Bay Area Peace Forum


Rev. Will McGarvey

Reverend Will McGarvey has been Executive Director of the Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County since Sept. 2013.  McGarvey serves the Council on a part-time basis, as he also serves part-time as Pastor at Community Presbyterian Church in Pittsburg.  The Interfaith Council represents 107 diverse faith communities throughout Contra Costa County.  Its mission statement reads:

“We as people from a diversity of religions, spiritual traditions and sectors of society, gather to manifest our unity as we promote the spirit of community, service and cooperation through the work of the Interfaith Council.”

Under his leadership, the Council has deepened its commitment to interreligious conversation and launched a new Youth Leadership Initiative. McGarvey has also been active with East County United, one of the Council’s local interfaith groups.  He serves as a Teaching Elder (Minister) member in good standing of the Presbytery of San Francisco, which has congregations in San Francisco, San Mateo, Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. Serving as a Presbyterian Church (USA)-United Church of Christ union congregation, he has ecumenical contacts throughout Northern California. He also led the congregation as it became the first New Sanctuary Movement Church in Northern California, helping a local family get their deportation order overturned in the courts. He has been involved in a variety of interfaith celebration services, and offered witness to our different faith tradition’s support of rights for all immigrants.

“Will brings a deep passion and commitment to interfaith work that is unparalleled,” said Rev. Leslie Takahashi Morris, who serves as co-chair of the Council and also participated as a member of the search committee which recommended McGarvey to the Board. “He approaches the many religious traditions represented in our county with respect and a genuine curiosity.  And he has a long history as an activist against religious intolerance in the Bay Area.  Will speaks out and reminds us that the purpose of religion is to bind together and not to tear apart.”

Dr. Riess Potterveld

Dr. Riess Potterveld is President of the Graduate Theological School having started his term of service July 1, 2013. The Graduate Theological Union is a consortium of eight seminaries and various centers and affiliates that create one of the largest interreligious centers in the US. Prior to his appointment at the GTU, he served as President of Pacific School of Religion from 2010–2013. He also served as the tenth president of Lancaster Theological Seminary and Professor of Religion from 2002-2010.  He is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ.

Under Potterveld’s leadership, the GTU has prioritized the advancement of its unique character as a center of interreligious learning, while continuing to cultivate ecumenical engagement within the Christian tradition.  Several new initiatives are currently in process. These include new partnerships with Hindus and other Asian religions that will lead directly to new GTU course offerings in the coming year and, hopefully, the development of full academic centers in those religions.

Dr. Potterveld has taught courses in transformational leadership and the practical skills of ministry. He preaches and speaks widely throughout the region on issues of church and society and offers workshops on the interface between spirituality and art.

Under Dr. Potterveld’s leadership, Lancaster developed a unique ecology of theological education that offers learning opportunities to youth, lay leaders, congregations, newly ordained pastors, and seasoned pastors in addition to persons enrolled in regular degree and certificate programs.  Over 3,000 persons from North Carolina to New York study in LTS’ special programs each year.

Before coming to Lancaster, Riess served for ten years as Vice President and Dean of Pacific School of Religion, a seminary of the United Church of Christ in Berkeley, California. He and his staff were responsible for all fund development and planned giving at Pacific School of Religion, publications and public relations, external educational events, church and denominational relations, foundation grant proposals, web site, and seminary data base.

Riess previously served as senior minister of The Congregational Church of Northridge, California for 18 years. While at Northridge, he also lectured in the religious studies department of California State University, Northridge, offering courses in comparative religion, religion and literature, and bible. He received the Meritorious Performance and Professional Promise Award at California State University, Northridge, in 1988.

Riess was the co-founder and president of The Valley Shelter, a large multi-service shelter for homeless people in the San Fernando Valley for three years beginning in 1986.

Riess graduated from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, where he earned a B.A. in religion. After being named a Booth Ferris Fellow by the Fund for Theological Education, he attended Yale University Divinity School. He holds a Master of Divinity degree from Yale, and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Claremont Graduate University in philosophy of religion.

Riess is married to Tara Potterveld, a sign language interpreter for the Deaf and sculptor and they share four adult sons and seven grandchildren.

Jackie Cabasso

Jackie Cabasso, Executive Director of the Oakland-based Western States Legal Foundation since 1984, is an internationally recognized leading voice for nuclear weapons abolition. She has been involved in nuclear disarmament, peace and environmental advocacy at the local, national and international levels for over 30 years. A “founding mother” of the Abolition 2000 Global Network to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons in 1995, since 2007, she has served as North American Coordinator for Mayors for Peace. She also serves as National Co-convener for United for Peace and Justice. She received the International Peace Bureau’s 2008 Sean MacBride Peace Award.

Deborah Small

Deborah Peterson Small is the Executive Director of Break the Chains, an advocacy organization committed to addressing the disproportionate impact of punitive drug policies on poor communities of color. Break the Chains was founded in the belief that community activism and advocacy is an essential component of progressive policy reform. Break the Chains works to engage families and community leaders in promoting alternatives to the failed “war on drugs” by adopting public health approaches to substance abuse and drug-related crimes. Break the Chains is an advocate and voice for those affected most by drug policies but too often unheard in policy debates and decisions.

Dr. Stephen Zunes

Dr. Stephen Zunes is a Professor of Politics and International Studies at the University of San Francisco, where he serves as coordinator of the program in Middle Eastern Studies. Recognized as one the country’s leading scholars of U.S. Middle East policy and of strategic nonviolent action, Professor Zunes serves as a senior policy analyst for the Foreign Policy in Focus project of the Institute for Policy Studies, an associate editor of Peace Review, a contributing editor of Tikkun, and co-chair of the academic advisory committee for the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict.

He is the author of scores of articles for scholarly and general readership on Middle Eastern politics, U.S. foreign policy, international terrorism, nuclear nonproliferation, strategic nonviolent action, and human rights. He is the principal editor of Nonviolent Social Movements (Blackwell Publishers, 1999), the author of the highly-acclaimed Tinderbox: U.S. Middle East Policy and the Roots of Terrorism (Common Courage Press, 2003) and co-author (with Jacob Mundy) of Western Sahara: War, Nationalism and Conflict Irresolution (Syracuse University Press, 2010.)

Professor Zunes received his PhD. from Cornell University, his M.A. from Temple University and his B.A. from Oberlin College. He has previously served on the faculty of Ithaca College, the University of Puget Sound, and Whitman College.

He has been a recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship on Middle Eastern and Central Asian Studies at Dartmouth College and a Human Rights Fellowship at the Center for Law and Global Justice at the University of San Francisco. He has also served as a research associate for the Center for Global, International and Regional Studies at the University of California-Santa Cruz. He has been a recipient of a Joseph J. Malone Fellowship in Arab and Islamic Studies as well as research grants through the Institute for Global Security Studies, the United States Institute of Peace, and the International Resource Center. In the early 1990s, Dr. Zunes served as founding director of the Institute for a New Middle East Policy in Seattle. In 2002, he won recognition from the Peace and Justice Studies Association as their first Peace Scholar of the Year.

Professor Zunes has made frequent visits to the Middle East and other conflict regions, where he has met with top government officials, academics, journalists and opposition leaders.

He is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post, Open Democracy, Common Dreams, Truthout, and Alternet websites, and serves as a foreign affairs columnist for the National Catholic Reporter and the Santa Cruz Sentinel. His op-ed columns have appeared in major daily newspapers on four continents. In addition, he has spoken at over 120 colleges and universities and scores of community groups in the United States, Canada, Europe, Africa, and Australia, and is a frequent guest on National Public Radio, Pacifica Radio, PBS, BBC, MSNBC and other media outlets for analysis on breaking world events. He serves as a consultant and board member for a number of peace and human rights organizations in both the United States and overseas.

Dr. Frank Kaufmann

Dr. Frank Kaufmann is Founder and President of Filial Projects, Editor in Chief of New World Encyclopedia, President of the Values in Knowledge Foundation, and Director of the Inter Religious Federation for World Peace. Frank writes for Communities at The Washington Times, and on Government, Religion, Ethnic cultures and Politics in The Digital Journal.  Some of Frank’s publications are listed here.

He served as editor in chief of the IRFWP’s academic journal Dialogue and Alliance from 1998 until 2009, during which time, in 2004 was named as one of the top ten religion journals (out of 650) by an independent panel commissioned by the American Theological Library Association (ATLA)[2]

In 2007, Kaufmann was nominated for Hofstra University‘s first Guru Nanak Interfaith Prize.[3]

Presently Frank Kaufmann is writing The Open Door, a primer on how effectively to carry out interfaith activity.
Excerpts and education on interfaith from this work are published daily on the Tumblr site, Kaufmann on Interfaith 

All of Frank Kaufmann’s work transpires under the umbrella organization, Filial Projects. The for profit side of Filial Projects functions as a private consulting firm providing service, training, and hands on design and implementation for individuals and organizations needing help and expertise in areas derived from his life’s work.

Samina Sundas

In the aftermath of 9/11, one charismatic Pakistani American Muslim woman dared to envision a culture of peace, acceptance, mutual respect and harmony.  She stood proudly in the face of fear, anger and retaliation, and bravely suggested that the country could heal if people truly got to know one another. It would be an idealistic notion, if not for the sincerity with which she has built so many bridges. Spreading her message and sharing her dream of an all-inclusive nation Ms. Samina F. Sundas, is founding executive director of the American Muslim Voice.

Samina is committed to take the interfaith/inter-community dialog to the next level. Her focus is in fostering friendships among all Americans by bridging the cultural and religious gap and to walk on the path Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s paved for all of us. She is committed to work towards building an inclusive and beloved community. She enjoys working with and learning from youth. She specially is interested in empowering young women to become leaders of tomorrow. She is an advocate of civic engagement through volunteerism. She believes through education and social interaction we can build an inclusive and beloved nation where all of us feel safe and at home.

Kazu Haga

Kazu Haga’s introduction to social justice came at 17, when he participated in the Interfaith Pilgrimage of the Middle Passage, a walking journey to retrace the slave trade. He is a Level II Kingian Nonviolence Trainer and the founder of the EastPoint Peace Academy. He conducts trainings and presentations in schools, with youth groups, in prisons and jails, and with community leaders. He has been active in many social justice organizations and movements since 1998, including having spent 10+ years in social justice philanthropy. He currently serves on the Board of Communities United for Restorative Justice (CURYJ), PeaceWorkers, and the OneLife Institute.

Leonard Joy

Leonard Joy was an economist in academia for 30 years at University College of East Africa, Cambridge, LSE, University of Sussex, the University of California; Consulted for the World Bank, FAO, WHO, UNICEF, UNESCO, IFAD, UNDP, ADB, and UNHCHR; for USAID, the UK Ministry for Overseas Development, Ford and Rockefeller Foundations. He is currently a leader of the Quaker Institute for the Future.

Under UNDP [United Nations Development Programme] Mr. Joy, worked as process consultant for governance systems change. In 2012 he also served as World Bank consultant on evaluation of values shift to secure non-bureaucratic collaboration between eight Tamil Nadu government departments.

He is becoming increasingly focused on the understanding of values development and the application of this understanding, especially with regard to the need for values shifts in response to global warming. He has a book in draft tentatively entitled Our Values Will Determine Our Future.

Prof. David C. McGaffey

Prof. David C McGaffey

Prof. David C McGaffey is Professor of International Relations, Emeritus, as well as President of InterConsult Global, and leads the simulation on immigration. He is an expert on Negotiations, Cultural Analysis, International Relations, International Management, Global Education.

He has experience in Afghanistan, Philippines, Iran, Greece, Macedonia, Portugal, Sierra Leone, Cabo Verde, Guyana, Canada and the US, plus knowledge of the Middle East, East, West & Southern Africa, West & South Asia, and the UN System.


Specialist on difficulties encountered on crossing cultural boundaries.
Global education