Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, Chair
San Francisco Bay Area
Lynn Gottlieb is a pioneer feminist rabbi, storyteller, percussionist, peace educator, writer, ceremonialist, community activist and clown. She is deeply committed to a life grounded in the creativity, joy and wisdom of the Torah (teachings) of Nonviolence. Her journey includes life long activism with The Fellowship of Reconciliation and ongoing pursuit of Israeli Palestinian conflict transformation based on principles of active nonviolence. Lynn served as a pulpit rabbi from 1973 to 1980 with Temple Beth Or of the Deaf and Mishkan, An Experimental Shul in NY and from 1981 to 2005 with Congregation Nahalat Shalom in Albuquerque, NM which she co-founded.Since 1964, Lynn has engaged in multifaith, intergenerational and multicultural organizing around issues of economic and racial justice, gender justice and ‘the demilitarization of land and life’. Lynn’s love of Jewish cultural and spiritual arts embodies her way of being Jewish in the world.
Affad Shaikh, Treasurer
Civil Rights Activist
Affad Tanweer Shaikh is a seasoned professional currently serving as Treasurer on the Board of Directors for the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity. With six years of board service, including his role as the Board Secretary, Affad continues to demonstrate his dedication to the organization. He began his service after participating in the organization’s inaugural Pilgrimage to Central America in 2015, alongside esteemed Interfaith Leaders from across the United States.
Affad currently holds a role as a Corporate Strategy Manager at a Fortune Global 500 company, contributing to strategic direction and investment initiatives in North America. He holds an MBA from Claremont Graduate University’s Peter Drucker School of Management and an MS in Information System Technology, Data Science and Analytics.
Recognized for his dedication to community development and interfaith collaboration, Affad was selected as part of the USC Dornsife Center for Religion and Civic Culture’s Future 50 cohort of the Interreligious Council of Southern California. He is also an accomplished alumnus of New Ground: Muslim Jewish Partnership for Change, fostering meaningful connections and facilitating dialogue. Through Union Seminary in New York City, Affad was selected to participate in the Millennial Leadership Institute for Interfaith Activists in 2016 building on his experiences within nonprofit organizing and community activism.
With eight years of experience advocating for civil rights and promoting civic engagement, Affad has made a significant impact within the American Muslim community at the Los Angeles chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR LA). There, he spearheaded impactful campaigns, demonstrating a strong commitment to empowerment and addressing systemic challenges.
Driven by a multifaceted background and diverse skill set, Affad embodies a steadfast dedication to social impact, strategic leadership, and interfaith activism rooted in his Muslim faith and South Asian tradition. His contributions drive positive change and make a lasting difference in the communities he serves. Affad’s values and principles were nurtured during his undergraduate degree in International Studies at the University of California, San Diego.
With strategic acumen and financial expertise, he guides and shapes the organization’s fiscal strategies. Affad also brings a dedication to interfaith activism and a desire to challenge systemic inequalities and policies that prevent the United States from living up to its Constitutional principles and values.
View Affad’s LinkedIn profile here.
Martha Matsuoka, Secretary
San Francisco Bay Area
Martha Matsuoka is Associate Professor of Urban and Environmental Policy and Executive Director of the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College. Her teaching focuses on environmental justice, community organizing, urban policy, environmental movement history, and community-based research. Her research focuses how community-based organizations organize to influence policy and planning and currently focuses on the intersection of environmental justice, community development, and health, specifically related to port and freight communities and the inequitable development processes in these neighborhoods and regions. This work is anchored and inspired by the Moving Forward Network, a nationwide network established to transform the system of ports and freight transportation to improve public health, labor conditions, and environmental justice. She has served on many boards, including the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation (past Chair), Human Impact Partners, and APEN. She currently serves on the Leadership Board of the LA Food Policy Council. Martha is a leading writer and researcher on social movements, especially in the Los Angeles area. Her first book, This Could Be the Start of Something Big: Regional Equity and America’s Metropolitan Future, was co-authored with Manuel Pastor and Chris Benner, was published by Cornell University Press in 2009. Martha received her Ph.D. in Urban Planning from UCLA, a Masters in City Planning from UC Berkeley, and an A.B. from Occidental College. She engages in a spiritual path of meditation and yoga towards generating openness, hope, love, inclusion and justice.
San Francisco Bay Area
Maram was born in Kuwait from Palestinian parents from eastern Jerusalem. She grew up in Kuwait finished her Electrical engineering degree at Kuwait university with an emphasis on computers. She lived and worked in Kuwait as a hardware and software engineer until the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait where she had to flee to Jordan and restart again. She later married and moved to Thousand Oaks, Southern California and then moved to the Bay Area 20 years ago. For over 8 years, she has been involved in interfaith work through Neighbor to Neighbor (N2N) to counter Islamophopia where she was responsible for forming many N2N circles. She was a part of the N2N steering committee and helped N2N to organize many events. She is an elected member of the Interfaith Council of Contra Costa. She serves on the Muslim Interfaith Council which seeks to coordinate Muslim interfaith activities between different masjids and organizations in the bay area. She has helped to coordinate the first Sunni-Shia conference in San Jose and intrafaith iftars during Ramadan. She attends Lighthouse Mosque in Oakland, a social justice oriented mosque.
Musician / Racial Justice Educator
San Francisco Bay Area
Benjamin Mertz is a performer, storyteller, and teacher who specializes in the Black Spiritual and Black Folk traditions. As an educator, he leads workshops on racial justice and equity at religious institutions, nonprofit organizations, and corporations. As a musician, he organizes and performs benefit concerts, vigils, protest actions, and sacred services. Standing on the shoulders of Black American heroes like Fannie Lou Hamer and James Baldwin, Benjamin’s work leverages the lyrical and artistic wisdom of this tradition to fight for integration, equal rights, and the creation of interfaith and interracial alliances.
Benjamin was born in New Jersey and has lived and taught in the San Francisco Bay Area for 15 years. He is also the founder/director of the Joyful Noise! Gospel Singers of Sonoma County. When off stage, he spends time gardening, composing music, wishing he was better at basketball, and cooking meals for his two children. He lives in Richmond, California.
Tarek Shawky is an attorney and criminal justice reform advocate. He was born in Cairo, Egypt and was raised in Southern California. He started his legal career as a public defender in Riverside and Los Angeles Counties before starting his practice in 2011. Working as a public defender taught him that the justice system often favors the wealthy and privileged. He witnessed the negative impacts of policing on black, brown and marginalized communities which motivated him to advocate for criminal justice reform. He is a member of the Pasadena Police Chief’s Citizens Oversight committee, the local NAACP Foothill chapter, ACLU, and National Lawyers Guild, and serves on the board of the Tiyya Foundation for Refugee Relief. Tarek has also worked on interfaith relations in Los Angeles with New Ground, A Muslim Jewish Partnership, where he completed the fellowship program and later served as a facilitator.
Tarek lives in Pasadena and represents clients in state and federal court in LA, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego Counties.