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Center for Spirituality, Dialogue, and Service Executive Staff

Alexander Levering Kern

Executive Director


Thank you for visiting us online! I relish opportunities  to meet with students, connect with colleagues, welcome visitors to our Center, and build community – across campus and around the  globe. Below is a bit about my background and interests. Do email me at to arrange a time to chat. Hope to see you soon!

Alexander Levering Kern is a Quaker, ecumenical and interfaith leader, widely-published poet and writer, educator, and chaplain.  Alex serves as the first Executive Director of the Center for Spirituality, Dialogue and Service (CSDS) at Northeastern University in Boston, leading the school’s campus ministries and developing new models of campus dialogue and global citizenship formation. Northeastern’s pioneering work has been recognized by the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) and White House Interfaith and Community Service Challenge.

Prior to coming to Northeastern, Alex served as Executive Director of Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries (CMM), greater Boston’s oldest interfaith social justice network, and as Protestant chaplain at Brandeis University. Alex co-founded the Interfaith Youth Initiative (IFYI) – a dynamic peacemaking and leadership program for high school, college, and graduate theological students. As an educator, Alex has served as an adjunct faculty member, speaker, panelist, or consultant at institutions including Harvard Divinity School and Pluralism Project, Brandeis University, Pendle Hill Quaker Center, Andover Newton Theological School, Hebrew College, Boston University School of Theology, the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), and Merrimack College’s Center for Jewish-Christian-Muslim Relations.

Editor of the anthology Becoming Fire: Spiritual Writing from Rising Generations, Alex’s poems, essays, and articles appear in Spiritusthe African American ReviewHuffington Post, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Georgetown ReviewCaribbean WriterIbbetson Street, and many other publications.  His writing and organizing work engages issues of contemplative and engaged spirituality, religion and the arts, Quakerism, and the interfaith quest for peace, justice, and ecological sustainability.  His volunteer professional work has been covered by the Washington PostBoston GlobeHarvard Gazette, and other media.

A product of Quaker education at Sidwell Friends School, Pendle Hill, and Guilford College, where he earned his BA in Religious Studies, History, and African-American Studies, Alex also studied at Vassar College and received his MDiv. from Andover Newton Theological School and a graduate certificate in ecumenism from the Boston Theological Institute. He has represented Quakers at gatherings of the World Council of Churches in Geneva, Harare, Zimbabwe and Porto Alegre, Brazil.

Alex has traveled, studied, and worked in post-earthquake Haiti, post-apartheid Southern Africa, Cold War Europe, the Middle East, Hiroshima, Brazil, rural Honduras, and with Northeastern students on interfaith pilgrimage from Selma to St. Louis and Ferguson in the age of #BlackLivesMatter. In 2009, he traveled to Nigeria with a U.S. State Department-supported delegation, training young civil society leaders to address interethnic and interreligious conflict. Born in Washington, DC, he now lives in Somerville, Massachusetts with his wife Rebecca Grunko, and their children, Elias and Ruthanna. His interests include hiking in the outdoors, travel, live music, collecting books, volunteering, and chaperoning field trips with his kids’ classmates and friends!


Karin Firoza

Senior Assistant Director


Karin was born and raised in Queens, New York and is a graduate of Wellesley College, with a double major in religion and economics.

At Wellesley, she was a fellow with the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) and a campus activist, working to bring faith- inspired students together to engage with social justice on campus. She was the president of Al-Muslimat, the Muslim students’ association and she resided on the Multi- Faith Living and Learning Corridor, an intentional residential community.

Following graduation, Karin became a resident organizer with Bend the Arc’s Community Organizing Residency (COR) and spent a year as a union organizer in Baltimore, MD.  COR attracted cohorts of faith inspired community organizers to collaborate on organizing efforts in support of workers, immigrants, underserved communities.

Most recently, Karin was the Community Development Director for four years at Youth LEAD (formerly Interfaith Action), a non-profit organization whose vision is to equip high schoolers with the skills that they need to effectively connect across differences of identity including race, class, and religion.

From 2014-2015, Karin also directed the Interfaith Youth Initiative (IFYI), a signature program of Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries (CMM). CMM seeks to mobilize congregations and communities across economic, religious, racial, and ethnic boundaries to work toward a just and peaceful society and for spiritual growth and interfaith understanding.

Karin is also a co-founder of Roots & Wings, a start-up that trains and consults with client organizations, schools, community groups, and businesses to deeply reflect on the intersection of identity and leadership development. The training touches on skills of communication, facilitation, project management, and cultural competency.

In her off time, Karin loves to spend time in community at Boston’s local mosques and to dive into adventures with her friends and family.

Lara Glass

Assistant Director


A desert child, Lara was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She spent four years exploring the midwest while attending Grinnell College in Iowa for her undergraduate degree, majoring in Religious Studies. Since then Lara has worked with students in a variety of ways; She spent a year as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in rural Nepal, taught preschool in Omaha, Nebraska, and worked as a student mentor and ESL tutor in a high school in Western Chicago as part of an Americorps team before coming to Boston. Lara graduated with a Masters of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School in May 2017. While completing her masters she worked as an interfaith chaplain at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, served as part of Wellesley College’s multi faith team in their Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, and with Harvard freshman in residential life and academic advising. She aims to ground in chaplaincy skills in all the work she does.


Lara is particularly interested in and passionate about deepening our understanding and experiences of healthy relationships (of all kinds!). She believes that by considering the complexity of our individual relationships of human connection and honestly exploring them, we can start to dismantle oppression through radical love. Whether that sounds exciting to you or strange, she loves to discuss with folks, come find her!


In her spare time, she loves to knit, spend time outside (preferably on her bike) and cook (and eat) good food with friends. She is the middle child of two sisters whom she adores.

Leen AlHajjar

Program Development Associate

Leen is a Northeastern graduate (’17) from Saudi Arabia who majored in International Affairs and Economics with a minor in Global Social Entrepreneurship. Leen developed her areas of focus on refugee livelihoods, social innovation, and women empowerment through her coursework and work assignments at a think tank in Istanbul, Turkey and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Amman, Jordan. Leen has been determined to bring the voices of refugees back with her to the U.S. which led her to co-found the Refugee Empowerment and Awareness Campus Task Force (REACT). REACT has worked closely with CSDS since its founding to engage university communities in refugee response and raise awareness about refugee challenges in Boston and abroad.

Sagar Rajpal

Program Associate for Hindu and Interfaith Initiatives

Sagar Rajpal is originally from Mumbai (erstwhile Bombay), India, and graduated from Northeastern University with a Master of Science in Engineering Management and a Graduate Certificate in Supply Chain Management in December 2017. He was engaged with the CSDS community since 2015 and worked in the capacity of the Operations and Program Associate until graduation. Sagar finds solace in Northeastern’s Sacred Space and loves the CSDS community and so, decided to continue as an Associate. He believes that his religious identity lies between Hinduism and Sikhism, and holds the teachings of Jainism very close to his heart. He loves programming for interfaith events and has helped organize and execute some of the biggest CSDS projects including New England Interfaith Summit (NEISS) with Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee, Renew Spirituality and Leadership Retreat, and the World Religions in Greater Boston Alternative Spring Break, among others. In his free time Sagar enjoys reading and cooking. Different illustrations of Hindu epics are his favorite genre in books and robust Indian dishes are his go-to meals. He was sorted into Slytherin by Pottermore and belongs to House Tyrell.

Christina Richardson

Program Associate for Campus Ministries

Christina is a Liberian American from Providence, RI. In 2014, Christina received her B.A. in Psychology and Music from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA. At the college, she spent a lot of her time being involved in the spiritual life office, which fostered her desire to one day become a college or university chaplain like the ones who supported her during her four years. Right after graduation, she worked for two years with various alumni in the Office of Alumni Relations at Holy Cross. Christina is currently a second-year Master of Divinity student at Boston University School of Theology and is interning as CSDS’ Graduate Assistant for the 2017-2018 academic year. She is Pentecostal and works as a co-teacher for the Kids Bible Study at her home church in Providence. She enjoys listening to Christian/Gospel music and the stories of others, singing, dancing, spending time with family and friends, and exploring Boston.