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honoring Milan Kunz and Reverend Steven Lawrence with the 2020 Dare to Understand Award

Tuesday, August 25, 2020
7:00-8:15 PM

Interfaith Philadelphia invites you to our virtual Welcome to the Table Event and Dare to Understand Awards Presentation! In the current climate of distance and divide, please join us for an evening of music, art, and relationship building, as we recognize our Dare to Understand awardees for their work fostering understanding throughout the region:

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Rev. Steven Lawrence on behalf of NewCORE (New Conversation on Race and Ethnicity)

These awardees and their communities are champions of interfaith work. They are committed to fostering understanding and building relationships across lines of religious and cultural difference. We are proud to honor them and invite you to join us as we celebrate their work. See below for details!

Outline of the Event

7:00-7:35 PM 
Presentation of the Dare to Understand Awards and Performance

7:35-8:15 PM

Interactive Program

After a musical performance and the Awards Presentation, attendees will have the opportunity to participate in a brief cooking demonstration, followed by their choice of a small group interactive experience.  Each of our honorees, as well as select religious leaders and local artists, will lead separate small group activities exploring the joys and challenges of welcoming those different from ourselves to the table.  Experiences will include a panel discussion and a NewCORE conversation. All registrants will receive a link to the event on Monday, August 25th.

Although this virtual fundraising and awards event is free to attend, we still need your support as we continue building relationships and advancing understanding across lines of difference!  You can support this work by becoming a sponsor, giving a pre-event donation, or donating the night of the event.


Join us!  Your sponsorship honors the work of the awardees and Interfaith Philadelphia, and demonstrates your commitment to building a Philadelphia where all are welcome to the table!

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Vai Sikahema is an NBC10 anchor, and has spent over 25 years in broadcasting. Throughout his career he has received local and national recognition, including two Mid-Atlantic Emmy Awards, induction into the Philadelphia Broadcast Pioneers Hall of Fame, and a commendation from the Congressional Caucus of Adoption for his segment “Wednesday’s Child.” Before joining the network in 1994, Sikahema spent eight seasons in the NFL, and played for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1992-1994. He is the most senior local ecclesiastical leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and serves as a member of the Religious Leaders Council of Greater Philadelphia. He also played an instrumental role in securing the Center City property for the state’s first LDS temple (opened in 2016). Born in Tonga, Sikahema’s family later moved to a suburb of Phoenix. Sikahema graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in broadcast journalism. He and his wife Keala, have four children, several grandchildren, and live in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. 


Cathleen Cohen is the Founder and creator of ArtWell’s core program, We the Poets, and a member of ArtWell’s Board of Directors. Cathleen was Montgomery County’s Poet Laureate of 2019. A painter and poet, her work appears in various literary journals as well as a Camera Obscura (Moonstone Press, 2017) and Etching the Ghost (Atmosphere Press) out next year. She has received the Interfaith Relations Award from the Montgomery County Advisory Board to the PA Human Rights Commission and the Public Service Award from the National Assoc. of Poetry Therapy. 
Cathleen has long been associated with Interfaith Philadelphia. She helped design and implement arts based curricula for its Walking the Walk program and is an active member of Visionary Women.
Cathleen holds a Ph.D. in Learning Disabilities from Northwestern University, an MA from Teachers College, Columbia University, a BA from The Johns Hopkins University and a certificate from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

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Jay Gardner is originally from Kalamazoo, Michigan. He is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, CA where he received a B.A. in Biology.

Sensing the call to Christian ministry he attended the Princeton Theological Seminary where he received a Master of Divinity degree. Upon graduation from Princeton he joined the staff at the White Rock Baptist Church of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as the Minister to Youth and Children. During his years of ministry in Philadelphia he has also worked in the Microbiology department at the University of Pennsylvania as a research assistant.

As a part of his overall ministry Rev. Gardner also serves as a liaison and mentor with the Walking the Walk program of Interfaith Philadelphia, is the third vice-president of the West Philadelphia Baptist Congress of  Christian Education, and he is president and founder of the Science Education Academy, Inc. With his background in science he has served on several religion and science councils. He believes that if given the opportunity and support; children can rise to overcome challenges and fulfil who God created them to be and greater than what they or we could imagine. He recently earned the Doctorate of Ministry degree at the Colgate Rochester Crozer School of Divinity in interfaith dialogue and peace studies.

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Interfaith Music Project brings together a diverse group of musicians representing different faith traditions, to use song, prayer, and fellowship as a powerful force for understanding and bridge-building. 


The cooking demonstration will be led by Char Nolan, a chef, culinary teacher, and recent contributor to Interfaith Phialdelphia's South Philadelphia Community Cookbook. Char is a serious crusader for plant-based education, armed with a good sense of humor. Char studied public health at Temple University and teaches nutrition and plant-based cooking throughout Philadelphia in many underserved communities.

She holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from eCornell and completed the "plant-pro" course at the Rouxbe Online Cooking School.

Char prides herself on learning everything she knows about cooking from growing up in her grandparents' Italian restaurant.

Her favorite vegetables are kale and Brussels sprouts.

Instagram: @char_nolan

For questions about sponsorship or this event, please contact Chelsea Jackson, at:  or  (215) 222-1012 x6

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