Cordoba Initiative










…A lot of people think religion is the answer – but right now, religion is the problem. What is needed is a much stronger voice from the faith community, some kind of place or forum for mediating religious conflict and involving the participation of people of faith.

– John C. Danforth, Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, 2004



Karen Armstrong
Karen Armstrong spent seven years as a Roman Catholic nun in the 1960s, but then left her teaching order in 1969. She earned her Masters in Literature from University of Oxford and taught modern literature at the University of London. She also taught part time at the Leo Baeck College for the Study of Judaism and the Training of Rabbis and Teachers. Recently Karen Armstrong has become a regular columnist for The Guardian newspaper. Karen’s books include: Holy War, The Crusades and their Impact on Today’s World [1988]; Muhammad, A Biography of the Prophet [1991]; A History of God [1993]; Jerusalem, One City, Three Faiths [1996]; The Battle for God, A History of Fundamentalism [2000]; and Islam, A Short History [2000]. Her books have been translated into forty languages. Since September 11th, Karen has become chiefly known for her work on Islam and Fundamentalism. Karen appears regularly on radio and television to comment on religious affairs in England and the United States, and is a frequent contributor to conferences, panels, newspapers and periodicals on both sides of the Atlantic.

Mrs. Samia Farouki
Ms. Farouki is the Founder and CEO of HAIFinance Corporation, a global investment company. She originates and oversees a diverse investment portfolio consisting of controlling positions in several prominent U.S. manufacturing and service companies that conduct business around the world. Mrs. Farouki is a member of the Board of Directors of Vital Voices, a global partnership that supports women's progress in building democracies, strong economies and peace. She is an Executive Board member of the Lab School of Washington, D.C., a board member of the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Washington Opera and the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Mrs. Farouki is a founding Co-Chairperson of the Arab American Cultural Foundation and a member of the Khalil Gibran Foundation. Mrs. Farouki holds degrees from the American University of Beirut, Lebanon and George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

Rabbi Bradley Hirschfield
Rabbi Bradley Hirschfield is Vice President of CLAL, the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. As a leader for religious diversity and openness, Hirschfield has brought his message of respecting and celebrating pluralism to literally thousands of people - as an educator, mentor, and much sought after public speaker and commentator. In recent years, Hirschfield has been in great demand as a thoughtful, yet powerful voice on issues of faith, doubt and the importance of interfaith dialogue and has been featured on “Nightline UpClose” (ABC-TV), “Frontline,” “Religion & Ethics Newsweekly” (PBS-TV), and Court TV, as well as on NPR radio and in major newspapers across the country. He is also the co-author of Embracing Life & Facing Death.

Julia Armstrong Jitkoff
Julia Armstrong Jitkoff is a native Texan who lives in New Jersey and Colorado. As a former trustee, she now advises the Cordoba Initiative. Ms. Jitkoff is an artist working in watercolor and bronze and an engaged philanthropist. She is also a private investor and director of a small foundation. She studied at the New York Academy of Art in New York City and is a graduate in Latin American Studies, focus Economics, from the University of Texas at Austin.

John Edwin Mroz
John Mroz is President and Founder of the EastWest Institute, a fiercely independent international think and do tank. Established as a European-American initiative in the fall of 1980, Mroz built EWI into one of the world’s pre-eminent non-governmental change agent institutions. EWI operates centers in Moscow, Brussels, Prague and New York and leadership programs in Istanbul and the UK. Mroz has served as an advisor to more than twenty governments including the US, Germany, Poland and Russia as well as the Commission of the European Union, NATO, the Council of Europe and the G-8. He has received numerous international awards including Germany's highest award to a noncitizen in recognition of the role he and his Institute played in facilitating German reunification. Mroz is the author of a landmark book on the Arab-Israeli conflict, Beyond Security: Private Perceptions Among Arabs and Israelis. Mroz is an active member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He has appeared frequently on BBC, CNN, ABC and other news programs.

Elaine Pagels
Elaine Pagels is the Harrington Spear Paine Professor of Religion at Princeton University. In three consecutive years, she was awarded the Rockefeller, Guggenheim and MacArthur Fellowships. As a young researcher at Barnard College, she changed forever the historical landscape of the Christian religion by exploding the myth of the early Christian Church as a unified movement. Her findings were published in The Gnostic Gospels, an analysis of 52 early Christian manuscripts that were unearthed in Egypt. The book won the National Book Critic’s Circle Award and the National Book Award and was chosen by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best books of the 20th Century. Pagels’ other books include The Origin of Satan; Adam, Eve and the Serpent; and the New York Times bestseller, Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas. Pagels earned an M.A. from Stanford University and Ph.D. “with distinction” from Harvard. She possesses a working command of Greek, Latin, German, Hebrew, French, Italian and Coptic. She has been profiled in Time, The Atlantic Monthly, Vogue, Mirabella and The New Yorker.

Shashi Tharoor
Shashi Tharoor is Under-Secretary-General of United Nations for Communications and Public Information since January 2001. Prior to his current role, Mr. Tharoor served as Director of Communications and Special Projects in the Office of the Secretary-General and as Executive Assistant to the Secretary-General (1997-2001). He was Special Assistant to the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations from 1989-1996. Mr. Tharoor's United Nations career began in 1978 on the staff of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva. Mr. Tharoor is also the author of eight books, as well as numerous articles. He is also the recipient of several journalism and literary awards, including a Commonwealth Writers' Prize. In January 1998, Mr. Tharoor was named by the World Economic Forum as a "Global Leader of Tomorrow". Mr. Tharoor was educated in India and the United States, completing a Ph.D in 1978 at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.



c. 2006 Cordoba Initiative