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Rajmohan Gandhi is a Research Professor at the Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA and is currently serving as President of Initiatives of Change (IofC) International for a two-year term, 2009-2010.
A former member (1990-92) of the Rajya Sabha (the upper house of the Indian Parliament), Rajmohan led the Indian delegation to the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva in 1990. In the Indian Parliament he was the convenor of the all-party joint committee of both houses addressing the condition of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
Associated from 1956 with IofC (formerly known as Moral Re-Armament), Rajmohan has been engaged for half a century in efforts for trust-building, reconciliation and democracy and in battles against corruption and inequalities. In the 1960s and early 1970s, he played a leading role in establishing Asia Plateau, the 80-acre conference centre of IofC in the mountains of western India. Asia Plateau has been recognized in the Indian subcontinent for its ecological contribution. During the 1975-77 Emergency in India, he was active for democratic rights personally and through the weekly journal Himmat, published in Bombay from 1964 to 1981.
He is a well-published author and his previous book, a biography of his grandfather Mahatma Gandhi, Mohandas: A true story of a man, his people and an empire, received the prestigious Biennial Award from the Indian History Congress in 2007. It has since been published in several countries. In 2002 he received the Sahitya Akademi (India’s National Academy of Letters) Award for his Rajaji: A life, a biography of Chakravarti Rajagopalachari (1878-1972), his maternal grandfather and a leading figure in India’s freedom movement who became Governor General, 1948-50. In 2004 he received the International Humanitarian Award (Human Rights) from the City of Champaign, and in 1997 he was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Law from the University of Calgary (Canada) and an honorary Doctorate of Philosophy from Obirin University, Tokyo. He currently also serves as a Jury Member, Nuremberg International Human Rights Award, and Co-chair, Centre for Dialogue & Reconciliation, Gurgaon, India.
Rajmohan was born in 1935 in New Delhi, India. He is married to Usha. They have two children, Supriya and Devadatta.
Usha Gandhi encountered IofC/MRA as a student in 1964 and has been associated with it since then. The challenge to connect with, and find fresh direction through the inner voice, remains for her an ongoing process. She regards it as a privilege to have worked alongside friends and colleagues in many different parts of the world who selflessly, courageously, and often sacrificially, strive for healing and reconciliation where there is strife and division, for honesty and justice in the face of untruth and callousness. Usha worked for a spell as a journalist on Himmat; has done research related to South Asia, including Partition, and on issues of human rights; and has been a programme coordinator with an international unit at a US university, which included editing a journal, and organizing study abroad visits by American students to India. Usha believes strongly that nations and individuals need not be prisoners of the past, prisoners of history, and believes in the power of non-violent change as the way to the future. She is married to Rajmohan.
Fabiola Benavente is from Mexico. She was born in 1979 and has been involved with IofC since she was a University student in 2000. She was a Caux Scholar in 2001 (an IofC academic programme on conflict transformation), and then worked with the IofC publication, For a Change magazine, for two years in London. Since returning to Mexico she has been part of building an IofC team in Mexico City. She also run a leadership training programme, some of whose students have participated in the Caux conferences. She has also been part of the Trust and Integrity in the Global Economy (TIGE) conference organizing team. Fabiola is aware of the current transition in IofC and is convinced that those from the developing world and a younger generation have a key role to play in shaping the future of IofC and the world. She attempts to live a balanced and creative lifestyle. Some of her passions are writing, music, yoga and helping people as well as trying to make a positive difference in the world.
Edward Peters has worked as a volunteer with IofC since leaving school in 1970. Experience of over 40 countries includes frequent and/or longer spells in Sweden, Norway, Ukraine, Poland, New Zealand, India and the USA. He was responsible for formal training programmes for young people from 1981-83 and 1995-2000. He was a commissioning editor and monthly columnist of For A Change magazine (www.forachange.net) from 1990-96. He was international coordinator of Foundations for Freedom (F4F), a programme of courses aimed at strengthening democracy in Eastern Europe (1993-98). He was Chair of the national Clean Slate Campaign, a millennium initiative in the UK, 1999 (www.cleanslate.org). From 2002-2008 he managed the global internet work of IofC. He is married with two children in their twenties, and lives in Oxford, UK.
Chris Breitenberg is from the United States, where he was born in 1981. He has worked in the Washington DC office of IofC as a Communication Assistant, Researcher and Programme Developer and Coordinator. In 2005, his passion for travel and education led him to participate in Action for Life 3. This experience set him on a journey to work with young people to develop their leadership potential. He has since worked for an educational leadership company in Washington, DC and served as a programme coordinator for Action for Life 4. In 2009 he co-coordinated the Caux Interns Programme. At the moment he is starting a programme to develop young American leaders in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He is an active musician and songwriter and follows international football with great interest.
Wadiaa Khoury is 30 years old and was born in Zahle, Lebanon. She studied educational sciences at Saint-Joseph University in Beirut before taking part in Action for Life 1, a 10 month IofC leadership training programme in Asia. Since then, she has worked as the Community Service Coordinator at the International College in Beirut. While working, she has continued her studies, completing a Bachelor’s in Law and a Master’s in Public Law. She has been a frequent collaborator with IofC, regularly attending Caux, the international IofC conference centre in Switzerland, while taking part in a number of other activities including the IofC Global Consultation, an IofC Conference in Sydney, 2003, and two British-Arab Exchange Trips. She has a keen interest in building trust across the world's divides, particularly for religious and cultural dialogue. At the moment, she is on unpaid sabbatical leave to deepen her own spiritual and life commitments and to give time to IofC involvement. Wadiaa enjoys taking long drives to reflect on life, the quiet solitude of walking in nature and working and having conversations deep into the night.
Rob Lancaster grew up in Australia, but since leaving school has spent periods in Europe (mainly France and England), as well as some time more recently in India. He’s been working on and off with IofC for a couple of years now, in between the final stages of study. The main part of this involvement has been with the Interns Programme in Caux, but has also included Action for Life 4 and a few other fingers in other pies. A graduate from the Australian National University with a Bachelor of Arts (International Relations/French) (Hons) and a Bachelor of Laws (Hons), his main academic interest is in cosmopolitan theory, which looks at relationships between different groups of people, particularly across national borders. He’s especially interested in exploring potential for a new ethic in political and social leadership. Day to day, he has a sporting passion for cricket and Australian rules football, and an intellectual passion for debating, formally as well as with friends and family. His spare time consists largely of drinking coffee with friends, playing the piano, reading and watching BBC dramas.
Lena Kashkarova, born in 1981, is Ukrainian with a Russian family background. In 2004 she graduated in Civil Law but never contemplated following a profession as a lawyer. As a student she had become involved in the work of Initiatives of Change through its Eastern European outreach, a programme called “Foundations for Freedom”. Working in the NGO sector, she decided to join an international community-building and leadership development programme “Action for Life-3” run by Initiatives of Change in Asia. This led to a deeper involvement with IofC work. She later organised and took part in the “Action for Europe” programme, and then joined the Foundations for Freedom coordination team on a full-time basis. She feels privileged to have received so much support, care and encouragement through her life's journey. Through her work with young people in Ukraine she wants to pass on the unique life-changing experience that IofC offers.
José Carlos León Vargas was born in 1979 in Oaxaca, Mexico. He worked for IofC-UK in 2004-2005 as part of For A Change Magazine’s staff. He was a Caux Scholar in Switzerland before joining the 9- month leadership programme Action for Life 3 in Asia. José Carlos is currently working with young students and leading poverty reduction programmes in his hometown through his NGO SiKanda and also works as International Program Coordinator for Coffee Kids, a non-profit organization based in the US. Jose Carlos holds a master’s degree in International Development and Cooperation from the University of Pavia, Italy. As León worked and studied in Europe, South America and Asia, he developed a greater appreciation for his native country, which made him and his fiancé move back to southern Mexico to work for social change.
David Ruffin is the son of full time IofC workers, Richard and Randy Ruffin, and so grew up around what he describes as the diverse and inspiring international community of change-makers that is IofC. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2003, where he studied music and drama, David soon became involved with the US presidential campaign of 2004, directing a fund-raising operation for the Democratic Party. The next year he travelled to Guatemala to teach indigenous children as a volunteer with Global Vision International. He then returned to the States to participate with the IofC “Action for a Change” programme in the fall of 2005, after which he moved to New York city where he has spent the past four and a half years working as a professional actor, most recently touring with the Broadway musical, Grease. David says he has been very grateful for the chance to make a living performing, but a deeper calling to service-leadership, community building and the spiritual dimension of change, has led him to step away from the world of show business and to study theology and ministry. He will begin his Masters studies at Harvard Divinity School this fall.
Killy Sanchez, born in Guatemala in 1965, is by profession a nursery school teacher, family counsellor and therapist. She was Coordinator of the Latin American leadership development programme, Gente que Avanza, from 1996 to 1999, working in several countries of Central and South America. Killy has been involved with IofC since 2004 when she became part of the IofC Global Website Team, living and working for two and a half years as a volunteer in Oxford, UK. In late 2006 she returned to Guatemala and has since worked as IofC Communications Officer for Latin America. Among her responsibilities is the management of the Spanish section of the IofC Website. She is responsible for the translation and the distribution of news and official information to the Spanish speakers of the IofC network. She feels a special call to work with IofC teams in Latin America not only through communication liaison but also in the area of training. Her greatest desire is that the spirit of IofC should continue to grow in her part of the world, and she wants to be part of it.
Who we are: Initiatives of Change (IofC) is a world-wide movement of people of diverse cultures and backgrounds, who are committed to the transformation of society through changes in human motives and behaviour, starting with their own.
Purpose: We work to inspire, equip and connect people to address world needs, starting with themselves, in the areas of trustbuilding, ethical leadership and sustainable living.
Omnia Marzouk, President, IofC International
'Nothing lasting can be built without a desire by people to live differently and exemplify the changes they want to see in society.'