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Meet the Speakers

12th Annual Illinois Interfaith Conference
February 25th and 26th, 2022

Illinois Interfaith Conference. February 25th and 26th. Multicolor sun in overlapping watercolor brushstrokes.

Keynote Speaker: Reverend Jennifer Bailey

Headshot of Rev. Jennifer Bailey

Rev. Jen Bailey is an ordained minister, public theologian, and national leader in the multi-faith movement for justice. She is the Founder and Executive Director of Faith Matters Network, a Womanist-led organization equipping community organizers, faith leaders, and activists with resources for connection, spiritual sustainability, and accompaniment.

An Ashoka Fellow, Aspen Ideas Scholar, OnBeing Fellow, New Pluralist Field Builder and Truman Scholar, Rev. Jen earned degrees from Tufts University and Vanderbilt University Divinity School where she was awarded the Wilbur F. Tillett Prize for accomplishments in the study of theology.

A sought-after commentator and public speaker on the intersection of religion and public life, Rev. Jen has spoken at the inaugural Obama Foundation Summit, Makers, TEDx Skoll, and the White House. Her work has been featured on OnBeing with Krista Tippett, CBS This Morning, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and dozens of other publications. Jen currently sits on the boards of The Fetzer Institute, Jessie Ball duPont Fund and The Healing Trust. She is also ordained in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Dr. Ira Helderman

Dr. Ira Helderman is a teacher, published author, and commentator, who holds a PhD in “Religion, Psychology and Culture” from Vanderbilt University, where he is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Religious Studies. Ira has an undergraduate BFA in screenwriting from New York University’s film school and is a practicing psychotherapist in private practice in Nashville. He previously taught at Vanderbilt’s graduate Counseling program, researching such topics as Counseling Diverse Populations and Addictions. Today, his research examines how psychotherapists and psychotherapeutic ideas shape the way that people are religious in the United States.

Dr. Ira’s first full length book project, Prescribing the Dharma: Psychotherapists, Buddhist Traditions, and Defining Religion, is now available from the University of North Carolina Press. His interests have taken him to a number of different areas of the religious studies subfield called “religion and psychology,” and he has researched how Sigmund Freud viewed his Jewishness and the uniqueness of “pastoral counseling” as a discipline in a more interconnected, religiously diverse world.