In our story an impetus of anxiety finds transformation into a vision of flourishing. Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and anxieties about global terrorism intensified as our founding executive director studied in Iran at the University of Isfahan. Iranian neighbors were concerned about the future of their own country and challenged John to do something. In 2006, he gathered an international team to start Pathways to tackle the increasing conflict and fear between Muslim communities and their neighbors.
Running projects across the world clarified ways that “reducing tensions” and “building understanding” were important but insufficient to fundamentally changing the social processes that yield religion-inflected conflict. Cooperative impulses on the one hand and competitive instincts on the other are too strong, nuanced and fickle. This is true in religious and nonreligious communities alike. A vision of increasing cooperation that is not blind to complex competition emerged. Our passion is to help leaders collaborate to enhance human flourishing in their communities and to do so with an eye to the concrete social and political struggles in which they are embroiled.
The work looks like: Ascending Asian leaders trained to negotiate religious conflict. A national evangelical consortium steered toward respectful relations with Muslim neighbors. Pastors leading their congregations to support local Muslim refugee families. A Malaysian think-tank performing research on national ethno-religious tension. Pastors and imams working together to address police brutality and gang violence in their neighborhoods.
To transform relationships among Muslims, Christians and their societies by modeling and empowering sage, grounded leadership for the common good.
We commit to being and becoming people worthy of trust & influence.
We commit to honor and authentically engage with others and to pursue their highest good.
We commit to pursue excellence characterized by humility and generosity.
We commit to actively embrace tensions that compel reflection and growth.
We commit to courageously persevere in the face of difficulties and complexities.
We will always seek to learn, grow, and flourish as a community, and to share our gifts and knowledge with others.
To provoke thought and action.
To broker trust.
To empower others to do the same.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.