In 2018, Pooja Bastodkar will serve as Executive Committee Vice President at the Hindu Society of Minnesota (HSMN). Previously, she served as Secretary at HSMN for two consecutive years. Her interests include engaging and maintaining the interest in Hinduism among second-generation Hindu Americans through education and social cultural events. She founded the annual Kalaa Art Show in 2015, an opportunity for local Hindus to showcase their artwork. Originally from Toronto, Canada, she holds a Master in Science Degree in Kinesiology from the University of Western Ontario and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Kinesiology from the University of Waterloo. She lives in the Twin Cities with her husband and two children.
Rev. Genjo Conway is a Soto Zen Buddhist priest at Clouds in Water Zen Center. He was ordained in 2016 by Byakuren Judith Ragir-roshi. Genjo holds a BA from Sarah Lawrence College in Anarchist Theology and Poetry and a Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from St. Cloud State University. He has served as Chaplain at the St. Cloud Children’s Home and as a psychotherapist at Clara’s House. He was the translator and co-editor of Our Only Weapon Our Spirit, a collection of Bobby Sands’ prison writing. Genjo was a founding member of the Signals Collective for Consensus Decision Making Training in New York and an organizer with the New York Metro Anarchist Alliance. With his partner and three children, Genjo lives in the woods near Saint John’s Abbey, and is an avid gardener and forager, former fire eater and circus performer, and a member of the Minnesota Mycological Society.
Rabbi Jennifer G. Hartman was born and raised in Shaker Heights, Ohio, just outside Cleveland. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Comparative Religion from the University of Rochester. She was ordained at the Hebrew Union College (HUC) in New York City in 2010 and earned a Master’s Degree in Religious Education from HUC in May of 2011. Rabbi Hartman brings a passion for Jewish education and engagement to Temple Israel, where she has served as Rabbi for over 6 years. She firmly believes that if we allow it to, Jewish text can inspire us and guide us, helping us to become the fullest human beings possible. Rabbi Hartman passionately serves the community as a board member of Herzl Camp, Jewish Family and Children Services and Yachad Community High School. Rabbi Hartman lives in Minneapolis with her husband and son.
Fardosa Hassan graduated from Augsburg University in 2012 with a degree in sociology and international relations. She was very active in interfaith work while she was a student and received the University’s Courageous Woman’s Award. She was recognized by President Barack Obama and invited to the White House to take part in the Interfaith Campus Challenge. Previous internships include the Kenya Parliament and Lutheran Social Services. Fardosa also works as the Interfaith Youth Connection Program Coordinator at Interfaith Action of Greater Saint Paul. She describes herself as a “community minded citizen, who wants to make a positive change in the world.”
Joe Kruse is a co-founder of the Minneapolis Catholic Worker community in south Minneapolis. He is also studying Theology at St. Catherine University in St. Paul. He spends most of his time working at The Rye House, one of the Minneapolis Catholic Worker hospitality houses, and engaging in anti-racism and workers rights organizing. Joe is also a member of the Spirit of Saint Stephens Catholic Community in South Minneapolis.
Neha Markanda, MBA (Carlson School of Management) is an executive known for global strategy, operational excellence and change management. Grounded in the pursuit of excellence, she has created global cultures where people are open to what is possible, helped them commit to the change and invoked a fierce passion to achieve that newfound mission. In the past decade her pragmatic, no-nonsense, seamless approach has allowed executives to thread strategy to execution end-to-end so the organization remains unique and competitive. This same thought process is what she brought to the table as a founding teacher of HATS (Hindu American Temple School) and as Board Treasurer. In her spare time, Neha enjoys volunteering, running, and spending time with family and friends.
A priest in training at the Minnesota Zen Meditation Center, Daishin is dedicated to the practice of being human—traveling the path toward becoming whole, useful, and joyful. Her gate to this path is primarily Zen Buddhism, but she loves sharing the journey with devoted people from all traditions. As a non-residential priest, every part of life is “human practice”—work in graphic design is practice, writing stories is practice, being married is practice, and doing CrossFit burpees is especially good practice (it’s great spiritual exercise to intentionally work on falling down and getting back up again). She serves in various roles for both the Zen Center’s and Aslan Institute’s retreats and classes, offering an invitation to the path.
Andrea Roske-Metcalfe has served as the associate pastor at Grace Lutheran Church in Apple Valley, MN since 2013. She’s been especially involved in establishing the Pray-Ground (a space for young children in the front of the sanctuary), in the congregation’s discernment to be a Reconciling in Christ community (explicitly welcoming to people of all sexual orientations and gender identities), and in the Dakota County faith coalition’s response to the affordable housing shortage and resulting increase in homelessness. Before this call, she served for five years in Mexico as the country coordinator for the ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission program. She holds an MDiv from Union Theological Seminary in New York, where she worked as a community organizer for the Poverty Initiative. She’s passionate about writing (she’s a Writer-in-Residence with Young Clergy Women International), storytelling (she won the 2017 Twin Cities Moth GrandSLAM), and making soup (blended ones, especially). She lives in Minneapolis with her husband, Luke, and their daughters, Olivia and Clementine.
Tamim Saidi was born in Afghanistan. As a teenager, he was forced to leave his family behind and flee to Pakistan as a refugee. He came to the United States in 1990 and has called Minnesota home ever since. He is a father of 4 children, a son and a husband and a brother. He received his Doctor of Pharmacy degree from U of MN and currently works as a Consultant Pharmacist.
He has been involved in many community activities, including co-founding and currently serving as the President of NWICC Board (Plymouth Masjid Al Kareem). He has also been a board member and former Vice President of Islamic Resource Group, and is former President and a founding member of MYLA Scholarship program. Saidi has been a Sunday school teacher at Islamic Center of MN (ICM) and NWICC for the past 16 years, including a high school level honors class, Vision-21, at ICM-Fridley. He has been a participant and presenter in many interfaith dialogues and activities. He is a member of Al-Amal School Board of Directors and was previously part of Muslim Youth of MN (MYM), Muslim Students Associations, and a former member of Council of Trustees of Islamic Center of MN. He has spoken and presented to thousands of Minnesotans about Islam and Muslims’ culture and way of life. He has been leading prayers as an Imam and delivered weekly Friday sermons at various locations throughout Twin Cities.
Claire Shea currently serves in her third year as the Junior High Principal at Benilde-Saint Margaret’s School in St. Louis Park, MN. Before moving to administration, Claire worked as a senior high theology teacher in the school as well. Born and raised in the Twin Cities, Claire went to Providence College in Rhode Island to study Theology and Spanish. Afterwards, she joined the LANCE program (Lasallian Association of New Catholic Educators) in Memphis, TN where she taught theology and English in an inner-city school during the day while working towards her Masters of Teaching in the evening. After moving to Minnesota, Claire received her Educational Specialist degree in Principal Licensure K-12. In addition to this fellows program, Claire is currently working towards her Doctorate of Education at the University of St. Thomas.
Rabbi Aaron Weininger is the associate rabbi at the Adath Jeshurun Congregation in Minnetonka, Minnesota, where he holds the Berman Family Chair in Jewish Learning. He earned his BA in Anthropology and Jewish Near Eastern Studies at Washington University in St. Louis, and received ordination and an MA in Hebrew Letters from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2012. In 2007, he became the first openly gay person admitted to rabbinical school in the Conservative movement, and he studied at JTS as a Schusterman Rabbinical Fellow. Aaron believes when the spark of each person is connected to the warmth of community, ancient Jewish wisdom is reanimated and transformative in the world.