Learn more about us
Building of mutual understanding among diverse faiths
Who are We?
Established in 2012, Interfaith Center for Northeast Florida, is a non-profit organization in Jacksonville FL, that aims to promote interfaith understanding through messages, events and celebrations. We develop and facilitate dialogue in order to enhance Northeast Florida’s awareness and appreciation of religious and non-religious diversity.
Interfaith Center Northeast Florida strives to make our region a beacon for interfaith cooperation.
Interfaith Center Northeast Florida seeks to be a leader in the building of mutual understanding among diverse faiths, in Northeast Florida.
Board of Directors
Yildirim (Alex) Sivar
Yildirim Sivar is a business owner and President of Global Business and Educational Consulting Group. He is quite active in the community and serves on the Boards of the Atlantic Institute of Jacksonville, ONEJAX Institute of UNF and Baptist Hospital Foundation. Before coming to Jacksonville, Yildirim served as chief of staff for the Secretary of Culture and Tourism in the Republic of Turkey. He earned his graduate degree at NYIT in New York. Yildirim is a SHI Fellow and lives in Mandarin Florida.
Professor of Finance at University of North Florida
Parvez Ahmed is a former Fulbright Scholar and currently Professor of Finance at the Coggin College of Business, University of North Florida. His research work has appeared in several major finance journals. In addition he writes articles about Islam and the American Muslim experience. His articles have been published in several leading newspapers at home and abroad.Currently he is a member of Jacksonville’s Human Rights Commission. He also serves on the boards of Museum of Science and History, and the World Affairs Council of Jacksonville. In 2010 Folio Weekly named him “Person of the Year.” In 2014 he was awarded the Silver Medallion Humanitarian Award by OneJax. In 2015 he was named Arthur Vining Davis Fellow to the Aspen Ideas Festival.
Kalilah J. Jamall
Specialist at the University of North Florida, Interfaith Center
Kalilah Jamall is a graduate of the University of North Florida & Jacksonville native. At UNF she participated in the Better Together Leadership Development Program which honed her skills in social justice advocacy. She spent the following 5 years developing and coordinating dozens of programs for the university and Jacksonville community, including Distinguished Lecture Series with University President & Jacksonville Mayor John Delaney. As a trained Interfaith Youth Core alumni and ally, Kalilah has spoken at multiple President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge Conferences, trained other interfaith professionals through the Interfaith Youth Core Alumni Network, and was awarded the Noor Inayat Khan Community Service Award for her efforts – the first of its kind in the country to recognize undergraduate organizers in interfaith communities. Upon graduation she went on to work for United States Senator Bill Nelson as a Congressional Staffer & Coordinator for Northeast Florida until 2019. She hopes to continue working in public service and community organizing.
Secretary, Sikh Society of North East Florida
Sukhbir Singh is married with two sons raised in our Jacksonville community. He is a small business entrepreneur with a bachelor’s degree in Statistics and master’s in Computer Science.
Sukhbir and his wife Sargum are the founders of the Sikh Society of North East Florida and practice Sikhism as a path to humanity and salvation. He has been an architect in creating awareness and educating the Jacksonville community about Sikhism and Turbans through lectures, presentations in schools, colleges, universities, temples, churches, hospitals and more. The Singh family is a strong believer of “There is One Father and we are all his children.”
Associate Director, Interfaith, Department of Diversity Initiatives, University of North Florida
Matt Hartley is an Associate Director of the Department of Diversity Initiatives at University of North Florida, his primary role leading the UNF Interfaith Center. He has over 12 years of experience in education and ministry, as a Public High School teacher, Presbyterian youth minister, and Episcopal Campus and Young Adult minister. In 2015, he secured a $100,000 grant for the Episcopal Diocese of Florida to launch the UNF Pilgrim Bridge, a Christian Interfaith leadership campus ministry. He is a graduate of UNF and most recently the University of Florida, receiving his M.A. in Religion, and writing a thesis on the lives of Muslim youth growing up in the American south.
Maria Hane serves as the President of the Museum of Science & History of Jacksonville (MOSH). In her eight year tenure at MOSH, she has increased the Museum’s operating budget by 46% led $2 million in capital improvements. She served as Deputy Director of Operations at the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens and as the Director of Written Communications for Jacksonville Mayor John D. Delaney. She is a founding member of Cultural Fusion, a collaborative network of arts and cultural organizations in Jacksonville leveraging the power of the collective to lead change in the community. As well as on the Boards of the Florida Association of Museums, Nonprofit Center of Northeast Florida, Visit Jacksonville, Cultural Fusion and the Jacksonville Chamber Board of Governors. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of North Florida with a Bachelor’s of Art in Communications. She is an active member of Leadership Jacksonville Class of 2002 serving for three years on the Leadership Development Team and as Chair for Arts & Culture Day, and is a member of the Jacksonville Women’s Network.
Khwaja Shaik is the award-winning global IT Executive with 22+ years of business technology leadership with GE, PwC, IBM and Bank of America. Khwaja has a worldwide reputation and proven track record in driving large scale digital transformation and innovation at the intersection of Cloud, Cybersecurity, Design Thinking and Artificial Intelligence. As an IBMer, Khwaja’s role is to transform client’s business for digital business, building new partnerships and ecosystems for cognitive era. A lifelong advocate for principled practices, Khwaja served as BAC’s Employee Network co-chair (2012-2015) and “Night of Asia” board member (2014) driving Cultural Intelligence. Khwaja also serves as McKinsey Global Institute’s Executive Panel Member, University of North Florida’s Computing Advisory Board Member and HBR’s Advisory Council Member driving global thought leadership. Khwaja holds an MBA (Global Management), Bachelors in Engineering, executive programs and 2014 CIO IT & Security Forum – Speaker.
Director of Alumni Strategy for Teach For America Jacksonville and Central Florida.
Non-profit leader by day, roller derby skater by night, Leah Palestrant currently serves as the new Director of Alumni Strategy for Teach For America Jacksonville and Central Florida. When she’s not strategizing on how to build a powerful alumni network, Leah spends her time volunteering for local organizations such as coaching basketball with Special Olympics and rescuing manatees with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. As a member of Congregation Ahavath Chesed, the Jacksonville Jewish Federation Young Professionals and Families Board, and the Daughters of Abraham book club, Leah is passionate about Judaism and interfaith dialogue. Last year, Leah was also accepted into the 2020 Class of Leadership Jacksonville and also recently started a local chapter of Bend The Arc here in northeast Florida. Leah’s vision is for all students in her beloved community to have equitable access to education and lifelong learning.
Lucinda Allen Mosher, Th.D.
Faculty Associate / Interfaith Studies
Lucinda Allen Mosher, Th.D., is a Christian moral theologian in the Anglican tradition. She serves concurrently as Faculty Associate in Interfaith Studies at Hartford Seminary, teaching courses on chaplaincy, religious diversity, and Christian-Muslim relations; Professor of Ecumenical, Interfaith, and Anglican Studies at Séminaire de Théologie d’Église Épiscopale d’Haïti; and Assistant Academic Director of the Building Bridges Seminar—an annual dialogue of Christian and Muslim scholars founded by the Archbishop of Canterbury and now under the stewardship of Georgetown University. She was the founding instructor for the annual Worldviews Seminar—an innovative introduction to America’s religious diversity held at the University of Michigan-Dearborn 2002-2012 Dr. Mosher is the author of Toward Our Mutual Flourishing: the Episcopal Church, Interreligious Relations, and Theologies of Religious Manyness (2012) and Faith in the Neighborhood—a book series on America’s religious diversity. A contributor to several scholarly journals, she is guest co-editor of a special issue of The Muslim World focusing on Hindu-Muslim relations. With David Marshall, she is co-editor of and contributor to Prayer: Christian and Muslim Perspectives (2013); Death, Resurrection, and Human Destiny: Christian and Muslim Perspectives (2014); The Community of Believers: Christian and Muslim Perspectives (2015); and God’s Creativity and Human Action: Christian and Muslim Perspectives (forthcoming 2016). Dr. Mosher has been a keynote speaker, workshop leader, or panelist in many venues in the US and abroad—including England, Turkey, Uganda, and Korea. An accomplished musician, her workshops sometimes combine her expertise in interreligious understanding with her training in theology and the arts. Dr. Mosher lives in Doctors Inlet, Florida.
Joey McKinnon, P.G.
Faith In Public Life Florida Coordinator / Environmental Geologist
Joey McKinnon serves as the Florida Statewide Coordinator for Faith In Public Life, a Washington D.C. strategy center for advancing justice and compassion in the public square by the interfaith community. McKinnon has a portfolio career as both a political campaign professional with several cycles of campaign and consulting experience as well as a licensed Professional Geologist with several years of experience in the environmental consulting industry. With a foundation in the sciences, he applies his technical approach and passion for advocacy to mission-driven community organizing. He also serves on the U.S. Green Building Council – Northeast Florida Board of Directors and as the Public Relations Chair for City of Jacksonville’s Keep Jacksonville Beautiful Commission. After growing up on a farm in South Carolina, he went on to get a degree in Geology from Clemson University and a masters degree in Geology from University of Georgia. Recently, he welcomed his daughter, Mara, into the world and hopes that the work he does makes the future a little more just and sustainable for her generation.
Naeema Haider was born and raised in Pakistan and moved the the USA at the age of 20, with her husband. They lived in New York City and Mississippi before settling down in Jacksonville 15 years ago. She studied psychology at UNF, is a homemeaker and mother of three children. She volunteered with her children’s schools and the Islamic Center of North East Florida. Her husband was previously a board member and she has been a great supporter of the Interfaith Center’s broader goals to bridge cultures to have an inclusive society in the greater Jacksonville area.
The idea of outreach and intercultural/Interfaith dialogue has been as old as Muslim Americans settling in Jacksonville. Atlantic Institute’s vision was first thought of by small group of Turkish teachers and businessmen who decided to help public education by applying for a contract to start a charter school in Duval county during 2006. Interfaith and Intercultural dialogue efforts were organized by volunteers and likeminded community members. These efforts were finding much praise and success. Programming examples were Dialogue Dinners, Art and Essay Contest- one year had more than 1000 entries by mid and high school students and attended by most of county/city dignitaries.
These wide range successes demanded a designated group of volunteers who would solely engage in interfaith and intercultural activities for the general population. Atlantic Institute was established in 2012 by many volunteers from Jacksonville later grouped with other south eastern states. By 2013 Atlantic Institute was operating in five states and more than 15 cities. Atlantic Institute in Jacksonville enjoyed many synergies from cooperating with other branches throughout the south east. In 2016 a group of volunteers in Jacksonville had a vision to take this branch of Atlantic Institute to different level of service to community by declaring an independent interfaith organization- Atlantic Institute of Jacksonville which has now been registered as an independent 501 (c) 3.
After many months of relooking at our core focus and identity the governing Board of Directors renamed the organization Interfaith Center of Northeast Florida. We believe our new name and focus better describes our future ambitions and role with the interfaith community.
Interfaith Center of Northeast Florida