Co-Chair and Executive Biographies
Click to Replace

Dr Ali Gomaa, Grand Mufti of Egypt, Co-Chair of the World Dialogue Council


Sheikh Ali Gomaa is the Grand Mufti of Egypt through Dar al-Ifta al-Misriyyah succeeding Ahmad El-Tayeb. He has been called „one of the most widely respected jurists in the Sunni Muslim world,“...


Sheikh Ali Gomaa was born on March 3rd 1952 in Bani Suwaif, Upper Egypt. He was raised in a pious household that respected knowledge. His father, a lawyer specializing in personal status shariah law, transferred his love of books to his son whose private library now boasts over 30,000 titles and is sought out by students and researchers from around the world in need of rare texts.


After graduating from college Sheikh Ali enrolled in al-Azhar University. After completing a second bachelor's degree from al-Azhar in 1979, Sheikh Ali enrolled in a master's degree program at the same university's department of shariah and law and obtained his master's degree in 1985 followed by a PhD from the same department in 1988.


In addition to his official studies, Sheikh Ali spent time with many sheikhs and masters of the shariah sciences and the spiritual path outside of the university setting. The most influential of these sheikhs was the Moroccan hadith scholar and Sufi Sheikh Abdullah bin Siddiq al-Ghumari who considered Sheikh Ali to be one of his most accomplished students.


Other scholars that Sheikh Ali studied with include: Sheikh Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghuda, Sheikh Muhammad Abu Nur Zuhayr, Sheikh Jad al-Rabb Ramadan Goma', Sheikh al-Husayni Yusif al-Shaykh, Sheikh Muhammad Yasin al-Fadani, Sheikh Abd al-Jalil al-Qarnishawi al-Maliki, Sheikh al-Azhar Sheikh Jad al-Haqq Ali Jadd al-Haq, Sheikh Abd al-'Aziz al-Zayat, Sheikh Ahmed Muhammad Mursi al-Naqshibandi, Sheikh Muhammad Zaki Ibrahim, and Sheikh Muhammad Hafidh al-Tijani.


Before his appointment as Grand Mufti of Egypt, Sheikh Ali was Professor of Juristic Methodologies at al-Azhar University. In addition to teaching classes on the university campus, in the mid-1990's Sheikh Ali reestablished the tradition of giving lessons in the al-Azhar mosque.


In 1998 Sheikh Ali began delivering the Friday sermon at Cairo's Sultan Hasan Mosque, one of the city's grandest and most beautiful examples of Mamluk architecture. His sermons drew a crowd of hundreds, many of whom would remain after the prayer to attend his public lesson and question and answer session.


In 2003 Sheikh Ali was appointed Grand Mufti of Egypt. Since taking on the position he has revolutionized the process of issuing fatwas in Egypt transforming Dar al-Ifta from a institution that was the extension of one individual (the Grand Mufti) to a modern institution with a fatwa council and a system of checks and balances. Sheikh Ali has also added a technological aspect to the institution by developing a sophisticated website and call center through which people can request fatwas even if they are unable to come to the institution personally. Over the last five years Sheikh Ali has overseen the issuance of many important, and some controversial, fatwas all of which share the common characteristic of striving to show the continued relevance of Islam for people living in the 21st century. The methodology according to which this is carried out can be characterized by a profound respect for the intellectual product of the past accompanied by a realization of its shortcomings, when they exist, and an understanding of the specific needs the times in which we live.


Sheikh Ali is a prolific author and writer on Islamic issues and he writes a weekly column in the Egyptian al-Ahram newspaper in which he discusses matters of current interest and religion.







H.E. Theodore Cardinal McCarrick

High Level Advisor to the WDC and Acting Co-chair

Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick was born in New York City on July 7, 1930 and  attended Catholic elementary school and Fordham Preparatory School. He studied in Europe for a year and a half before returning to Fordham University, his mind already made up to study for the priesthood. He entered St. Joseph’s Seminary, Yonkers, NY, where he earned a BA in 1954 and a Master’s Degree in History in 1958. Francis Cardinal Spellman ordained him to the priesthood on May 31, 1958 in New York City. He went on to earn a second Master’s degree in Social Sciences and a Ph.D. in Sociology from The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.

Father McCarrick’s first assignment was as assistant chaplain of Catholic University where he went on to serve as dean of students and as director of development. He was named president of the Catholic University of Puerto Rico in Ponce in 1965, where he was responsible for the development of the school as a major institution. That same year he received the title of monsignor from Pope Paul VI. In 1969, Terence Cardinal Cooke recalled him to New York to serve as associate secretary for education and an assistant priest at Blessed Sacrament parish from 1969-1971 and then as the Cardinal’s Secretary from 1971-1977.

In 1977, Pope Paul VI named Msgr. McCarrick Auxiliary Bishop of New York where, he served as Vicar of East Manhattan and the Harlems. In 1981, Pope John Paul II appointed him to be the first Bishop of Metuchen, a newly-established diocese in New Jersey. From 1986 until his appointment to the Archdiocese of Washington, he served as the fourth Archbishop of Newark.

In 1986 and again in 1992, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) elected then-Archbishop McCarrick to head its Committee on Migration. In 1992, he also was named to head the Committee for Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe; in 1996, as chair of the Committee on International Policy; and in 2001, as Chairman of the Domestic Policy Committee. Other USCCB committees on which the Cardinal has served are Administrative, Doctrine, Laity, Latin America and the Missions. He was elected one of 15 U.S. bishops to serve as a member of the Synod for America held in 1997. At the conclusion of that Synod, the bishops elected him to serve on the Post Synodal Council.

A founding member of the Papal Foundation, he has served as its president since 1997. Cardinal McCarrick also is a member of the Board of Catholic Relief Services. For the Vatican, he serves on the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, Pontifical Commission for Latin America and the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See.

He has visited many nations as a human rights advocate and to survey humanitarian needs. These include China, Cuba, Iran, Vietnam, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Rwanda and Burundi. He also has traveled extensively in Eastern Europe and Central America. In November 1996, then-Archbishop McCarrick was invited to serve on the Secretary of State’s Advisory Committee on Religious Freedom Abroad and from 1999-2001, he was a member of the United States Commission for International Religious Freedom.

In January 2000, the President of Lebanon named him an Officer of the Order of the Cedars of Lebanon and in December 2000, the president of the United States presented him with the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights, just two of many honors he has received.

On January 2, 2001, he was installed as Archbishop of Washington, a position he held until May 16, 2006. Just seven weeks after his installation, on February 21, 2001, he was elevated to the College of Cardinals by Pope John Paul II. He took possession of his titular church, Ss. Nereus and Achilleus, on June 28, 2001.

As Archbishop of Washington, Cardinal McCarrick served as chancellor of The Catholic University of America and president of the Board of Trustees of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and placed an emphasis on education, vocations and meeting the needs of new immigrants, particularly in the Latino community.

In Fall 2001, he opened a new seminary, Redemptoris Mater, to educate diocesan missionary priests. These men will serve both in the Archdiocese of Washington and in overseas missions after ordination. In May 2006, Cardinal McCarrick dedicated a permanent home for the seminary, located in Hyattsville, Maryland. Later that month, the Cardinal ordained 12 men to the priesthood, the largest ordination class in the Archdiocese since the 1970s.

Under his guidance, the Archdiocese of Washington undertook a major capital campaign, Forward in Faith, between 2003 and 2005. The campaign, whose funds are earmarked to support education, vocations, parish and social service needs into the future, resulted in $185 million in pledges, or $50 million over the $135 million goal. Forward in Faith was one of the most successful capital campaigns in U.S. diocesan history.

Education has always been a priority for Cardinal McCarrick and is a major component of Forward in Faith. In 2004, he supported the creation of the DC Opportunity Scholarship program, a Federal program that gives low-income families the ability to choose a public or non-public school for their children. As a result of his leadership, Catholic schools in the District have welcomed approximately 1,000 scholarship recipients. The Cardinal also initiated plans to open a new high school, the first Archdiocesan high school to open in decades, in Fall 2007. The Cristo Rey school, in Takoma Park, Maryland, will offer a unique work-study program for students from moderate- and low-income families.

During his five years as Archbishop of Washington, Cardinal McCarrick oversaw the start of a multi-cultural and social service center in Wheaton, Maryland; the establishment of a Lay Leadership Institute in downtown Silver Spring, Maryland, which will have a special focus on the Hispanic community; and the reorganization of four of the Archdiocese’s social service agencies into one organization, Catholic Community Services, which serves over 120,000 people each year.

He traveled around the world, including trips to areas affected by major natural disasters, such as Central America, Sri Lanka and Louisiana and Mississippi post-Hurricane Katrina, to ensure people in need would receive assistance, and to bring prayer and financial support.

He also continued to travel on behalf of Catholic Relief Services, and to fulfill various responsibilities for the Vatican and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Among many notable events, Cardinal McCarrick was one of 115 Cardinals in the world who participated in the conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI as the successor to Pope John Paul II in April 2005.







The Rt Revd and Rt Hon. Dr  Richard Chartres, KCVO, The Bishop of London

He was educated at Hertford Grammar School and studied history at Trinity College Cambridge. Before ordination he taught Ancient History at the International School in Seville.

He was ordained in 1973 and served as a curate in St Andrew's Bedford. In 1975 he was appointed Chaplain to Robert Runcie, then Bishop of St Albans, and from 1980-84 he served as the Archbishop's Chaplain at Lambeth and Canterbury.

He moved to St Stephen's Rochester Row in the Diocese of London in 1984. During eight years in the parish he also served as Director of Ordinands for the Central Area and as Gresham Professor of Divinity.

He was consecrated Bishop of Stepney on 22 May 1992.

After his move to the see of London, he was appointed Dean of HM Chapels Royal in 1996 and a Privy Counsellor. This accounts for the curious fact that the Bishop of London is the only bishop who bears the title 'Right Honourable' in addition to the usual 'Right Reverend'. He is an ex officio member of the House of Lords.

He is President of Bible Society, an Honorary Bencher of the Middle Temple, Chairman of the Ecumenical "London Church Leaders", a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and is associated with numerous other London organisations.

He is also Chairman of the Church Buildings Division of the Church of England, and the CofE Shrinking the Footprint campaign. He deputises for the Archbishop of Canterbury as Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Church Commissioners. He is also responsible on behalf of the Archbishop for relations with the Orthodox Churches.

He is founder and life president of St Ethelburga's Centre for Reconciliation and Peace. His publications include "The History of Gresham College 1597-1997" (with David Vermont) and "Tree of Knowledge, Tree of Life" [2005] and many articles and essays especially on religion and the environment.

He is married to Caroline, a freelance writer, and they have four children – Alexander, Sophie, Louis and Clio.


The Rt Revd. And Rt Hon. Lord Carey of Clifton,

103rd Archbishop of Canterbury and Founding Co-chair of the WDC’s precursor body the C-100 West Islamic Dialogue

George Carey was born in 1935 in the East End of London, the son of a hospital porter. He left school at 15 and began working at the London Electricity Board as an office boy, and also served with the Royal Air Force in Iraq during the fifties.


By the time he was twenty, he had decided he wanted to be ordained as a minister into the Church of England. After graduating from London College of Divinity (ALCD) and King’s College London (BD. Hons) he served as a curate in Islington, London. During this time he went on to research the early origins of Christian ministry and earned both M.Th and Ph. Degrees. He then taught at two Colleges before becoming a parish priest at St.Nicholas’ Durham. In 1982 he became Principal of Trinity Theological College in Bristol and, in 1987, Bishop of Bath and Wells. In 1991 he was invited to take up the post of 103rd Archbishop of Canterbury and served 70 million Anglicans around the world until his retirement in 2002.


In 2002 George Carey was made a life peer as ‘Lord Carey of Clifton’.

Lord Carey is Presentation Fellow of King’s College London, Fellow of Christ’s University College, Canterbury and Fellow of the Library of Congress. He is also the recipient of some 12 Honorary Doctorates and author of more than 14 books. Currently he is Chancellor of the University of Gloucestershire and President of the London School of Theology.


In retirement, he served on the Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum and Co-Chair of the Council of 100 Leaders West Islamic Dialogue and he continues to work to bridge the gulf between the West and Islamic worlds as he did in office when he launched the Alexandria process which first brought the Religious leaders of the Holy Land together.  He is also Chairman of the United Church Schools Trust.


H.B. Theofilos III, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Vice Chair of the World Dialogue Council

His Beatitude Theofilos III Patriarch of the Holy City of Jerusalem and all Palestine (known in the world as Elias Giannopoulos, his parents, Panagiotes-Triseugenia) was born in Gargalianes in…....


H.E. the Grand Mufti of Bosnia, Mustafa Cerić Vice Chair of the C-1

Dr. Mustafa Efendi Cerić (born 1952 in Visoko, Bosnia and Herzegovina, then Yugoslavia) is the Grand Mufti (reis-ul-ulema) of Bosnia-Herzegovina. He is serving his second 7-year term until 2013....





John J. DeGioia, President of Georgetown University


For over three decades, John J. DeGioia has helped to define and strengthen Georgetown University as a premier institution for education and research. Since graduating from the University in 1979, he has served both as a senior administrator and as a faculty member. On July 1, 2001, he became Georgetown's 48th president.

 Dr. DeGioia is a Professorial Lecturer in the Department of Philosophy. He earned a bachelor's degree in English from Georgetown University in 1979 and his PhD in Philosophy from the University in 1995. He has most recently taught "Interior Freedom and the Academy," "Ethics and Global Development," "Human Rights: A Culture in Crisis," and a seminar on "Ways of Knowing."

Prior to his appointment as president, Dr. DeGioia held a variety of senior administrative positions at Georgetown, including senior vice president, responsible for university-wide operations, and dean of student affairs.

In 2004, he was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Academia from the Sons of Italy.  And he was named a Washingtonian of the Year by The Washingtonian magazine in 2008.

Dr. DeGioia was raised in Orange, Connecticut, and Hanford, California. He and his wife, Theresa Miller DeGioia, a Georgetown alumna, and their son, John Thomas, live in Washington, D.C.



Professor Robert Eisen, Professor of Religion and JudaicStudies at the George Washington University B.A.,Yale University; Ph.D., Brandeis University

Prof. Eisen’s areas of interest include medieval and modern Jewish philosophy, biblical interpretation, Jewish ethics, and comparative religion. He is author of two books, Gersonides on Providence...




John L. Esposito is Professor of Religion and International Affairs and of Islamic Studies and Founding Director of the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at the Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University.

Esposito specializes in Islam, political Islam from North Africa to Southeast Asia, and Religion and International Affairs. He is editor-in-chief of the four-volume The Oxford Encyclopedia of the...



David F. Ford, Professor of Divinity, University of Cambridge, Director of the Cambridge Inter-Faith Programme

David F. Ford is the Regius Professor of Divinity at the University of Cambridge and Director of the Cambridge Inter-Faith Programme (focusing on Judaism, Christianity and Islam). He first read...




Professor Anthony C. Grayling, Professor of Philosophy, Birkbeck College University of London

Anthony Grayling MA, DPhil (Oxon) FRSL, FRSA is Professor of Philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of London, and a Supernumerary Fellow of St Anne’s College, Oxford. He has written and...



Nakhle El Hage, Director News & Current Affairs, Al-Arabiya, Dubai

 Nakhle El Hage is currently the Director of News and Current Affairs for Al Arabiya News Channel. Hage, heads current affairs in Al Arabiya as well as MBC Channels, who established the Current Affairs department in Al Arabiya as well as launching 15 different programs for Al Arabiyya.

Formally Editor in Chief of the MBC Channel, El Hage supervised the move of MBC from its London headquarters to its new location in Dubai. After joining MBC as a chief sub editor, El Hage worked as editor of the day at MBC Channel in London. He has also worked as a war correspondent for Tele Liban and a news writer/reporter/announcer in Radio Voice of Lebanon.  El Hage holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in media from the American University in Lebanon.

Haris Hromic, BBA, MPA, MA, FRSA Senior Advisor for Global Strategy to the C-1 World Dialogue, Co-Founder of the C-1 World Dialogue

Mr. Hromic professional career includes engagements in the financial services industry, NGO, government, and academia. Mr. Hromic is a founding Member of the World Dialogue Council




Professor Dr. Ibrahim Kalin, Senior Advisor to Prime Minister of Turkey

Dr. Kalin is the founding-director of the SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research based in Ankara, Turkey. He has hosted a discussion program on the Turkish national TV TRT 1....



Sayyed Jawad Al-Khoei, Assistant Secretary-General of Al-Khoei Foundation

Sayyed Jawad Al-Khoei is the grandson of the late Grand Ayatullah Sayyed Abul Qasem Al-Khoei, the supreme religious leader of Shia Muslims between 1970 and 1992. Born in Najaf where he spent his...



The Most Revd. Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin was born in Dublin on 8th April 1945. He attended schools in Dublin (Oblate School, Inchicore; De La Salle School, Ballyfermot; Marian College, Ballsbridge). He studied...




S. Abdallah Schleifer, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Journalism and Founding Director of the Adham Center at the The American University of Cairo

S. Abdallah Schleifer, former Washington D.C. bureau chief for Al Arabiya News Channel, and former Cairo bureau chief for NBC News is a veteran journalist who has covered the Middle East for...



Miroslav Volf, Henry B. Wright Professor of Systematic Theology, Yale University

Miroslav Volf is the Founder and Director of Yale Center for Faith and Culture and Henry B. Wright Professor of Theology, Yale University Divinity School, New Haven, CT. Miroslav Volf was educated...