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Feb 10, 2011

Presiding Bishop to Join President Obama's Advisory Council

President Barack Obama announced Feb. 4 that Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori would be joining his administration as a member of the President's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.


"I am grateful for the opportunity to be of service to the larger community in this way," Jefferts Schori said, according to a press release from the Episcopal Church's Office of Public Affairs. "The ability to build partnerships between civic and religious bodies can only expand our capacity to heal a broken world."


The council "brings together religious and secular leaders as well as scholars and experts in fields related to the work of faith-based and neighborhood organizations in order to make recommendations to the government on how to improve partnerships," a White House press release noted, adding that the president will announce additional members at a later date.


Each council serves a one-year term. Obama said, "I am pleased to announce that these experienced and committed individuals have agreed to join this administration, and I look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead."


Also announced as one of the 11 new members to join the council is Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which shares a full communion partnership with the Episcopal Church. The other new members are:


-Susan Stern, named as chair of the council; special adviser on government affairs to the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC);
-Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals;
-Andrea Bazán, president of Triangle Community Foundation;
-Angela Glover Blackwell, founder and chief executive officer of Policy Link;
-Brian Gallagher, president and CEO of United Way Worldwide;
-Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly;
-Archbishop Demetrios Trakatellis, archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Church of America;
-Sister Marlene Weisenbeck, member of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration; 
-Reverend Elder Nancy L. Wilson, moderator for the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches.


In February 2009, Obama established the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships to "work on behalf of Americans committed to improving their communities, no matter their religious or political beliefs."


According to the White House website, the council is charged with: identifying best practices and successful modes of delivering social services; evaluating the need for improvements in the implementation and coordination of public policies relating to faith-based and neighborhood organizations; and making recommendations to the president and the administration on changes in policies, programs, and practices.