-author of Comparing Religions: Coming to Terms (Wiley-Blackwell), and the author of several journal articles and book chapters. Her research focuses on South Asian religions in contemporary culture and the transnational construction and global popularization of modern yoga. Prof. Jain’s current projects include studies on the intersections of consumer culture and modern yoga as well as modern yoga gurus. She holds a doctorate in religious studies from Rice University.

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Donald Knebel

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Board Chair Barnes & Thornburg LLP Work Phone: 317-231-7214 Website: Barnes & Thornburg Blog: Articles by Don Knebel

Why Interfaith? 

Don has a genuine passion for learning and a particular interest in comparative religion.  This avocation has led him and his wife Jen, a certified lay minister in the Presbyterian Church, on many trips abroad for field research, including trips to Israel, India, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Dubai, and Rome.  He has conducted more than 32 presentations about his research on religion and society.


In addition to being CIC Board Chair, Don Knebel is a partner at Barnes & Thornburg. He has been identified by Chambers USA America’s Leading Lawyers for Business publication as “the best in Indiana for patent litigation” and has been identified as one of the most recommended lawyers in the world in the field of patent law.

Don also serves as adjunct professor and senior advisor to the Center for Intellectual Property Research at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law. He received a B.S.E.E. with highest distinction from Purdue University in 1968 and worked from 1968 to 1971 as an electronics design engineer for Lockheed Aircraft Corporation. He received his J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1974 and joined Barnes & Thornburg.

In addition to his professional success he has served numerous community organizations.  His philanthropic activities are many and include continued service with Booth Tarkington Civic Theater where he has twice been the Board Chair and United Way of Central Indiana. In 2010, Don volunteered as Chair of the annual campaign for United Way, and he established an innovative partnership with the Indianapolis Colts. Ellen Annala, president and CEO, credited Don for “pushing us all to think big about what we could achieve together, and bringing about heroic results.” He is the co-chair of the 2013 Classical Fellowship Awards for the American Pianists Association and on the boards of United Way of Central Indiana, Triangle Education Foundation, and Christel House International.

Favorite quote (sacred text, story, poem, other):

You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear
You’ve got to be taught from year to year
It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught

You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made
And people whose skin is a different shade
You’ve got to be carefully taught

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late
Before you are 6 or 7 or 8
To hate all the people your relatives hate
You’ve got to be carefully taught                                                                                       (South Pacific)


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Kanwal Prakash (KP) Singh

Photo of Kanwal Prakash (KP) Singh
Artist, Author, Public Speaker, Sikh Community Spokesman KP Singh Designs

List of Speaking Topics:

  • Sikh faith, culture, and community
  • Interfaith cooperation


Kanwal Prakash (KP) Singh, born in India and a naturalized citizen of the United States since 1976, has been a resident of the United States since 1965 and made Indianapolis his home in 1967. KP was educated in India (B.A. from Punjab University; Bachelor of Architecture and Master of Technology in Regional Planning from The Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur) and the United States (Master of City Planning from The University of Michigan). KP considers community service as a major focus and commitment of his Sikh faith and a civic responsibility. Over the last 46 years, he has served as a volunteer on many committees and events. KP is a founding member of The International Center of Indianapolis and Sikh Satsang of Indianapolis. He serves as a Board Member of the Asian American Alliance; Advisory Board of Brooke’s Place for Grieving Young Persons, Butler University Center on Faith and Vocation, Center for Interfaith Cooperation. He participates in educational, civic, and interfaith activities and celebrations in Indiana. KP serves as a Member of the Indianapolis Civilian Police Merit Board.  KP is a winner of many awards and honors including the Sagamore of the Wabash from the State of Indiana.

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Dr. David E. Sumner

Photo of Dr. David E. Sumner

Speaking topics:

  • Orthodox Christianity  history and beliefs

David E. Sumner is professor emeritus of journalism at Ball State University, where he taught magazine and feature writing for 25 years from 1990 to 2015. He is a parishioner at St. George Orthodox Christian Church in Fishers and a convert to Orthodox Christianity in 2005.  He has a PhD in mass communications from the University of Tennessee, a master’s in Church History from the University of the South, an M.Div. from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a B.A. from Stetson University.  He is the author or co-author of five books and dozens of articles in newspapers, magazines, journals and encyclopedias. He is a contributing writer for the In Trust Association of Theological Schools magazine in Wilmington, Delaware. He lives in Anderson, Indiana, with his wife, Elise.