In January 2011, the Commission on Accountability and Policy for Religious Organizations ("the Commission") was established.
The purpose of the Commission is to facilitate responses to Senator Charles Grassley, member of the Senate Finance Committee, on issues related to accountability and policy for religious organizations.
Three panels were named to work with the Commission and provide input and proposals on the issues.
The Panel of Religious Sector Representatives is composed of leaders from a variety of faiths, including, but not limited to Protestant Christianity, Roman Catholicism, Islam, and Judaism. Special emphasis was placed on engaging those who represent large segments of their respective faith groups.
Mr. Ed Anderson, CPA, is senior vice president and CFO of Compassion International, Inc., Colorado Springs. Compassion International is one of the world’s largest Christian child development organizations, serving more than 1.2 million children in 26 of the world’s poorest countries. Leading the finance function of Compassion International for over 30 years, Mr. Anderson has launched successful non-governmental organizations in seven international locations. He has also served as a member of the ECFA Standards Committee.
Mr. Boyd Black has served as associate general counsel with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City. He is a frequent lecturer on legal topics and has authored numerous articles on nonprofit issues. He is a member of the Committee on Exempt Organizations, Section of Taxation; co-chairman of the Subcommittee on Religious Organizations of the American Bar Association.
Mr. Mike Buster earned his bachelor’s degree from Ouachita Baptist University and his master’s degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. For the past 23 years he has been on staff at Prestonwood Baptist Church and serves as the executive pastor. He has served as adjunct professor at three Southern Baptist theological seminaries. Mr. Buster also serves on the board of trustees for GuideStone Funds, Ouachita Baptist University, Amazon Outreach, and Bridge Builders Ministry.
Dr. Paul Cedar serves as the chairman/CEO of the Mission America Coalition/The US Lausanne Committee that includes over 500 national ministry leaders. Dr. Cedar has served as the president of the Evangelical Free Church of America for six years. He has served as chairman of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization and is a member of the National Prayer Committee and the board of the U.S. Center for World Missions and on the advisory boards of a number of strategic ministries. Dr. Cedar is the author of eight books. He has served as pastor in several churches, adjunct professor or visiting professor at five theological seminaries in the U.S. and has lectured at a number of colleges and theological seminaries in other parts of the world.
Mr. Danny de Armas is the senior associate pastor at First Baptist Church Orlando, where he leads the staff and oversees the program and business functions of the church. He earned his bachelor’s degree in education at the University of Central Florida and his master of divinity degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
Mr. Nathan J. Diament is the director of public policy for the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America in Washington, DC. He is an honors graduate of Yeshiva University and the Harvard Law School. Mr. Diament has worked closely with members of both political parties to craft legislation addressing religious liberty issues, education reform, tax and fiscal issues and more. In 2009, he was appointed by President Obama to serve as one of 25 members of the President’s Faith Advisory Council.
Bishop Henry Fernandez is an author, entrepreneur, and the senior pastor of The Faith Center in Fort Lauderdale, with more than 10,000 members. He is the Founder/Chancellor of the University of Fort Lauderdale. He is a visionary who developed his business and financial acumen in the corporate arena and is now committed to helping people reach their full potential.
Mr. J. Daniel Gary is administrative counsel for the General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA) of The United Methodist Church in Nashville. As part of his work for GCFA, he provides guidance on a wide variety of legal issues affecting churches, including charitable giving, legislative and political campaign activities, and clergy compensation. Mr. Gary received his Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Illinois and his J.D. from the Washington and Lee University School of Law.
Mr. Jon A. Laria, CPA, is CFO of OneHope, in Pompano Beach, Florida. As the CFO of international religious organizations for the past 15 years, he has developed policies and procedures that ensure compliance on clergy housing allowance, political activism, executive compensation, and ministerial tax status. At conferences, Mr. Laria has equipped thousands of church leaders in accounting, budgeting and compliance matters. He also has extensive experience auditing publically-held companies and restoring and/or maintaining compliance with SEC reporting requirements. He has served on the boards of various public and nonprofit organizations and authored the book “Win Your War Against Debt”.
Sr. Georgette Lehmuth, OSF (Franciscan Sister of Our Lady of Perpetual Help), has served as president and CEO of the National Catholic Development Conference (NCDC) in Hempstead, New York for eleven years. NCDC is an association of about 400 religious charitable institutions, promoting ethical, accountable professional fundraising in the context of ministry. She worked collaboratively regarding regulatory and tax issues, as well as with the U.S. Postal Service. She has spoken at various conferences both in the United States and abroad regarding ethical, accountable fundraising. For the seventh time, she has received recognition by the Nonprofit Times as one of the Top 50 Persons of Power and Influence in the nonprofit community.
Mr. Robert Lipps is an attorney and CPA with over 25 years of experience working with many of the nation’s largest religious organizations as board member, general counsel, CFO and insurance broker, advising on complex legal, financial, tax, and risk management matters.
Dr. Ingrid Mattson is a Muslim religious leader and Islamic Studies scholar who was for many years professor at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut and director of their center for Christian-Muslim relations. Her research focuses on Islamic ethics and law in society. Dr. Mattson earned her Ph.D. in Islamic studies from the University of Chicago in 1999. Among her publications is The Story of the Qur’an ,which was selected in 2012 by the NEH for its "Bridging Cultures" program. From 2006 to 2010 she served as president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA); she previously served two terms as vice president, and she is the first woman to serve in either position.
Mr. Simeon May has been the chief executive officer for the National Association of Church Business Administration since 1998. He is an ordained minister, a CPA, a Certified Church Administrator, and a Certified Association Executive. Mr. May has been a member of the First Baptist Church of Richardson, TX, since 1976, and served the church as its minister of business administration for almost 15 years.
Dr. Uma Mysorekar, is President of the Hindu Temple Society of North America. She has initiated numerous programs to bring the community together including spiritual and cultural activities. She has also initiated interfaith meetings to bring about awareness of Hinduism and spoke at numerous functions to educate people on Hinduism. She is charged with responsibility for daily affairs, temple expansion, communication and the implementation of programs that address the psychological and emotional issues facing children growing up within two diverse cultures.
Mr. Paul D. Nelson served as ECFA’s president from 1994 to 2006, and was honored with the designation of President Emeritus. He was named “Nonprofit Executive of the Year” in 1996 by The Nonprofit Times for ECFA’s leadership in bringing about a successful settlement to the Foundation for New Era Philanthropy scandal. In 2005, he was recognized as one of the Times “Top 50 Power and Influence” honorees. From 2004 to 2007, he served as a member of the Panel on the Nonprofit Sector, convened by Independent Sector. Mr. Nelson currently serves on the board of World Vision U.S.
Mr. Anthony R. Picarello, Jr. is associate general secretary and general counsel for the USCCB in Washington, DC. As Associate General Secretary, Mr. Picarello oversees the policy and advocacy work of the USCCB, and as General Counsel, he leads the office that serves as in-house counsel to the USCCB and administers the National Diocesan Attorneys Association. Mr. Picarello is a member of the bars of Virginia and the District of Columbia and is admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court and most federal courts of appeals. He has argued religious freedom cases before federal district and appellate courts.
Mr. Peter Rathbun is the general counsel of American Bible Society in New York City. A graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, Mr. Rathbun has counseled nonprofit religious organizations for over 20 years, first in private practice and now in-house. Prior to law school, he spent 15 years in corporate information technology management in California.
Rabbi David Saperstein has served as director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism for more than three decades. Rabbi Saperstein has headed several national religious coalitions and serves on the boards of numerous national organizations, including the NAACP, People For the American Way, National Religious Partnership on the Environment, and the World Bank’s World Faith Development Dialogue. In 1999, he was elected as the first chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, and in 2009 he was appointed by President Obama as a member of the first White House Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Also an attorney, Rabbi Saperstein teaches seminars in both First Amendment Church-State Law and in Jewish Law at Georgetown University Law School.
Rabbi Julie Schonfeld started her career as a congregational rabbi on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. She began working for the Rabbinical Assembly in New York City, spearheading projects on rabbinic development and women in the rabbinate, before becoming the executive vice-president of the Rabbinical Assembly (RA), the international association of Conservative/Masorti rabbis, in 2009. The Rabbinical Assembly offers rabbinic support, programming, mentorship, and works on major projects including liturgical publications, public policy, social justice, and professional development. Most recently, she was named one of the Forward 50; Newsweek named her one of the 50 most influential rabbis in 2011; and she was appointed to President Obama’s Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
Ms. Sherre Stephens is the director of executive services at GuideStone Financial Resources in Dallas, TX. Ms. Stephens focuses primarily on retirement and compensation strategies for executives and key leadership of organizations and large churches. She works extensively with church plans, executive deferred compensation arrangements and ministers’ tax issues. She often speaks to employee benefit professionals on these topics and writes for a number of publications.
Dr. Siva Subramanian is the co-founder of Sri Siva Vishnu Temple, the Association of Hindu Jain Temples of Metropolitan Washington DC, and the Council on Hindu Temples of USA, as well as serving as Vice President of Interfaith Organization. He is also a board member of Hindu American Seva Charities and a founding board member of Hindu American Community Services Inc. Dr. Subramanian is also a professor of Pediatrics and Obstetrics and Gynecology, and is the Chief of Neonatology at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital (MGUH), Washington, DC. He is published extensively, has taught Religious Traditions in Health Care, and served on the Dean’s Council on Bioethics and as senior ethicist at MGUH. Dr. Subramanian is a faculty associate at Kennedy Institute of Ethics and past chairman of the Hospital Ethics Committee and Pediatric Ethics Committee.
Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed is the national director for Interfaith and Community Alliances at the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), Washington, DC, the oldest and the largest American Islamic organization. Previously, he served for 12 years as secretary general (CEO) of ISNA, a national umbrella of some 300 Islamic organizations. In that capacity, in the wake of 9/11, Dr. Syeed worked closely with the U.S. Treasury Department to promote best practices and transparency in the Muslim organizations in the U.S.
Mr. Thomas E. Wetmore has been associate general counsel for the world headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Silver Spring, MD, since 1984. He received a J.D. from George Washington University in 1984. Licensed to practice in Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Florida, he has been an active member since 1989 of the ABA Tax Section, Exempt Organizations Committee and is currently co-chair of the Religious Organizations Subcommittee. His practice areas are tax, employee benefits, contracts, corporate, and general nonprofit law.
Mr. Jerry Luren White is the chief financial officer for Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Nashville. Mt. Zion has more than 25,000 members, with Bishop Joseph W. Walker, III, as senior pastor. Mr. White has a degree in accounting from Southern University and an MBA from Texas A&M University. He is a Certified Public Accountant and a Certified Internal Auditor with over 35 years of accounting and finance experience, including an international assignment in Frankfurt, Germany.
Mr. Steven Woolf serves as senior tax policy counsel in the Washington, DC office of the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA). In his position, Mr. Woolf fulfills the role of chief advocate and lobbyist on legislative proposals, administrative regulations, and public policy issues before Congress and the Executive Branch regarding nonprofit tax issues. He works closely with endowment and planned giving colleagues at JFNA and in the over 150 Jewish Federations throughout North America. Mr. Woolf spent most of his career working in the National Tax Office of the Big Four accounting firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers and its predecessor, Coopers & Lybrand. He represented clients on tax, legislative, and regulatory issues before Congress and the Treasury Department, and obtained numerous tax rulings from the Internal Revenue Service. He received his J.D. from American University.