Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions
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About Us


Executive Director

Dr. Mary Nelson

Mary Nelson is our Executive Director.  She was a successful CEO and has earned a PhD and six honorary degrees.

Mary Nelson has spent the last 40 years working in a faith-based community development on the west side of Chicago, seeking to carry out the asset based community development principles in concrete ways through her leadership of Bethel New Life, Inc.  She is on the national Board of Sojurners (currently  Chair) and Christian Community Development Association.  She is also currently the coordinator of the Loyola University (Chicago) Institue of Pastoral Studies Masters in Social Justice and Community Development.  Dr. Nelson is also the author of Empowerment. 

Development Associate

Brian Savage

Brian was drawn to The Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions’ commitment to peace, justice, and sustainability. He brings to his work a keen interest in that dynamic place where faith intersects with the public square. Brian received his earliest education - as well as his introduction to faith in action - from the farm folk by and among whom he was reared. He has since been further educated at Saint Louis Christian College, Emmanuel Christian Seminary, and Chicago Theological Seminary. He has an extensive career in fundraising and event production for national agencies focusing on AIDS, Breast Cancer, and youth education. He is very excited to marry his passion and experience to advance the mission of the Parliament.

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Senior Communications Associate

Molly Horan

Molly brings a fierce interest in social justice to her work as Project Coordinator for the Faiths Against Hate campaign. Molly completed studies in Sociology and Irish Studies, culminating in a B.A. in Communications Summa Cum Laude from DePaul University.
While interning in the Parliament of Ireland during the first days of the economic crisis of 2008, she was inspired by the people's collective appeal to keep their elected officials on their sides. Her coverage of a leading health insurance company's communications strategy for Universal Health Care became a day's top recommended story on DailyKos by its editor. Molly's work has been published by Patch, ChicagoNow, and Irish American News.

Contact Molly Horan 

Office Manager

Stephen Avino

Stephen earned his B.A. in Religious Studies at North Central College and is currently pursuing his Master of Arts at the Chicago Theological Seminary. He has always been attracted to learning about the many fascinating faith traditions found all over the world. He knows that religious tolerance and interfaith dialogue are some of the key steps to promoting world peace.

Contact Stephen Avino 

Assistant to the Board Chair

Mary Newhauser

Mary became interested in interfaith dialogue while studying psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. During her senior year, she took a class on the psychology of forgiveness which led her to develop a strong interest in peace building. After graduating in May 2013, she studied Jewish history at the Leo Baeck Summer University in Berlin, Germany, where she developed an interest in the study of genocide. Several experiences in Berlin, including a visit to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp memorial, impressed upon Mary the importance of facilitating interreligious communication and understanding. 

 Contact Mary Newhauser

Volunteer Coordinator

Connie Sulkin

Connie Sulkin was a preschool teacher and director for over thirty years. She then developed preschool programs at The Field Museum and was an early childhood consultant for the Chicago Public Schools. During much of this time she volunteered for the Parliament and attended many Parliament activities at the 1993, 1999 and 2004 meetings in Chicago, Cape Town, and Barcelona.

Contact Connie Sulkin