Bruce Knotts (Muslim Unitarian Universalist)

See video of Bruce’s talks from the 1st OCCF Symposium below


Bruce Knotts was born and raised in California. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in History from Pepperdine University and his Master’s Degree in International Education from the Monterey Institute of International Studies; both in California. Bruce was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ethiopia. He worked for Raytheon in Saudi Arabia (1976-80) and on a World Bank contract in Somalia (1982-4), before he joined the Department of State as a U.S. diplomat in 1984. Bruce had diplomatic assignments in Greece, Zambia, India, Pakistan, Kenya, Sudan, Cote d’Ivoire and The Gambia, where he was Deputy Chief of Mission. While in Cote d’Ivoire, Bruce served as the Regional Refugee Coordinator for West Africa covering 16 African nations from Mauritania to Nigeria, but focusing on the refugees from the conflicts in Sierra Leone, Liberia and later in Cote d’Ivoire itself. This was the assignment where Bruce had his most sustained contact with the UN system. He evaluated programs and recommended funding for UNHCR, WFP, UNICEF, UNDP, WHO and many NGOs (non-governmental organizations) working with refugees in West Africa. Bruce worked closely with several UN Special Representatives and observed UN peacekeeping operations in Sierra Leone from 2000-2003. In 2004, Bruce was elected to the Board of GLIFAA (Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies). Bruce retired from the Foreign Service in 2007 and joined the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office (UU-UNO) as its Executive Director at the beginning of 2008. Bruce has spent much of his life in Islamic countries. His curiosity about Islam intensified during his assignment to Pakistan from 1993-97 and culminated in his conversion to Islam in Sudan in 1998. He is proud to have completed all the pillars of Islam which are: Faith, Prayer, Charity, Fasting, and Pilgrimage to Mecca, which he performed also in 1998. He was a devout practicing Muslim from 1997-2004 when he returned to the USA. In 2005, he joined All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church in Washington, D.C. and currently is a member of All Souls Church in New York City. He continues to pray with Muslims on occasion and helped Muslims for Progressive Values obtain UN consultative status. He began the UU-UNO’s very successful LGBT advocacy program in 2008. This program continues to build important coalitions to end global homophobia. Bruce also started the UU-UNO’s climate and environmental advocacy program in 2009, with a very successful Climate Change website and taskforce. He helped organize the NY Climate March and the Peace and Planet mobilization for the abolition of nuclear weapons, mitigation of climate change and ending racism. Bruce has been chair of the UN NGO Committee on Human Rights since June 2010 and of the Faith and Ethics Network for the International Criminal Court since April 2010. He is the President and CEO of the NGO Committee on Disarmament, Peace and Security and a member of the NGO UN Security Council Working Group. He also works on the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development and Climate Change Task Force. Bruce married Isaac Humphrie in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada in August 2006.