Register Now: 'Online Learning for Constructive Engagement' (Free webinar, Sunday 16 August)  

Conversations with Rainn Wilson

Aug 05, 2020

The Wilmette Institute asks readers and viewers to join in prayer for the departed soul of Rainn Wilson’s father, Robert G. Wilson, who died on August 3. Rainn was unable to host the conversation on August 5. We wish Rainn and his family every good thing. Mr. Wilson was also a WI faculty member. He taught Bahá’í Faith and the Arts (2017), Century of Light (2015, 2017), and Charters of the Faith (2015, 2016). Robert Wilson Obituary.

Whites and Race Unity: A New Normal

August 5, 2020 at 5:30 pm Pacific, 8:30 pm Eastern

Dr. Randie Gottlieb (UnityWorks founder, educator, diversity trainer, author, poet) and Dave Grammer, LMFT, WI Adjunct Lecturer, join Rainn Wilson for conversations about White people and race unity.

Whites & Race Unity: A New Normal (PDF Resources, 2 pages)
Watch on YouTube

See also UnityWorks Foundation website

How do we NOT go back to normal?

July 1, 2020 – Watch Live Stream on YouTube

Drs. June and Richard Thomas continue the conversation with Rainn about constructive resilience.

Facebook Live Stream
PDF of Slide Show

June 10, 2020 – Watch Live Stream on YouTube

Special Guests for our June conversation were Drs. June and Richard Thomas, and Dave Grammer, LMFT/WI Adjunct Lecturer. See bios at the foot of the page. Watch the live stream embedded at the top of this page. Share with your friends!

View or Download PDF of Slide Show

Join us for conversations with Rainn Wilson once a month (May through August). Pre-register on Zoom (the only way to participate in the audience polling), or follow us on Faceboook or YouTube for updates.

Why Bahá’í?

In this live webinar series, we invite you to have a conversation with Rainn. What are your questions about the Bahá’í Faith? What is your hope for the world in these tumultuous times? How can we help make the planet a more livable and breathable place? Bring a friend and tune in live.

April 1, 2020

Rainn answers questions like “What is the Bahá’í Faith?” “How do you keep in touch with your Faith at home?” and “How do we know God exists?”

Watch on YouTube

April 8, 2020

Rainn responds to the audience: “What’s the Bahá’í ‘Bible’?” “Are there any ceremonies, like Mass?” and more. And we ask the audience: “What do you usually do when you feel annoyed by the actions of others?”

Watch YouTube Livestream

April 15, 2020

This audience asks some tough questions! Like “How does being a Bahá’í affect your relationships with coworkers…” and “In what ways does the Bahá’í Faith address political corruption and economic disparity in the U.S.?”

Watch YouTube Livestream

May 6, 2020 – “Power of Youth”

Special guests Nika, Nura, Nava and Vadi Esmailizadeh, and Luke Pereira, joined Rainn Wilson and Chitra Goelestani to share their experiences with the Bahá’í-inspired Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment movement.

Watch on YouTube



Randie Gottlieb

Dr. Randie Gottlieb is the founder and CEO of UnityWorks. Dr. Gottlieb has worked as a classroom teacher at every level, a school principal, college administrator, university professor, curriculum developer and diversity trainer. Her work has taken her to over 30 countries, including 11 years in Puerto Rico, where she administered an international training center, taught cross-cultural communication workshops for people from around the world, produced Spanish-language community-service radio and television programs, and founded an elementary school. She is the author of over ten books and curriculum guides, including the award-winning Teaching Unity, and holds degrees in Education from Cal State, Boston University and Harvard.


June Thomas

June Manning Thomas, Ph.D., Professor in Urban and Regional Planning, was named Mary Frances Berry Distinguished University Professor, University of Michigan, in 2016.  Thomas writes articles and books about race relations and social justice issues related to urban planning in U. S. cities.  These are the themes in J. M. Thomas and Marsha Ritzdorf, eds., Urban Planning and the African American Community: In the Shadows (Sage Press, 1996), and in Thomas’s Redevelopment and Race: Planning a Finer City in Postwar Detroit (Wayne State Univ. Press, 1997, 2nd ed. 2013), winner of the 1999 Paul Davidoff Award (Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning).  Her writing also focuses upon strategies for distressed communities in cities such as Detroit, as in the above books plus Margaret Dewar and J. M. Thomas, ed.s, The City after Abandonment (Univ. of Pennsylvania Press, 2013), and J. M. Thomas and Henco Bekkering, ed.s, Mapping Detroit: Evolving Land Use Patterns and Connections (Wayne State Univ. Press, 2015).  Her book Planning Progress: Lessons from Shoghi Effendi (Association for Baha'i Studies, 1999), which received an award from that association, explored the planning and leadership styles exemplified by the Head of the Baha’i Faith during a series of global plans.  Recent research for an anticipated book-length manuscript considers racial oppression and black community resilience during the civil rights era in South Carolina. She currently serves on the Local Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Ann Arbor, MI, and has served in several other volunteer capacities for the Baha’i Faith.  A native of South Carolina, she has lived in Michigan for most of her adult life, with her husband, Richard W. Thomas; they have two adult children.  She formerly taught at Michigan State University, where she created programs that assisted neighborhoods and community organizations in several distressed Michigan cities. More information at Univ. of Michigan faculty page:


Richard Thomas

Richard W. Thomas, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of History at Michigan State University, where he taught courses on the black urban experience, comparative black history, and U.S. race relations.  He has lectured on race relations and the black experience in England, Switzerland, Ireland, Australia, Israel, and South Africa.  His books include:  Life for Us is What We Make It:  Building Black Community in Detroit, 1915-1945 (Indiana Univ. Press); Understanding Interracial Unity:  A Study of U. S. Race Relations (Sage Publications); and co-edited with Gwen Etter-Lewis, Lights of the Spirit:  Historical Portraits of Black Baha’is in North America, 1898-2000.  In 1993 he received the Gustavus Myers Center Award for the Study of Human Rights in North America for his book, Understanding Interracial Unity. In 1995 he received the Wesley-Logan Prize by the American Historical Association and the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History for his book Life for Us is What We Make It.  The book by Joe Darden and Richard W. Thomas, Detroit:  Race Riots, Racial Conflicts, and Efforts to Bridge the Racial Divide (Michigan State Univ. Press, 2013), was named a Michigan Notable Book for 2013 and winner of a 2014 State History Award by the Historical Society of Michigan.  Recently he co-authored William H. Smith and Richard W. Thomas, Race Amity:  America’s Other Tradition, A Primer (2019). Thomas was one of the original twelve men who formed the Baha’i Men’s Gathering in 1987, and he is co-authoring a second edition of a book about that experience.  He is presently a member of the Ann Arbor Baha’i community.


Rainn Wilson

Rainn Wilson is an American actor, comedian, writer, director, producer and a member of the Bahá’í Faith. He is best known for his role as Dwight Schrute on the Emmy Award winning sitcom, The Office. What many people may not know is Rainn’s love for the Bahá’í Faith and humanitarian work.


Dave Grammer, LMFT

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

Dave is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Los Angeles California. He has experience working with adults, adolescents, individuals, families, and running groups. Dave has focused primarily on treating adolescents and family relationships. He has experience working in outpatient and residential treatment settings, and has worked with diverse populations and issues. Dave has been training capoeira, an afro brazilian martial art with music as an integral part, for the last ten years, and teaching for about half that time. There is power in movement and being in the body. Dave has worked to integrate martial arts, music, and movement into therapy throughout his career. Dave is married, with two children.See Faculty Bio

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