The keynote speaker for the 2022 Leadership Academy was Rev. Sandhya Jha (she/they):
Raised in an interracial and multi-faith family and witness to the sometimes subtle (and sometimes obvious) ways that racism and xenophobia show up in our society, it is not surprising that Sandhya’s career has been marked by work to affect public policy change (having worked in the office of Congressman Thomas C. Sawyer from Akron, Ohio), religious liberty and an alternative voice to the religious right (at The Interfaith Alliance) and around the issues of housing for all (at East Bay Housing Organizations) as well as her work to build what Dr. Martin Luther King called Beloved Community (most recently, at the Oakland Peace Center).
Sandhya provides anti-oppression, cultural humility, and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion consulting and coaching for companies, higher education institutions, non-profits, and faith organizations. For many years they have been an instructor with the Emerging Leaders Program at the Leadership Institute at Allen Temple. Sandhya is also an anti-oppression trainer with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
A passionate reader and writer, Sandhya is the author of Room at the Table, the history of people of color in the Disciples of Christ, and Pre-Post-Racial America: Spiritual Stories from the Front Lines on the subject of race and spirituality in America. Pre-Post-Racial America was listed as one of the top five books on race and religion in 2015 by Publishers Weekly. Sandhya’s book Transforming Communities: How People Like You are Healing Their Neighborhoods focuses on concrete ways that regular people are creating change community-by-community in an era where positive change can feel impossible. Sandhya’s 2020 book, Liberating Love, is a 365-day devotional of love notes from God, connecting us to the people who inhabit the 66 books of the Bible and connecting us to God and each other at a time it is so easy to feel isolated. They are currently working on a book about connecting with ancestors as a tool for dismantling white supremacy, coming out in the fall of 2022.
Ordained at National City Christian Church in 2005 as a Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) minister, Sandhya is proud to have received both a Master of Divinity and Master of Public Policy from the University of Chicago, where their joint thesis was on the subject of “Public Goods, Public Bads, the Common Good and the Common Burden: Environmental Racism as a case study on the intersection of Public Policy and Theological Ethics.” Sandhya gets far more excited about urban policy than a normal person should and loves to sing folk, jazz, and gospel even though she was trained in classical music.