Personnel

Staff

Ed Martin
Director
(540) 432-4287
Ed most recently served with American Friends Service Committee as the Quaker International Affairs Representative for Iran, building connections between Iranian institutions and the United States, and providing resources for public education and advocacy regarding Iran in United States. Prior to that appointment Ed worked for 18 years with Mennonite Central Committee as director of programs for Central and Southern Asia, as well as the Middle East. Earlier, Ed worked at the International Irrigation Management Institute in Sri Lanka. He has a bachelor’s in engineering from Stanford University, and a master’s of public administration and PhD in agricultural economics from Cornell University.

Trina Nussbaum
Associate Director
(540) 432-4674
Trina has a passion for forming relationships across cultures and religious experiences. She is active in the diverse Harrisonburg community in networking and building bridges where there needs to be compassion for and deeper understanding of the “other.” Professionally she worked as an Eligibility Coordinator at the Harrisonburg/Rockingham Health Department for six years before taking time off to take care of two energetic sons. She’s also worked at EMU’s Summer Peacebuilding Institute which has given her connections and friendships all over the world. She’s traveled extensively across Ireland, Northern Ireland, the Philippines, and Mexico, but calls the beautiful Shenandoah Valley home, along with her husband, Brian. Trina holds a B.A. in Theater and Psychology, with a minor in Justice, Peace and Conflict Studies from Eastern Mennonite University. Trina is currently pursuing a Master’s degree at EMU’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding.

Niles Goldstein
Associate Director of Development for the Center for Interfaith Engagement

Niles is a Reform rabbi and the award-winning author or editor of ten books, including God at the Edge and Gonzo Judaism. He holds a BA in philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania and an MA and rabbinic ordination from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Niles has served on the faculty of New York University, Loyola University, and HUC-JIR, and he has lectured at many universities in North America and abroad. His passion for and experience in interreligious dialogue and engagement is vast and deep, and he recently served as the director of external relations for the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions.

Visiting Scholars and Fellows

Amir Akrami, Visiting Professor Amir Akrami
Visiting Scholar

Amir holds a master’s degree in religions and mysticism from Tehran University in Iran and a PhD in the philosophy of religion from McGill University in Montreal. He finished his doctoral thesis at the Iranian Institute of Philosophy. Amir also was a visiting scholar at the University of Birmingham in England and taught at the Al-Mahdi Institute in Birmingham.

Bob Bersson, Adjunct Visiting Scholar Bob Bersson
Adjunct Visiting Scholar

Bob is Professor Emeritus of Art and Art History from James Madison University where he taught modern and contemporary art history, aesthetics, art criticism, and art appreciation between 1980 and 2004. During this period, he wrote two art appreciation/art history textbooks, Worlds of Art (Mayfield 1991) and Responding to Art (McGraw-Hill 2004). More recently, Bob has been involved with interfaith/intercultural work as a founder of the local Interfaith Initiative for Peace and Justice and creator/teacher of “The Israeli/Palestinian in Film” class at both JMU and EMU. From a liberal Jewish, New York City background, he is married to Dolores Shoup, an EMC graduate, and spent fourteen months in Egypt between 2006 and 2009 where he became more familiar with Muslim and Eastern Christian cultures. Bob has visited Israel, where he has family and friends, three times, his longest stay being for six-months on a kibbutz ulpan (work-study) program shortly after undergraduate school at Brandeis University.

John Fairfield, Research Fellow John Fairfield
Research Fellow

John has lived in several countries including Germany, France, the Congo, and Nepal. His interest is in language, and in how different “languages”—of faith, of theory, of culture—frame our perceptions of each other. His current work is in describing how our need for each other, as persons having different faith languages, is at the very heart of the gospel. He has recently published The Healer Messiah: turning enemies into trustworthy opponents. He is Professor Emeritus of Computer Science from James Madison University. He was cofounder of Rosetta Stone, and V.P. of Research and Development there from 1992 to his retirement in 2006. His undergraduate work was at EMU, and his Ph.D is in Computer Science from Duke University.