Founding Members

Meet the Founding Members of AI and Faith

Our members come from diverse business, academic and institutional backgrounds, and a wide range of faith traditions. We remain interested in expanding our roster of outstanding thought leaders. If you want to take a leadership role in furthering the dialog between the faith community and the emerging technologies related to AI please contact us.

Aneelah Afzali, Esq.

is the founder and Executive Director of the American Muslim Empowerment Network (AMEN) at the Muslim Association of Puget Sound (MAPS).  She also serves as a Board Member of the Faith Action Network and on the Steering Committee of the Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network.  A graduate of the University of Oregon Honors College and  Harvard Law School, Aneelah became a partner in a law firm and General Counsel of a healthcare IT company.  Since leaving her legal career six years ago, Aneelah has served as a community activist, interfaith leader, and justice advocate.

Muhammad Aurangzeb Ahmad

is an Affiliate Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science at University of Washington and the Principal Research Data Scientist at KenSci, an Artificial Intelligence in healthcare-focused company in Seattle. He has published over 50 research papers in the fields of machine learning and artificial intelligence and computational social science. Muhammad Aurangzeb graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology with a Bachelors in Computer Science and holds the PhD in computer science from the University of Minnesota.

Yasmin Ali

is a computer scientist and the founder of Skillspire, an education startup headquartered in Bellevue that offers technology boot camps for immigrants, refugees and women, largely taught by part-time instructors who work in technology.  Yasmin was an early visionary member of MAPS and remains active in leadership there.”

Carlos Arias, Ph.D

is Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Seattle Pacific University. He formerly taught and served as research director at a leading university in Honduras. His work focus includes e-government and e-learning.

Thomas Arnold

is a Research Associate at the Human-Robot Interaction Lab at Tufts University and also a lecturer in the Computer Science Department there.  His work at Tufts focuses on the ethical evaluation and design of AI systems for interactive contexts, including how moral norms will shape how social robots are judged. Thomas is an author and co-author of numerous peer-reviewed articles on AI ethics and human-robot interaction, as well as a co-author of “Ethics for Psychologists: A Casebook Approach.”  He holds a bachelors of arts degree in classics and philosophy from Stanford University, and a masters of theological studies from Harvard Divinity School. He is nearing completion of his PhD dissertation for Harvard’s Committee on the Study of Religion.

Ahmed Hassan Awadallah, Ph.D

leads the Language and Information Technologies Team of scientists and engineers at Microsoft Research Technologies, a new R&D organization within Microsoft Research.  His team focuses on harnessing AI to understand how people interact with information systems and develop new experiences to empower people to be more productive.

Vincent Bacote, PhD

is an Associate Professor of Theology and Director of the Center for Applied Christian Ethics at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois.  Professor Bacote‘s areas of teaching and research include theology and culture, theological anthropology, and faith and work.  His numerous published works include “The Political Disciple: A Theology of Public Life” and “Erasing Race: Racial Identity and Theological Anthropology – Black Scholars in White Space”. Professor Bacote is a graduate of the Citadel, holds a masters degrees in divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and a masters degree in philosophy and PhD in theological and religious studies from Drew University.

Bruce Baker, Ph.D

teaches business ethics at Seattle Pacific University and the University of Washington, and is a former senior executive at Microsoft. He is a graduate of the California Institute of Technology, the Stanford Business School, Fuller Theological Seminary, and holds a Ph.D. in Theological Ethics from the University of St. Andrews, Scotland. An ordained Presbyterian minister and Parish Associate of University Presbyterian Church, Bruce also holds five patents from his work as a startup entrepreneur.

Gilad Berenstein

is currently exploring a number of AI opportunities and areas of interest as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI2) in Seattle. He was previously the Founder and CEO of Seattle-based travel personalization startup, Utrip, which utilized AI and human experts to help travelers plan highly personalized trips. Gilad grew up in Israel and moved to Washington in the late 90’s with his family when his dad joined a startup. Gilad is a graduate of the UW Foster School of Business where he obtained both his undergraduate and masters degrees. Gilad is passionate about travel, technology, food, innovation, and history and is a congregant at Temple De Hirsch Sinai in Seattle.

Shanen Boettcher

is presently a PhD student at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, following a 25 year career  in technology, primarily as a General Manager of Product Management at Microsoft.  His PhD research studies the role that artificial intelligence technology plays in the relationship between spiritual/religious information and spiritual/religious knowledge among people living in the Pacific Northwest. Shanen is a graduate of Carroll College in Economics and International Relations and earned a Master of Arts Degree in Religions and Education from the University of Warwick in England.

David Brenner

is a Seattle attorney with 25 years of experience in counseling clients and litigating claims related to technology, risk management and insurance coverage. He is a leader at University Presbyterian Church and actively involved in programs that integrate faith, science and technology with faculty of the University of Washington. He is a graduate of Stanford University and UC Berkeley’s Law School.

Craig Chapman

is the Director/Dean of the Creatio Center for Technology, Media and Design at Northwest University.  Craig worked for 35 years as a software engineer and architect, with his last act the co-founding of INRIX, a highly successful traffic and navigation software and data company in Kirkland, Washington. Craig holds a bachelors of science degree in mathematics  from Occidental College.

Mark Chinen

is Professor of Law at the Seattle University School of Law, and a Fellow of the Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality. He was educated at Pomona College and Yale Divinity School before receiving his law degree from Harvard Law School. Professor Chinen teaches contracts and courses in international law and writes on various aspects of international law (including governance and theology) as well as artificial intelligence and legal responsibility

Nathan Colaner, Ph.D

is a senior instructor in the Departments of Management and Philosophy at Seattle University, focusing on business ethics with particular research emphasis on big data management and business use of artificial intelligence.  He has been instrumental in the formation of the University’s new Center for Science and Innovation.

Jane Compson, Ph.D.

is an assistant professor at the University of Washington. She currently teaches classes in Comparative Religion; Environmental Ethics; Philosophy, Religion and the Environment; Biomedical Ethics and Introduction to Ethics.

Salah Dandan

is a Bellevue based attorney and business executive with extensive experience in international business and transactions, technology and intellectual property.

Saskia de Vries, Ph.D

is an Assistant Investigator at the Allen Institute for Brain Science where her research centers on how the brain transforms sensory information into perception and behavior. Saskia received her Ph.D. from Harvard.

Craig Detweiler, Ph.D

Is the President of the Seattle School of Theology & Psychology, and a professor, author, and mentor on culture, faith and technology. In addition to writing screenplays for Hollywood, his books include iGods: How Technology Shapes Our Spiritual and Social Lives and Selfies: Searching for the Image of God in a Digital Age. He graduated from Davidson College, earned an M.F.A. from the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts, and an M.Div. and Ph.D from Fuller Theological Seminary.

Matthew Dickerson

teaches in the computer science department at Middlebury College in Vermont, where he has been on the faculty since 1989. He has also been a visiting faculty member at Dartmouth College. Matthew is the author of several books, including The Mind and the Machine: What it Means to be Human and Why it Matters. He has also authored several works of scholarship on the writings of J.R.R.Tolkien and C.S.Lewis, in addition to medieval historical novels and works of fantasy literature. Matthew was an Artist-in-Residence at Glacier National Park in 2017 and at Acadia National Park in 2018. He earned a PhD in computer science from Cornell University.

Rev. Dani Forbus

is the pastor of Northminster Presbyterian Church in Seattle. While at Princeton Theological Seminary she placed emphasis on the field of Theological Anthropology, which seeks to understand what it means to be human and supports human flourishing. Serving in congregations from Belfast, Northern Ireland to Cape Town, South Africa to Los Angeles, CA, she has observed the complex impacts of technology across the globe. Her current congregation, set in the Ballard neighborhood, engages people working in the humanities, ethics, technology, brain science, just to name a few.

Brian Green

Brian Patrick Green is the director of technology ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University. His work is focused on the ethics of technology, including AI and ethics, as well as on the relationship of technology and religion. Green teaches AI ethics in Santa Clara’s Graduate School of Engineering. He is a member of the Safety-Critical AI working group at the Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society, and also coordinates several other initiatives for the Markkula Center. He holds doctoral and master’s degrees in ethics and social theory from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, and his undergraduate degree is in genetics from the University of California, Davis.

Scott Hawley

is a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Physics at Belmont University in Nashville, where he teaches physics to audio engineering students and is widely engaged in writing and conferences on the ethics of technology, and on machine learning applications to acoustics and audio signal processing. Fitting for Nashville and Belmont, he is also a singer songwriter. Scott holds a B.S. in Physics from the College of William and Mary and a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Texas at Austin.

Don Howard, Ph.D

is Professor of Philosophy, a Fellow of the University of Notre Dame’s Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values, and an Affiliate of the newly formed interdisciplinary Notre Dame Technology Ethics Center. Professor Howard has been writing and teaching about the ethics of science and technology for over three decades. Among his current research interests are ethical and legal issues in cyberconflict and cybersecurity as well as the ethics of autonomous systems.  Professor Howard earned his Ph.D from Boston University.

Lee Huntsman, Ph.D

is the President Emeritus of the University of Washington and also served there as long time Provost and Chair of the Department of Bioengineering.  He is a leader at University Presbyterian Church. At the UW, he is presently leading the Health Innovators Collaborative to advance information sharing, resource availability, joint projects and creation of new initiatives related to seizing the opportunities presented by the unprecedented changes in healthcare.

Turan Kayaoglu, Ph.D

is the Associate Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of Washington, Tacoma, and teaches in Politics, Philosophy and Public Affairs, a division of the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences. His research focuses on the intersection of religion, human rights, and international relations.

Jawad Khaki

 is an entrepreneur, investor, technologist and a community volunteer. He is a 20-year Microsoft Corporation veteran where he served as a Corporate Vice President.  In 1997 Jawad helped establish the Ithna‐asheri Muslim Association of the Northwest (IMAN)  and serves as its President.

Margaret Kibben

is a combat-decorated veteran and Presbyterian minister who was the first woman to serve as the Chief of Chaplains of the United States Navy and the Chaplain of the Marine Corps. Retired as a Rear Admiral, through her consultancy, Virtue in Practice LLC, she presently speaks and writes on leadership, ethics and religious practice.  Rear Admiral Kibben is a graduate of Goucher College, Princeton Seminary (Masters of Divinity and Doctorate in Ministry) and the Naval War College (Masters Degree in National Security and Strategic Studies).

Elias Kruger

is a Senior Data Scientist and VP at Wells Fargo Bank in Atlanta with over 15 years of industry experience. He also blogs at www.aitheology.com where he seeks to apply a thoughtful Christian lens to the promise and peril of Artificial Intelligence. He completed a Masters in Theology from Fuller Seminary and an MBA from Regent University. 

Nathan Kutz, Ph.D

is the Robert Bolles and Yasuko Endo Professor within the Department of Applied Mathematics at the University of Washington in Seattle, and author of the book Data-Driven Modeling & Scientific Computation: Methods for Complex Systems & Big Data (Oxford Univ. Press, 2013).

Chris Lim

leads TheoTech and created its chief product spf.io, a platform where humans and AI collaborate to deliver real time translations of live events. He formerly served as a software engineer at Amazon and received a Masters in Computer Science at the University of Washington doing machine translation research under Professor Oren Etzioni.

Reid Maclellan, M.D.

is the founder and CEO of Asclepius, Inc, a privately-owned healthcare company, and serves as an Adjunct Professor at both Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital. He graduated magna cum laude with a B.S. from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and received his M.D. from its Medical School. He completed a general surgery internship at the University of Tennessee College of Medicine Chattanooga, and plastic surgery clinical and research fellowships at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital. Additionally, he earned a post-doctoral Master in Medical Sciences Degree in translational medical research from Harvard Medical School.

Meenaz Merchant

is the Principal Group Program Manager – Artificial Intelligence and Research for Bing Search & AI at Microsoft. He holds undergraduate and masters degrees in computer science respectively from Maharashtra Institute of Technology and Stanford University, and an MBA from UC Berkeley. Meenaz is an active leader and worships with his family at the Iman Center in Kirkland, Washington.

Vikram Modgil

is a Seattle based AI/ML expert and founder of Pi Square (www.PiSquare.ai), a machine-learning startup specializing in AR/VR/XR, synthetic voice (called NeuraVoice) and intelligent automation (RPA). In his past life, Vikram has been in executive leadership team of multiple unicorn startups & multi-billion dollar corporate where he helped the biggest brand names in retail, cpg, pharma, technology and telecom industries adopt AI in early 2000’s to create positive impact using machine learning. Vikram also started The Good AI (www.TheGoodAI.org) to create awareness, engagement and actions towards ethical issues and bias of AI.

Brenda Ng

is the principal and founder of The Trio Group, specializing in customer-driven business and marketing insights for a wide range of technology companies. She was formerly a senior executive for consumer and competitive insights at Microsoft and T-Mobile.

James B. Notkin

is Co-Pastor and Vision Lead at Union Church, South Lake Union, and adjunct professor of business ethics at SPU. As Union’s Vision Lead, James B. seeks to work with the community to live into our call to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with Jesus. Before co-founding Union more than ten years ago, James B was in ministry with Ann Arbor First Presbyterian Church, and then with University Presbyterian Church in Seattle. James B. received an M.Div. at Princeton Theological Seminary. A native of Seattle he loves the rain but increasingly appreciates how sunshine makes biking and tennis more enjoyable.

Thomas Osborn

has a keen interest in technology that enhances spiritual transformation via deeper teacher and learner engagement. He brings to AI & Faith extensive experience in business strategy and management, and technology consulting. He is the COO of Subsplash, a church engagement platform; and a Board Member and former COO of Pathwright, a highly flexible and intuitive platform for creating and delivering online courses. Former roles include JP Morgan Chase (managing director, Com’l Bank); Faithlife (VP of Partnerships and Alliances); and Deloitte (Strategy and Operations Consultant).  Thomas holds an MBA and BS in communications from the University of Illinois. 

Tripp Parker

is a machine learning leader at Amazon and formerly a Senior Program Manager in AI at Microsoft.  He holds a dual undergraduate degree in Philosophy and Computer Science from Duke University.

Michael Paulus

is University Librarian, Assistant Provost for Educational Technology, and Director and Associate Professor of Information Studies at Seattle Pacific University. His administrative, teaching, and scholarly interests focus on the history and future of information and communication technologies.

Michael J. Quinn

serves as Dean of the College of Science and Engineering at Seattle University. As a faculty member at the University of New Hampshire and Oregon State University, he did pioneering research in the area of parallel computing. In the early 2000s Dean Quinn refocused on ethical issues related to computing. His textbook, Ethics for the Information Age, is in its 8th edition and has been used by more than 125 colleges and universities. Dean Quinn earned a B.S. in mathematics from Gonzaga University and masters and doctoral degrees in computer science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Washington State University, respectively.

Linda Ranz

is currently the Director of product management at Amazon for Echo multimodal products. Her prior experience includes senior executive positions in e commerce and product development at Starbucks and Getty Images. She also served as the Vice President for Marketing and Development of Medical Teams International.

Daniel Rasmus

is the founder of Serious Insights, which provides analysis and strategy around scenario planning, knowledge management, collaboration, emerging technology and popular culture to help clients put their future in context. He is the author of Listening to the Future, and Management by Design, speaks and writes frequently in technology settings, and publishes regular blog posts on AI on the Serious Insights website. Daniel attended the University of California at Santa Cruz and holds a certificate in intelligent systems engineering from the University of California at Irvine.

Rebekah Rice, Ph.D

is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Philosophy Department at Seattle Pacific University. Her areas of expertise include Philosophy of Mind and Action Theory (including causal theories of action, agent causation, and free will). She received her Ph.D from Brown University.

Marc Sachnoff

is the founder of the Modern Wisdom Leadership Institute whose purpose is to help individuals and organizations discover their unique meaning, purpose and direction so all involved can live joyful and fulfilling lives. In addition to significant non-profit experience in the entertainment industry and SGI-USA Buddhist Association, Marc has provided enlightened business strategy and marketing consulting services to organizations as diverse as Coca Cola, Microsoft, and the Presidential Inaugural Committee. Most recently Marc worked as a Director of Business Development in Microsoft’s Xbox Gaming Division.

S. Joshua Swamidass, MD PhD

is a scientist, physician, and associate professor of laboratory and genomic medicine at Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL). He leads research group that uses artificial intelligence to explore science at the intersection of medicine, biology, and chemistry. His work and editorials have been published or covered in WIRED, The Scientist, Science, Nature, and the Wall Street Journal. Dr. Swamidass is the author of The Genealogical Adam and Eve, a regular Veritas Forums speaker, and is often engaging the public with the science of human exceptionality, human origins, and artificial intelligence. Dr. Swamidass is the founder of Peaceful Science, a partnership with WUSTL, to advance science by together engaging the grand question: What does it mean to be human?

Paul Taylor

is a teaching pastor and elder at Peninsula Bible Church in Palo Alto, California. He explores the intersection of technology and theology through his blog and podcast at allthingsnew.tech. Paul graduated from Stanford University with a degree in Industrial Engineering and worked for Oracle Corporation as a Senior Product Manager designing software solutions before moving into leadership at PBC in 2007.

Jason Thacker

serves as and associate research fellow and creative director at The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. He is a graduate of The University of Tennessee and Southern Seminary. His new book The Age of AI: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Humanity releases in March 2020 with Zondervan. He is married to Dorie and they have two sons.

Revd Dr Richard Turnbull, Ph.D., CA

has been the Director of the Centre for Enterprise, Markets and Ethics at Oxford (CEME) since 2012. He has authored several books including an acclaimed biography of the social reformer, Lord Shaftesbury; is a member of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Oxford; and is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. Previously, he was Principal of  Wycliffe Hall, a Permanent Private Hall of the University of Oxford, and earlier still, was a Chartered Accountant with Ernst and Young. He also served as the youngest ever member of the Press Council. Richard holds a first class honours degree in Theology and PhD in Theology from the University of Durham, and was ordained into the ministry of the Church of England in 1994.

Rabbi Daniel Weiner

has been the senior rabbi of the largest synagogue in the Northwest, Temple De Hirsch Sinai, with over 4,000 members, since 2001.  He is a pioneer in video worship, an author and columnist for Seattle newspapers, and leads the worship rock band at TDS.

Tim Weinhold

has been a long-time business leader, both in commercial real estate and as a serial entrepreneur. He also speaks and writes regularly regarding the intersection of faith and business. Tim is a transplant from Boston where he graduated from Harvard and joined Red Sox Nation. He is also a Fellow of the Center for Enterprise, Markets and Ethics at Oxford, and is a member of the Executive Advisory Board for the School of Business, Government and Economics at Seattle Pacific University.

James Wellman, Ph.D

is Chair of the Comparative Religion Program in the Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington, and head of the Initiative for Global Christian Studies.

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