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The Burlington Forum on Coexistence

In honor of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration for Human Rights, Grace Initiative Global and The Episcopal Church in Vermont hosted “The Burlington Forum on Coexistence” at the Cathedral Church of Saint Paul in Burlington, VT, on Friday, December 7, 2018. The purpose of the event was to promote dignity, respect and coexistence, and to offer a roadmap for addressing hatred, anger and exclusion. The Forum featured brief remarks from faith leaders and community members working to combat economic injustice and violence, and those defending migrants, refugees, and people marginalized by gender, race or religion. Videos of the featured speakers are presented here, lightly edited.

  1. The Burlington Forum on Coexistence: Yvonne Lodico

    Yvonne Lodico, founded the Grace Initiative Global in January 2016, and conceptualized, implemented projects on sustainable peace including: workshops at the United Nations headquarters; UN Women CSW events on empowering women in peace and restorative development; workshops in Washington on healing, empowering and transforming lives of rural women. Further, Yvonne created three retreats in Vermont, including the first UN G77 retreat on sustainable and resilient communities held in the US; UN CSW event; and, a retreat with Harvard Program on Refugee Trauma. Grace Initiative is registered in Vermont and in Colombia, has developed partnerships with leading Colombia NGOs including Caritas Colombiana. Further, Grace Initiative co-sponsored the Boston Forum on Coexistence. Grace Initiative’s goal is to create an innovative peacebuilding organization. Prior to the founding Grace Initiative, Yvonne served 15 years with the UN, including as head of an office in New York and eight and half years of service on peacekeeping missions in sub-Sahara Africa and as a special advisor for the Secretary-General on the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste. Also, she was a lecturer of Human rights law at Univ. of Melbourne, Australia. Ms. Lodico has published and given presentations on democratic governance, peacekeeping, humanitarian intervention, stem cell research and faith, faith and pluralistic societies. Ms. Lodico has received awards and scholarships from Yale University Divinity School, European Academy of Economic and Cultural Relations, and New York State Bar Association. Ms. Lodico holds advanced degrees in law, international affairs, and religion from New York University, Columbia University and Yale University. Ms. Lodico owns a farm in Australia and has a wonderful son.

  2. The Burlington Forum on Coexistence: Dr. Muhammad Hussain

    Dr. Muhammad Hussain is representing Al-Khoei Foundation and participated in the Boston Forum. He is an Adjunct Professor in Islamic Studies at Drew University in Madison NJ. He has extensive experience in interfaith and intercultural peacebuilding. Recently Muhammad Hussain played a central role in organizing a conference at the United Nations called, Reclaiming the Intellectual Primacy & Promoting Just & Peaceful Societies, attended by Muslim and non-Muslim scholars from around the world. Before leaving for USA, Mr. Muhammad Hussain served as a Subject Matter Expert in Islamic Peacebuilding for an Islamabad-based leading peace organization, Peace and Education Foundation and has contributed to a large-scale social change within Pakistani conservative religious communities by promoting peacemaking, democratic principles of pluralism, inter-religious tolerance, human rights, and educational excellence. He has developed textbooks, teacher guides, training manuals, and has trained hundreds of interfaith leaders, social activists and youth belonging to diverse communities.

  3. The Burlington Forum on Coexistence: Rabbi Amy Joy Small

    Rabbi Amy Joy Small has been the Senior Rabbi of Ohavi Zedek Synagogue in Burlington, VT, since January 2016. For two years prior, she created New Jersey based Deborah's Palm Center for Jewish Learning & Experiences, designed to provide experiences for adult learners to access meaningful, spiritual Jewish living. Rabbi Small previously served congregations in New Jersey, Michigan and Indiana. She is a past president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association and The Partnership for Jewish Learning and Life of the Jewish Federation of Greater Metrowest, NJ. She is a fellow of Rabbis Without Borders, a Senior Rabbinic Fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute, and a Storahtelling Maven. Rabbi Small was awarded a Doctor of Divinity, Honoris Causa from RRC in 2012. She has served on many national and local boards of Jewish and interfaith organizations, including the Jewish Federation of Greater Metrowest NJ, the Gottesman RTW Academy, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (RRC) and Jewish Reconstructionist Communities, and was a Vice Chair of the National JNFA Rabbinic Cabinet. Rabbi Small was previously Dean of Academic Administration and Director of the Education Program at the RRC. Ordained from the RRC in 1987 with an M.A. in Hebrew letters, she earned an M.A. in Education from Villanova University and a B.S. in Education from Temple University. Publications include selections in A Women’s Haftarah Commentary (ed. Rabbi Elyse Goldstein), Three Times Chai: 54 Rabbis Tell Their Favorite Stories (ed. Laney Katz Becker), and Text Messages (ed. Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin.) Her blog, “Raviva” is found at:

  4. The Burlington Forum on Coexistence: Maurice L. Harris

    Maurice L. Harris is the communications minister for The Episcopal Church in Vermont and serves as co-convener of the diocese’s Racial Reconciliation/Racial Healing Network. He also consults with several nonprofits and women-and-minority-owned business in Ohio and New England. Social justice and human dignity are prevailing themes in Maurice’s work, and he leverages his various roles to champion racial justice, economic justice, LGBTQ equality, inclusion, and diversity. In the early aughts, Maurice led a successful and, at the time, controversial effort to achieve same-gender partner benefits and LGBTQ outreach strategies at Fifth Third Bank, one of the largest money managers in the Midwest, while working there as an Assistant Vice President. He was later named a lifetime member of the Women’s City Club of Greater Cincinnati for his role as a media producer and consultant in the organization’s campaign to raise awareness about income inadequacy. Since relocating to Brattleboro, Vermont with his husband Might in 2016, Maurice has been engaged in the Racial Reconciliation/Racial Healing Network as an extension of his communications work. He has also been busy completing his PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Ethical and Creative Leadership and a specialization in Martin Luther King Studies and Social Change at the Union Institute & University. Drawing on his early career as a songwriter for television and film, Maurice has been studying about and composing popular music for social change. His most recent work includes “A Vision for Our Lives,” a collaboration with singer/actress Jennifer Fouche inspired by the Movement for Black Lives.

  5. The Burlington Forum on Coexistence: Robin Lloyd

    Robin Lloyd is a peace activist and co-founder of the Peace and Justice Center of Burlington VT. She is a member of the board of the Burlington branch of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom which is sponsoring a Human Rights poster exhibition at the Fletcher Free Library in honor of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, starting Dec. 7 from 5 to 7 pm. All are invited!

  6. The Burlington Forum on Coexistence: Jeff Mandell

    Jeff Mandell, MS is devoted to bringing peace and joy to the world by teaching his own blend of conflict management skills, circus, and acroyoga. He designs and leads fun, dynamic, and experiential trainings and workshops that give skills to better communicate, build trust and foster community. Having led the Vermont and New Hampshire chapters of Kids4Peace International for over 5 years, he has prepared youth to be public leaders; breaking down stereotypes to foster supportive, mature friendships rooted in spiritual values of equality and respect. Jeff is sought out by corporations, colleges, nonprofits, schools, and communities to deliver innovative ways to facilitate difficult decisions. Find out more at jeffmandellacroyoga, and IG: @jeffmandellacroyoga

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