Former Indian-American Obama official appointed to global interfaith organization

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Preeta Bansal. Photo: LinkedIn

Preeta D. Bansal, who has served in top positions including as Solicitor General of New York and advisor to President Obama, has been appointed to the top echelons of the United Religions Initiative, an organization that describes itself as the “largest grassroots interfaith peacebuilding organization in the world.”

This Oct. 14, URI’s President and Founding Trustee, Rev. William E. Swing, former Episcopal Bishop of California, today announced the Bansal’s appointment to URI’s President’s Council.

Founded in 2000, URI says it has more than one million volunteers in 108 countries.

“We are deeply honored to have someone with the stature and experience in both the private and public sectors to join with us as member of URI’s President’s Council to assist in providing guidance and perspective as we address the challenges of the world today,”Swing is quoted saying in a press release.

“I am thrilled to serve URI through its President’s Council and to assist in carrying out URI’s purpose – to promote enduring, daily interfaith understanding and cooperation, to end religiously motivated violence and to create cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings,” Bansal said.

An attorney, Bansal has occupied top positions in both the public and private sectors over the last 30 years.

She was General Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor in the federal Office of Management & Budget in the Executive Office of President Obama; She was Solicitor General of the State of New York.

In the private sector, she was a partner and practice chair at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom LLP in New York City, and a global general counsel in London for one of the world’s largest banks.

She served as a Commissioner and Chair of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, a bipartisan federal human rights agency. In that capacity, she advised on the drafting of the Afghan and Iraqi constitutions, and worked as a U.S. diplomat with faith leaders, civil society groups, and government officials in a range of countries including Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iraq, Afghanistan, China, Hong Kong, Bangladesh, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka.

From 2015-2016, she was on the President’s Advisory Committee on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, as a member and chair, focusing on poverty and inequality in America.

She is an honorary board member of the Interfaith Center of New York City, and an advisory board member of the Pluralism Project at Harvard University.

She is a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute, a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and an independent corporate director of Nelnet, Inc. (NYSE: NNI), among many other board and advisory roles. Bansal graduated from Harvard-Radcliffe College and Harvard Law School, and was a law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. She received the National Organization of Women’s “Woman of Power and Influence Award” in 2006 and was named one of the “50 Most Influential Minority Lawyers in America” by the National Law Journal in 2008. She recently has been a lecturer at MIT and senior advisor at the Laboratory for Social Machines based at the MIT Media Lab.

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