Working to make Baltimore a model interreligious city by building learning communities where religious difference becomes a powerful force for good.
Staff and Scholars
Heather Miller Rubens, Ph.D., Executive Director and Roman Catholic Scholar
Heather Miller Rubens assumed the role of ICJS Executive Director in July 2016, where she is also the Roman Catholic Scholar. Rubens holds degrees from Georgetown University (B.A.), the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies (G.Dip.), and the University of Chicago (A.M. and Ph.D.). In her research, Rubens explores how religious minority communities navigate their political, legal, and cultural space in light of the experience of other minority communities.
Josh Davidson, Development & Communications Associate
Josh Davidson has more than a decade of experience in nonprofit operations and community activism, both in Baltimore and beyond. He also has a strong intellectual and theological background. Josh is a graduate of the Great Books Program at St. John’s College and also holds an M.A. in Diplomacy & International Conflict Resolution. He is involved in numerous social justice projects, both locally and internationally, and is constantly trying to both understand and change the world around him.
Fatimah Fanusie, Ph.D., Program Director, Justice Leaders
Fatimah Fanusie is a historian of 19th- and 20th-century American religion whose research is an evolving reappraisal of the study of African American Islam, the modern Civil Rights Movement and Islam in the West. She is also Historian Consultant for the Howard Thurman Historical home in Daytona Beach, Florida. She received her BA in History and Arabic from Lincoln University, her M.A. in American History from Tufts University, and her Ph.D. in American History from Howard University.
Christine Gallagher, Program Director, Teachers
Christine Gallagher is excited to use her experience in ministry and education to work with the teacher and clergy communities here at ICJS. Most recently, she was the director of Mission and Ministry at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Baltimore where she taught theology courses, planned the school’s campus ministry programming, and served on a number of committees to help further reflection on how the school lives its mission. She grew up in Philadelphia, studied American Studies at Georgetown University, and received Masters’ degrees in theology and history at Villanova University. Christine served on the planning committee for the Teachers' Fellowship and was a member of the first cohort.
Kaaryn Keller, Director of Communications
Kaaryn Keller has broad and deep experience working to develop and implement strategic communications, marketing, and branding strategies with multiple nonprofits across the social justice spectrum, including Baltimore Corps, Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake, The Salvation Army of Central Maryland, and The Interfaith Alliance. She has worked to develop communications across multiple platforms, including websites, print publications, social media, executive communications, and print and broadcast media. Kaaryn has been a frequent student at the Ecumenical Institute, and holds an M.A. in Social Justice from Phillips Theological Seminary.
Benjamin Sax, Ph.D., Jewish Scholar
Benjamin Sax was director of the Malcolm and Diane Rosenberg Program in Judaic Studies and the founding faculty principal at the West Ambler Johnston Residential College at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. After completing a Master’s degree at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Jewish Thought, he earned a doctorate in the history of Judaism at the University of Chicago. Ben’s work investigates the complex relationship between philosophical hermeneutics and modern theology.
Zeyneb Sayilgan, Ph.D., Muslim Scholar
Zeyneb Sayilgan earned her doctorate in Theological and Religious Studies from Georgetown University with a focus on Islam and Christianity. She holds degrees in Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations from Hartford Seminary (M.A.) and Islamic Studies and Law from Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany (B.A./M.A.). A native of Germany, where she was born to Kurdish immigrants from Turkey, Zeyneb’s personal experience with religious diversity and Muslim immigration informs her academic work. Her current research focuses on the intersection of religion and immigration, particularly in relation to Muslims living in the West.
Alisha Tatem, Th.D., Program Director, Congregational Leaders
Alisha Tatem has a Bachelor's in Social Work and is a graduate of Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA, where she earned both her Master's of Divinity and Doctor of Theology in Pastoral Care and Counseling. Most recently Alisha served as an Associate Chaplain at a continuing care retirement community in Pennsylvania. She has more than15 years of experience working and providing leadership in nonprofit and congregational settings. She is passionate about building bridges across diverse communities and finding creative ways to foster relationships.
Matthew D. Taylor, Ph.D., Protestant Scholar
Matthew D. Taylor holds a Ph.D. in Theological and Religious Studies from Georgetown University with an emphasis in comparative religion and contemporary communities of Muslims and Christians. He also has degrees in English and Religious Studies (B.A.) from the University of California, Irvine, and in Theology (M.A.) from Fuller Theological Seminary. In his research, he compares how communities of Muslims and Christians in the United States navigate modernity and religious pluralism in their connection to and use of their respective scriptures.
Laura Urban, Director of Development
Laura Urban has been working in development and communication for nonprofits for nearly 30 years, both in Baltimore and Chicago. She most recently served as Vice President of Giving at the Maryland Food Bank. She was a member of ICJS' inaugural Justice Leaders Fellowship in 2016 and has been an active leader in her Baltimore City neighborhood and Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church. Laura earned a B.S. in journalism from Northwestern University.
Bobby Waddail, Business Manager
Bobby Waddail was Baptist Campus Minister at Towson University and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County for almost 30 years before retiring in June 2007. He holds an M.Div. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a B.S. in Business Administration, majoring in accounting, from the University of Kansas. Bobby has participated in many ICJS programs and events over the years.
Melissa Zieve, Director of Operations
Melissa Zieve is a life-long Baltimorean. She brings decades of experience in local social justice, religious, and education communities. She previously served as President of Bolton Street Synagogue, where she had also worked as Education Director and teacher. She is an active leader in the Union for Reform Judaism and with Baltimoreans United In Leadership Development (BUILD). Prior positions include Program Director, Community Organizer, and Community Liaison for various local and statewide nonprofits. Melissa holds a Bachelor's degree in religion and mathematics from Goucher College and a Master of Social Work with a concentration in community organizing from the University of Maryland.