2014 Symposium | Speaker Profiles
Molly Little, a graduate of Houghton College, has spent the past decade working in the field of humanitarian relief and international development with civil society organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the United Nations (UN). She is currently based at the UN headquarters in New York City, supporting the UN’s coordination of humanitarian efforts in Syria, Iraq, and neighboring countries. Prior to this humanitarian work, she worked in the UN’s political missions in Iraq, Israel and Palestine, and Afghanistan. She also worked for several years with the NGOs Mercy Corps and Save the Children, and was part of a team deployed in Afghanistan to facilitate the Loya Jirga, the country’s first election following the fall of the Taliban. For a brief spell, between wars, she tried her hand working at a farm in Upstate N.Y. supporting its first Community Sponsored Agriculture (CSA) program – possibly one of her best career choices.
Little, whose parents were medical aid workers, spent most of her childhood and teenage years in Afghanistan and India. She credits this upbringing for the exceptional professional opportunities she’s had involving interesting and challenging work during pivotal moments of history in the host countries.
Dr. Celestin Musekura is the President and Founder of the African Leadership and Reconciliation Ministries (ALARM, Inc.), which started in 1994 as a response to the genocide in his home country of Rwanda. Musekura, an ordained Baptist minister, is an international speaker and author in areas of leadership, peacebuilding, biblical forgiveness, and reconciliation. His published works feature several books and chapters including: Forgiving As We’ve Been Forgiven: Community Practices for Peace (InterVarsity). Musekura’s education has been central to his work. After receiving his Bachelor of Theology and Master of Divinity degrees in in Kenya, he went on to earn a Master’s degree in Sacred Theology at Dallas Theological Seminary, a Master of Science in Justice Administration and Leadership at University of Texas at Dallas, and a Ph.D. in Theological Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary. His doctoral work is on the Assessment of Contemporary Models of Forgiveness and he specializes in Communal Forgiveness.
In addition to his theological studies, Musekura has done intensive studies in Conflict Resolution, Mediation, and Reconciliation at institutions in Rwanda and the U.S. He has served with numerous international organizations and networks including MAP International, SIM, Sudan Evangelical Alliance (SEA), Lausanne Congress, and the World Evangelical Alliance’s Peacebuilding and Reconciliation Initiatives (WEAPRI). In academia, Musekura has served as an Adjunct Professor of Systematic Theology at Dallas Theological Seminary and Criswell College in Dallas, Texas respectively. Musekura is married to Bernadette and they have four children. They make their home in Dallas, Texas where Musekura serves in the ALARM US Office for 40% of his time while spends the rest of the time in east and central Africa training leaders in servant leadership, reconciliation and forgiveness.
Sukhdeep Brar began her career in the Indian Administrative Service, India’s premier civil service. She spent six years in the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Department of Education, New Delhi, where she was instrumental in designing a program for computer education through public private partnerships. In 1992, this program was adopted for nationwide implementation in public secondary schools in India. Brar also served as Economic Counselor in the Embassy of India in Washington, D.C., where her primary responsibilities were liaison on economic policy and investment promotion in India. She has been with the World Bank since January 2009. She was based in Uganda where she managed the Bank’s education portfolio until January 2013. Prior to joining the World Bank, she was Principal Education Specialist with the Asian Development Bank based in Manila, Philippines. Brar has worked in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Uganda, Tanzania, Ghana, and Nigeria.
Jackie Ogega is a peacebuilding and development professional with over a decade’s experience in program management, network building, women’s empowerment, protection, and coordination of national and international development and peacebuilding programs. She has worked in over 20 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America. Ogega earned a doctorate in Peace Studies and a master’s degree in Gender and Development studies. She is the co-founder of Mpanzi, a rural not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing peace and development in remote, hard-to-reach villages in Kenya, Africa (www.mpanzi.org). At the Catholic Relief Services headquarters in Baltimore, Md., she serves as Protection Specialist, tasked with protecting children and vulnerable adults from abuse and exploitation. She is the author of Pervasive Violence: What Makes Female Genital Cutting Possible, Even Inevitable? Ogega has worked with various agencies and most recently with Religions for Peace Headquarters in New York, where she led numerous development programs. She established and managed the African Women of Faith Network, a groundbreaking network of women of faith in 30 countries which aims to build multi-religious cooperation for action in Africa. Ogega currently serves as a trustee of the World Faiths Development Dialogue, an organization affiliated with Georgetown University and the World Bank in Washington, D.C.
Rev. Julian Armand Cook is 23 years old, and a native of Chicago, Illinois. A 2013 Houghton graduate, Cook majored in Music and Biblical Studies and minored in African American Studies. While at Houghton, he served in a number of civic organizations, including as president of the Black Heritage Club, Wesley Chapel Deacon, and men’s dormitory chaplain. In April of 2013, Cook was named to “Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges.”
Cook’s passion is ministry. He is a licensed minister, affiliated with the National Baptist Convention, U.S.A. He is also a member and an associate minister of True Believers Baptist Church of Chicago. He is a classically trained baritone vocalist whose gifts have afforded him a number of opportunities, including performing for notable figures like Congressman John Lewis and Rev. Jesse Jackson. In May 2009, Cook was named a U.S. Presidential Scholar of the Arts by President Barack Obama – the nation’s highest honor that can be awarded pre-collegiate artists. As a result, he debuted in concert at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.
Currently, Cook is a Dean’s Fellow and Mary Mcleod Bethune Scholar at Boston University School of Theology, where he is earning a Master of Divinity. He is also the Graduate Assistant at Boston University’s Howard Thurman Center for Common Ground – a student center committed to promoting Thurman’s principles of the “search for common ground” and the “unity of all people.” Continuing his lifelong commitment to civic engagement, Cook is the newly elected president of the Boston University Association of Black Seminarians for the 2014-2015 academic year. He is deeply committed to the liberating message and ministry of Jesus.
Luis Noda is responsible for the international operations of Food for the Hungry (FH) through which the organization’s vision, mission, and values are integrated into their response to poverty worldwide. Noda works in Washington, D.C., overseeing both the programmatic and emergency response support provided by that office, as well as operations in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. FH’s mission states that its staff “walk with churches, leaders and families in overcoming all forms of human poverty by living in healthy relationship with God and His creation.” In other words, FH’s approach to poverty is to facilitate wholistic and transformational development in the places where they serve. This is done through multidisciplinary programs and projects that promote community development as well as by responding to emergencies whether they are manmade or due to natural disasters.
In his 20 years of experience in international relief and development, Noda has been prompted and motivated by Isaiah 58:10. He received a Master of Science in Agricultural Development and a Master of Arts in Development Evaluation and Management. The two degrees complement his bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Engineering. Noda has been with FH since 2000.
Han and Laylay Moe are indeed individuals whose journey has been affected by war and conflict but they exemplify the hope there is in peace and reconciliation ministries. Han was born in Burma in 1971 and was raised in a small village in Mon state. In 1988, he fled his village to the border of Thailand and Burma to fight for freedom and democracy for the Burmese people. He served for nine years in the jungle. He crossed the border into Thailand in 1997 seeking employment opportunities to support family and friends. He met Laylay at one of the Thai border towns. They got married in June 1997 and committed to a life of Christian faith. In 1998, they became political refugees in Thailand and lived there until moving to Buffalo, N.Y. in March, 2000. In December 2002, they were blessed with their daughter, Faith. In 2004, four of their friends established the first Burmese Church in Buffalo and named it Buffalo Myanmar Indigenous Christian Fellowship (B.M.I.C.F), where the couple serves. In 2005, Han graduated from Erie Community College with a degree in Auto Technology. Han and Laylay are now United States naturalized citizens. In Buffalo, Laylay has worked for Jericho Road Family Practice (now Jericho Road Community Health Center) as a Burmese interpreter and volunteer in Priscilla Project since 2009. In 2010, Han also joined the Jericho Road family.