Swami Amritaswarupananda Puri is the Vice-Chairman of the Mata Amritanandamayi Math and President of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham (Amrita University). He is the most senior disciple of renowned humanitarian and spiritual leader Mata Amritanandamayi (Amma). He has been living in Amritapuri Ashram since its inception in the late 1970s. He holds a Masters degree in Philosophy and is a renowned author and translator, having written "The Colour of the Rainbow: Compassionate Leadership" as well as two biographies of Amma. A magnificent singer, he has composed numerous bhajans, and has travelled around the world more than 30 times with Amma.
Mette Bjerkaas (Norway) is the current Head of Education in the United Nations Associations (UNA) of Norway, where she promotes research, information, and education about the goals of the Charter of the United Nations. Having completed her Bachelors degree in journalism, she worked in the field for three years before going on to become a second level teacher. After seven years teaching Norwegian, Religious Studies, Social Studies and Physical Education while she was also a Teacher's Union representative, she undertook a Masters degree in Culture Meet at Volda University College. The focus of her thesis was the treatment of minority students with trauma in the Norwegian school system. At the same time she also volunteered with the Red Cross, where she spent some time working with refugees. In recent years she has written several textbooks and curricular notes in Social Studies.
Emma Kenny (UK) works as a TV psychologist, presenter, writer, and expert commentator in the public media and press. She writes a weekly column entitled 'On the Couch' for the UK magazine Closer. She runs her own blog and YouTube channel, and has recently established a free healthy social network, Sochal, which is marketed as a free pocket-sized personal trainer, well-being coach, health guru and dietitian, for a healthier and happier you! She is a registered psychological expert with a Bachelors in Psychology, and an Advanced Diploma and Masters in Counselling and lectures regularly Psychology PhD candidates at the University of Manchester.
Simon Kuany (South Sudan / India) is a Prevention of Violent Extremism through Education Specialist at UNESCO MGIEP. A global nomad from South Sudan, he completed his high school education in Kenya while a refugee. He went on to earn the Indian Council of Cultural Relations and Symbiosis International University Joint Scholarship, where he finished his MBA, graduating as a gold medalist. He is self-educated in global geopolitics and philosophy, trained in inquiry-orientated education and critical thinking. At UNESCO MGIEP, Kuany is specifically in charge of #YouthWagingPeace, TAGe and overall PVEE coordination. He also works a bit on the flagship Libre Project and youth-led monitoring of the SDGs.
His book, The Enlightened Darkness is an intimate meditation on the causes and consequences of the Sudanese Civil War. He hopes to use the proceeds from the book to support orphans’ education in South Sudan. He loves good books, good coffee, good music, soccer and enriching conversations.
Plant-for-the-Planet is a children’s idea that aims to raise awareness amongst children and adults about the issues of climate change and global justice. The Initiative also works to plant trees and considers this to be both a practical and symbolic action in efforts to reduce the effect of climate change. In 2011, it reached a goal of planting a million trees
Katja Kukolj has a Masters degree in international information management and a background in consulting and entrepreneurship, Katja works globally as a trainer, speaker, manager and consultant promoting sustainability & conscious choices. In recent years she focussed her attention on working with and for Ecovillages and intentional communities. She served as Finance Director for the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) and organised the European Ecovillage Conference in 2018. More information on www.kukolj.eu.
Jelena Sporin was first introduced to Amma when she was 11 years young, in 1998 in Belgium. She works for the Dutch peace organisation PAX.
PAX brings together people who have the courage to stand for peace by working together with people in conflict areas, meet with politicians and coordinate efforts with committed citizens. Jelena manages the Sudan program with a focus on local level peace-building and non-violent action. Originally from Serbia, Jelen moved to the Netherlands in 1995 where she went on to study Cultural Anthropology and Sociology. She graduated in Conflict Studies & Human Right and has working experience in Sudan, South Sudan, Uganda, South Africa and Guatemala. She is very much looking forward to sharing some of her experience and skills on how to mobilize for positive change on a community-level.
Br. Shubamrita is one of Amma's closest disciples and personal translators. Born in South India, he grew up in Mumbai and graduated with a Bachelor's degree in biochemistry. He has lived with Amma as a monastic disciple since 1989, and was ordained as a monk in 1996. Br. Shubamrita regularly tours the world, holding public programmes, retreats and courses based on Amma's teachings and the Integrated Amrita Meditation technique® throughout Europe, India, Middle East, Africa and the Mediterranean region.
Drawing on more than 20 years experience with Amma, he shares his great understanding of the Eastern spiritual traditions in practical and easily accessible terms. In his talks, he shares practical methods for incorporating spiritual principles into daily life for greater peace and contentment as well as success in both personal and professional spheres.
Lynne Franks established London Fashion Week and the British Fashion Awards, establishing the UK as a global fashion leader. She has worked with many of the World's top designer talents, entrepreneurs, global corporations and innovative retailers, forging an impressive reputation as 'The Zeitgeist', according to Vogue. She initiated the creation of Fashion Cares which went on to become the world's biggest fundraiser for HIV/AIDs, and worked alongside Amnesty International to collaborate with Sir Bob Geldof and Harvey Goldsmith to raise global awareness of human rights through music. Throughout her career she served as a major influencer in the global fashion and beauty business. After selling her successful PR agency in the 90's, she has spent her time creating awareness of the need for a safe, sustainable and positive world for all, and dedicated herself to what she views as the essential call for women's empowerment. She founded The SEED (Sustainable Enterprise and Empowerment Dynamics) women's empowerment platform to pioneer a more feminine approach to business, and champion women's leadership all over the world from post-war Bosnia, to rural South African villages, including women of all demographics from prisoners to corporate CEOs.
Bri. Dipamrita Chaitanya met Amma during her travels in India in 1988, and was ordained as a monk in 1997. Upon Amma’s request, she has travelled throughout Europe conducting meditation programs since 1998 and was appointed as the Head of the Amma Center in France by Amma in 2002. She is Amma’s representative in France, where she coordinates regional activities on behalf of Amma throughout Europe.