Seven Pillars > Leadership



Pir Zia Inayat-Khan, Seven Pillars' President, is the spiritual leader of the Sufi Order International, a mystical and ecumenical fellowship rooted in the visionary legacy of his grandfather, Hazrat Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan. Pir Zia is also the President of the Suluk Academy and founder of Seven Pillars House of Wisdom. Pir Zia holds a Doctoral degree in Religion from Duke University and is a recipient of the U Thant Peace Award

Deborah Rabia Povich, Seven Pillars' Board Chair, is a seasoned public policy and nonprofit professional, with broad experience in social justice, poverty alleviation, organizational development, communications, and resource development. Currently she co-manages a national initiative designed to strengthen state policies that support the economic advancement of low-income working families. For five years she served on the Sufi Order Board of Trustees, three as facilitator overseeing critical years aligning the Sufi Order organization with Pir Zia Inayat-Khan's vision.  She has been a student of Sufism for over 30 years.  Deborah lives in the mountains of Virginia and holds a Masters Degree in Public Policy from the University of Maryland.

Deepa Patel is an engaging and experienced fundraiser, events manager and promoter, and cultural producer of media including an award-winning magazine for young people, and various music, photography and digital efforts. She has a depth of experience in facilitating programs around equal opportunities and diversity issues, and is an advocate for youth, the oppressed, and all those struggling to have a voice. Deepa lives in London.

Terry Fazl Peay is President of Augustine Homes of Maryland, LLC, a custom homebuilder in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, and President of Bannockburn Development Services, Inc., a private investment company. He has served on the Board of Advisors/ Directors for the Joseph Campbell Foundation, the British American Repertory Theater of Santa Fe, and the Mendocino Woodlands Association, as well as the President of Action 29 Corporation, which coordinated the public/private funding of the $ 100 million New York Avenue metro station. He is presently on the Board of Directors of the Sufi Order International, and has been a student of Sufism for close to forty years.

Jacob Ellenberg comes from an eclectic background that includes massage therapy, high-tech start-up companies, scholarly research and writing, and most recently organizational consulting. He has served on the Sufi Order Board of Trustees and as Chairman of the Suluk Academy Committee, the group that founded the Academy in 2002. Jacob holds a B.A. in Organizational Behavior and Mysticism from New York University.

Felix Idris Baritsch is a musician, healer, and translator, with a background in international law, medicine and Tibetan philosophy. Idris teaches courses in initiatic medicine, meditation, chivalry, applied mysticism, and transreligious spirituality, and has served as a translator for the Dalai Lama and Pir Zia Inayat Khan inter alia. He studied Sufism closely with Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan for over 20 years and completed the Buddhist Geshe studies in 2002. Idris has lived, worked and traveled around the world, residing currently in Hamburg, Germany.

Harriett Crosby is a long-time activist, environmentalist, and student of spiritual traditions. She is founder of the Institute for Soviet Relations as well as founder of a wildlife rescue center in Coca, Ecuador. Harriett now has her farm, Fox Haven, where she practices sustainable, regenerative agriculture and responsible land stewardship. Harriett is a Jungian analyst, having studied at the C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich, she has met twice with the Dalai Lama, studied with a Lakota medicine man, and is a student of Sufism. Harriett is also a member of the Institute of Noetic Sciences Board of Directors. She lives in Washington, D.C.

Darakshan Farber serves as a “connecter” immersed in the arts, community organization, world travel, and emerging spirituality. He was a software architect for thirty years, eventually developing unique technologies for the Internet. He now directs several small businesses – Zhena's Gypsy Tea, Body Hoops, Glen Muse – and is a student within Suluk Academy.

Halima Thea Levkovitz is an environmental policy analyst, with extensive experience in nonprofit outreach, media, communication, and organizational development. She was the convener for the interfaith Partnership for Religion and the Environment for more than ten years, instituting public policy strategy and values-driven advocacy. Halima has a M.A. in Biology from Humboldt State University and served on the Board of Directors for the National Wildlife Federation. She is founding member of the Northwest Women’s’ Environmental Network and co-founder of Environmental Leaders Retreats. Halima lives in Seattle, Washington.

Dena Merriam is the founder and convener of the Global Peace Initiative of Women. Dena has worked to engage women in peace-building activities in conflict and post-conflict regions around the world. She has also organized major international interfaith events and has built a network of renowned women spiritual leaders. Dena is a Partner and Vice Chair of the Ruder Finn Group, a global communications company. She holds a master’s degree from Columbia University and has served on the advisory boards of the Harvard University Center for the Study of World Religions, the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy, and the Manitou Foundation.


Jennifer Alia Wittman, Seven Pillars’ Director, has a background in public service and volunteerism, founding, directing, and supporting governmental, nonprofit and small business entities. Jennifer founded and directed the Maryland Youth Service Action Committee, led the nonprofit Hands on Baltimore, and served for four years as the General Manager of the independent publishing house and bookseller, Omega Publications. Jennifer now lives in New Lebanon, New York.

© Copyright 2008 Seven Pillars. All rights reserved.