Prepared presentation for the United Religions Initiative Women's Interfaith Cooperation Circle and
serves as a look at SARAH over 19 years.
4 years after we were first birthed, in 2006 we were invited to Harvard's Pluralism Project to explore the Women's Interfaith Movement in the United States Post 911.
We stand on the shoulders of the women who have come before us who fought, struggled, and endangered their lives so that we could realize their dreams. Dorothy Day is one of those women and Suffragist whose poem inspires us to do the work we do in the world...
Vision and Mission Statement
SARAH envisions a world where women’s equality is fully realized to achieve a world that is equitable and honoring of all creation.
Mission Statement S.A.R.A.H., women of diverse cultures, faiths and beliefs, is committed to making a positive and meaningful difference in the world by advancing solutions that end all forms of violence disproportionately impacting women and girls.
To that end, our aim is to help women recognize self-awareness and personal agency through our programs and initiatives. We focus on cultural and systemic violence, and all of our practices promote circle principles which are rooted in our leading core values.
Through our programs and leadership alliances, we provide tools and skills to help and support women and girls through scholarship, education, mentoring, and a platform for their wisdom and voices to be heard.
Led by an Advisory Council and small volunteer staff, we listen carefully to our network of Sisters around the world. then respond respectfully with creative solutions through technology and in collaboration with others who share our vision.
Leading Core Values
Compassion | Collaboration | Hospitality | Care | Trust | Community |Generosity | Love
Our Story and Who We Are
The morning of 911 I woke to the same image the world was seeing, and I heard "Gather Women". With no experience of being with circles of women, let alone lead them, I instinctively sensed that when women come together and discuss the suffering of our community, we will find solutions that consider all.
I did not know if I should send my kids to school that day. Then I wondered about Muslim mothers.
I did not know any Muslim women. I knew nothing about Islam, and very little about my Jewish tradition, but I could not imagine what it must feel like to be a Muslim mother that moment and I wanted to better understand and hear from them what was going on in the hearts of Muslims all around the world.
Central to all we do are women and girls, and what impacts us disproportionately, as well as the power we hold in our womb.
Over the past 18 years we have provided countless initiatives, community gathers, university panels and shown up for our community spontaneously or with well structured programs. All of our programs have a few conditions that we insist on:
1. They address the deep root of patriarchy and systems of domination.
2. They are co-created in shared leadership.
3. They are fun and dynamic, and stretch the boundaries so as to impact change.
4. Agreements for Care and Caregiving to all in the creative and production process is held in a sacred manner to insure all are heard, and held in respect. This includes Circle Principles and Sacred Economy.
5. We are careful that our work does not water down another's and is considerate that we are contributing to an ecosystem of our interdependence and in
At the core of all we do and the sacred nature this organization has been held translates to not only interfaith understanding and community building but global initiatives that improve conditions and advance solutions so women and girls and men and boys thrive in a world that works for everyone.
Thank you for taking the time to look around. You are here because you are curious and curiosity is the threshold to new understandings and new solutions to old problems!
Meet Our Advisory Council
Sande Hart is a Mother, Grandmother and Sister and Founding President of S.A.R.A.H (The Spiritual And Religious Alliance for Hope women's international organization. She is a S.A.R.A.H. Red Tent Certified Facilitator Trainer, Founding Directorand Past Lead of the Charter For Compassion Women and Girls sector, Certified Compassion Integrity Trainer of Life University, Past Chair of the United Religions Initiative North American region, Creator and Caretaker of SDG18.com and workshop facilitator.
Constantly tugging at the root system of domination and patriarchy, Sande has co-created S.A.R.A.H. programs such as The Death Throes of Patriarchy and The Goddess Files. The General Congress of Women was designed to address the power of organizing in a sacred manner. Along with a dream team, a program infusing Sacred Action, Sacred Economy, Identifying our Interdependence, Agreements for Care and Caregiving, Sacred Geometry, and Circle Principles, we can help create Congress of women all around the world who operate in a sustainable model that is as new as it is ancient.
Sande is a disrupter of systems that do not work and has a lot of fun playing with as many collaborators as she can attract. Her Motto: When we play together, we trust one another. When we trust one another, we can be wildly creative. When we are wildly creative, we can move mountains with regenerative and resilient results.
Linda Cook- Secretary- As dedicated Community Service “Essential SARAH SIster” Linda serves as the OC Coordinator for our Interfaith Weekend of Community Service with Big Sunday.With a BS degree in Communications and Journalism from Washington University in St. Louis, Linda has worked in television as the Volunteer Coordinator. Her moyto is “Doing good work will only create good”.
Rupsi Burman is a bold stand for love and peace in the community. Through her non-profit, HOPE IN LIFE FOUNDATION she empowers women, men and children via training and education, both inside and outside of prison. She is Chair, Orange County Task Force - Cities for CEDAW Program and in that capacity is working to bring CEDAW to 34 OC cities and the County of Orange. CEDAW is the UN Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Earlier this year she was invited to the United Nations to share about OC’s CEDAW progress. Hope in Life Foundation is a Council of Organization (COO) of United Nations Association-United States of America (UNA-USA) Orange County chapter . Her organization is also a Cooperation Circle (CC) of United Religions Initiative and she works with other interfaith organizations to deliver and maintain peace and harmony in the community. In 2015 her team did a workshop at Parliament of World’s Religions at Salt Lake City, Utah on, ”Peace Within families – The Human Approach”. She is also a member of Oprah’s Belief Team. She serves on the Advisory Board of the Southern California Committee for a Parliament of World’s Religions. Last year she set up a non-profit in Kolkata, India for the purpose of training and educating women. The organization did its first workshop in December 2015 with prisoners and is scheduled to deliver another project in the coming months. Sometimes Rupsi blogs about self-realization, self-discipline and self-empowerment at B’Khush, an online magazine.
Betty Draper's ancestors include: the exiled Stewarts, expelled from England, as a consequence of the Jacobite revolution, Mayflower Pilgrims, and John Lathropp, a minister, who spent several years in the Newgate Prison because of his beliefs, before being released on bond with the understanding that he would embark to the New World.
While pursuing my masters degree in Washington D.C. in Home Economics. Today,Betty counts her blessings for her two married sons, their sweet wives, and “nearly” four grandchildren.
Volunteering has been a deeply rewarding blessing in my life. As a graduate student, I loved my Saturdays in the ghettos as a recreation counselor for learning-impaired children. As a young mother, I established a Saddleback mothers’ organization in an effort to protect our children. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I’ve been blessed in serving in many leadership positions through the years mainly in working and serving as a president and counselor for both adult women and young women ages 12-18. I have planned, organized and hosted numerous events for hundreds of girls and women with goals of helping them in achieving happiness, and becoming their best selves.
“… Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; … for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” SARAH encourages its sisters to “looketh on the heart” and to love others, and because of this, I love SARAH. There are no walls in SARAH. “
Ann Smith loves to teach circle facilitation and the New Leadership and Organization based on Circle Principles. She is teacher/learner, mentor, coach, illuminator of Divine Feminine, advocate for women’s equality and empowerment, author and community organizer. She speaks from forty-years of experiences where she has listened, observed and learned from women around the world. She is co-founder and director of Circle Connections, Millionth Circle Convener, Regional Coordinator of Gather The Women Global Matrix, Co-Associate Companion of Happehatchee Chapter of the Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross and SARAH Advisor. She is married with two daughters, three grandsons and one cat. She lives next to Everglades nature preserve in Naples, Florida.
Brenda Gustin, Ph.D., is a writer, speaker, educator, healing facilitator and social innovator. She enjoys collaborating and serving as a semiconductor bridging science with health and wellness through the logical application of yoga, hermetic science and sacred geometry. Artfully, playfully and joyfully these alchemy practices create union with the body, mind and soul.
As a mother she became a social innovator in collaboration with others worldwide to create a local Sudbury School for her children and others. After 18 years, she became co-director of The Radiant Health Center and continues to provide healing through sound, body movement and coaching to individuals and teaches meditation and yoga in corporate and medical institutions. Current projects include her work with Alchemy Productions, The Charter for Compassion, Women and Girls Sector, Mercey Springs, Chill Sacramento, The Shift Network and Ananda Worldwide.
Joy Adams is a retired international business executive committed to working with grassroots organizations to make a difference in the world. During her teenage years, Joy lived near Hiroshima, Japan, as a military dependent. This singular experience of living and working in Japan in the ravages of WWII shaped her deep, abiding commitment to world peace and heart-felt appreciation for different cultures. Over the next decades, while working in the private sector and raising a family, she was very active in professional and community organizations in the international arena.
Since retiring, she has been involved in the non-profit sector and currently serves with the core leadership of Gather the Women Global Matrix, is on the Board of the Orange County United Nations Association as well as serving on the SARAH Advisory Council.
Joy believes interfaith dialogue is imperative to bring peace to the world.
Throughout her life she has actively pursued a spiritual path to bring inner peace and to “be the change she wants to see in the world.” Joy converted to Cat holism at thirteen, but left the Church in her early twenties. Since then her spiritual path has always been universalistic and non-denominational.
Sarah Wallace is the mother of a beautiful and brilliant baby boy. She was baptized Greek Orthodox by the same priest that married her Yia Yia and Pipou in her mom’s tiny Spartan Village, spent her Sundays and early school years in Catholic Church down the street from where she grew up. Sarah finds it simplest to call herself a Christian (she has crossed herself right to left, left to right in English and not, but its all the same to her).
She was raised by the Golden Rule and to look into peoples eyes and not concentrate on what differences we all have, but the fact we are more similar than we think.
Sarah is also an accomplished and talented singer/songwriter/recording artist an owner of Christaki’s Greek Cuisine and her husband owns The Lost Bean and Lost Vine in the same Tustin village center. Sarah's the co-founder of I Am Jerusalem, representing the Christianity branch in the Abrahamic tree.
Sarah is also a talented singer/songwriter too!
Sarah is passionate about the intersection of faith, action, intellectual curiosity, and moral duty. She recalls sitting in a seminar in college where the first and final assignment was to solve the crisis in the Middle East, and how overwhelming yet possible it might be in her lifetime. Perhaps even one small step, taken by three woman, in a community far removed, but with boundless potential, might be the place to start. She feels blessed to be a part of this incredible endeavor, and prays she can make an impact.
Laura Ava-Tesimale- is a Samoan American business woman, philanthropist, community organizer and activist. She is the Founder/President of One Global Family Foundation, Executive VP of SCCPWR (Southern California Committee for a Parliament of the World's Religions), Executive Advisory Council Member of the Los Angeles Interfaith Jail Ministry, Advisory Council for SARAH (Spiritual And Religious Alliance for Hope),
Honoring and keeping engaged past leadership who serve us in less active role, but no less profoundly wise.
Ruth Broyde Sharone, author of Minefields and Miracles, film maker and international speaker is passionate about generating grassroots interfaith work and teaching peace-building. Broyde Sharone has spoken twice at UN round tables in Geneva, Switzerland She was highlighted on CNN World News, and invited to present her unique interfaith program and film, “God and Allah Need To Talk,” at the Parliament of the World’s Religions held in Barcelona Barcelona, Spain in 2004, and at the Encuentro Mundial Interreligioso (Global Interfaith Encounter) in Monterrey, Mexico in September, 2007. More...
Rev. Adelia Sandoval is the Spiritual Leader for the Juaneno Band of Mission Indians/Acjachemen Nation. The Acjachemen people are the indigenous people of Orange County in Southern California.
Adelia is also a Ceremonial Leader, Bear Dancer, Re-Burial Rites Ceremonialist and Keeper of Songs she has been taught by Tribal Spiritual Leader, Ka'chi. She is the director of the Tribal women's singing group the Tushmalum Heleqatum. (Hummingbirds that sing).
Wendy Silvers is an inspirational speaker/teacher, author and Mindful Parenting educator, dedicated to bringing greater peace to our world through the power of mothering. She is the founder/CEO of the Million Mamas Movement, an organization dedicated to the empowerment of mothers stepping into their power as global changemakers and ensuring that mothers and children thrive globally. While a celebrity publicist creating high visibility for high profile clients and projects, Wendy had a spiritual awakening and felt inspired to make a change. She decided to apply her intuitive gifts at mining others’ greatness into helping mothers raise confident children while growing their businesses. Wendy is also a blogger for Huffington Post, other magazines and online sites and a contributing author to the international best seller, Balance for Busy Moms. She is affiliated with the Agape International Spiritual Center as an Agape Licensed Spiritual Therapist and director of the Agape Conscious Parenting Ministry. Wendy has appeared on stages and summits with Michael Beckwith, Marianne Williamson, Panache Desai, Dr. Shefali Tsabary and others. Her business is based in Los Angeles, where she lives with her husband and powerful teenage daughter
Valentina Khan is the mother of an exquisite little boy and a baby daughter whose name describes her beautiful life; Amour. She first became involved in interfaith by starting the first Middle Eastern Cultural Club at Foothill High school during her senior year to present day help establish and sit as a Board of Directors for the Interfaith Youth Council of Central Orange County. Valentina's is also the co-founder and visionary of I Am Jerusalem, along with her Jewish (Sande Hart) and Christian (Sarah Wallace) co-founders. She recently earned her Degree in the Interfaith Masters Program at Claremont University, the first of it’s kind in the nation.
"May God continue to shine down His blessings upon you. May His grace always abound in your life - and show itself sufficient for whatever comes your way. May His best be yours."
Pastor L J Saunders, CEO, RMW Ministries
"My daughter and myself so much enjoyed taking part in the Peace Tapestry at the S.A.R.A.H. booth and the love and caring of its volunteers at the 2004 The Joyful Child's Festival (memory of Samantha Runnion). It was our favorite. Thank you!"
“I love your site. It is so informational. As I find time in our busy life, I go to your site and read different sections. This time your calandar of events and Karen's book selections attracted me. What an excellent Idea to understand each other through our books. This and only this can eliminate the prejudice and get us closer and closer to each other. Thank you Karen.
Much love, Floria (SARAH Sister)"