As a student at Creighton University, Beth Katz became passionate about learning, social justice and being an agent of change. She started an interfaith student group that included representatives of six world religions as well as a Jewish student group. She put together interfaith programs for campus groups. A student government leader and education major, she worked with the College of Arts and Sciences curriculum committee seeking opportunities for education majors to receive training on working with diverse students. She started an after-school tutoring program and as an intern in the campus ministry program, organized a multi-faith student retreat. Active in Amnesty International, she was inducted into Alpha Sigma Nu (the Jesuit honor society) and received the Mary Lucretia Creighton Award for being a student role model.
In 2005, Katz sought to fulfill her vision of creating a sustainable, creative interfaith program by founding Project Interfaith, a nonprofit organization that brings about a deeper understanding and respect for religious diversity using networks of compassionate, caring individuals and creative outreach programs. Thousands of people have participated in Project Interfaith programs, including educators and nonprofit groups promoting diversity.
Project Interfaith’s community-building programs are a model for other cities around the country. Using the arts to explore religious and cultural diversity, it sponsors such programs as an Interfaith Architecture Tour, an Interfaith Story-Telling Festival and an Images of Faith exhibit. It brings nationally renowned speakers to have conversations with the community about religious and cultural diversity. These include NPR Speaking of Faith host Krista Tippett, CBS Mideast Analyst and author Reza Aslan, New Testament scholar Dr. Amy-Jill Levine, First Amendment scholar Dr. Charles Haynes and Islam expert Dr. John Esposito.
It creates engaged multi-faith study circles, youth service programs and community-building projects such as RavelUnravel. This online interactive video project offers people an opportunity to confront their own spiritual identity as well as their misconceptions about their beliefs about others. Initially hoping to gather 150 videos to post on its interactive website, the project now has more than 750 and counting.
Project Interfaith also provides valuable resources for professionals who serve religiously and culturally diverse populations, including specific information for professional care givers, healthcare providers, educators, social workers and social service providers.
An adjunct professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Beth Katz teaches international conflict resolution and religious diversity. She writes a monthly column on Omaha.net and presents at events including the Istanbul Forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations; the American Academy of Religion; and the Parliament of the World’s Religions. Katz is an Ariane de Rothschild Fellow and on the board of the Center for Catholic Thought and Culture at Creighton University. She is a member of the Nebraska Medical Center’s Clinical Pastoral Education Consultation Committee and has served on the Mayor’s Clergy Advisory Board. In 2008, she was awarded the College of Arts and Sciences Alumni Merit Award, recognizing personal and professional excellence, and in 2012 Creighton presented her the President’s Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Award.