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.
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, a 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 Ph.D. 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. She has worked in for-profit hospitals, non-profit academic institutions, public health clinics, and in the legal environment. Dr. Kurtin is currently responsible for providing leadership and overseeing all academic appointments at MD Anderson through Faculty Academic Affairs and VISA areas. She is also responsible for fostering relationships with executive leadership and members across the institution to ensure efficient system-wide processes.
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 church's youth, organized blood drives, and participated in 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 is a founding member of T.R.U.T.H. (Travels Revealing Understanding – Trust – Hope), which recruits and engages faith leaders from all religious backgrounds to build relationships of understanding and trust through shared experiences. 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.
Rabbi Gross believes that the pursuit of peace and justice is a central component of 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.
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. After, 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 billboard locations. He received the Living Waters Award from the Connecticut Conference of the United Church of Christ for working in 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, while organizing the first “Painting for Peace” in the West Bank and won four documentary film awards.
In 2010, Bruce created the IWagePeace Walk, where members of mosques, synagogues, and churches walk and support one another as peacemakers. He has sponsored four additional “Painting for Peace” projects. In 2017 Bruce, his brother John, and Brewmaster Jeff Browning opened the largest Brewpub in CT, The Brewport Brewing Company. Bruce is the 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.
Imam Bilal Ansari
Bilal Ansari is Assistant Vice President for Campus Engagement in the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Williams College. He previously served as the Associate Director of the Davis Center. Between 2011 and 2014, Bilal worked as Williams’ Muslim chaplain and Assistant Director in the Center for Learning in Action 2011 and 2014. Bilal also served as Dean of Student Services and Director of Student Life at Zaytuna College, Berkeley, California. At Zaytuna, Bilal began doctoral studies at the Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley. His doctoral dissertation is an auto-ethnographic critical analysis of the literature on his pastoral and social justice work as a community faith leader in prisons, hospitals, and college campuses.
Bilal has worked in both federal and state prisons for over 16 years to challenge the system of racial, gender, and religious inequalities. In 2013, Bilal was awarded the Connecticut Center for a New Economy’s Outstanding Leadership Award for 15 years of community activism. In 2016, Bilal was named The MPower 100, a list of American Muslim top social justice leaders.
Bilal began his community activism at the height of the 1994 Rodney King Uprisings in Oakland, California. Bilal, a first-generation college student, earned the Associate of Science in Liberal Arts from Ohlone College, Bachelor of Science in Human Services from Springfield College, and Master of Arts in Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations and Graduate Certificate in Islamic Chaplaincy from Hartford Seminary.
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 Jerusalem since 2014. While engaging in all aspects of college life, leading pilgrimages, business management, and marketing for the college, Susan focused on building close relationships with the Palestinians both in the college staff and on the cathedral close.
Previous to her work as Associate Dean of St. George’s College, Susan served as a lecturer at Msalato Theological College in Dodoma, Tanzania. Susan’s first missionary assignment eventually lead her to discern the priesthood, ordained September 2015. Currently, Susan, along with Bishop Jane Alexander of Edmonton, Canada, lead a women’s conference in Dodoma in 2020.
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 and an additional Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing from Texas A&M University. While serving St. George’s College, responsible for recruiting pilgrims and marketing engagements both in the United States and the wider Anglican Communion, Susan is also 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.
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.