Engage 2022 Presenters
Dr. Cornel West is the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Chair at Union Theological Seminary. Dr. West teaches on the works of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, as well as courses in Philosophy of Religion, African American Critical Thought, and a wide range of subjects — including but by no means limited to, the classics, philosophy, politics, cultural theory, literature, and music.
Dr. West is the former Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy at Harvard University and Professor Emeritus at Princeton University. Cornel West graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard in three years and obtained his M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy at Princeton.
He has written 20 books and has edited 13. He is best known for his classics, Race Matters and Democracy Matters, and for his memoir, Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud. His most recent book, Black Prophetic Fire, offers an unflinching look at nineteenth and twentieth-century African American leaders and their visionary legacies.
Dr. West is a frequent guest on the Bill Maher Show, CNN, C-Span and Democracy Now. He has a passion to communicate to a vast variety of publics in order to keep alive the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. – a legacy of telling the truth and bearing witness to love and justice.
Beverly Lanzetta, Ph.D. is a theologian, contemplative scholar and teacher, and the author of many groundbreaking books on emerging global spirituality and new monasticism, including A New Silence: Spiritual Practices and Formation for the Monk Within, The Monk Within: Embracing a Sacred Way of Life, Radical Wisdom: A Feminist Mystical Theology, and Foundations in Spiritual Direction. A monk of peace, she is dedicated to a vision of theological openness and spiritual nonviolence; her work has won praise for its wisdom, eloquence, and mystical insight and is considered to be a major contribution to what theologian Ursula King called “a feminine mystical way for the 21st century.” Dr. Lanzetta has taught theology at Villanova University, Prescott College, and Grinnell College and has started a number of religious and monastic initiatives including the Desert Interfaith Church, Interfaith Theological Seminary, Hesychia School of Spiritual Direction, and the Community of a New Monastic Way. She is a much-sought-after mentor for the new generation, including the “spiritual but not religious” and new monastics alike, as she brings with her forty years of experience as a guide to answering the universal call to contemplation.
A native Angeleno and Jesuit priest, from 1986 to 1992 Father Boyle served as pastor of Dolores Mission Church in Boyle Heights, then the poorest Catholic parish in Los Angeles that also had the highest concentration of gang activity in the city.
Father Boyle witnessed the devastating impact of gang violence on his community during the so-called “decade of death” that began in the late 1980s and peaked at 1,000 gang-related killings in 1992. In the face of law enforcement tactics and criminal justice policies of suppression and mass incarceration as the means to end gang violence, he and parish and community members adopted what was a radical approach at the time: treat gang members as human beings.
In 1988 they started what would eventually become Homeboy Industries, which employs and trains former gang members in a range of social enterprises, as well as provides critical services to thousands of men and women who walk through its doors every year seeking a better life.
Father Boyle is the author of the 2010 New York Times-bestseller Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion. His new book, Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship, was published in 2017.
Pat McCabe (Weyakpa Najin Win, Woman Stands Shining) is a Diné (Navajo) mother, grandmother, spiritual companion, activist, artist, writer, ceremonial leader, and international speaker. She is a voice for global peace, and her paintings are created as tools for individual, earth and global healing. She draws upon the Indigenous sciences of Thriving Life to reframe questions about spirit, sustainability and balance, and she is devoted to supporting the next generations, Women’s Nation and Men’s Nation, in being functional members of the “Hoop of Life” and upholding the honor of being human.
Her primary work at the moment is:
- The reconciliation between the masculine and feminine, Men’s Nation and Women’s Nation
- Remembering, recreating or creating anew a narrative for the Sacred Masculine
- Addressing the Archetypal Wounding that occurred in our misunderstanding and abuse of technology in prayer, ceremony and science
Pamela Ayo Yetunde
Pamela Ayo Yetunde, J.D., Th.D. is a spiritual director and pastoral counselor. She is co-founder of Center of the Heart (www.centeroftheheart.org) and founded Buddhist Justice Reporter: The George Floyd Trials (www.buddhistjustice.com). Ayo is the author of Buddhist-Christian Dialogue, U.S. Law, and Womanist Theology for Transgender Spiritual Care (2020) and co-editor of Black and Buddhist: What Buddhism Can Teach Us About Race, Resilience, Transformation and Freedom (2020), and Casting Indra’s Net: Wisdom for Fostering Spiritual Kinship, Respecting Difference, and Moving toward Wholeness Together (Shambhala, 2023).
Valarie Kaur is a renowned civil rights leader, lawyer, award-winning filmmaker, educator, innovator, and best-selling author of SEE NO STRANGER. She leads the Revolutionary Love Project to reclaim love as a force for justice. Valarie burst into American consciousness in the wake of the 2016 election when her Watch Night Service address went viral with 40 million views worldwide. Her question “Is this the darkness of the tomb – or the darkness of the womb?” reframed the political moment and became a mantra for people fighting for change.
Twenty years ago, when Valarie was a college student, a family friend was murdered in a hate crime a few days after 9/11. He was a turbaned Sikh man she called “Uncle,” killed by a man who called himself a patriot. Across the U.S., people of color were beaten, chased, shot, and stabbed in thousands of hate incidents that were barely reported in the media. Valarie took her camera and began a journey across America to tell her community’s story and fight for racial justice. That journey continues today.
Valarie has won policy change on multiple fronts – hate crimes, racial profiling, immigration detention, solitary confinement, Internet freedom, and more. She founded Groundswell Movement, Faithful Internet, and the Yale Visual Law Project to inspire and equip advocates at the intersection of spirituality, storytelling, and justice. Valarie has been a regular TV commentator on MSNBC and contributor to CNN, NPR, PBS, the Hill, Huffington Post, and the Washington Post. Valarie earned degrees at Stanford University, Harvard Divinity School, and Yale Law School.
Valarie’s vision of “Revolutionary Love” is deeply rooted in her Sikh faith. She grew up on the farmlands of California, where her family has lived as Punjabi Sikh farmers for more than a century. As a child, whenever she felt lost, her grandfather would give her Sikh wisdom through song and point to the path of the sant-sipahi, sage-warrior. The sage loves; the warrior fights — it’s a path of revolutionary love.
Valarie’s debut book, SEE NO STRANGER: A Memoir & Manifesto of Revolutionary Love, was released in 2020 and expands on her “blockbuster” TED Talk.
Yavilah McCoy, a renowned national speaker, educator, and spiritual practitioner, will join our outstanding group of keynotes for Engage 2022. She is a pioneer of the Jewish diversity and equity movement and is an advocate and mentor for the empowerment of a transglobal community of Jews of Color. An anti-racism activist with an international platform, Yavilah provides training and consulting to numerous social justice projects that span multiple identities and communities. She is also the recipient of numerous awards. Yavilah promises to offer insights that will broaden the horizons of all spiritual directors and companions!
Mirabai Starr is an award-winning author of creative nonfiction and contemporary translations of sacred literature. She taught Philosophy and World Religions at the University of New Mexico-Taos for 20 years and now teaches and speaks internationally on contemplative practice and interspiritual dialogue. A certified bereavement counselor, Mirabai helps mourners harness the transformational power of loss. Her latest book, Wild Mercy: Living the Fierce & Tender Wisdom of the Women Mystics, was named one of the “Best Books of 2019” by Spirituality & Practice. Mirabai is also on the 2020 Watkins List of the “100 Most Spiritually Influential Living People of the World.” She lives with her extended family in the mountains of northern New Mexico.
Rev. Seifu Anil Singh-Molares
Rev. Seifu is the Executive Director of SDI and an ordained Zen Buddhist priest, as well as a practicing spiritual director/companion and motivational speaker. He is a veteran of numerous interfaith and interspiritual efforts over the years, including Seeds of Compassion in Seattle in 2008, where he was one of the chairs, and as founder and executive director of the Compassionate Action Network. He has a Master’s in Theological Studies from Harvard University.
Rev. Seifu is an accomplished speaker and university lecturer and is a key contributor for the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. In a previous life, he was also an executive at Microsoft, where he successfully grew international groups and divisions and provided leadership to multi-cultural teams around the world.