BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Jerusalem Peacebuilders’ programs are developed and informed by its President and Founding Director, The Rev. Canon Nicholas Porter. The former International Chaplain to the Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem, Canon Porter’s commitment to peace and human well-being in the Middle East also involves serving on the board of the American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem that supports 36 different hospitals, schools, orphanages and training centers in Jerusalem, Israel, Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon and offering leadership to the Order of St. John, the largest provider of ophthalmic health care in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.
Since 2008, Canon Porter has taught homiletics at St. Nersess Armenian Orthodox Seminary. Canon Porter holds advanced degrees in Middle East Studies, Theology, War Studies, and Conflict Transformation. A two-time graduate from Yale University, he served on the board of the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale, initiating strategic projects in theology and in Jerusalem. In 2016, Dwight Hall at Yale awarded him the Curran Prize for distinguished public service.
An Anglican/Episcopal priest and educator, Canon Porter served at St. George’s Cathedral in Jerusalem, the American Cathedral in Paris (France), Emmanuel Church in Geneva (Switzerland), and Trinity Church in Southport, Conn. He and his wife, Dorothy Meek Porter, live on Acer Farm in Guilford, Vermont. They have three adult daughters.
Treasurer and Board member
Bruce Barrett is an active peacemaker. He graduated from Carnegie-Mellon University in 1985 with a B.S. in Applied History and Industrial Management. After graduation, Bruce spent one year teaching English and running a youth group at Saint James Episcopal Church in Punta Arenas, Chile. With his mission work completed, he returned home to help build Barrett Outdoor Communications Inc - the family billboard business.
In 2006, Bruce created IWagePeace.Org and began branding active peacemaking as a patriotic act of faith by juxtaposing the words “IWagePeace” over the American flag on various of his company billboard locations. That same year he received the Living Waters Award from the Connecticut Conference of the United Church of Christ for working with youth and promoting peace and diversity. In 2009, Bruce directed, edited, and produced his first film, The Billboard from Bethlehem, chronicling the peace work of the Israeli/Palestinian non-violent group Combatants For Peace (CFP), while organizing the first “Painting for Peace” among Israeli and Palestinian youth in the West Bank. The film won four documentary film awards, including the Mondavi Award for Peace and Cultural Understanding at the Napa Sonoma Film Festival.
In 2010, Bruce created the IWagePeace Walk, where members of area mosques, synagogues, and churches walk and support one another as peacemakers. In 2011, Bruce sponsored the CFP USA speaking tour. He has, with IWagePeace.Org sponsored four additional “Painting for Peace” projects, two in New Haven and two with Jerusalem Peacebuilders in Brattleboro, VT. In 2017 Bruce, his brother John, and childhood friend and Brewmaster Jeff Browning opened in Bridgeport the largest Brewpub in CT, The Brewport Brewing Company. Bruce is treasurer and musical director of his local church, he also serves on the Board of Directors of the National Religious Campaign against Torture in Washington DC.
Dr. Danna Kurtin
Danna Kurtin is the Associate Vice President of Faculty Academic Affairs at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from the University of Mary-Hardin-Baylor in Belton, Texas, Legal Assistant degree from Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, a Masters of Public Health with a focus in Health Services Research, and a PhD in Management and Policy from the University of Texas, School of Public Health – Houston.
Dr. Kurtin has had over 35 years of healthcare experience in various capacities and acquired experience in management, information systems management, data management, legal research, and outcomes research. She has worked in for-profit hospitals, non-profit academic institutions, public health clinics, and in the legal environment. In her current role, she is responsible for providing leadership and oversees activities for appointing all academic appointments at MD Anderson through Faculty Academic Affairs and VISA areas. These areas perform faculty human resources and visa transactions. Her role is developing the strategic vision for the scope, direction, objectives and processes of these areas. She is also responsible for fostering relationships with executive leadership and members from applicable units across the institution to ensure efficient and effective system-wide processes. It also includes interaction with national, state and federal agencies, regulatory bodies and professional organizations on faculty and visa issues.
Dr. Kurtin is also an active member of Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas. During her time at Palmer she has served on the Vestry, worked with the children of Palmer through teaching Sunday School, Vacation Bible School and assisting with the youth ministry, organized blood drives and participated in post hurricane mission trips to New Orleans post Katrina and Galveston post Ike. Currently, she is the Volunteer Coordinator for Jerusalem Peacebuilders for the Houston Camps since 2017. Dr. Kurtin is the Chair of the Executive Committee for the Diocese of Jerusalem on a project bringing cancer care to their hospital, Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City, Gaza.
Rabbi Steven Gross
Rabbi Steve Gross was ordained in 1996 as a rabbi from Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Ohio where he also received a Masters of Hebrew Letters. He has served the Houston Jewish community ever since his ordination and is currently the rabbi at Houston Congregation for Reform Judaism.
Rabbi Gross sees every religious endeavor as an opportunity to promote community and establish an intimate relationship with God, and he commits a major part of his religious mission to building tolerance and understanding between and among faith communities throughout the city. He is a founding member of T.R.U.T.H. (Travels Revealing Understanding – Trust – Hope), which is dedicated to recruiting and engaging faith leaders from all religious backgrounds to build relationships of understanding and trust through shared experiences of travel and immersion. He is an active participant in the Anti-Defamation League’s Coalition for Mutual Respect and works closely with the Interfaith Ministries of Greater Houston on a wide variety of projects which seek to strengthen relationships between faith communities.
Rabbi Gross believes that the pursuit of peace and justice is a central component to the expression of one’s faith and has nurtured a sense of collective responsibility within the community he leads. He is also active in the development and programming of JPB's Houston-based summer institutes and the Interfaith Youth Houston program.
Rabbi Steve grew up in La Jolla, California and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from the University of California, San Diego and a Masters Degree in Educational Technology from San Diego State University. He is married to Beckye and has 4 children named Elliot, Lily, Simon and Aiden.
Amer was born in the West Bank during the time of the Six Day's War of 1967, and grew up in rural Jordan and abroad. His father was a career diplomat serving as the Ambassador of Jordan from 1973 to 1992 in Syria, Germany, Scandinavia, Tunisia, Malta, United Kingdom, Ireland and Egypt. Fluent in Arabic, he is well-informed of ongoing international matters, particularly developments in the Middle East. He has been a guest commentator on MSNBC.com regarding the Middle East and the global political situation. Coming from a family that believes in open dialogue, two of his children have attended the “Seeds of Peace” camp program in Maine. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in Business Administration from George Washington University.
Philip Kensinger is the son of co-founder Stuart Kensinger and his wife Angie. Philip has spent a great portion of his life growing up around JPB. A visit to the Holy Lands following his senior year of high school inspired in him a similar passion for the Middle East as his father, and he pursued that in his studies at Washington and Lee University, graduating with majors in Business and Global Politics. While there, he conducted research projects on the importance of education in the Middle East peace process, along with improving American policy towards Gaza. Philip has served as a photographer for JPB’s Houston programming in the past, and currently resides in his hometown of Houston, TX.
The Rev. Susan Lukens
Susan is currently the Associate Dean Emeritus of St. George’s College Jerusalem, relocated now to Alexandria Virginia after living in residence at St. George’s in Jerusalem since 2014. Engaging in all aspects of the college life, leading pilgrimages, business management and all aspects of marketing for the college, Susan focused on building close relationships with the Palestinians both in the college staff and on the cathedral close. These friendships provided her with an understanding of the complicated life in the Holy Land where peace is desired by all but fragile indeed.
Previous to her work as Associate Dean of St. George’s College, Susan served as a lecturer at Msalato Theological College in Dodoma Tanzania. This was Susan’s first missionary assignment and eventually lead her to discern priesthood, ordained there in September 2015. Currently, Susan, along with Bishop Jane Alexander of Edmonton Canada, is leading a women’s conference in Dodoma in February 2020.
Susan, along with her late husband, Jay, raised their family in Houston Texas where Susan was a history teacher and then Dean of St. Francis Episcopal Day School. After completing her Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Houston, Susan completed a Doctorate in Educational Ministry from Virginia Theological Seminary, in 2011. Along with an additional Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing from Texas A&M University, Susan has integrated her business and education pedagogy skills with her faith calling to serve Episcopal communities where God has called her. It is an immense privilege to live with people of Jewish, Muslim and Christian faith and face life pathways together embracing both our differences and commonalities.
Whilst serving St. George’s College now, primarily responsible for recruitment of pilgrims in the United States and various important marketing engagements both in the United States and the wider Anglican Communion, Susan is also a priest in the Diocese of Virginia. She is presently a priest Associate at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in old town Alexandria. In January 2020, Susan married Sam Mason, a pastoral counselor and priest. They are both artists and this shared passion brought them together over a casual lunch date meant to discuss an upcoming exhibition!
Susan is honored to accept this invitation to serve on the board of Jerusalem Peacebuilders. A close friend both Nicholas and Stuart, Susan actually learned about JPB from Jack Karn during the year he lived in the St George’s Cathedral close. Observing for over a year Jack’s work both in Jerusalem schools and in Nazareth, brought into focus the critical mission of JPB bringing young people to learn the dynamics of peace building.