At the Intersection of Faith and Identity

Saturday, September 24
10:30 - 11:30 AM
The Class of '49 Auditorium, Houston Hall
About this Session: All too often faith is used as a tool of divisiveness. How can we foster mutual understanding, camaraderie and respect within and beyond communities of faith? How does faith adapt to a shifting cultural landscape? Presented by the Department of Religious Studies

Featured Speakers

Rev. William C. Gipson

Associate Vice Provost for Equity and Access
University of Pennsylvania


The Reverend William C. Gipson is Associate Vice Provost for Equity and Access at the University of Pennsylvania. Gipson, formerly Penn’s Chaplain, also serves as the faculty master at the W.E.B. DuBois College House.

Penn’s Equity and Access programs guide and support scholars of all ages and backgrounds, from first-generation college students to military veterans and adult learners. Rev. Gipson also oversees four resource centers that celebrate Penn’s rich cultural diversity: Makuu Black Student Center; La Casa Latina; Pan Asian American Community House; and the Greenfield Intercultural Center.

From 1996 to 2007, Rev. Gipson served as University Chaplain and Special Adviser to the President. Prior to that, he was Princeton University’s Associate Dean of Religious Life and of the Chapel.

Rev. Gipson began his career as a journalist writing for community newspapers. Ordained in 1980, he has ministered to congregations in Louisiana, California, New York and New Jersey. He is active in organizations devoted to educating and empowering urban youth and has led international interfaith trips for students.

Rev. Gipson earned a B.A. in 1979 from the University of Louisiana at Monroe and a master of divinity degree in 1987 from the Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School. He is the proud father of two adult daughters and an adoring “Pop Pop” to one grandchild.

Naomi Christine Leapheart

Minister, Faith & Justice Organizer, and Organizational Consultant


Naomi Christine Leapheart, a daughter of Detroit, is a minister, educator, organizer, and organizational consultant. She earned the Master of Divinity degree from Lancaster Theological Seminary in 2016. At Lancaster, Naomi was a Presidential Scholar and received awards for preaching and worship. She was also honored to receive the United Church of Christ’s Joseph H. Evans Scholarship for her justice advocacy and proven leadership abilities in the church and world.

Naomi is the suburban community organizer for POWER, a multi-faith, multi-racial network of congregations working to shift power, change public policy, and do justice for the most vulnerable in Metro Philadelphia. As an anti-oppression consultant, Naomi delights in facilitating difficult and transformative conversations about race, gender, sexuality, and faith.

Before joining POWER, Naomi served as Co-Pastor and Minister of Music at the Wisdom's Table at St. Peter's United Church of Christ. She is proudly affiliated with the United Church of Christ and The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, an ecumenical African-American Christian leaders and laity invested in a theology of radical inclusivity. Her work is included in the volume, "From Generation to Generation: A Commemorative Collection of African American Millennial Sermons from the Festival of Preachers 2010-2015," a rare and unique compilation of what the nation's most promising young African-American ministers are thinking and proclaiming about the Christian faith (Chalice Press, 2015).

Naomi shares her life with her partner in love and ministry, Kentina Washington, who is a chaplain and religious educator. Together, they are raising a curious, energetic, future Oscar-winning tween-ager, Sophia.


Kameelah Mu’Min Rashad C'00 GED'01

Interfaith Fellow & Muslim Chaplain Founder and President of Muslim Wellness Foundation
Uinversity of Pennsylvania


Kameelah serves as the Interfaith Fellow & Muslim Chaplain at the University of Pennsylvania. As Chaplain, Kameelah acts as a counselor and advisor to the Muslim students on campus and facilitates discussions on religious identity development and challenges faced by American Muslim youth. She is also a resource to the wider Penn community and administration on Islam and Muslims.

Kameelah is the Founder and President of Muslim Wellness Foundation (MWF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing stigma associated with mental illness, addiction and trauma in the American Muslim community through dialogue, education and training. Muslim Wellness Foundation envisions a future in which faith communities are at the forefront of mental health advocacy and committed to developing an inclusive culture of compassion, understanding and support.

In addition to Kameelah’s involvement in mental health advocacy and religious life, she is a proud social justice activist and founding member of Muslims Make It Plain, a coalition of concerned Muslims working to inspire, empower and support grass roots mobilization and direct action to address police brutality, racial & religious profiling, unlawful surveillance and the overpolicing of America’s Black & Brown communities. In December 2014, Muslims Make It Plain organized the first Muslim led rally and march in the country in support of BlackLivesMatter. Kameelah serves as a member of the Advisory Council of Muslim Advocates, a national legal advocacy and educational organization that works on the frontlines of civil rights to guarantee freedom and justice for Americans of all faiths. Further, Kameelah is an advisory board member of Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC) and the Husayn Center for Social Justice, a Muslim-run social services and advocacy center that promotes health and wellness for the residents of Trenton, NJ.

Kameelah is a 2014 Ariane deRothschild Fellow and a recipient of the 2014 Student Multiculturalism and Salter Family Memorial Education Awards from the Pennsylvania Psychological Association (PPA). Since 2015 Kameelah has served as the Diversity Focus Chair for PPA's Graduate Student Board. National Council for Behavioral Health selected Kameelah for the prestigious 2015 Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Community Impact Award and honored her as a "passionate, committed, and outstanding behavioral health leader".

In February of 2015, Kameelah was one of 14 American Muslim Leaders invited to attend a Roundtable discussion with President Obama at the White House. At that meeting, Kameelah shared her concerns regarding the psychological impact of anti-Muslim bigotry on the Muslim community, particularly as it effects youth and African Americans. Kameelah has since been invited to a subsequent roundtable discussion with President Obama before his historic visit to a U.S. Mosque in Feb 2016 and listening sessions with senior White House officials on mental health in the American Muslim community.

Kameelah graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a BA in Psychology and MEd in Psychological Services. She has pursued further graduate education, completing a second Masters in Restorative Practices & Youth Counseling (MRP) from the International Institute for Restorative Practices and obtaining a post-Masters certificate in Family Therapy from the Philadelphia Child & Family Therapy Training Center. Kameelah is a certified instructor in Adult, Higher Education & Youth Mental Health First Aid. She is pursuing her doctorate in Clinical Psychology at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia, PA.

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Written by Lorena O’Neil C06