The International Council (2018-2022)
An International Council of 11 members is elected every four years by delegates from the Member Organisations and Chapters, in the General Meeting held at our quadrennial World Congress. Council meets annually to guide the work of the organisation.
At the administrative level, regional co-ordinators initiate and support regional and local projects, while the International Secretariat monitors religious freedom concerns and administers worldwide programmes.
Robert Ince (President)
Robert is a member Unitarian Church in the United Kingdom having served as its Treasurer for 2 years and as Convenor for 3 years until 2017. He still retains a number of significant roles within the Unitarian movement as well as management roles in various other organisations.
He trained as a design engineer and spent a working career in petrochemicals and banking. He spent over 15 years living and working abroad, generally in the Middle East, but travelling extensively all over the world. He continues to travel extensively and even find moments to spend more time with his wife and 4 children.
Janhvi Gupte (Vice-President)
Janhvi Gupte is serving as an International Vice President and International Youth Representative
to the IARF Council. She joined IARF as a volunteer in 2008. In past 10 years, she meticulously
contributed herself to numerous Human Right Education and Training Programs, Peace Programs
and Interfaith activities for young adults and rural community. She is certified Indian Sign
Language interpreter helping to bridge the gap between deaf and the hearing world. She
volunteers for the sign language interpreting and career counseling for the deaf. She represented
Indian subcontinent at Hiroshima Peace and Cultural Foundation, Hiroshima, Japan to present
views of Indian youth on antinuclear test. She presently works as Compliance Officer at Goldman
Sachs International, Bangalore, India.
Rev. Yoshinobu Miyake (Treasurer)
Rt. Rev. Yoshinobu MIYAKE, born in 1958 into a well-known family of Shinto priests in
Osaka, Japan. He studied at Doshisha University in Kyoto and at Harvard University.
He takes the important roll in his Konko Church as Superior General. For the past 4
decades he has been active worldwide in the interfaith field, such as RfP. In 1997 he
established RELNET Corporation, whose website publishes widely on religion-related
matters in Japanese. He is serving Chair of the Board of International Shinto Studies
Association. Most recently, he led G20 Interfaith Forum 2019 to success as Chair of
the Steering Committee.
Rabbi Robert Carroll
Bob is a Modern Orthodox rabbi, former University Chaplain, IT consultant to Fortune 500 companies, and is currently Board Chair of the Interfaith Encounter Association in Jerusalem. In addition to his rabbinic training he has completed doctoral coursework in Jewish/Christian/Islamic theology and mysticism. He has delivered papers at Interfaith conferences and events in Israel, Delhi, Amman, Barcelona, Tirana, and at the Parliament of World Religions. He also serves as co-chair of one of the IEA’s ongoing Jewish/Christian/Muslim monthly interfaith encounter groups, as well as a new Muslim/Jewish group in New Jersey and a Christian/Jewish Bible study group that meets at the Community of the Beatitudes in Emmaus, Israel.
The Reverend Alicia Roxanne Forde serves with the Unitarian Universalist Association as the Director of the International Office. Alicia has a passion for engaging individuals and communities in discerning what they most care about and working alongside others as they seek to enact Love and Justice in this world. She has developed a profound appreciation for self-care, grounded leadership/organizational development, and the crucial importance of meaningful connections in establishing sustainable lives. Alicia was born and spent her formative years in Trinidad and Tobago. She identifies as an African descent queer, cis-gender female with deep roots in Tobago. She considers herself bi-cultural and is grateful that her formative years enabled her to cultivate a global perspective. Alicia is a certified Spiritual Director and has a strong interest in health and wellness. When she’s not hiking, you can find her reading, working-out, or podcast-walking. She is a graduate of The Iliff School of Theology (MDiv ’03) and currently lives, with her partner and nephew, in Longmont, Colorado.
Prof. Prakasa Rao
Rev. Yukinobu Sahara
Yukinobu Sahara was born in 1968 in Tokyo, Japan. He began serving for Rissho Kosei-kai as a staff member in 1993. He served as an area staff in Hokkaido from 1999, then ordained as the Minister of Muroran Dharma Center in 2010. He was assigned to the Federation of New Religious Organizations of Japan in 2016 and was appointed as the Secretary General next year. Since December 2021, he has been serving as Deputy Director of the External Relations Group, General Affairs Department of Rissho Kosei-kai.
Dr. Esther Suter
She is an ordained minister in the Swiss Evangelical Church. She worked
as a pastor in congregations, as chaplain in a university hospital and as a volunteer
pastor in a poor area of Manhattan (Hell’s Kitchen) in 1983. From extended journeys in Latin America and Africa (1982; 1985) she realized projects, e.g. a shelter for street children in Santiago de Chile during military dictatorship. First she worked as a trilingual secretary in Paris (1968-1970), then studied languages and theology and Ecumenical studies in Switzerland and abroad and wrote a study on interfaith dialogue (Christianism and Zen-Buddhism). Working for a partnership project of the Swiss Reformed churches with Presbyterian churches in South Korea (1993-1995) allowed her various official trips and participate in an
exchange project in South Korea, where she got involved into issues of reunification and nuclear disarmament. As freelance journalist she works since 1990 for various ecumenical world organisations (World Council of Churches, Conference of European Churches a.o.) at international conferences, e.g. at the handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997. As journalist and delegate she participated 1985 in the 3 rd UN world conference on women in Nairobi and 1995 in the 4 th UN-world conference on women in Beijing. Since 2010 she is a NGO-delegate to the annual session of the UN-Commission on the Status of Women in New York. She is NGO H.R. at UN New York and UN Geneva for IARF, and NGO-H.R. at UN- Geneva for the International Alliance of Women. Since 2010 she is member of IARF and Council Member since 2018; member of the International Association of Liberal Religious Women (IALRW) since 2010 and since 2014 IALRW-Vice-President.
Rev. John Young
John Young was a UU minister for 40 years throughout the US, a denominational leader in IARF, UU-UNO, Peace Network. Active in civil rights, disarmament, and legislative activism throughout his life, a university teacher on spiritual practices, Indian religions, and nonviolence, author of three books, is publishing Global Spirituality presently and writing The Era of Nonviolent Negotiation. He is wife with editor Kathleen Moran, father to Rahul and Leela, grandpa for Cole, Stella, Ione, and Anjali. Loves to hike, play piano, and savor nature’s and peoples’ glorious variety.