Board of Advisors

The role of the Board of Advisors is truly to provide advice and guidance for the Religious Freedom Institute (RFI) as we pursue our mission of working to secure religious freedom for everyone, everywhere. United by a common belief in the importance of religious freedom, our advisory board brings together individuals from diverse professional, religious, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds who are able to enhance and expand the work of the Religious Freedom Institute. 

Sheikh Hamza Yusuf - Co-Founder and President, Zaytuna College

Sheikh Hamza is one of the leading proponents of classical learning in Islam, an advisor to Stanford University’s Program in Islamic Studies and the Center for Islamic Studies at Berkeley’s Graduate Theological Union. He has been a strong advocate for social justice, peace, and conviviality among peoples and places. For almost a decade, Hamza Yusuf was consecutively ranked as “The Western word’s most influential Islamic scholar” in The 500 Most Influential Muslims. 

Kit Bigelow - Former Director of External Relations, National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the U.S.

Kit is an internationally recognized religious freedom and human rights advocate and advisor, with particular expertise on women’s rights issues. For twenty-five years, she served as the director of external affairs for the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the U.S. overseeing both the Washington-based Office of External Affairs and the New York Office of the U.S. Bahá’í Representative to the UN. 

Anuttama Dasa -  International Director of Communications, International Society for Khrisna Consciousness (ISKCON)

Anuttama is a respected leader in interfaith initiatives, including the Religion Communicators Council and the Vaishnava-Christian Dialogue and Vaishnava-Muslim Dialogue. Since 2000, he has been a member of the Governing Body Commission (GBC) of ISKCON and is on the Board of the Bhaktivedanta College in Belgium


Rabbi David Novak - J. Richard and Dorothy Shiff Chair of Jewish Studies as Professor of the Study of Religion and Professor of Philosophy, University of Toronto

Rabbi Novak is a noted theologian, ethicist, and scholar of Jewish philosophy and law. He is a founder and member of the Board of Directors of the Institute on Religion and Public Life, and a member of the Advisory Board of its monthly journal First Things. He received rabbinical ordination in 1966 from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.

Brett Scharffs - Francis R. Kirkham Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Research and Academic Affairs at the J. Reuben Clark Law School, Brigham Young University

Brett is a leading expert in the field of law and religion. He is co-author with Cole Duram of the field-creating casebook, Law and Religion: National, International and Comparative Perspectives. He is on the steering committee of the International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies (ICLARS) and has served as Chair of the Law and Religion Section of the Association of American Law Schools.

Charles Haynes - Vice President, Newseum Institute, and Founding Director, Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute

Charles is a leading voice on First Amendment issues, particularly religious liberty and religion in American public life and public schools. He has been the principal organizer and drafter of consensus guidelines on religious liberty in schools, endorsed by a broad range of religious and educational organizations. He is a founding board member of the Character Education Partnership, serves on the steering committee of the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools and chairs the Committee on Religious Liberty.

Jacqueline Rivers - Executive Director, Seymour Institute on Black Church and Policy Studies

Jacqueline is a prominent figure within the ecumenical black church both domestically and internationally working to promote a philosophical, political, and theological framework for a pro-poor, pro-life, pro-family movement. She is a Hutchins Fellow at the W. E. B. Du Bois Research Institute and lecturer at Harvard University. She has worked on issues of social justice and Christian activism in the black community for more than thirty years.