United Religions Initiative and its president and founding trustee The Rt. Rev. William E. Swing, former Episcopal Bishop of California, Oct. 14 announced the appointment of Preeta Bansal to the URI’s President’s Council.
“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 in a statement.
Founded in 2000, URI is the largest grassroots interfaith peacebuilding organization in the world with more than 1 million volunteers in 108 countries, a news release says.
URI’s President’s Council is comprised of a group of influential, major URI supporters who have relevant organizational wisdom, and who are partners with URI’s Global Council (URI’s governing Board of Trustees) and its executive director in providing guidance and leadership to URI, it said.
“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 said in a statement.
Bansal is an American lawyer who has spent more than 30 years in senior roles in government, global business and corporate law practice.
In the public sector, she has served as general counsel and senior policy adviser in the Federal Office of Management & Budget in the White House and as 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.
While practicing law at Skadden, Bansal served as a commissioner and chair of the U.S. 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 served by appointment of the president of the United States as a member and committee chair of President’s Advisory Committee on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, focusing on poverty and inequality in America.
Bansal 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., 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 adviser at the Laboratory for Social Machines based at the MIT Media Lab.