Our team members share many core values, yet come from a variety of cultural and religious backgrounds. We have lived and worked in a variety of Muslim-majority countries such as Iran, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Malaysia and Mali.
John Hartley is our founding Executive Director. The power of religious and tribal dynamics feeding into broader conflict became real to John during the civil wars in Liberia. He partnered with refugee leaders in Cote d’Ivoire and local leaders in Liberia to develop leadership and capacity building projects that addressed fundamental challenges to community development and reconciliation (e.g., public health, education, self-help agriculture). Since then, John’s work and research have addressed similar dynamics across the world, from the US to Pakistan, Iran to Malaysia. As a scholar, John applies mixed methods to the study of religion, politics and global affairs with an emphasis on more conservative religious actors and their relations with other communities. His work stresses the ways religious belief, embodied dispositions and socio-political struggle over authority influence situational leadership. John grew up in Northern California. He and his wife Jennifer have a daughter, Elena Jaleh, born in Isfahan, and a son, Evan Alexander, born in New Haven. John holds PhD, MA and MPhil degrees from Yale University, an MA in Iranian History from the University of Isfahan and a BA in International Relations from UC Davis.
Norani Abu Bakar is our Asia Director and a Project Consultant. A Malaysian, she completed a Post Graduate Fellowship at the Yale Center for Faith and Culture after she completed her Masters of Arts in Religion at the same university. She also holds a MBA in Asian Studies and a BSc. in Chemical Engineering with specialization on Power Plant and Nuclear Engineering. Norani worked as a Senior Process Engineer and a Process Engineering Project Team Leader at Siemens Power Generation, Germany for several years. She lived in Shanghai for 11 years, and established Asian Touch, the first Southeast Asian Life Style and Home Decor business there. Through her company, Norani founded Home Sweet Home - an organization that runs a holistic intervention program for the physically challenged and orphans who were homeless in China in 2005. She has lived in Canada, Germany, Thailand, China, USA and Singapore.
Samantha Butler came to Pathways as an intern in 2013 and became the Administrator the following year. While earning her Bachelor's in Intercultural Studies, she was able to live and study in South Africa and Mali as well as multiple locations in the United States, including Los Angeles, Nebraska, and Mississippi. Since moving to Connecticut, she has worked in various non-profits ranging from a refugee resettlement agency to a homeless shelter to a local farmer's market. In her spare time, Sam enjoys being outdoors, hiking, bicycling, learning about other cultures, eating ice cream, and spending time with friends.
Alysia Harris is a Black poet-linguist-follower of Jesus from Virginia. She attended the University of Pennsylvania as an undergrad where she studied linguistics with a focus on Semitic languages, Russian, and nonstandard English varieties. During her time as an undergraduate, Alysia became deeply interested in Islamic culture and the Qur’an and spent 7 months living in Egypt where she studied Arabic and Islamic art. She has traveled extensively across Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Turkey. In 2014, Alysia received her MFA in poetry from NYU and is currently a PhD candidate in linguistics at Yale University. Alysia sees her poems, which have received prestigious awards and appeared in multiple reviews, as engaging notions of spirituality, violence, and identity as a path towards reconciliation. On moving to New Haven, she became involved in Pathways to continue her engagement with the Muslim community, and in 2015 she joined Pathways staff as a Project Consultant.
Robert Evans, Intercultural Development Inventory Coach and Project Consultant, graduated from the University of California at Davis with a Bachelor of Arts in History and has spent significant amounts of time in Turkey, Uzbekistan, India, Mexico and Iran. Robb has been trained at the Summer Institute for Intercultural Communication and is a certified administrator of the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI). In addition to being Pathways' IDI coach, Robb also teaches at Christian Heritage School, coaches volleyball, spends time with his family, and plays and watches soccer and basketball.
Caitlin Schuman joined the Pathways team in 2015 as a Project Consultant. She brings particular expertise in research and project management for cultural transformation, a focus of her work as a senior consultant in Booz Allen Hamilton's healthcare division. She holds a Masters of Science in Clinical and Health Services Research from Dartmouth College and a Bachelors of Science in Biochemistry from Washington and Lee University. Caitlin's work and research have taken her across the US, as well as to Germany and South Africa. Caitlin and her husband enjoy tennis, the outdoors, hosting friends and learning foreign languages.
Asha Desai Evans serves as a Project Consultant. She grew up in Northern California and received her Bachelor of Science (with Honors) in Applied Physics from UC Davis. After several years teaching and working with university student services, Asha and her husband, Robert, moved to Istanbul, Turkey, where she studied Turkish, taught English to Turks and refugee children, and had her first daughter, Beatrice Nur. In addition to three years in Turkey, Asha has spent time in Iran, Uzbekistan, Tunisia, Mexico, and her father's native homeland of India. Asha also works as a child birth educator and the family pastor at a local church and enjoys learning languages, being outdoors, writing in her journal, and spending time with her three daughters. Asha has also been featured on the website of the US Center for Citizen Diplomacy!
Jennifer Hartley spent four years in Iran where she learned Persian and had her first child. For the past 14 years she has primarily worked as a team/project leader and as a teacher (K-12 and adult), including teaching English to non-native speakers from North Africa, East Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East. She has also worked as a Program Coordinator for an exchange/homestay program, facilitating high school students from Japan, Germany, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, and Argentina. In addition to her time in Iran, Jennifer has spent time in West Africa, England, and Turkey. She also works as a recruiter and trainer for new foster parents and her hobbies include cooking, watching Iranian films, DIY projects (mostly unfinished), and photographing her amazing children and foster children. Jennifer grew up in San Diego and received her degree in Political Science from University of California at Davis.
This endeavor grew out of our executive director's rare experience earning a graduate degree in history from the University of Isfahan in Iran. In 2006, he gathered an international team to start Pathways with the encouragement of his Muslim neighbors. Most of that work was done on a volunteer basis and was spurred by a shared ambition to leverage unique experience and expertise to make a lasting difference. Since then, Pathways has worked with leaders and organizations across the world, from Nigeria to Malaysia, New Haven to Lahore, catalyzing positive change in relations between Muslims, Christians and others in their communities. Pathways has collaborated with premier academic institutions, government agencies, regionally-grounded Islamic research centers, transnational religious networks, national religious organizations and local religious communities to train leaders from more than 30 countries. We put this experience to work empowering leadership for the common good that recognizes, honors, and crosses cultural and religious divides.
We hold as non-negotiable the following values and as such, we prioritize collaboration with others demonstrating like-minded commitments:
Called "the crowning virtue" by Aristotle, magnanimity is perhaps one of the best kept secrets to practicing real mutual respect. From the Latin "magn-", meaning "great," and "anima" meaning soul, magnanimity has been described as "the virtue of being great of mind and heart." It refers to a dignity of soul and mind which raises the possessor above pettiness and revenge, makes him or her delight in acts of mercy, empowers a willingness to face danger for the sake of noble purposes, and disdains injustice, meanness and either blame-shifting or abdicating responsibility.*
Magnanimity is wise, not naive. It acknowledges tendencies toward corruption and ignorance in social and political life that produce injustice, imbalances of power, and misinformation. Wisdom, hence, requires researched attention to such realities that is marked by critical reflexivity.
We believe that personal experience is key to our understanding of a society, its culture and its people. Our experiences affect us deeply, shaping our subconscious assumptions, judgments, feelings and perceptions, often having a great impact on our actions and choices.
A genuinely humble attitude is fundamental to perceiving reality. Such a state of mind does not come naturally to most of us. Maintaining a humble attitude means remembering that our understanding is incomplete, allowing new questions to be asked and doing all we can to abstain from premature judgment.
Real trust and understanding is built upon a foundation of respect and honor. World history demonstrates that actions of disrespect and feelings of mistrust between societies are a common source of conflict. Creating opportunities to forge authentic respect and honor is critical to the work of reconciliation.
The above values must be demonstrated consistently over a long period of time for real progress to be made. We are committed to keeping the long-term goals in sight, knowing that discouragements, failures, second thoughts and risks are all part of the package.
Religious conviction is often considered a source of conflict and an influence to be minimized in intercultural relations. However, we believe that engaging spiritual and philosophical issues and identities is central to the practice of mutual respect. We encourage people of various religious traditions, including those with exclusive truth claims, to bring to the table all of who they are, prepared to "talk openly" and to "listen from the inside."** There is no need to check one's faith - or lack thereof - at the door. We believe that people of faith can provide positive building blocks to intercultural reconciliation and that recognizing the role of religious people around the world is critical to understanding other societies. With this in mind, we work closely with individuals and communities from religious and non-religious backgrounds to accomplish our vision.
* See Webster's 1828 Dictionary of the American Language.
** See Adam Kahane's Solving Tough Problems.