IAS Humanitarian Award

Honoring Service

Service and Contribution

For over the past 20 years, the International Association of Sufism has honored individuals whose lives and work offer a model of engaged service and positive contributions to our community and culture through an Annual IAS Humanitarian Award. This includes contributions in such diverse areas as education, human rights, social justice, religion, spirituality, publishing, cosmology, theology, journalism, and more.

IAS Humanitarian Award

This award and annual celebration was established specifically to honor the creative diversity that people in our community bring to the path of humanity and to serving their society’s deeply held values. The first Humanitarian Award gala dinner, held in 2000, honored distinguished professor and author Huston Smith. Further IAS Humanitarian Award recipients have including the following individuals for their commitment to service and the greater Bay Area and/or global community: 

      • The Rev. Canon Charles Gibbs, past Executive Director of the United Religions Initiative
      • Nafisa Haji, an award winning author
      • Harlan Stelmach, Ph.D. past Chair of Humanities and a professor at Dominican University of California
      • Sonia Leon Gilbert, Sufi woman leader
      • Brian Thomas Swimme, Ph.D. Professor at California Institute of Integral Studies and an evolutionary cosmologist
      • Matthew Fox, Ph.D. Founder of the University of Creation Spirituality
      • Mary Kay Sweeny, Ph.D. Executive Director of Homeward Bound
      • The Dominican Sisters of San Rafael, a vital community of Catholic women devoted to justice, peace and care
      • Peter Coyote, acclaimed actor and Emmy Award-winning narrator
      • Cheryl Jennings, former award winning news anchor of ABC7/KGO-TV
      • Donna Garske, Executive Director of Center for Domestic Peace
      • Rabbi Michael Lerner, Editor of Tikkun, for his career of service in social justice, activism, and religion to the community
      • Diane Cirincione, Ph.D., Founder and Executive Director of Attitudinal Healing International
      • Kokomon Clottey and Aeeshah Clottey, Co-Founders of Attitudinal Healing Connection
      • Gerald Jampolsky, MD., Founder of Attitudinal Healing for their humanitarian work and community service

Huston Smith (d. 2016) is internationally known for his books and television films on religion, philosophy and spirituality. He is the author of The Religions of Man revised as The World’s Religions, which has sold over two million copies and been translated into 12 languages. Dr. Smith was born and raised in Soochow, China to American Methodist missionary parents, traveling to the United States to pursue a degree studying Western religion. He went on to obtain a Ph.D. in philosophy and to explore religious mysticism and study world religions. He held teaching positions at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri and M.I.T., where he began to focus his intensive studies of world religions on Zen Buddhism and Sufism. He went on to hold the position of Watson Professor of Religion and Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Syracuse University and Visiting Professor of Religious Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. During his travels and study, Dr. Smith encountered and befriended many well-known and history-making individuals, including the Dalai Lama XIV and Martin Luther King, Jr.  He made a lifelong journey exploring what he called “the great Wisdom Traditions” and his books continue to read and used widely in university courses and throughout the world.

The Rev. Canon Charles P. Gibbs is an Episcopal priest, a visionary and a poet who has dedicated his life to serving the sacred in the world, especially through interreligious and intercultural engagement. Before attending seminary, he earned degrees in theater arts and creative writing and worked in both fields. He served for six years as Executive Director of the San Rafael Canal Ministry, an interfaith ministry of service and outreach, primarily among immigrants and refugees, in Marin County, California, and six years as Rector of the Episcopal Church of the Incarnation, San Francisco, CA. From 1996 until his retirement in 2013, he served as the founding executive director of the United Religions Initiative (www.uri.org). As executive director, he worked with thousands of colleagues around the world to guide URI’s growth from a vision to becoming the world’s largest grassroots interfaith network. URI promotes enduring, daily interfaith cooperation for peace, justice and healing in 84 countries. During his tenure, URI engaged in a global chartering process, which involved thousands of people, and included the planning and production of five global summits and eight regional conferences. As son, brother, husband, father, father-in-law and grandfather, Charles cherishes and is inspired by his family. (Learn more)

Nafisa Haji is a critically acclaimed writer and novelist. She was born and mostly raised in Los Angeles—mostly, because there were years also spent in Chicago, Karachi, Manila, and London. Her family migrated from Bombay to Karachi in 1947 during Partition, when the Indian Subcontinent was divided into two states. Ms. Haji studied American history at the University of California at Berkeley, taught elementary school in downtown Los Angeles for seven years in a bilingual Spanish program, and earned a doctorate in education from the University of California at Los Angeles. With an unfinished novel left long behind, she seized upon the birth of her son—when she decided to stay home fulltime—as an excuse to go back to writing, learning to use nap times and weekends very efficiently. She started writing short stories, which then developed into an idea for a novel, the highly acclaimed and internationally bestseling The Writing on My Forehead, which was published in 2009. Her second novel, The Sweetness of Tears was published in 2011. (Learn more)

Harlan Stelmach is a retired professor of ethics and religion. His graduate work in the field of ethics began at Harvard University where he received his masters degree. In 1977 he earned his Ph.D. in a joint program with the Graduate Theological Union and the University of California in Berkeley in the fields of Religious Studies, Social Ethics and Social Theory. A post-doctoral visiting scholar stay at the Haas School of Business in Berkeley contributed to one of his specialties in business ethics. He was the director of the Center for Ethics and Social Policy in Berkeley for five years. He went on to teach courses in moral philosophy, social science, religion, and Big History. Dr. Stelmach joined the faculty of Dominican University of California in 1997. Prior to his tenure at Dominican University, Dr. Stelmach taught at both St. Mary’s College in Moranga and the University of San Francisco. Along with serving on the boards of numerous non-profit organizations, he co-authored Doing Ethics in a Diverse World, a work that attempts to provide a practical framework for challenging ethical relativism and fundamentalism by bridging moral philosophy and religious ethics. His list of papers and public lectures is extensive, and his dedication to and love for learning led friends and colleagues to describe Dr. Stelmach as an outstanding teacher and leader.

Sonia Leon Gilbert was a president of the Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship and Mosque that has fourteen branches in the United States, Canada, England, and Sri Lanka.  During that time, the study of the Sufi Way, as exemplified by her exalted teacher, M.R. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen (ral.) has been her focus and her work. Wisdom she gained was included in her many speeches and was her guide to enthusiastic engagement in interfaith dialogues. She was a regular speaker at the International Association of Sufism Symposia and an ardent supporter of interfaith endeavors. Ms. Gilbert authored numerous book chapters and articles, including “The Divine Vibration in the Breath – A Song of Life,” which was included in The Revelation of the Breath. In earlier years, she was a voice graduate of the revered Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her operatic career spanned the concert stage, radio, and television, and she performed with some of the greatest singers of the latter 20th century. She was owner of multiple gem arts magazine and concerns for the spiritual, socio-political and physical environment initiated her partnership in One Light Pictures LLC, a company involved in documentary film productions.

Brian Thomas Swimme is a mathematical cosmologist, professor and author. He is the Director of the Center for the Story of the Universe and a professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. Swimme received his Ph.D. from the Department of Mathematics at the University of Oregon in 1978 for work in gravitational dynamics. He brings the context of story to human understanding of the fourteen billion year trajectory of the universe. Such a story, he feels, will assist in the emergence of a flourishing Earth community. Dr. Swimme is the author of The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos and The Universe is a Green Dragon. He is co-author of several books, including Manifesto for a Global Civilization with Matthew Fox, The Universe Story with Thomas Berry, and The Journey of the Universe, with Mary Evelyn Tucker. He is also the creator of three educational video series: “Canticle to the Cosmos,” “Earth’s Imagination,” and “The Powers of the Universe.” Most recently Dr. Swimme hosted the 60 minute film “Journey of the Universe,” broadcast on PBS television stations nationwide and winner of the Northern California regional Emmy for Best Documentary in 2011. He lectures widely and has presented at conferences sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, The World Bank, UNESCO, The International Montessori Society, and the American Museum of Natural History. His new book, Cosmogensis, was published in the fall of 2022. (Learn more)

Matthew Fox is an internationally acclaimed spiritual theologian, Episcopal priest, and activist who was a member of the Dominican Order for 34 years. He holds a doctorate, summa cum laude, in the History and Theology of Spirituality from the Institut Catholique de Paris and has devoted 50 years to developing and teaching the tradition of Creation Spirituality. This emergent spiritual discipline is rooted in ancient Judeo-Christian teaching, inclusive of today’s science and world spiritual traditions; welcoming of the arts and artists; wisdom centered, prophetic, and committed to eco-justice, social and racial justice and gender justice. Dr. Fox designed educational programs over 40 years, including in the University of Creation Spirituality, which established a new pedagogy for teaching spirituality and reinventing work by bringing deep values to it. He has authored 38 books on spirituality and contemporary culture, among them: Original Blessing, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ, The Reinvention of Work, A Spirituality Named Compassion and Meister Eckhart: A Mystic-Warrior for Our Times. His books, celebrated around the world, have been translated into 76 languages. This work, along with countless lectures, retreats, and innovative education models, have ignited an international movement to awaken people to live as mystics, prophets, and contemplative activists who honor and defend the earth and work for justice. (Learn more)

Mary Kay Sweeney is Co-Chief Executive Officer of Homeward Bound of Marin, the primary provider of homeless shelters and services for homeless families in Marin, California. Right after high school, Sweeney entered the Sisters of Mercy and became a teacher, striving to make learning relevant and fun for her students. A student in (and of) the sixties, she became involved in the civil rights and anti-war movements of the era. Recognizing that public witnessing was an important social justice message, she and her sisters were also deeply committed to internal work as well, studying non-violence and systemic racism, attending seminars and study groups throughout her tenure as a Sister. She earned her Master’s Degree in counseling from Loyola University Baltimore, after doing graduate work in psychology and religion at University of Detroit Mercy and St. Basil’s New School of Religion. Ms. Sweeny held leadership positions at Seva Foundation and Canal Community Alliance before coming to Homeward Bound, and has served Homeward Bound for more than two decades. Over the years, she has received honors for her work in several arenas. She received a Nonprofit Leadership Award from the North Bay Business Journal and the Heart of Marin Award for Excellence in Nonprofit Leadership. In 2017, she received the “North Bay Woman of the Year Award” from the California State Assembly. Ms. Sweeny has also been inducted into the Marin Women’s Hall of Fame. (Learn More)

The Dominican Sisters of San Rafael are a congregation of Catholic sisters. They are members of the international Order of Preachers that was founded by St. Dominic in the 13th century and have dedicated our lives to preaching the Good News of truth, love, and justice. Throughout their congregation’s history of more than 165 years, they have responded with compassion and commitment to the critical issues of the times. Historically Catholic sisters, including the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael, arrived in the United States to establish schools and hospitals. In the spirit of renewal springing from Vatican II, congregations were encouraged to revisit their missions, and expand their ideas of where and how they could best be of service to God’s people. Today they can be found not only in schools and hospitals, but also in parishes, social service agencies, day programs for those without homes, and prisons. They minister as spiritual directors, chaplains, retreat leaders, artists, physical therapists, professors, peace and justice promoters, and tutors, and go where God leads them. (Learn more)

Peter Coyote has been a celebrated member of the Marin, California community for decades, while creating an international reputation for his artistic endeavors. He has appeared in more than 130 films and has been an Emmy Award-winning narrator whose body of work includes over 200 documentaries and 17 audiobooks. As Chairman of the California Arts Council, he helped to set community-based priorities that had a lasting positive impact on the state. Mr. Coyote holds a master’s degree in creative writing and has been active in the San Francisco literary scene. He has written two memoirs, Sleeping Where I Fall and The Rainman’s Third Cure, and contributed to other books and publications. A lover of music, he is also a guitarist, songwriter, and singer. Mr. Coyote has been an active participant in the San Francisco Zen Center community and was ordained as a Zen Buddhist priest in 2011. (Learn more)

Cheryl Jennings is an inspiring example of the human capacity for multi-dimensional, heart-felt devotion to community and service. She began her career at KNBR radio in 1974. Moving to K101, she became the station’s first-ever female news director and the second female news director in the Bay market. In 1979 she moved to KGO and rose from general assignment reporter to co-anchor to anchor. Ms. Jennings pioneered in reporting on children’s issues, women’s rights and domestic violence, for which she has been recognized locally and nationally. The longest tenured woman news anchor in Northern California, she has garnered nine Emmys, seven “Gracie” awards (the top national award of the Alliance for Women in Media), and two of the highest honors in broadcast journalism: the George Foster Peabody Award and the Radio Television News Directors Association Edward R. Murrow Award. Ms. Jennings has been an energetic and generous contributor to humanitarian causes of all kinds, often with local roots and global impact, including co-founding “Pennies for Peace,” a campaign to help mend the ravages of war. She is an inductee into the Marin Women’s Hall of Fame.

Donna Garske has been a pioneer in the movement to end violence against women through a 40-year career that began with helping women in the criminal justice system. This work led Ms. Garske to become the Executive Director of Marin Abused Women’s Services (MAWS), which later evolved into the Center for Domestic Peace. Throughout her seventeen years at MAWS, Ms. Garske led the way with innovative responses to men’s violence against women, including an internationally replicated reeducation program for batterers, and one of the first transitional housing programs for battered women, for which she earned an award from the American Planning Association in 1983. Her advocacy efforts influenced legislation such as the Federal Violence Against Women Act, and a California law establishing minimum requirements for batterers’ programs. In 1992, she guided MAWS in creating “Transforming Communities: Creating Safety and Justice for Women and Girls” as a learning center for preventing violence against women and girls, recognized as a model approach by the National Academy of Sciences. A few years later, in 1997, MAWS received the National Marshall Award for excellence in violence prevention and Ms. Garske was inducted into the Marin Women’s Hall of Fame.

Read full highlights from the IAS Honoring Dinner for Donna Garske:
Sufism, An Inquiry, Vol. 18.2

Rabbi Michael Lerner is an American political activist and religious scholar. Rabbi Lerner began his search for meaning in life at a young age and found a mentor and guide in Abraham Joshua Heschel, meeting him at the age of 12 and studying with him for over decades. Cornel West, professor of African American Studies at Harvard University and author of Race Matters wrote: “Lerner is one of the most significant prophetic public intellectuals and spiritual leaders of our generation. Secular intellectuals and those who yearn for a major change in the direction of American society can learn a lot from reading his books.” Rabbi Lerner’s legacy of political activism was launched in 1964 when he attended UC Berkeley and has continued into the present. He is currently Rabbi of the Beyt Tikkun Synagogue Without-Walls in San Francisco and Berkeley, CA, editor of Tikkun, a progressive bimonthly Jewish and interfaith magazine on politics, culture, and society, and Chair of The Network of Spiritual Progressives. He holds a Ph.D. in philosophy and in social/clinical psychology and worked as a therapist for several years serving the underprivileged and working-class communities in Richmond and Contra Costa (SF Bay Area). A prolific author, Rabbi Lerner’s books include: The Left Hand of God: Taking Our Country Back from the Religious Right and Revolutionary Love. (Learn more)

Read full highlights from the IAS Honoring Dinner for Rabbi Michael Learner:
Sufism, An Inquiry 18.4

Diane V. Cirincione is a former postdoctoral clinical researcher at Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute at the University of California, San Francisco. In addition to a Masters in Counseling Psychology and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, she also has expertise and her B.S. Degree in Organizational Behavior. Dr. Cirincione is an internationally-known lecturer and author as well as an entrepreneur with business experience in the corporate world as well as her own companies. She serves on the Board of Trustees of the California Institute of Integral Studies and the Board of Directors of the Unstoppable Foundation, and is President of the Jampolsky Outreach Foundation, a non-profit responding to worldwide requests to introduce and mentor culturally appropriate adaptations of Attitudinal Healing, integrating this innovative, time tested psycho-social-spiritual model into every aspect of daily life. As Co-Founder with Dr. Gerald Jampolsky, she currently serves as Executive Director of Attitudinal Healing International (AHI), an educational, logistics, and support non-profit organization working with and mentoring Attitudinal Healing Centers, Groups, and Development Projects globally. (Learn more)

Aeeshah Clottey is co-founder with Kokoman Clottey of Attitudinal Healing Connection, an Oakland nonprofit that works to eliminate violence and fear by building peaceful, loving communities for everyone. In her work, Ms. Clottey brings perpetrators of violence together with their victims to promote healing; resolves conflicts between residents in public housing; and helps build skills of low-income residents to improve their lives. Ms. Clottey is the co-author of Color Theory: Race is a Powerful Illusion and is an international motivational speaker, certified Restorative Justice trainer and peace-making consultant. She has over 35 years of specialized training in Attitudinal Healing. and also worked as the Assistant Program Director of Casa de la Vida, a residential treatment facility located in Oakland for 25 years. She is also a state certified genetic counselor and former member of the Board of Directors for University of Creation Spirituality, Global Renaissance Alliance and The Peace Alliance. Aeeshah and Kokomon Clottey are the central subjects of “Imaginary Walls,” a documentary about healing racism. (Learn more)

Kokomon Clottey is a storyteller, record producer, author, and teacher, and co-founder of the Attitudinal Healing Center (AHC) with his wife, Aeeshah Clottey. Mr. Clottey’s practice is community-oriented, and always strives to work with those around him in bettering our world. Born into the Ga-Adagbe tribe in Accra, Ghana, Mr. Clottey’s sense of spirituality and knowledge of ancient rituals is deeply intertwined in his work. Now residing as an active community leader in Oakland, California, he unifies indigenous wisdom of the Ga tribe with the culture of his hometown today. He teaches and hosts the ancient practice of Mindful Drumming, a community act of meditation, collective healing and personal wellness at the AHC headquarters in West Oakland. He is also an accomplished musician, having mastered a variety of instruments and producing multiple records. As an author, Kokomon wrote and published, Mindful Drumming, Ancient Wisdom for Unleashing the Human Spirit and Building Community. He co-authored Beyond Fear with Aeeshah Clottey. (Learn more)

Gerald Jampolsky, MD (d. 2021) is a graduate of Stanford Medical School, a child and adult psychiatrist, an author, and an inspirational speaker. He is the author of Forgiveness: The Greatest Healer of All, and an internationally recognized authority in the fields of psychiatry, health, business, and education. He learned about forgiveness by helping thousands of people for over 30 years as they sought to deal with the psychological, social, and spiritual aspects of facing both chronic and life-threatening illnesses. Dr. Jampolsky is the founder of The Center for Attitudinal Healing, of which there are now more than 130 satellite centers around the world. His pioneering work at the center eventually led him to consult in Bosnia, Russia, and Ghana on the importance of attitudinal healing and forgiveness. Other best-selling books he authored include Love is Letting Go of Fear (with over 3.5 million copies in print). Dr. Jampolsky is a recipient of the Jehan Sadat Peace Award.

Video tribute to Dr. Gerald Jampolsky