OneLife Institute is blessed by the servant-leadership of some amazing individuals. Their profiles, below, offer only a hint of the gifts of heart and experience they bring to all that they do...
Liza J. Rankow(Board Chair; Co-Spiritual Director) is an interfaith minister and the founding director of OneLife Institute. She holds a B.A. in Human Development from Hampshire College, Bachelors and Masters degrees in Health Sciences from Duke University School of Medicine, and a Ph.D. in Religion and Social Transformation from Union Institute & University.
Rankow practiced as a PA in pediatric hematology-oncology at Duke Hospital before receiving grants from the National Institutes of Health and the American Cancer Society to address health care access issues for marginalized populations of NC women. She worked as a trainer and consultant for medical professionals, Dept. of Health and Human Services (DHHS) agencies, and community based organizations in the provision of culturally competent care to diverse populations, and developed extensive resources for community and professional education.
Liza has provided spiritual counseling and offered classes and workshops in spiritual development for over 20 years. She is a popular speaker and teacher known for bringing compassion, creativity, and insight to the process of individual and cultural healing and transformation. As a scholar and activist, her main interest is exploring the powerful synergy between mysticism and social change. She maintains a special emphasis in the life and work of Dr. Howard Thurman, teaching a variety of classes on Thurman in both academic and community settings. Liza is producer and co-editor of the six-CD audio collection, "The Living Wisdom of Howard Thurman" (Sounds True, 2010). Currently she is working on a book examining the theological and paradigmatic context of "mystic-activism" from an interfaith perspective, and offering practical applications of this wisdom for the critical issues of the present day.
Jakada Imani (Board Member; Interim Treasurer) is the Director of the new Center for Spiritual and Social Transformation at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA. He is also a seminarian there, researching and writing about how to deepen the impact of spirituality on social change.
Previously, Imani served as Executive Director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. He joined the Ella Baker Center in 1999 and became Executive Director in 2007. After taking over from the organization’s founder, Van Jones, Imani led the Center's campaign to pass federal legislation (the Green Jobs Act), and led four successful state-wide ballot measure campaigns (No on Prop 6 in 2008, No on Prop 23 in 2010 and Yes on Props 30 and 39 in 2012), and launched the Center's newest effort -- a goal to reduce the US incarceration rate by 50% in ten-years. Before becoming Executive Director, Imani was a lead strategist and chief team member on some of Ella Baker Center’s most high profile campaigns.
Jakada also Serves on the Board of Oakland Rising Action and attends the Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples.
Born and raised in Oakland, California, Jakada is father to four powerful and creative young girls. You can read his articles on Ella’s Voice as well as on the Huffington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @jakada_imani.
Kamal Hassan(Board Member; Co-Spiritual Director) is a spiritual leader, educator, and community servant. He currently serves as Pastor/Teaching Elder at the Sojourner Truth Presbyterian Church in Richmond California, a position he has held since 2008. Before this call Reverend Hassan spent more than three decades as both a public and private school educator, community organizer and religious worker. He holds an AA degree in Radio Broadcasting from Los Angeles City College, a BA in History from California State University Los Angeles, and a Master of Divinity degree from the San Francisco Theological Seminary.
Kamal is a founding member of both the New Afrikan People’s Organization and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. He has worked for social justice and Human Rights locally, nationally, and internationally. He was also a volunteer programmer of a regular liberation focused program on radio station KPFK the Pacifica affiliate in Los Angeles for 10 years.
He firmly believes that, "Spiritual Communities must be critically engaged in the effort to mend the tear in our social fabric that has allowed so many of us to focus on our individual needs and ignore the sufferings of others. To be true to our prophetic calling, we must act locally for justice, freedom, and peace while considering the global implications of our commitments. At the same time we must each pursue our inner and outer journeys of faith."
Rev. Hassan considers it a great honor have been invited to serve on the Board of OneLife Institute.
Kazu Haga(Board Secretary) is a Level II certified trainer in Kingian Nonviolence and is the founding director of East Point Peace Academy. He also sits on the board of PeaceWorkers and Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice (CURYJ), of which he is a co-founder.
Haga was introduced to the theory of Kingian Nonviolence in 2008, and has been an active trainer since the summer of 2009. He has conducted trainings and workshops throughout the country in high schools, detention schools, county jails, community organizations, and for many other diverse communities including in the Occupy movement. He has been active in various movements and campaigns for social chance since he was 17 years old, when he embarked on an 18-month journey with Nipponzan Myohoji, studying nonviolence and social change throughout the United States and South Asia.
Kazu began his work at the Peace Development Fund in 2002, eventually becoming Program Director. In his 10+ years working in progressive philanthropy, he managed the Peace Development Fund’s grant-making portfolio, as well as coordinating two capacity-building initiatives working with formerly incarcerated communities and communities impacted by the nuclear cycle. He also served on the founding Steering Committee of the Bay Area Justice Funders Network.
He has had roles with many other organizations, including having served as the Bay Area Coordinator of the Positive Peace Warrior Network, National Convention Coordinator and later Executive Committee member of Harry Belafonte’s The Gathering for Justice, Program Committee Clerk of the Western Massachusetts AFSC, a co-founder of the Western MA Nonviolence Trainers Network, development committee member of the Intertribal Friendship House, and coordinator for the Prison Book Project.
Ali'a Brooke Edwards(Board Member) is a minister-in-community. She began her ministry in Southern California as a singer, raised by a prolific and anointed Minister of Music, her mom. As a teenager she began doing evangelistic outreach and attending intercessory prayer meetings, and eventually attended Oral Roberts University with a focus on Evangelism and Missions. Ali'a completed her ministerial studies at One Spirit Interfaith Seminary in 2012, and is now an ordained interspiritual minister, committed to helping all people cultivate and maintain an open heart.
Ali'a is a performing arts educator committed to listening and learning from her underappreciated students in Deep East Oakland. She is a curious artist, called to steward the creative and collaborative abilities of her students. In 2005, Ali'a joined the staff of Be Present, Inc., a national leadership development network headquartered in Atlanta with local organizing core groups in the Bay Area, Atlanta and New York. In addition to overseeing operations for the national network, she began facilitating workshops and honed her listening skills in the safe spaces Be Present cultivates. As a student and trainer of the Be Present Empowerment Model (TM), Ali'a has greatly expanded her capacity for leading herself and nonprofit organizations in the realization of a collective vision. In 2012, with lauded veteran OUSD music educator, Helena Moss-Jack, Ali'a co-founded a music and leadership development fellowship program for middle and high school students in Oakland, the Oakland Eastside All Star Ensemble. Ali'a serves as the Managing Director and Youth Leadership Developer, with the goal of handing the reins to the students in the near future. She endeavors to raise students with a meaningful understanding of the responsibility artists have to heal their respective communities. Ali'a engages deeply in her community and enjoys having a seat at the table to leverage access and visibility for the unheard and the unseen among us. She has previously served as the Board Co-Chair for Be Present, Inc and Board President of the Oakland Public Conservatory of Music. She is currently a grant advisor for The Pollination Project and a member of the Black Women Organized for Political Action State Board, where she initiated the Dezie Woods Jones Public Policy Fellowship Program.
Ali'a is a student practitioner of many faith traditions - including A Course in Miracles. She is a member of Heart and Soul Center of Light, City of Refuge, UCC, and Soka Gakkai International, an American Buddhist organization. Her most meaningful role is carrying forward a legacy of faith, creativity, love and traditional Southern hospitality in her family. Ali'a is peacefully entrenched in her family as a granddaughter, daughter, sister, and auntie. She is most proud of the light in the eyes of her child, a strong, sensitive and brilliant young Black man.
Our Wonderful Volunteersare vital members of the OneLife Institute team! You can find photos and profiles of many of our core volunteers in a special album on our Facebook page,linked here.
And to learn more about how YOU can volunteer,click here.