Interfaith Dialogue Association

Fred Stella, President

Deana Weibel, Vice President

Karin Maupin, Secretary

Sheldon Kopperl, Treasurer

Ashley Carter Youngblood

Mambo Mupepi

FRED STELLA began his spiritual search within the Hindu Dharma at the age of 15. He is an ordained Pracharak (which translates to "Outreach Minister") for the West Michigan Hindu Temple. Under the direction of Vivekananda Kendra in 2005 Mr. Stella completed a 30 city lecture tour in India, joining the effort to promote indigenous culture and religion in areas facing the encroachment of Western influence. In 2011 he was a guest of the Niagara Foundation to study interfaith efforts in Turkey. Here in the United States, he has given lectures, facilitated workshops and retreats at schools, churches and in the private sector. Mr. Stella was educated at the University of Detroit, where he majored in Media Studies. Besides IDA, Fred sits on the Executive Council of the Hindu American Foundation and the West Michigan chapter of the ACLU, where he often consults on freedom of religion issues. In 2012 Mayor George Heartwell presented Fred with the city's "Champion of Diversity Award" for his work in interfaith relations.

DEANA WEIBEL was born in Orange, California and received her Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from UC San Diego in 2001. She began teaching anthropology at Grand Valley State University in 2003 and her most frequently taught class is Comparative Religions. Deana does ethnographic research primarily in Rocamadour, France and ChimayĆ³, New Mexico, studying Roman Catholic pilgrimage sites and their use by both Catholics and people from other religious groups. She has also written on the religious practices of astronauts with her husband, Glen E. Swanson.

KARIN MAUPIN holds a degree in Anthropology. She taught in the suburban Grand Rapids school system for many years and is now retired.

SHELDON KOPPERL did his undergraduate work in chemistry at Case Western Reserve University in his home town of Cleveland. There he also undertook some advanced Hebrew studies at the Hebrew Academy of Cleveland. He received his Ph.D. in chemistry and the history of science in 1970 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Since 1970 he has taught at Grand Valley University and is Professor of Biomedical Sciences, History of Science, and Religious Studies. His research interests include scientific and medical thought in the Hebrew Bible and post-Biblical authoritative (Rabbinic) Jewish texts.

ASHLEY CARTER YOUNGBLOOD has a long family history in Kalamazoo, Michigan. She is a graduate of Hope College and achieved her Bachelor of Arts as a double major in Religion and Philosophy, with a minor in Asian Studies. She is a holistic Clinical Social Worker and Marriage and Family Therapist who specializes in helping those dealing with spiritual or cultural issues. She also has a history of being active in organizations that promote social justice and dialogue between faiths, with the goal that those of different faiths may learn not only to accept one another, but to appreciate and engage with one another to promote greater reflection, understanding and unity. You can find out more about her on her website,

Dr. MAMBO G. MUPEPI is a Visiting Faculty in the Seidman College, Grand Valley State University. He works on advancing effectiveness in local and international organizations. He is the author, editor, or co-author of more than 50 articles, book chapters, and books. His books include Effective Talent Management Strategies for Organizational Success, British Imperialism in Zimbabwe: The Organization Development of the First Chimurenga 1883-1904; and Transforming village entrepreneurs into sustainable organization. Dr. Mupepi is an associate book and journal editor at IGI Global Knowledge Disseminators and teaches Diversity Workforce Management, Organization Development and Change, Business Ethics and Sustainability Management. The context of religion is fluid in organizational studies and much so in workplaces. Interfaith connects to civic engagement, social change, intersectionality, non-religious communities, and the multicultural millennial generation constituting the majority of our students at Grand Valley State University.

ASLAM MODAK was born in India, and raised in Indonesia and India prior to his coming to the USA in 1990. A Muslim, Aslam has studied in two Catholic schools and in various other settings as well. He facilitates classes in Humanities and Information Technology at the University of Phoenix, and at Grand Valley State University. Aslam previously served as Information Technology Chair at Davenport University and at the University of Phoenix. In addition to his academic and professional affiliations, Aslam Modak serves on the Board of the West Michigan Islamic Center, and the Interfaith Dialog Association. He has been a speaker on Islam and/or Sufism in multiple academic symposiums. He has spent significant time with traditional Muslim scholars and sufis, and has travelled widely. He is grateful for the ongoing guidance of authorized Sufi teachers and advanced Sufi students in India, Kuwait, Canada, and the United States for fashioning his understanding of spirituality. As a Sufi student of Muslim background, he feels fortunate to be connected to the shining personality of the Prophet of Islam, and delights to be in the company of lovers of God of all faiths. He loves all music and art that increase a yearning of the Ultimate Beloved.

REV. FRED WOODEN ame to Fountain St. Church in March 2005, coming from the First Unitarian Church in Brooklyn, New York. He served in Texas and Massachusetts before that, and spent college and seminary days in the midwest. In addition work at FSC, he shares the duties of hosting a weekly radio show, "Faith & Reason," writes a blog, and is a part of Urban League and ACLU. Fred is also an occasional contributor to UU World magazine.

Interfaith Dialogue Association

234 Baynton

Grand Rapids MI 49503-3749

(616) 454 - 5960