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Thought Leaders
The Dalai Lama sits on a stage facing the U.S. Capitol Building and an enormous crowd.
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama addresses a crowd on the National Mall during the Tibetan Culture Beyond the Land of Snows program at the 2000 Smithsonian Folklife Festival.
Photo by Jeff Tinsley, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives

We convened a National Advisory Committee consisting of established and emerging leaders in academic, religious, cultural, and civic organizations, the creative arts, and social media to assist us in conceptualizing, planning, and implementing this Festival program. We appreciate the committee’s wisdom, provocative insights, and generous support.

National Advisory Committee

Joanne Braxton, Cummings Professor of the Humanities Emerita, College of William and Mary

Diana Burnett, Postdoctoral Fellow in African American Religion and Culture, Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

Alan Cooperman, Director of Religion Research, Pew Research Center

Diana Eck, Professor of Comparative Religion and Indian Studies, Harvard Divinity School

Celene Ibrahim, Faculty Member, Religious Studies and Philosophy Department, Groton School

Hilary Kahn, Associate Vice Chancellor for International Affairs at Indiana University–Purdue University of Indianapolis

Mehr Kaur, Playwright, Filmmaker, and Member of the Sikh Community in Massachusetts

Rosalyn LaPier, Associate Professor of Environmental Studies, University of Montana

Rachel Lindsey, Assistant Professor of American Religions, St. Louis University

Meg Nicholas, Business Development Manager, Tribal Tech, LLC

Melissa Nozell, Program Officer, Religion and Inclusive Societies, U.S. Institute of Peace

Robert Orsi, Professor of Religious Studies and History and Grace Craddock Nagle Chair in Catholic Studies, Northwestern University

Eboo Patel, Founder and President, Interfaith Youth Core

Elinor Pierce, Research Director, Pluralism Project, Harvard University

Yolanda Pierce, Dean and Professor of African American Religion and Literature, Howard University School of Divinity

Anthony Pinn, Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor of Humanities and Professor of Religion, Rice University

Sally Promey, Professor of Religion and Visual Culture, Yale Divinity School

Teddy Reeves, Assistant Curator of Religion, Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

Jerusha Rhodes, Associate Professor of Islam and Interreligious Engagement, Union Theological Seminary

Omid Safi, Professor of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Duke University

Lexi Salomone, Assistant Director, Pluralism Project, Harvard University

Leigh Schmidt, Edward C. Mallinckrodt Distinguished University Professor in the Humanities, Washington University in St. Louis

Todne Thomas, Assistant Professor of African American Religions, Harvard Divinity School

Duncan Williams, Professor of Religion and East Asian Languages and Cultures, University of Southern California

Eric Williams, Curator of Religion, Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

Jamye Wooten, Founder, Kinetic Strategy and the Black Theology Project

Harvard Youth Collaborative

Diana Eck, Director, The Pluralism Project, Harvard University

Elinor Pierce, Research Director, The Pluralism Project, Harvard University

Smithsonian Curatorial Staff

Brad Braxton, Curatorial Advisor

James Deutsch, Curatorial Advisor

Diana Baird N’Diaye , Curatorial Advisor

Emma Efkeman, Program Coordinator

Sabrina Lynn Motley, Festival Director


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