Dr. Diana L. Eck
Director, The Pluralism Project at Harvard University Professor of Comparative Religion and Indian Studies, Fredric Wertham Professor of Law and Psychiatry in Society in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Member of the Faculty of Divinity, Harvard University
Diana L. Eck is founder and director of the Pluralism Project at Harvard University. She serves on the Committee on the Study of Religion in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. She is also a member of the Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies, a member of the Faculty of Divinity, and Master of Lowell House, one of Harvard’s twelve undergraduate residential Houses. She received her B.A from Smith College (1967) in Religion, her M.A. from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London (1968) in South Asian History, and her Ph.D. from Harvard University (1976) in the Comparative Study of Religion.
Elinor began working for the Pluralism Project as a student field researcher in San Francisco; she was a section editor for the CD-ROM On Common Ground: World Religions in America and co-editor of World Religions in Boston: A Guide to Communities and Resources. She has been involved in “Religious Diversity News” since its inception in 1997. She developed the Women’s Networks Initiative, and was a content advisor for Acting on Faith: Women’s New Religious Activism in America. Elinor co-produced and co-directed the documentary film Fremont, U.S.A., together with Rachel Antell. She completed her B.A. in anthropology and international studies, with a core in religious studies, from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota (1988); she earned her Master of Theological Studies degree from the Harvard Divinity School (1996). Elinor currently leads the Case Study Initiative.
Email Research Director Elinor Pierce
Lexi Salomone is the Assistant Director at the Pluralism Project. Having interned at the Project during her time as a student at Harvard Divinity School, she returned to a full-time position in 2011. Before this role, she worked at the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard Divinity School, where she coordinated hundreds of events in her five years as the Coordinator of Educational Programming. After graduating from Harvard Divinity School with her Master of Theological Studies degree, she spent three years as an associate at Combined Jewish Philanthropies where she worked to engage young adults in Boston’s vibrant Jewish community. She earned her B.A. in philosophy and religious studies at Colgate University (Hamilton, NY).
Email Assistant Director Alexis Salomone
Dr. Ryan R. Overbey
Ryan received his Ph.D. in the Study of Religion from Harvard University in 2010 and his A.B. in Classics & Sanskrit and Religious Studies from Brown University in 2001. He has served as a web assistant and web developer for the Pluralism Project since 2006, and as a Postdoctoral Fellow in 2010–2011. Ryan has transitioned the Project through several generations of technology, from hand-crafted PHP and HTML pages, to CakePHP, and most recently to WordPress. He has also worked to implement the frontend designs for World Religions in Greater Boston (2009), America’s Interfaith Infrastructure (2011), On Common Ground (2013), and the redesigned pluralism.org (2016). Ryan currently serves as the Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation Assistant Professor in Buddhist Studies at Skidmore College.
Dr. Jennifer Howe Peace
Dr. Jennifer Howe Peace is Associate Professor of Interfaith Studies at Andover Newton Theological School and is a founding co-director of CIRCLE (the Center for Interreligious and Communal Leadership Education). Author of numerous articles and essays on interfaith cooperation, Dr. Peace co-edited My Neighbor’s Faith: Stories of Inter-Religious Encounter, Growth, and Transformation (Orbis 2012). She serves as one of the publishing editors of the Journal of Inter-Religious Studies and State of Formation. Dr. Peace has been an interfaith organizer and educator since the 1990’s with leadership roles in the early days of the United Religions Initiative, the Interfaith Youth Core, and the Daughters of Abraham book groups.
Senior Research Associate (in memoriam)
Brendan Randall was a recovering lawyer and teacher who studied religion, law and education as a doctoral candidate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE). He was interested in how schools can prepare students to live in a religiously diverse democratic society, and his research focuses on civic education for pluralism. Brendan also received a Master of Education from HGSE in school leadership and a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School in religion, ethics, and politics. Before returning to graduate school, Brendan taught history, applied ethics and comparative religion at the Emma Willard School, an independent, all-girls boarding school in Troy, NY. He contributed greatly both to work at the Pluralism Project as well as the interfaith field more widely, and he is sorely missed by his friends and colleagues.
2018-2019 Academic Year Research Associates
Sarah Coady is a senior at Harvard College concentrating in the Comparative Study of Religion with a focus on the Christian tradition. She is currently writing her senior honors thesis about Jesuit confraternities for poor women and their daughters during the Catholic Reformation, deeply interested in questions of charity, gender, and agency. As a tour guide at the Peabody Museum and a classroom coordinator at a Boston-area afterschool program, Sarah has learned a lot about the art of education and seeks to pursue her passion for education after graduation. She is thrilled to be a part of the Pluralism Project’s educational mission while also learning herself about religious diversity and interfaith issues close to home.
Judith Giller-Leinwohl is a student at Harvard Divinity School pursuing a career in interfaith/Humanist hospital chaplaincy. Before returning to school for her graduate studies, she worked in the public health field at Boston Children’s Hospital, researching community health programs for underserved children with asthma. Judith grew up in the Reform Jewish movement in Northern Virginia, and now feels home in both Reform Jewish and Humanist spaces. She is interested in the intersection of the secular and the sacred, and facilitates a group on campus called Harry Potter and the Sacred Text. She is excited to be joining The Pluralism Project in Fall 2018.
Harry Hall is a first year Masters of Theological Studies candidate at Harvard Divinity School focusing on Religion, Literature, and Culture. Specifically, he studies modern and contemporary American literature’s relationships with spirituality, secularity, identity, and gender. He is a 2018 graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, where he entered the study of religion through the questions and examples of Jewish-American writing and culture. Recently, Harry has worked with non-profits 826 Boston and the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, two organizations that foster community development and education for all ages. He is delighted to work with the Pluralism Project and further its goals of careful research and contemporary religious literacy.
Rachel Quednau is currently a Master of Theological Studies student at Harvard Divinity School, focusing on interreligious peacebuilding. Her background is largely in nonprofit communications, including most recently, serving as Communications Director for Strong Towns—a national media organization helping American communities become financially strong and resilient. She has also worked for several organizations fighting to end homelessness and promote safe, affordable housing at the federal and local levels. Rachel received a B.A. in Religion from Whitman College in 2013. She has had the pleasure of living in several beautiful cities around the world including Milwaukee, WI, New York, NY, Washington, DC, Minneapolis, MN and Ballyvaughan, Ireland. Today, she lives with her husband, Jack, in Cambridge.
Sarah Sturm is a Master of Theological Studies candidate at Harvard Divinity School where she is studying Religion, Ethics, and Politics. She earned her B. A. in Political Science and Religion from Luther College in 2017. Sarah has conducted research on community political activism, as well as on Constitutional questions relating to minority religious persecution in American history. She presented on both topics at the National Conference on Undergrad Research in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Mostly recently she interned at the International Institute of Minnesota in their Immigration Services department. Sarah looks forward to joining the team at the Pluralism Project to continue better understanding the diversity of religious experience in the United States.