Boston Interfaith Leadership Initiative (BILI)

A Fellowship Program for Undergraduate Students


The Miller Center for Interreligious Learning & Leadership of Hebrew College


Partner Institutions: 

Bentley University, Boston University, Brown University, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northeastern University, Tufts University, Wellesley College



The Boston Interfaith Leadership Initiative (BILI) program is designed for outstanding undergraduate students with a demonstrated commitment to interreligious and cross-cultural engagement on their respective campuses. This fellowship provides participants with the opportunity to engage with peers from other schools in, a structured program of dialogue, study, and leadership development.


Program Goals:                                                    

  • Train fellows in the theory and practice of interreligious leadership, using best practices from participating schools and leading intellectuals and practitioners
  • Provide interreligious student leaders with a wider network of colleagues and mentors
  • Assist fellows in planning meaningful programming for the wider undergraduate student community of New England
  • Encourage participants to continue to serve as interreligious leaders on their campuses and beyond
  • Develop greater collegiality among religious and spiritual life professionals on local campuses


Program Structure

  • Opening Fellowship Orientation (Sunday afternoon, September 16, 2018, at Hebrew College)
  • Six In-person Meetings (Tuesday evenings, 6-9pm at Boston University’s Marsh Chapel)
    • October 9, 2018
    • November 13, 2018
    • December 4, 2018
    • January 22, 2019
    • February 12, 2019
    • April 2, 2019
  • Two Conference Calls
  • Winter Community Event (at Brown University)
  • Spring Community Retreat (Saturday evening, Sunday, February 23-24, 2019, at the Walker Center for Ecumenical Exchange)
  • 2 Blog Posts or 1 Podcast (with a partner)


Content Areas:

  • Interreligious Literacy (with a focus on leadership models and challenges)
  • Intersectional Identity Formation
  • Facilitation of Courageous Conversations
  • Coalition Building
  • Program Design & Implementation
  • Public Voice: Speaking & Writing on Religion


Learning Modalities:

  • Professional Presentations
  • Scenarios & Case Studies
  • Peer Presentations (texts, objects, memories)
  • Group Discussion
  • Reflective Exercises
  • Committee Work (for winter and spring programs)



This fellowship program is open to outstanding undergraduate leaders from the participating schools with a passion for interreligious and cross-cultural engagement. Religious and spiritual life professionals from the participating schools will nominate 2-3 students. Each student must fill out a brief application form. The Miller Center staff will make final selections of all fellows. Cohorts range in size from 14-16 fellows.


Participant Expectations: 

Each participant will actively engage in all of the activities listed above. There will be brief readings to be completed in advance of each in-person meeting. In addition, each participant will also be expected to write two blog posts (750 words, fall and spring) or a podcast (5-15 minutes) on a topic relevant to the fellowship experience as well as contribute to the planning & implementation of the fall and spring student events.  


Fellowship Stipends: 

Each participant will receive a $250 stipend upon completion of the program, submission of blog posts, and a brief exit interview and written evaluation with the fellowship coordinator.


Fellowship Steering Committee:

  • Imam Khalil Abdur-Rashid, Muslim Chaplain, Harvard University
  • Rev. Kirstin Boswell-Ford, Chaplain to the Institute & Director, Office of Religious Life, MIT
  • Ms. Jessica Chicka, University Chaplain for International Students, Boston University
  • Dr. Celene Ibrahim, Muslim Chaplain, Tufts University
  • Mr. Alexander Levering Kern, Executive Director, Center for Spirituality, Dialogue, and Service, Northeastern University
  • Rev. Gregory W. McGonigle, University Chaplain, Tufts University
  • Rev. Janet Cooper Nelson, Chaplain of the University, Brown University
  • Rev. Dr. Robin Olson, Director, Spiritual Life, Bentley University
  • Rabbi Or Rose, Director, Miller Center for Interreligious Learning & Leadership, Hebrew College
  • Rev. Dr. Tiffany Steinwert, Dean of Religious and Spiritual Life, Wellesley College
  • Rev. Dr. Charlene Zuill, Spiritual Life Coordinator, Boston University School of Theology


Program Staff: 

  • Mr. Tom Reid, BILI Coordinator & Community Engagement Associate, Miller Center, Hebrew College
  • Rabbi Or Rose, Director, Miller Center, Hebrew College
  • Rev. Soren M. Hessler, Associate Director, Miller Center, Hebrew College
  • Ms. Jessica Chicka, University Chaplain for International Students, Boston University
  • Ms. Phoebe Oler, BILI Almuni/ae Liaison
  • Ms. Marilyn Stern, Administrator, Miller Center, Hebrew College


How to apply: 

The 2018-2019 application is now available via:

Application deadline: 12:00 PM (noon) on Wednesday, September 5, 2018.

2018-2019 fellows will be selected by Friday, September 7, 2018.

For further information:

Mr. Tom Reid, BILI Coordinator & Community Engagement Associate, Miller Center, Hebrew College:


Rabbi Or Rose

Rev. Soren Hessler
Associate Director