We welcomed Heidi Combs-Janda as our Deputy Director of Development in August, and are excited to have her on board! Heidi studied political science and accounting at South Dakota State University, receiving her B.A. in 2003 before going on to receive a Masters in Public Administration from the University of South Dakota in 2005. One of her research projects for graduate school looked at the challenges of ensuring fairness, accountability, accessibility, effectiveness and responsiveness in government-funded faith-based organizations in South Dakota – so she has a background in one of Interfaith Alliance’s most pressing issues!
After graduation, Heidi joined the development team at NARAL Pro-Choice America here in Washington, D.C. During her five years with NARAL, she built up a solid development background before bringing her broad expertise over to Interfaith Alliance. Heidi has also assisted with fundraising for the American Cancer Society, DC Loaves & Fishes and several political campaigns. She didn’t waste any time diving into her work at Interfaith Alliance: her first day on the job, she began coordinating the 13th Annual Walter Cronkite Faith & Freedom Award Gala, held in New York City in October.
Ray Kirstein, State of Belief’s new Producer, is a veteran radio broadcaster who quite literally was born into the medium: at age 6, he debuted in the role of the Easter Bunny on a community radio program produced by his parents in Rochester, NY (that was in the Lithuanian language; English came somewhat later). He parlayed this into a career that has included on-air work in five states, several Program Director positions and four years as a Producer at Sirius Satellite Radio. As Creative Services Director at Air America Radio, Ray was able to participate in the early days of State of Belief by providing the voice of the game show host for the feature "Meet the Faith."
Ray is passionate about the power of radio as a community-building and mission-enhancing medium, and is excited about the growing potential of the internet to expand this power. Preserving both the freedom and the independence of religion and politics, one from the other, is a driving force for him – as the son of Lithuanian refugees, he was raised with a deep understanding of what happens when a nation loses both.
Ray is an active member of the Metropolitan Community Church, and splits his time between Washington, DC and New York City, where he can be heard weekends on CBS Radio's WWFS 102.7 FM.