THE BUREAU 2017 – 2019
Bharat Sevashram Sangha
Swami Parameshananda is a monk of Bharat Sevashram Sangha, a Hindu not-for-profit social and religious monastic order with headquarters in Kolkata, India. Swamiji is the organization’s main United Nations Representative. He is an executive member of CSVGC-NY (Committee on Spirituality, Values and Global Concerns-NY) and the Religious NGO Committee at the United Nations. Swamiji believes that advocacy work together with grass service work is the right combination to serve and at the same time spiritualize himself and the masses. He is convinced that spirituality is the solution for problems. Swami Parameshananda has participated in programs on Conflict Resolution in Syria and Lebanon, as well as religious and spiritual harmony in Italy, Malaysia, Indonesia, Israel, Kenya etc.. He was instrumental in establishing ashrams in Nepal, India, Trinidad, Guyana etc. to provide basic needs to the poor and the less fortunate. Swamiji headed BSS Tsunami reconstruction South India, two hundred houses were rebuilt. During this period he counceled victims who lost loved ones or homes. He served in two cyclones in India and one in Nepal, usually living in mosquito infested tents. Swamiji worked to eradicate leprosy in India through his Organization Bharat Sevashram sangha. He recruit tribal boys and girls from the bushes by setting up ashrams in and the villages and local towns. BSS has been serving the poor and less fortunate for one hundred years and has achieved most of the SDGs He is keen to expand his organization to serve more on the world’s stage so as to achieve all of the SDGs. He is an accountant and writer, including his biography.
The Salvation Army
Victoria Edmonds was born in Brooklyn, New York, but grew up in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where she learned the culture and traditions of the Tuscarora Nations of Native Americans. By birth Victoria is a Native American and proud of her Tuscarora heritage. She is currently serving at the Salvation Army, International Social Justice Commission in the role of Main Representative to the United Nations.
Victoria has served in numerous local Salvation Army churches as pastor and administrator. Victoria has served in many leadership positions within the Salvation Army such has head of the largest Women’s Shelter in New York City, staff member at the Salvation Army’s College for training Salvation Army leadership. She has served in nine different states in leadership positions within the Salvation Army and overseas. She has served in the Caribbean along with her husband being in charge of the Salvation Army’s work in Virgin Islands both British and American. Victoria along with her husband are both Majors in The Salvation Army and are ordained ministers. Victoria Edmonds is married and both her and husband serve in the Salvation Army.
She has one adult child.
Prior to Victoria becoming an Officer in The Salvation Army, she served 10 years in the United States Navy. She worked for seven years for AT&T. in the Marking Department and Law Department. Victoria has an Associates Degree in Library Science, a Bachelors Degree in Organizational Management and a Masters in Intercultural and International Studies and Affairs.She currently serves as the Sr. Representative to the United Nations for the Salvation Army. She represents the Salvation Army at all levels of United Nations engagements and on NGO Committees.
Rev. Doyeon Park
Rev. Doyeon Park is a Kyomunim, literally meaning one who devotes oneself to teach Buddha dharma in the Won Buddhist tradition. She has served as a minister of the Manhattan Won Buddhist Temple and an associate representative of Won Buddhism to the United Nations since 2008. Also, she is the Buddhist chaplain at Columbia University and New York University.
Rev. Doyeon focuses on creating a sangha (spiritual community) where various individuals and groups can cultivate their inner wisdom and compassion to live with peace and dignity based on the teachings of Won Buddhism. Realizing the interconnectedness of all through her spiritual practice, she is also actively engaged in interfaith dialogue and cooperation to promote mutual understanding and respect among different religions.
Inspired by the Buddhist idea of inner freedom and happiness, Rev. Park started her monastic training in 1998. She graduated from Dept. of Won Buddhism, Won Kwang University, Iksan, Korea and earned M.A. of Won Buddhist Studies from Won Institute of Graduate Studies, Glenside, Pennsylvania, USA. She received full ordination in 2007.
Rev. Ken Kitatani is Executive Director of the Forum 21 Institute and also serves on the Executive Committee of the UN NGO Committee on Spiritual Values and Global Concerns. Since 1995, Ken has served as an ordained minister for Sukyo Mahikari Centers for Spiritual Development and currently serves as the main representative to the United Nation’s DPI and ECOSOC NGO’s of Sukyo Mahikari. He also is on the advisory board of the Center for Earth Ethics of the Union Theological Seminary and the Happiness Alliance. Previously he has served as the USA representative of Women In Need International. Ken graduated from Columbia University with a B.A. in East Asian Studies.
Amb. Leslie Gatan
United Religions Initiative
Alternate Representative of the United Religions Initiative to the United Nations. Trustee of the Handang Tumulong Foundation, Inc. that provides assistance to victims of natural and other disasters. Managed the Tripartite Forum on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace when he was Deputy Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the United Nations in New York, involving the partnership of governments, UN agencies and the religious NGOs. As a career diplomat, served as the Philippine Ambassador to Canada, Minister in Brussells, Minister and Consul General in Bangkok, Principal Officer in Milan, First Secretary in Geneva, and third Secretary in Colombo.
World Council of Churches
Jillian Abballe is the Advocacy Officer at the Ecumenical United Nations Office of the World Council of Churches. She has a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in International Political Economy and International Humanitarian Affairs, having graduated Suma Cum Laude from Fordham University.
She has several years of experience in New York City-based and national organizing and advocacy on issues related to economic inequality, race and racism, climate justice, and faith-inspired action. Her passions focus on racial justice–specifically as it relates to faith communities and engaging white communities in the United States—environmental and economic justice, and on peace-making– as organizations, as institutions, and as human beings. She has been a public policy and advocacy professional in the United Nations NGO community for over three years and currently focuses on human rights, gender equality, peace and security, indigenous peoples, and climate justice.
At the Ecumenical United Nations Office of the World Council of Churches, Jillian led the planning of WCC’s involvement in the High Level Summit on Refugees and Migrants at the 71stsession of the UN General Assembly and is supporting the coordination a potential joint ecumenical strategy as a follow-up to the outcome of the conference. She also works to coordinate with ecumenical sister organizations such as Lutheran World Federation and ACT Alliance on thematic issues.
Jillian was born and raised in Northeastern, Pennsylvania and remains a “country girl” at heart while having made New York City her home for over eight years.
Dr. Kusumita P. Pedersen
KUSUMITA P. PEDERSEN is Professor Emerita of Religious Studies at St. Francis College, New York. She has been involved in the global interfaith movement for over thirty years, and is Co-Chair of the Interfaith Center of New York and Vice Chair of the Parliament of the World’s Religions. She is the co-author of Global Ethics in Practice: Historical Developments, Current Issues and Future Prospects (Edinburgh University Press, 2016) and co-editor of Earth and Faith: A Book of Reflection for Action (UN Environment Programme, 2000). She has also compiled and edited two librettos for works by Philip Glass, Symphony No. 5: Bardo, Requiem and Nirmāṇa-kāya (2000) and The Passion of Ramakrishna (2006). A student of Sri Chinmoy since 1971, she has published a number of essays on his philosophy and poetry.
Rev. Dr. Liberato C. Bautista
The United Methodist Church
Rev. Dr. Liberato C. Bautista is Assistant General Secretary for United Nations and International Affairs of the General Board of Church and Society (GBCS) of The United Methodist Church, based at the Church Center for the United Nations in New York City. He has held this position since 1997. Dr. Bautista serves as main representative of the Board at the United Nations (New York, Geneva and Vienna). He is the immediate past President of CoNGO, the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (2007-2011), and the Committee of Religious NGOs at the United Nations (2015-2017). Bautista studied politics, history, and international affairs at the University of the Philippines and Christian social and political ethics at Drew University, Madison, New Jersey. His UN-related work and church and ecumenical ministry and leadership spans more than 30 years, bringing him to more than 70 countries for countless consultations, conferences and seminars. Dr. Bautista is a published writer, author and editor. Three of his most recent books include Turning Strangers Into Friends: Hospitality, Mercy, Justice (Manila: Churches Witnessing With Migrants, 2017), The Intersections of Migration, Human Rights and Development Justice (New York | Manila: NCCP and CWWM, 2013), and Meditations and Devotions on the Millennium Development Goals: A Prayerful Guide (New York|Washington, DC: General Board of Church and Society of The United Methodist Church, 2011). Dr. Bautista is a clergy member of The United Methodist Church.