Rev. Mansfield “Kasey” Kaseman, County Executive’s Interfaith Community Liaison/Ex Officio, Faith Community Advisory Council
Since his student days, Kasey has been engaged in ecumenical and interfaith ministries aimed at creating the Beloved Community and is now honored to be part of the team committed to making Montgomery County so. The model he implemented for Theological Education in the Urban Setting was adopted by Harvard University, Boston University, and Weston Divinity Schools. His engagement in the civil rights movement included providing security for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., establishing nonprofits such as the Blue Hill Christian Center in Roxbury, Mass., and helping to implement Racial Justice Now. Currently serving as Montgomery County’s interfaith community liaison, Kasey moved to the area in 1979 to help lead the Rockville United Church and the United Church Center for Community Ministries, both of which he served until his “retirement” in 2005. During his 35-plus years in this special county, he has worked to engage the political, civic, religious, and business sectors in meeting common interests, and helped to found and grow a number of local organizations, including the Caregiver’s Coalition of Rockville, Emergency Assistance, Elderly Homecare, Latino Outreach, Manna, Habitat for Humanity, and the Kaseman Clinic. He believes Montgomery County’s faith communities are exceptionally well-positioned to help our county become a more compassionate and welcoming community. Kasey and his wife, Dianne, have three adult children and seven grandchildren. His hobbies are kayaking, photography, golf, and reading.
Imam Faizul Khan, President, Faith Community Advisory Council
Imam Faizul R Khan is the founding member of the Islamic Society of Washington Area (ISWA), a growing, diversified, and religious community that was founded in 1973 in Silver Spring. He has been involved in social, religious, cultural, educational, and outreach programs in the community for more than 40 years, and currently serves as the imam of ISWA, a board member of the National Council of Islamic Society of North America, general secretary of the Council of Muslim Organizations in the Washington metropolitan area, and director of four other regional Islamic organizations. Imam Khan has received thirteen national awards in the field of domestic violence, social services, and volunteerism, and was named among the 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World by Georgetown University in 2011. He has appeared on every major U.S. national television network, and has been featured in the DC Examiner and the Muslim Link newspapers. Published works include a book on the life of Prophet Muhammad, an article on “Islamic Perspective on Domestic Violence” in the Journal of Religion and Abuse, and an article in the Washington Post on capital pulpit on 9/11. He is also vice chair for the Montgomery Democratic Central Committee in Silver Spring.
Rev. Abhi Janamanchi, Member at Large
Rev. Abhi Janamanchi—a third-generation member of the Brahmo Samaj, a liberal Hindu reform movement—serves as the senior minister of Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church in Bethesda. He was born and raised in Southern India, but moved to the United States in 1994. Before coming to Bethesda, he served UU congregations in Clearwater, Fla.; Madison, Wis.; and Park Forest, Ill. Abhi has been actively involved in international interfaith and multicultural work for more than two decades, including serving as president of the International Association for Religious Freedom (IARF). His Unitarian Universalist-Hindu faith, his Indian heritage, and his American citizenship inspire and guide him in this work.
Lubna Ejaz, Co-Chair, Faith Community Working Group
Lubna Ejaz currently serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Muslim Community Center (MCC) located in Silver Spring, Maryland. She is married with three grown sons, four grandchildren and live in Montgomery County since 1978. She and her husband are long time members of the Muslim Community Center and have both served in various positions at the center. In addition to her current position as president of the MCC, she has served as Treasurer of the Board of Directors, Chairperson of the Membership and Nominating Committees and was actively involved in other community activities. She was the Chair for the Montgomery County Ethnic Affairs Committee for three years during the administration of County Executive Doug Duncan. In 2004, she worked with Montgomery County Police Chief Manger & other volunteers in the Suppression Subcommittee for the Montgomery County Joint County (Montgomery & Prince George’s) Gang Prevention Task Force. Lubna also held various positions for the Pakistani American Association of Greater Washington, a social and cultural organization unaffiliated with any government or political party and operates as a non-profit, non-religious organization, as president and treasurer of the Executive Council and member of the Board of Trustees. In her professional career, Lubna graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in Business Administration, major in Accounting and was an accredited Certified Public Accountant in the Philippines. She has more than 40 years of experience in Information Technology (IT). Her responsibilities involved planning, analysis, design, development, and implementation of financial and federal government application systems. She has more than 20 years of experience in program and project management/leadership, including technical management, project planning, cost and budget planning, execution & monitoring, customer interaction and communication and proposal development. Past experience includes significant consulting tenures with the Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement & US Citizenship & Immigration Services, the National Association of Securities Dealers, Bank of America and the First Hawaiian Bank.
Dr. Harminder Kaur, Co-Chair, Faith Community Working Group
Harminder Kaur is physician and Sikh activist. She emigrated to the United States in 1992 from Punjab, India, and has lived in Montgomery County, Maryland for 17 years. She is married to another physician with whom she practices medicine in Clarksburg, MD. and they have three lovely children. In 2012, Harminder co-founded the youth led non-profit, Sikh Kid 2 Kid, with the mission to eradicate ignorance with the power of education. Sikh Kid 2 Kid (SK2K) works at the grass roots level connecting students with educators, teaching them about the Sikh faith and identity. This groundbreaking work has led to the development of the “Religious Literacy for Educators” program in which educators are trained in 6 major world religions. The Maryland Board of Education, rewarding educators with 3 continuing education credits, has sponsored the training. The Sikhism portion of the training is specifically pioneered by the youth, facilitating greater student to teacher understanding and empowering youth. Harminder has represented the Sikh community on the Education Committee of the Faith Community Working Group in Montgomery County. She helped create the religious holiday calendar and worked on the Guidelines for Respecting Religious Diversity. In 2016, Harminder was a founding member of Communities United Against Hate (CUAH), a coalition focused on creating a more inclusive Montgomery County. It is yet another platform she uses to represent the Sikh community and connect with other organizations. She helped found the Youth Empowerment Leadership Project within CUAH, for supporting youth in their activism efforts. Her dream is to be connecting humans with themselves and their environment, so love can win over hate, whether it is directed towards self or others. She loves to work with youth to help them embrace who they are, to be proud of their identity, to love and to be their best self.
Rev. Dr. Carol Flett, Co-Chair, Faith Community Working Group
Currently ecumenical & inter-religious officer for the Episcopal diocese of Washington, Carol Flett served as a parish priest for 25 years in Massachusetts and the Washington, D.C., area. She earned a Doctorate of Ministry in 2000, focusing on congregational development and anti-racism education. Post-9/11, she began using her anti-racism education training to develop interfaith dialogues through the Massachusetts Council of Church, and in D.C., at the Washington National Cathedral. She frequently speaks to congregations about how to initiate and sustain interfaith relations with their neighboring faith communities. She initiated the MC Women’s Interfaith Book Group that meets monthly in Potomac and continues to coordinate the Daughters of Abraham book group that has met monthly for eight years in D.C. As part of her work with FCWG, she chairs the Faith Leaders Response Team and the Emotional & Spiritual Care Volunteers, those trained to respond as chaplains in mass emergencies. Carol is married, has six grandchildren, and enjoys quilting, gardening and cooking. She has traveled with interfaith groups to visit Israel, Spain, and Turkey, and, with her husband, has journeyed to Spain, France, Italy, England, Scotland, Ireland, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Honduras.
Rev. Ken Howard, Member at Large
Ken Howard is the Founder, Executive Director, the principal consultant of The FaithX Project (FaithX.net), which specializes in provide coaching and consulting to new and revitalizing faith communities (including consultation on their rights under federal religious land use law). He founded The FaithX Project after stepping down as the senior pastor at St. Nicholas Church in Germantown, which he founded in 1995. He is the great-grandson of an Orthodox Jewish rabbi from Belarus. Fr. Ken became a follower of Christ as an adult in 1974, eventually joining the Episcopal Church because, as he says, “It was the most Jewish church I could find.” Fr. Ken graduated from Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, and holds a Master of Divinity with Honors in church history. He was ordained a priest in the Episcopal Diocese of Washington in 1993. Fr. Ken is the author of Jewish Christianity in the Early Church (Virginia Theological Seminary, 1993), which explores how the church went from being at its inception an entirely Jewish institution that generously opened its doors to Gentiles under the encouragement of the Apostle Paul to becoming an exclusively Gentile institutions that had excommunicated its few remaining Jewish adherents. He is also the author of Paradoxy: Creating Christian Community Beyond Us and Them, which examines the conflict between conservative and liberal Christianity.
Rabbi David Shneyer, Member at Large
Founder and director of Am Kolel, Reb David studied at the Jewish Theological Seminary and in Israel, earning degrees in Judaic studies from Rutgers University and Baltimore Hebrew College. He received his “semicha” ordination from the Aleph Seminary founded by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shlomi. The past president of Ohalah, the Rabbinic Association of Jewish Renewal Rabbis, Reb David is also an accomplished musician and composer of new liturgical music. He is a founder of Jews United for Justice, active in the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, and Rabbis for Human Rights. Reb David is also the spiritual leader of Kehila Chadasha, a havurah-fellowship community based in Bethesda.
Gareth E. Murray, M.Div., Ph.D., has over forty years combined experience in the fields of mental health, organization development, religion and public service. During his twenty plus years in higher education, he served within the Division of Student Affairs at the University of Maryland, College Park; University of Southern California, where he was the first African American hired by the Counseling Center and The University of the District of Columbia. Due to his expertise in human and organizational behavior, Murray has served on staff and as a consultant to a wide range of private, public and governmental agencies. Within the private sector, he served as Clinical Supervisor and Mid-Atlantic Region Clinical Accounts Manager for a national managed mental health and employee assistance provider. He then transitioned into the public sector as the Director of the Office of Stress Management for the Montgomery County, Maryland Police Department. In November of 2002 Murray won the general election for District 20 and in January of 2003 became the first of two African American Delegates in history to represent Montgomery County in the Maryland General Assembly. In 2007 Murray was appointed Director of Legislative Affairs for the Maryland Higher Education Commission and served in that position until January of 2013. In 1995, upon completion of seminary at Virginia Union University, he was called to serve as Assistant Pastor of The People’s Community Baptist Church in Silver Spring, Maryland and in January of 2006 was appointed Associate Pastor at the First Baptist Church in Silver Spring, Maryland where he continues to serve. A native Baltimorean and firm believer in education, Brother Dr. Murray has an earned Doctorate from Cornell University, a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts from University of Maryland, College Park and a Master of Divinity from Virginia Union University. Son of the late John C. and Augusta M. Murray, he resides in Montgomery County, Maryland with his wife.
Claire Waggoner, Co-Chair, Neighbors in Need Working Group
Ms. Waggoner is president of Kunzang Palyul Choling (KPC) Buddhist Temple in Poolesville. Founded in 1985 by Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo as part of the Nyingmapa lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, KPC is the oldest such Temple in Maryland. It is home to the largest community of Western-ordained Buddhist monks and nuns, with additional facilities in Arizona, California and Australia. During Ms. Waggoner’s years of Buddhist study, she has directed animal welfare facilities, been active in animal rescue projects across the county, overseen the construction of Buddhist monuments and facilities, and provided outreach to local communities. In the business world, she has been an award-winning sales producer for the Washington Post and Cable One media organizations.
Kersi B. Shroff, Attorney-at-Law, is a Founding-member and Past-President of the Zoroastrian Association of Metropolitan Washington (1979). Zoroastrians from India, Iran, and Pakistan have settled in the United States in recent decades, and over 200 families reside in Montgomery County. The community has recently established a place of worship in Boyds. Mr. Shroff provided assistance on issues of construction and on outreach to the community at large. He has served on Montgomery County’s Religious Land Use Working Group since 2014. He actively participates in interfaith activities. Zoroastrians are followers of the ancient religion revealed to Prophet Zarathushtra (Zoroaster, to the Greeks), of ancient Iran, circa 1800 – 1,100 BCE. A belief in one supreme God, Ahura Mazda (Wise Lord), and living a life of individual responsibility, are fundamental to the faith. Mankind has the freedom to choose between good and evil, but must bear personal responsibility to reap the consequences. The quintessence of Zoroaster’s teachings is embodied in the triad-principles of Humata (Good Thoughts), Hukhta (Good Words,) and Huvareshta (Good Deeds). Mr. Shroff, served the United States Government for 33 years as the Co-Director of congressional legal research, and Chief, Western Law Division, at the Law Library of Congress, Washington D.C.