For more than 20 years, Auburn’s annual Lives of Commitment Awards Benefit Breakfast has honored bold and resilient leaders of faith and moral courage who bridge divides, build community, pursue justice, and inspire positive change in the world.

2018 Lives of Commitment Honorees

The Reverend Jennifer Bailey

“In a time when our ruptures appear greater than the bonds that tie us together, we must work to cultivate spaces of redemptive healing rooted in love.”

The Reverend Jennifer Bailey is an ordained minister, public theologian, and emerging national leader in multifaith movement for justice. She is the Founding Executive Director of the Faith Matters Network, a new interfaith community equipping faith leaders to challenge structural inequality in their communities.

Isabel Rose

“Given the right catalyst, the untapped energy in each one of us can ignite.”

Isabel Rose is a writer, filmmaker, performer and activist. In the spring of 2017, when federal protections were rescinded for transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice, Isabel penned a heartfelt letter about her transgender child that went viral. She is currently pursuing an initiative to include diversity education in all schools, in all states, beginning in kindergarten.

Susan Silbermann

“Progress is something you work on today and someone else takes forward. But you have to believe that together we can change the world.”

Susan Silbermann is the Global President of Pfizer Vaccines. She is responsible for the development of a visionary pipeline of vaccines to address unmet medical needs for serious and life-threatening conditions such as hospital acquired infections and diseases impacting newborns in the first few weeks of life.

Andrea Taylor

“As we try to form a more perfect union in this country, diversity and inclusion are to be valued, respected and acknowledged.”

Andrea L. Taylor is President & CEO of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. An educator, community builder and philanthropist, Taylor began her career in Boston as a reporter and later taught at Harvard University before directing U.S. corporate giving at Microsoft. She founded the Ford Foundation Media Fund and is a New York Public Radio trustee.

Resistance Revival Chorus

“The greatest act of resistance is to inspire hearts and minds through art and culture and let the transformation begin with pure joy.”

The Resistance Revival Chorus is a collective of more than 50 women who join together to breathe joy and to uplift and center women’s voices. Launched out of the Women’s March, they honor the protest songs and believe that joy is an act of resistance.


2017 Lives of Commitment Honorees

Dr. Debbie Almontaser

Dr. Debbie Almontaser is the founder and CEO of Bridging Cultures Group Inc. She is also founding and former principal of the Khalil Gibran International Academy. A 25-year veteran of the New York City Public School System, she has taught, trained teachers, and served as a multicultural specialist and diversity adviser. Dr. Almontaser is also the Board President of the Muslim Community Network. She frequently lectures on Arab culture, Islam, cultural diversity, interfaith coalition building and youth leadership. Debbie sits on the Public Advocate Tish James’ Jewish, Muslim and Sikh Task Force to Combat Hate. Dr. Almontaser has been profiled in the New York Times, TIME Magazine, Newsweek, NY 1 and the Daily News. Recently, Dr. Almontaser was a featured speaker at the 2016 National Democratic Convention.

Eileen Fisher

Eileen is the Founder and Chairwoman of EILEEN FISHER, INC., the clothing company known for its simple shapes and beautiful fabrics. Eileen ventured into clothing design in 1984. Her original concept – pieces that work together to help women get dressed easily – still defines the company’s collections, which are sold at 65 EILEEN FISHER stores, over 300 department and specialty stores across the US, UK and Canada as well as 2 Green Eileen stores, which are part of the company’s innovative recycling program. In 2016, the company became the largest women’s fashion company to be certified a B Corporation which voluntarily meets high criterion for social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. In addition, the company is the largest B Corp in the state of New York.

Eileen is passionate about business as a movement. In spring 2015, the company announced VISION2020, a bold five-year plan that addresses sustainability and human rights. In keeping with Eileen’s belief in collaboration, VISION2020 calls for partnering with other brands to shift the fashion industry.

In 2015, Eileen also launched the Eileen Fisher Learning Lab where employees and the public are invited to embark on journeys of inquiry to explore purpose, mindfulness and embodiment through a variety of workshops and events.

Eileen was presented Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP)’s Force for Good Award in February 2016. In October 2015, Fashion Group International honored Fisher with its prestigious Sustainability Award, and in 2015, she was the recipient of the Riverkeeper Award as well as BF+DA’s Corporate Leadership in Advancing Sustainability Award. Among other honors received are the 2012 Leaders of Change Award from the Global Conference for Social Change and the Board of Directors Award from the Metropolitan New York Chapter of the US National Committee for UN Women. She is a 2012 inductee into the Social Venture Network Hall of Fame and a member of the Clinton Global Initiative.

Lyla June

Lyla June is an Original Caretakers Fellow at the Center for Earth Ethics for her activism in protecting Native American lands and the Culture of Indigenous people. She is a musician, poet, anthropologist, educator, community organizer and public speaker. Her passion is working with youth and Indigenous emerging leaders to give voice to peace and prayer.

Raised in Taos, New Mexico, Lyla is a descendent of Diné (Navajo) and Tsétsêhéstâhese (Cheyenne) lineages. She is a co-founder of The Taos Peace and Reconciliation Council, which works to heal intergenerational trauma and ethnic division in northern New Mexico. She is a Walker within the Nihigaal Bee Iiná Movement, a 1,000-mile prayer walk through Diné Tah (the Navajo homeland) whose purpose is to educate others on the exploitation of Diné land and people by the uranium, coal, and oil and gas industries. She is the lead organizer of the Black Hill Unity Concert, which gathers native and non-native musicians to pray for the return of Guardianship of the Black Hills to the Lakota, Nakota and Dakota Nations. Lyla is also the founder of the Regeneration Festival, an annual celebration of children that occurs in 13 countries around the world every September.

In 2012, Lyla graduated with honors from Stanford University with a degree in Environmental Anthropology. She currently lives in Diné Tah, the Navajo ancestral homeland that spans New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Arizona. She shares that she ultimately attributes any achievements to Creator who gave her the tools and resources she uses to serve humanity.

Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum

Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum is the Senior Rabbi of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in New York City. She was installed as CBST’s first rabbi in 1992, arriving at the height of the AIDS crisis. She guided the congregation through a period of loss and change and CBST is now the world’s largest LGBTQ synagogue.

Rabbi Kleinbaum is a powerful U.S. and global voice in the movement for equality and justice for people of all sexual and gender identities, and a champion of progressive values. She is recognized by Newsweek magazine as one of the 50 most influential Rabbis in the U.S. and recognized by Huffington Post as one of Top 10 Women Religious Leaders in America.

Rev. Eboni Marshall Turman, Ph.D.

Dr. Turman is Assistant Professor of Theology and African American Religion at Yale University Divinity School in New Haven, CT. She formerly served as Assistant Research Professor of Theological Ethics, Black Church Studies, and African & African American Studies and Director of the Office of Black Church Studies at Duke University Divinity School.

An author, ordained minister, professor, and public theologian, the Reverend Dr. Marshall Turman is a refreshing addition to our most pressing national discussions of faith, race and gender. With a decidedly womanist point of view, hers stands out as one of very few scholarly millennial voices offering moral perspective on issues facing the Black community.
At a time in our history when the Black church and Black lives are once again under constant siege, Dr. Turman has committed her research, scholarship and platform to a nuanced exploration of the most marginalized among us.

A trailblazer in the church and academy, her pioneering spirit has earned her many rare distinctions. She was the youngest woman to be named Assistant Minister of the historic Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York City (where she served for ten years), and the second woman to preside over the ordinances in its 208-year history; she is the only womanist theological ethicist on the faculty at Yale University’s Divinity School; one of Ebony Magazine’s Young Faith Leaders in the Black Community; included on the Network Journal’s prestigious 40 Under 40 List; and recently named as one of the “Top 5 Young Preachers in America” by ROHO.

Sharon Prince

Sharon Prince is the President of Grace Farms Foundation, a private operating foundation established in New Canaan, Connecticut, to enhance lives through engagement with nature, arts, justice, community, and faith.

Ms. Prince spearheaded the vision for Grace Farms and its accompanying River building, designed by the Pritzker Prize-winning firm SANAA. Since opening in October 2015, Grace Farms has garnered several awards, including the AIA National 2017 Architecture Honor Award and the Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize from the Illinois Institute of Technology, where she participated in the symposium Reimagining the Metropolis.

In 2016, she hosted an international convening with the United Nations University entitled Fighting Human Trafficking in Conflict, which resulted in a published report to the United Nations Security Council with ten ideas for action.

She also serves on the Board of Next General Nepal, invests in women-led startups, and supports initiatives to end modern day slavery.

2016 Lives of Commitment Honorees

Yara Allen

Yara_allen_webYara Allen is a movement theo-musicologist, spoken word artist, songwriter, organizer and activist. Yara currently serves as the Director of Cultural Arts for MPOLIS (Moral Political Organizing Leadership Institute), attends University of Mount Olive and volunteers as a leadership trainer with the local Alpha Omicron Chapter of Omega Psi. Yara travels the country teaching the cultural liturgy of the movement and rallying people to take action through song. She served as “Artist-in-Residence” for Auburn’s Mountain Top 2015 gathering and co-founded Circle of Real People, a drama, mime and dance troupe whose mission was to offer hope and inspiration through the arts. She is currently working on her first book, “Open Up Your Mouth,” a book of movement and inspirational poetry, songs, and stories.

Melissa Harris-Perry

MHP_webMelissa Harris-Perry is Maya Angelou Presidential Chair at Wake Forest University. There she is the Executive Director of the Pro Humanitate Institute and founding director of the Anna Julia Cooper Center. She is the former host of MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry. She is the author of the award-winning books Barbershops, Bibles, and BET: Everyday Talk and Black Political Thought, and Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America. She previously served on the faculty of the University of Chicago, Princeton University, and Tulane University.


James Perry

James_Perry_webJames Perry is president and CEO of the Winston-Salem Urban League. Perry manages a 230 person staff across the state of North Carolina advocating for employment opportunities, affordable housing, voting rights and food security. Before coming to the Urban League, Perry served for 10 years as the the Chief Executive Officer of the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center. Perry led the Center through hurricane Katrina, the most disastrous hurricane to make landfall in America. Under his leadership, the Center won more than half a billion dollars for victims of discrimination across Louisiana. Perry founded the Mississippi Gulf Coast Fair Housing Center, was a candidate in the 2010 New Orleans mayor’s race and has testified before Congress eight times. He serves on the National Fair Housing Alliance Board of Directors. Perry is a political science graduate of the University of New Orleans and a graduate of the Loyola University School of Law. Perry, his wife Melissa, and their two daughters split their time between New Orleans, New York City and Winston-Salem.

Wanda Bryant Hope

Wanda-Hope_webWanda Bryant Hope is Johnson & Johnson’s Chief Diversity Officer. She is responsible for advancing J&J’s diversity and inclusion strategy, strengthening the company’s global capabilities and global employer reputation, and driving innovation and growth for future success. Wanda has been recognized for her ability to exceed business results, deliver cutting edge solutions to complex challenges, lead global change, develop people for optimal results, and drive diversity. She has been actively involved with the company’s Women’s Leadership Initiative and the African American Leadership Council, and served as executive sponsor of the Janssen North American Pharmaceutical D&I council. Wanda has also received several awards including the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association’s Rising Star Award and the YWCA’s Tribute to Women in Industry Award. Wanda received her Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing from The Pennsylvania State University. She and her husband Bobby are the proud parents of a 9 year-old son, Tyler.

Sarah Kureshi, MD, MPH

SarahKureshi_webSarah Kureshi is a family medicine physician and an assistant professor at Georgetown University School of Medicine. She has a special interest in health disparities, gender-based violence, health and human rights, and empowerment of underserved populations. Being a former NCAA college athlete and the first U.S. female athlete to compete in Iran since the 1979 revolution, she strongly believes in using sports as a tool for violence prevention and health education. Sarah has been a Physicians for Human Rights Asylum Network Provider and now trains medical students and physicians to provide medical evaluations for asylum seekers. She has worked with Project REACH, a grassroots, Muslim-led youth development organization in inner-city DC, and she is also a Shalom Hartman Fellow. Sarah has given many presentations, from Human Rights Watch to World Youth Peace Summit to American Muslim Health Professionals to empowering female students and healthcare providers in Pakistan through the State Department. Sarah currently serves as Co-Director of the Patients, Populations & Policy module, teaches on health and human rights, instructs students at HOYA Clinic, the student-driven free clinic and precepts family medicine residents. She and her husband, Wajahat Ali, are the proud parents of an 18 month old boy.

Lekha Singh

Lehka_webLekha Singh is a filmmaker and fine-art photographer whose work highlights the familiar within otherworldly settings. Her major photography exhibitions – Created Equal, Nomadic Camera, African Journeys, and The Other Half: Women in Focus, and The Weed Series – have been featured in numerous museum collections, magazines, and books, including National Geographic’s The Other Side of War: Women’s Stories of Survival and Hope. As a filmmaker, her documentary Beyond Right and Wrong showcases stories from people who have suffered from the genocide in Rwanda, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the Troubles in Northern Ireland and Great Britain. Through this film, Lekha illustrates the difficult path towards recovery and explores the role of forgiveness in the search for justice. Lekha also executive produced The Square, which was nominated for an Academy Award and won three Emmys.

Mamie Kanfer Stewart

mamie_kanfer_stewart_webMamie Kanfer Stewart is passionate about helping others achieve their missions through smart practices and great technology. Mamie is the Founder and CEO of Meeteor, an early stage venture developing software that enables teams to have more effective meetings. Previously, she served as Director of WOWV during which she consulted with non-profit organizations on staffing and strategic planning. Mamie is a Board Member and immediate Past Chair of InterfaithFamily, Vice-Chair of Bend the Arc and a Board Member of Luria Academy. Mamie formerly served on the boards of Moishe House and Slingshot. Mamie serves as a Director of two family foundations of the Kanfer family, Lippman Kanfer Family Foundation and Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah. She currently resides in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband, Justin, and two young daughters.

2015 Lives of Commitment Honorees

Abigail E. Disney is a filmmaker, philanthropist and the CEO and president of Fork Films. Disney’s longtime passion for women’s issues and peace building culminated in producing her first film, Pray the Devil Back to Hell (winner, Best Documentary Feature, Tribeca Film Festival 2008). She then executive produced the five-part PBS series, Women, War & Peace. Since then, she has produced numerous acclaimed social-issue films, including 1971, Citizen Koch, Family Affair, Hot Girls Wanted, The Invisible War (2012 Academy Award Nominee, Best Documentary Feature), Return and Sun Come Up (2011 Academy Award Nominee, Best Documentary Short). Upcoming projects include The Trials of Spring, and her directorial debut, The Armor of Light. Disney is also the founder and president of Peace is Loud, a nonprofit organization that seeks to identify and support women who are stepping up for peace and resisting violence in their communities.

Lucia K. McBath. The deadly shooting of her 17-year-old son, Jordan Russell Davis, for playing loud music turned Lucia into a champion for common sense gun legislation and solutions. A national spokesperson for Everytown for Gun Safety / Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, she has testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on the “’Stand Your Ground’ Laws: Civil Rights and Public Safety Implications of the Expanded Use of Deadly Force” and at Georgia and Florida State Legislature Committee Hearings for the repeal of the “Stand Your Ground” law. Lucia was invited to the White House for President Obama’s unveiling of My Brother’s Keeper initiatives for minority young men, and spoke at the 2014 White House Summits on Educational Excellence for African Americans. Lucia has given numerous interviews on national TV and radio about her son’s case and gun violence legislation. She recently founded the Walk With Jordan Scholarship Foundation.

Dr. Georgette F. Bennett founded the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees in Jordan (MFASRJ), a project of the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding, which unites 37 faith-based and secular organizations to raise public awareness and support on behalf of this grave humanitarian crisis. Long before MFASRJ, Georgette founded the Tanenbaum Center, a leading resource for managing religious diversity in the workplace, education, health care and in areas of armed conflict. Georgette has had a distinguished career as a sociologist, author, organizational development consultant and broadcast journalist. She is the author of four books and more than 50 articles. She won two national awards from the American Society for Public Administration for her work in organizational development in the criminal justice field. Her pioneering programs addressing community policing, crime victim services, and rape response units have helped to launch national and international movements.

Tamika D. Mallory is a nationally recognized leader and a next-generation champion of the civil rights movement. She has been called the “Sojourner Truth of Our Time” by JET magazine and was publicly applauded as “a leader of tomorrow” by Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama, Valerie B. Jarrett. Tamika is the president of Mallory Consulting LLC, a strategic planning and event management company in New York City, as well as the director for community affairs at Radio 103.9, a Cumulus station. In 2014, she was selected to serve on the transition committee of New York City Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio and served as co-chair of the citywide initiative, Gun Violence Awareness Month. Tamika has been featured on CNN, TV One, MSNBC, News One and other media as a leading voice on key social justice issues. She currently resides in New York City, and is the proud mother of a 15-year-old son, Tarique.

Teresa Wynn Roseborough is executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary of The Home Depot, responsible for its global legal functions, corporate governance and government relations. A child of the Civil Rights Movement, she witnessed the power of the law to effect lasting social change. Her legal career includes government service as deputy assistant attorney general for the U.S. Department of Justice, where she provided legal counsel to the White House and all executive branches, and as law clerk for Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. She was named one of 25 Influential Black Women in Business by The Network Journal and one of America’s top black attorneys by Black Enterprise. Teresa is a public member of the Administrative Conference of the U.S., a member of the boards of directors of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, and of the board of overseers of the RAND Corporation Institute for Civil Justice.

Nadia Roumani is the co-founder and director of the American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute (AMCLI), which is housed at the University of Southern California. AMCLI, launched in 2008, is a leadership development program that has built a dynamic network of over 200 American Muslim civic leaders across the country. A Visiting Scholar and Hewlett Design Thinking Fellow with Stanford University’s Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society, Nadia is also leading efforts to apply design thinking to foundations and nonprofit organizations to fine-tune their strategies, and increase their ability to collaborate and innovate. Nadia is a serial social entrepreneur, dedicated to identifying solutions to complex socio-economic problems. Over the past decade she has launched several organizations and initiatives, including the Initiative for Policy Dialogue with Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz at Columbia University, the Women Leaders Intercultural Forum with the former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, and the Global Policy Innovations Project.

2014 Lives of Commitment Honorees

Patricia Fili-Krushel is Chairman of the NBCUniversal News Group and is the highest-ranking woman in America’s TV news industry. Pat is celebrated as an ardent champion of women’s leadership. She is passionate about putting diversity and inclusion at the center of corporate life and widely respected for her commitment to employee growth. In October 2013, she made her third appearance on Fortune’s “50 Most Powerful Women” list and in January 2014 was named one of Multichannel News’ “Wonder Women.”

Sapreet Kaur is the Executive Director of the Sikh Coalition, which safeguards the civil and human rights of all people and promotes a world where Sikhs may freely practice and enjoy their faith. Her tireless advocacy advances religious freedom and protects all children from bullying and harassment due to their faith traditions. In 2013, Sapreet became the first Sikh to speak in a Presidential Inaugural Prayer Service. She currently serves on the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation board of directors. Sapreet is also the Deputy Board Chair of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, the global umbrella organization for all Girl Scouts and Girl Guides around the world.

The Rev. Dr. Jacqueline J. Lewis is Senior Minister at Middle Collegiate Church, an 800-member multiracial, multicultural, welcoming and inclusive congregation in New York City. She is an activist, preacher, and fierce advocate for racial equality, gun violence prevention, economic justice and LGBTQ equality. Jacqui preaches and teaches across the country about how to build multiracial congregations and will be featured in an upcoming History Channel series on the Bible.

Rabbi Jennie Rosenn is a visionary leader and strategist for social change. She recently joined HIAS as Vice President for Community Engagement where her role is to mobilize the Jewish community to advance the organization’s work with refugees in the United States and around the world. As Director of the Nathan Cummings Foundation’s Jewish Life and Values Program, she played a catalytic role in the creation of several major new initiatives, including the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable, an unprecedented consortium of 29 organizations working collaboratively to strengthen and elevate social justice in the American Jewish community.

2013 Lives of Commitment Honorees

Lauren Bush Lauren is the CEO and Co-Founder of FEED Projects, a charitable company with the mission to create good products that help feed the world. Each FEED product sold supports organizations such as the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and UNICEF. Lauren started her work as an Honorary Spokesperson for the WFP in 2004 and has traveled to many countries around the world to learn about the realities of poverty and hunger firsthand. Inspired by her travels in 2005 she conceptualized and designed the initial FEED 1 bag, which feeds one child in school for one year through WFP, as a way for consumers to give back in a tangible and meaningful way.

In 2007, FEED Projects was founded to sell FEED bags. To date, FEED Projects has partnered with companies like Whole Foods Market, Barnes & Noble, the Gap, HSN, Disney, Pottery Barn, and many more. Through the sale of eco-friendly products, FEED has been able to donate over $6 million dollars to the WFP’s school feeding program, which equates to nearly 60 million school meals to school children.

Lauren is also the Chairman of the Board and Co-Founder of the FEED Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit organization that supports programs and organizations that are effectively working to fight hunger and eliminate malnutrition throughout the world. For her work with FEED, Lauren has been named one of 2009 Fortune Most Powerful Women Entrepreneur, the 2010 Inc’s 30 Under 30 List, the 2010 Accessories Council Humanitarian Award, the 2011 Stevie Award for Best Non-Profit Executive, and the 2011 Fashion Group International Humanitarian Award.

Lauren was born in Denver, Colorado, and grew up in Houston, Texas. Lauren graduated from Princeton University in 2006 with a B.A. in Anthropology and certificate in Photography. She now resides in New York City, where she works on FEED and other socially conscious ventures.

Sister Simone Campbell, SSS is Executive Director of NETWORK in Washington. She is a religious leader, attorney and poet with extensive experience in public policy and advocacy for systemic change. In Washington, she lobbies on issues of peace building and economic justice. Around the country, she is a noted speaker and educator on these public policy issues. Most recently she has been recognized for her work on healthcare reform especially as it affects the working poor people of our nation.

Prior to coming to NETWORK, Simone served as the Executive Director of JERICHO, the California interfaith public policy organization that works like NETWORK to protect the interests of people who are poor. She also served as the general director of her religious community, the Sisters of Social Service. She was the leader of her sisters in the United States, Mexico, Taiwan and the Philippines.

In 1978, Simone founded and served for 18 years as the lead attorney for the Community Law Center in Oakland, California. She served the family law and probate needs of the working poor of her county.

Closest to her heart are two experiences that Simone had in the Middle East. In December 2002 she participated in a delegation of religious leaders to Iraq just prior to the war. And in January 2008 she returned to the area to Lebanon and Syria to witness firsthand the plight of Iraqi refugees. Since returning from these trips, she has spoken and written extensively on her experience.

Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth is an Iraq War Veteran and former Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

In 2004, Duckworth was deployed to Iraq as a Blackhawk helicopter pilot for the Illinois Army National Guard. She was one of the first Army women to fly combat missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom until her helicopter was hit by an RPG on November 12, 2004. Duckworth lost her legs and partial use of her right arm in the explosion and was awarded a Purple Heart for her combat injuries.

Duckworth spent the next year recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. As one of the highest-ranking patients, she quickly became an advocate for her fellow Soldiers and testified before Congress about caring for our Veterans and wounded warriors.

Following her recovery, Duckworth ran for Congress in 2006. After a narrow loss, she became Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs. In Illinois, she worked to create a tax credit for employers who hired Veterans, established a first-in-the-nation 24/7 crisis hotline for Veterans, and developed innovative programs to improve Veterans’ access to housing and health care.

In 2009, President Obama appointed Duckworth to be Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs. At VA, Duckworth led an initiative to end homelessness among Veterans. She created the Office of Online Communications to improve the VA’s and accessibility, especially among young Veterans, and also worked to address the unique challenges that Native American and female Veterans face.

Duckworth ran for Congress in 2012 to advocate for the practical solutions and cooperation needed to rebuild our economy and ensure that every American has a chance to achieve the American Dream.

Millennial trailblazers from Auburn’s Face to Face | Faith to Faith program in Jerusalem and the U.S.:

Salem Abdelrhman was a participant in the F2F Jerusalem program in 2004. He studied the oud at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and plays with Jewish and Arab musicians for mixed audiences. Abdelrhman enjoys exploring how music crosses boundaries and helps people think in new ways about the Israeli-Palestine conflict. He is also a computer network engineer and teaches music to children at the Abu Gosh community center.

Miki Joelson co-facilitated the F2F Jerusalem program in 2011 and 2012 through the framework of the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel (ICCI), Auburn’s local program partner. She holds a M.A. in Jewish Art History from the Hebrew University and is currently assistant curator in the Jewish Art and Life wing at the Israel Museum. Joelson takes pride in combining the study of her Jewish heritage with contemporary Israeli-Palestinian dialogue.

Alexander Posner was a participant in the F2F American program in 2012. He is a senior and co-student body president at the Horace Mann School in the Bronx. Posner leads a weekly magic class for children at the Kingsbridge Heights Community Center, teaching not only magic tricks, but also public speaking skills and self-confidence. He has teamed with “Magicians Without Borders” to bring entertainment to hospitalized veterans.

2012 Lives of Commitment Honorees

Cecile Richards is president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, PPFA’s advocacy and political arm.

She is a leader in national progressive politics with more than 20 years of experience working on behalf of reproductive freedom and social justice. Ms. Richards was named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People of 2011.

Prior to joining PPFA, Ms. Richards served as founder and president of America Votes, a coalition of more than 30 national organizations, including the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. America Votes was created to maximize voter registration, education, and mobilization among grassroots organizations.

Directly before serving as president of America Votes, Ms. Richards worked as deputy chief of staff for Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, where she played a key role in the Congress member’s election as the first woman Democratic leader of the House of Representatives.

Ms. Richards began her career organizing low-wage workers in the hotel, health care, and janitorial industries throughout California, Louisiana, and Texas.

The daughter of former Texas Governor Ann Richards, Ms. Richards was raised in a family committed to social justice and public service. She worked side by side with her mother on her very first campaign — the election to the state legislature of Sarah Weddington, the lawyer who successfully argued the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide.

Cecilia Guthrie Boone is the chair of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA). In 2010, Cecilia was honored as one of 21 Leaders of the 21st Century.

Ms. Boone is the past chair of the Dallas Women’s Foundation (where she led a successful $30 million campaign), Girls Inc. of Metropolitan Dallas, Planned Parenthood of North Texas Action Fund, and Annie’s List, a PAC that recruits, trains, and funds progressive women candidates running for statewide office in Texas.

Additionally, she serves on the Harvard Kennedy School Women’s Leadership Board, the Women’s Funding Network board, and also serves several local organizations.

Ms. Boone is the chair of the Boone Family Foundation. An active donor and fundraiser, she has focused both her volunteer work and philanthropy on issues that affect women and girls and the role of public policy advocacy in achieving social justice. She is an adjunct faculty member at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University.

Born in Kentucky, Ms. Boone worked for IBM in Indiana, Ohio, and Texas. In Texas she met and married her husband, Garrett; they have three adult children. With other partners, they began their fledgling business, The Container Store, in 1978.

Rabbi Sharon Brous is the founding rabbi of IKAR, a vibrant Jewish Spiritual Community in Los Angeles dedicated to the integration of spiritual and religious practice and the pursuit of social justice. She was included in the Forward’s annual list of the 50 most influential members of the American Jewish community for three years in a row, and was recently noted in Newsweek as one of the leading rabbis in the country.

In 2008, she was the inaugural recipient of the Jewish Community Foundation’s Inspired Leadership Award, recognizing inspired leadership, vision and impact in the Los Angeles Jewish community.

In 2001 Rabbi Brous was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary and she received a Master’s Degree in Human Rights from Columbia University, where she also received her Bachelor’s Degree in History. After ordination, she served as a Rabbinic Fellow at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in New York City (BJ). For the past seven years, Rabbi Brous has served on the faculty of REBOOT and on the regional council of Progressive Jewish Alliance. She serves as adjunct faculty at Hebrew Union College and sits on the rabbinic advisory boards of American Jewish World Service and Hebrew College. Rabbi Brous is married to David Light, a comedy writer, and they have two daughters.

Rev. Kanyere Eaton is Pastor of Fellowship Covenant Church, an Evangelical church in the Bronx. Prior to becoming a congregational pastor, Kanyere served as Executive Director of The Sister Fund, a small, private foundation dedicated to the economic, social, political and spiritual empowerment of women and girls. With the express purpose of bringing women to voice, with her leadership, The Sister Fund has sponsored programs specifically designed for African American female executives, feminist theologians and women whose non-profit work supports fullness of life for women and girls.

In 2005, her contributions as a grantmaker were recognized by the Women’s Funding Network, from which she received the Changing the Face of Philanthropy award. In the same month, the Association of Black Foundation Executives presented her with the Emerging Leader in Philanthropy award. On April 30, 2008, she was recognized by the North Star Fund for her outstanding commitment to social change toward the furtherance of equality, economic justice and peace.

Kanyere has worked in both the public and private sectors as a social service professional, with backgrounds in early childhood education, substance abuse, direct service management and hunger prevention. As a minister and social worker, she emphasizes the inextricable correlation between the transformation of our communities and the holistic well-being of each member.

Embracing the important work of helping to build meaningful linkages between theology and community, she previously served as Director of Social Services at The Riverside Church in New York City. There, she assisted with the development and implementation of numerous programs designed to meet the needs of Riverside’s economically disadvantaged neighbors.

Reverend Eaton holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Cornell University; a Master of Divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary and a Master of Science and Social Work degree from Columbia University. Ordained in 1991, she is the founder of Making It Plain Ministries, Inc.

Previous Honorees

2011 – Kayrita Anderson & Deborah Richardson, Bishop Minerva Carcano, Jensine Larsen, Dr. Gail T. Reimer, Chely Wright
2010 – Nurah Amat-ullah, Violet L. Dease, Emma Bronznick Goldberg, Jacki Zehner,
2009 – Abigail Disney, Wendy Paulson, Angela Buchdahl, Fatima Haidara
2008 – Barbara Friedman, Farhana Khera, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend,
2007 – Lena Alhusseini, Blu Greenberg, Alice Walker, Diana Chapman Walsh,
2006 – Zainab Salbi, Leah Hunt-Hendrix, Helen LaKelly Hunt, Nicki Newman Tanner
2005 – Ronit Avni, Dr. Johnetta Cole, Daisy Khan
2004 – Jenise Harrell, Ruth Messinger, Mary Robinson, Shalimar Yamin-Khan
2003 – Caroline Baron, Judy Collins, Rachel Lloyd
2002 – Wendy Kopp, Aasma Khan, Lilia Gerberg
2001 – Dr. Ruth Simmons, Margot Stern Strom, Kirsten Pratt
2000 – Dr. Jane Goodall, Henna White, Jean Griffith-Sandiford, Maria Rogers,
1999 – Faye Wattleton, Dr. Dorothy Height, Stephanie Schwartz Ferdman,
1998 – Dr. Margaret C. Heagarty, Alexa Rosas-Pereira, Marlo Thomas
1997 – Sr. Helen Prejean, The Rev. Annie Bovian, Zoe Tananbaum