Religious Identity and Belonging: A Conversation with Faith Leaders

Main Session
Day 2: November 15, 2023 | 2:30 p.m. – 3:45 p.m., Varsity Hall

Session Video

Session Description

Campus community faith leaders Rabbi Andrea Steinberger, Reverend Erica Liu, and Professor Asifa Quraishi-Landes will discuss the role that religion plays in our intersecting identities and how we might move forward collectively in community, though we may have religious differences. 


LaVar J. Charleston

LaVar J. Charleston, Ph.D., is the deputy vice chancellor for diversity & inclusion at UW–Madison. He serves as vice provost and chief diversity officer for the university as well as the Elzie Higginbottom director of the Division of Diversity, Equity & Educational Achievement (DDEEA).

Dr. Charleston provides overall leadership for the university’s efforts to create a diverse, equitable and inclusive learning and working environment for all students, faculty, staff, alumni and others who work with the university. Along with the staff of the DDEEA, he partners with leadership in the university’s schools, colleges and divisions, as well as shared governance groups, to create policies that promote equity and social justice while fostering a sense of belonging for all members of the UW community. Dr. Charleston oversees the administration of scholarship and service programs designed to increase diversity and foster equity and inclusion for students, faculty and staff at the university. A first-generation college graduate and Badger alumnus from Detroit, Dr. Charleston earned his master’s and doctoral degrees from the UW–Madison School of Education in 2007 and 2010.

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Andrea Steinberger

Rabbi Andrea Steinberger has been serving as a rabbi at the Hillel Foundation at the University of Wisconsin-Madison since 1999. In an ever-changing world, her deep spirituality, thoughtfulness, and compassion have created a welcoming sense of community and home for Jewish students on campus. She is a teacher, a learner, a questioner, and a spiritual seeker. At UW Hillel, Rabbi Steinberger provides opportunities for students to explore spiritual practices, experience Jewish learning, ask difficult questions, and come together for Shabbat and holidays. She helps students create and expand their Jewish lives and practices during their college years at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Rabbi Andrea received her ordination from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1997 and her BA from Northwestern. In March 2022, she received an honorary Doctor of Divinity from HUC-JIR for serving 25 years as a rabbi in the Reform Movement.

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Erica Liu

Reverend Erica Liu has served as the Pastor and Director of Campus Ministry at Pres House since 2004. She is a second-generation Taiwanese-American who grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. She lives in Madison with her partner, Mark, and together they have two daughters. Erica has a B.A. in Mass Communications from UC Berkeley, a Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary, and is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. Some of her favorite spiritual disciplines include practicing the martial art taekwondo and Sabbath.

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Asifa Quraishi-Landes

Asifa Quraishi-Landes specializes in comparative Islamic and U.S. constitutional law, with a current focus on modern Islamic constitutional theory.  She is a 2009 Carnegie Scholar and 2012 Guggenheim Fellow. 
Professor Quraishi-Landes holds a doctorate from Harvard Law School and other degrees from Columbia Law School, the University of California-Davis, and the University of California-Berkeley, and has served as law clerk in the United State Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  She has served as a Public Delegate on the United States Delegation to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, the Task Force on Religion and the Making of U.S. Foreign Policy for the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and as advisor to the Pew Task Force on Religion & Public Life.  She is past President of the National Association of Muslim Lawyers (NAML), and past Interim Co-Executive Director of Muslim Advocates and past President and Board Member of Karamah: Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights. She currently sits on the Board of Directors of the Muslim Public Service Network and is a Fellow with the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding. 

Thumbnail of speaker Asifa Quraishi-Landes.