Board of Directors

Ḥakīm Ilyās Kāshānī, Founder & Director

Ḥk. Ilyās (Mīrzā Ilyās Kourosh Kāshānī) was born in Tehran, Iran. He moved to the United States in 1979. His training in Traditional Islamic Healing & Medicine (TIHM) began at six years of age through his father, Mīrzā Muḥammad Ṣādiq Shīrāzī Kāshānī.

Ḥk. Ilyās is a lifelong student of sacred knowledge. He is dedicated to the study, practice, and development of TIHM, the treatment of people in need, and teaching the next generation of physician-healers.

Ḥk. Ilyās received a Bachelor of Science degree in Mining Engineering from Virginia Tech in December 1994 and additionally completed a premedical curriculum. He has studied meditation, qigong, yoga, and the martial arts since 1990. This was a transformative period during which he chose a life of service as a healer.

Since 1990, Ḥk. Ilyās has studied various traditional and modern holistic therapies, including Homeopathy, Japanese and Tibetan Reiki, Medical Qigong, Osteopathic manipulation, Tui Na, and Nutritional Science. In 1996, he began studying Chinese Medicine at the Maryland University of Integrative Health (MUIH) where he was awarded a Master of Acupuncture degree in January 1999 and national board certified (NCCAOM) soon after. In June 2004, he resumed his studies in Chinese Herbology at the Academy for Five Element Acupuncture in Fort Lauderdale, FL and received a certification in August 2006.

Ḥk. Ilyās was raised with a deep respect and reverence for all races, cultures, and religions of the world. In 2000, he founded the Circle of One–a 501c3 non-profit Center of Traditional Medicine–to serve people in need while staying true to the principle of never turning anyone away who asks for help, regardless of their circumstances. The Circle of One name serves as a reminder of our unity as a human family through the Oneness of God, the Sublime and Exalted.

Ḥk. Ilyās is currently serving on the Medical and Scientific Advisory Board of the Documenting Hope project –“a crowd-sourced initiative led by a group of concerned parents, physicians, scientists, children’s health advocates, and other professionals who share a commitment to a safe and healthy future for our children.”

Ḥk. Ilyās also works closely with leaders, executives, teams and organizations to identify and heal obstacles to comprehensive success, to cultivate non-violent, altruistic perspectives and strategies, and to finally align and focus their efforts in service of the greater good. His clients include the U.S. Department of the Interior, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Constellation Energy.

Ḥk. Ilyās is working toward building the Ḥakīm Wellness Health, Education, and Retreat Center where traditional and modern medicine will be seamlessly integrated to offer a comprehensive program of support.

Ḥk. Ilyās lectures publicly on various subjects relating to religion, spirituality, eastern philosophy, traditional healing and medicine, and personal development.

John Everhart, Assistant Director

Mr. John Everhart received his B.S. in Mining Engineering from the University of Nevada in 1974 and worked in the industry for seven years. He completed further postgraduate study in psychology at the University of Tennessee in 1980. He went on to receive his M.Ed. in Community Counseling from the University of Tennessee in 1982. He has been a social worker, marriage counselor and truancy officer for 22 years, working primarily in social service and non-profit agencies with disadvantaged youth and their families. He has worked with adolescents at juvenile detention centers, psychiatric hospitals, reform schools and alcohol / drug treatment centers. The Supreme Court of the Commonwealth of Virginia certifies him in general court mediation. Mr. Everhart brings a wealth of knowledge, experience and compassion to his work. He has received several awards for his volunteer community service in mental health and juvenile corrections.

Saji Prelis, Secretary-Treasurer
Founding Member and Executive Director of the Center for Peace Building
International Coordinator of the Peacebuilding & Development Institute
at American University

Lakshitha Saji Prelis is one of the founding members and the Executive Director of the Center for Peace Building International. He is also the coordinator of the Peacebuilding & Development Institute at American University.

SajiHe is currently involved in several peacebuilding, conflict resolution and coexistence initiatives both in the United States and abroad. In addition, Saji was the technical editor of Reconciliation, Justice and Coexistence: Theory and Practice and co-author of Long Road to Reconciliation in the above publication.

Saji was appointed by the governor and served a two year term between 1996 to 1998 as a Commissioner for the State of Oregon on higher education and financial aid issues. He has also been involved in issues of higher education in California, Oregon and Washington, DC. His areas of interest include providing opportunities for children to act as agents of peace, the use of technology for humanitarian purposes, dialogue and coexistence initiatives and education and community development initiatives.

Saji Prelis completed his Master’s degree in International Peace & Conflict Resolution with a concentration in International Law from American University in Washington, DC.

Board of Advisors

Virginia Gray Henry-Blakemore

Mrs. Virginia Gray Henry-Blakemore is the director of the interfaith publishing houses, Fons Vitae and Quinta Essentia, in Louisville, Kentucky, devoted to world spirituality. She is a writer and film producer under contract with the Book Foundation, and co-founder and trustee of the Islamic Texts Society of Cambridge, England. She has served as a contributing editor for Parabola magazine for over a decade. Besides having taught filmmaking at Dalton and Fordham University and world religions and art history at the Cairo American College, Cambridge University, Centre College and the Abbey of Gethsemane, she regularly lectures at such noteworthy venues as the 1995 Conference of World Spiritual Art in Tehran and most recently the September 2006 Congress on Islamic Spirituality in Singapore. In 1994 she arranged for His Holiness the Dalai Lama to speak in Louisville, and has in April 2006 organized the Dalai Lama interfaith congress in San Francisco in which the his main focus was to meet with Muslim dignitaries from the world over. Fons Vitae is now helping to arrange His Holiness’s visit December 2006 to Senegal and Ghana, which will continue the Buddhist-Muslim dialogue begun in San Francisco.

Gray is a founding member of the Thomas Merton Center Foundation and has organized a number of conferences focused on the work of Thomas Merton at Bellarmine University. She worked in Bosnian refugee camps in 1993, and subsequently published texts for their school system. Fons Vitae plays a key role in the annual interfaith festivals and programs sponsored by the Center for Interfaith Relations and Interfaith Paths to Peace Institute.

As a filmmaker, she produced Beads of Faith: The Universal Use of the Rosary, which is available both as a book and a video, Islam: A Pictorial Essay; Cairo: 1,001 Years of Art and Architecture; Ornaments of Lhasa: Islam in Tibet; and The Sacred Unconscious (Huston Smith). As an author she has written the classic, Understanding Islam and the Muslims, The Life of the Prophet Muhammad, articles for the “Fons Vitae Thomas Merton Series” (Merton & Sufism, Merton & Hesychasm, and Merton & Buddhism), as well as for Parabola and other journals.

Mrs. Henry received her B.A. at Sarah Lawrence College (Joseph Campbell was her don 1965, studied at the American and al-Azhar University in Cairo (1969-79), earned her M.A. in Education at the University of Michigan, was a research fellow at Cambridge University from 1983-1990, and is scheduled to receive her Ph.D. from the Faculty of Divinity at Canterbury, Kent in 2008.

Cynthia Zinser

Founder of Circle of Love Birth Services, New York, New York
Registered Nurse, Childbirth Educator, Doula and Imagery Therapist

Cynthia Zinser is a Registered Nurse, Lamaze certified childbirth educator and DONA certified birth doula.

Cynthia has dedicated her career to the education and support of childbearing women and their families since 1986. She is the co-founder and director of the Circle of Love Birth Services; as well a founding parent of the Manhattan School for Children. She has lectured at Nursing Conferences and taught at NYU School of Nursing.

Cynthia has lived and traveled in India studying birthing practices and alternative healing modalities.

She is a student of Dr. Catherine Shainberg at the School of Images and a practitioner of Guided Imagery for pregnancy. She is also a burgeoning artist. Her work has been shown in New York at The Art Student’s league and Sufi Books.

Cynthia is the mother of two teenaged boys and currently lives with her family in New York City.

Rebekah El-Gamal

Women’s Health Consultant
Rebekah El-Gamal is a passionate advocate of the healing arts with a perpetual thirst for understanding them. She received a BA in Interpersonal Communication and Fine Arts and has worked in the design and marketing field as a marketing coordinator and ghost writer. She has also received training in the culinary arts and has studied yoga and group fitness.

As a mother with three young children, she is committed to raising her children to be independent thinkers. This has led her to study childhood leadership in programs that foster leadership in children and adolescents.

Rebekah seeks to find the light in each human being and serve her Creator with the gifts she has been given. She is sought for her sincere listening skills and ability to reserve judgement.