A New Phase


My first experience with Paths to Understanding was in November of 2017. I was invited to a board meeting. Our co-founder, Father Treacy, was present and the group was trying hard to keep the organization together after the sale of their retreat center, Camp Brotherhood, the year before. They were working through understandable grief and grasping for a vision.

At the time, I was running Neighbors in Faith to counter the anti-Muslim bigotry we were hearing from hate groups and some politicians. Working for the Treacy Levine Center seemed like a good fit for me. An organization that had begun countering dehumanization in the 1960’s shared a lot of the values that were driving my personal mission in life.

When I was hired as the half time Executive Director, there was much to put in order. We were missing passwords for our online accounts. We were not clear about who was to pay the bills. But every week, we made progress. Our board meetings were focused on finding our mission in this new phase. We experimented. We evaluated. We spent a lot of time listening. We decided that, instead of people coming to us at a retreat center, we would go to them. Our mission was distilled into “Bridging Bias and Building Unity through Multifaith Peacemaking”.

Then, in 2020, we merged Neighbors in Faith with the Treacy Levine Center to become Paths to Understanding. We liked “paths” because nearly every tradition uses the image of a path to describe its teachings and how humans can live them out. We liked “understanding” because it means many things:

  • Comprehension
  • Compassion
  • Agreement to work for the common good.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit just one month later that didn’t exactly help with our rebranding process. But we adapted. During the pandemic, we created our distance learning platform, The Paths Network, did Zoom classes, and got our podcasts and YouTube channels going. We also spent a lot of time building relationships and listening to people of many wisdom traditions. We continued to develop our board, our budgets, policies, mission and vision statements. We hired some great staff to lead us in fundraising, operations, and administration.

Looking back, I can’t believe we are here. We have come a long way in the last six years. I feel like we are in a new place as an organization and as a board, and yet with the same deep commitment to unity and respect in the human family.

I feel blessed to be in this role as Executive Director. I feel blessed to get to work with talented people who share the curiosity, courage, and compassion of our founders. I feel blessed to be in this work with all of you.

It’s a new day. Yet there is much work that needs doing. Let’s do it together.

Posted in