Founder | phoeniXspark, LLC
"Elyse Ambrose, Ph.D. (she/her) is a black queer ethicist, creative, and educator. Her research, community praxis, and art lie at the intersections of race, sexuality, gender, and spirituality. Ambrose’s desire for her scholarship to impact and be informed by real lives leads to her integration of theory and practice through phoenixspark, LLC, where she works with individuals toward shaping ethical values and practices related to gender and sexuality.
Her most recent photo-sonic work, entitled “Spirit in the Dark Body: Black Queer Expressions of the Im/material,” premiered in November 2019 at the L Street Fine Arts Gallery (San Diego, CA) and has shown at the House of Mark West— one of the few black queer owned galleries in the country. Ambrose currently serves as Visiting Assistant Professor of Ethical Leadership and Society at Meadville Lombard Theological Seminary (Chicago, IL) as a Louisville Institute Postdoctoral Fellow. Her research has been supported by the Yale University Sarah Pettit Fund, the Forum for Theological Exploration, the Louisville Institute for the Study of American Religion, Columbia University's Center on African American Religion, Sexual Politics, and Social Justice, the Henry Luce Foundation, Auburn Seminary and CrossCurrents Journal.
Ambrose’s work and commentary has been featured in the Huffington Post, the Christian Century, Medium, ForHarriet, Vice, and CBC Radio One’s Tapestry. She is also the curator and co-host of Black Queer Love, a podcast and social medium exploring relationships, sex, love, pop culture, life, healing, embodiment, and art from a black queer lens.
Elyse Ambrose is a graduate of Howard University (B.B.A, 2007), the Interdenominational Theological Center (M.Div., 2013) and Drew University (Ph.D., 2019). She is a native of New Orleans and currently resides in Chicago and New York City."
Chef | Tanorria's Table
Professor | Pepperdine University
"Dr. Thema Bryant-Davis is a licensed psychologist, ordained minister, and sacred artist who has worked nationally and globally to provide relief and empowerment to marginalized persons. Dr. Thema, a professor at Pepperdine University, is a past president of the Society for the Psychology of Women. Her contributions to psychological research, policy, and practice have been honored by national and regional psychological associations.
Dr. Thema earned her doctorate from Duke University, completed her post-doctoral training at Harvard Medical Center, and is a past American Psychological Association representative to the United Nations. She is co-editor of the groundbreaking text Womanist and Mujerista Psychologies.
She has served as a mental health media consultant for numerous print, radio, and television media outlets, including but not limited to the Huffington Post, NPR, CBS, Oxygen, CNN, BET, TV One, Lifetime, and We TV."
Minister & Storyteller | Emory Fellowship UMC (Washington, D.C.) & The Open Church of MD (Baltimore, MD)
Nila Curry is a graduate of Wesley Theological Seminary with Master of Divinity and Master of Theological Studies degrees. Nila is a minister, story-teller, and curator of sacred spaces at Emory Fellowship UMC (Washington, D.C.) and The Open Church of MD (Baltimore, MD). She is currently discerning Ph.D. work and is interested in the parallels between womanist trajectories, prophetic imagination, and the Black-speculative Arts. Nila is a Miami native who enjoys traveling, community storytelling, and creative writing. She is also the founder of TribePurple LLC, a womanist initiative for healing and transformation.
Associate Professor of Indigenous Spiritual Traditions | University of Colorado Denver
"Rachel Elizabeth Harding is a poet, historian, and scholar of religions of the Afro-Atlantic diaspora. A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Dr. Harding teaches in the Ethnic Studies department of the University of Colorado Denver and writes about religion, creativity, and social justice in the experience of people of African descent in the US and Brazil. Dr. Harding is author of two books: A Refuge in Thunder, a history of the Afro-Brazilian religion, Candomblé; and Remnants: A Memoir of Spirit, Activism and Mothering, co-written with her mother, Rosemarie Freeney Harding, on the role of compassion and mysticism in African American social justice organizing. Dr. Harding is an ebômi (ritual elder) in the Terreiro do Cobre Candomblé community in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. And she co-directs the Veterans of Hope Project – an interdisciplinary initiative on religion, grassroots democracy and healing, founded by her parents, Vincent and Rosemarie Freeney Harding. (www.veteransofhope.org)
Harding’s honors include a Cave Canem Fellowship, the Sterling Brown Distinguished Visiting Professorship at Williams College and an honorary doctorate from the Starr-King School for the Ministry. "
Distinguished University Professor Emerita | University of Maryland
Spiritual Teacher, Activist, and Scholar
Author, Publisher, Vice-President & Editorial Director | Just Us Books, Inc.
Professor of Africana Studies | University of Delaware
Monica A. Coleman is Professor of Africana Studies at the University of Delaware. She spent over ten years in graduate theological education at Claremont School of Theology and Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. Answering her call to ministry at age 19, Dr. Coleman brings her experiences in evangelical Christianity, black church traditions, global ecumenical work, and indigenous spirituality to her discussions of religion. Dr. Coleman is the author or editor of six books and several articles that focus on the role of faith in addressing critical social and philosophical issues. Her memoir Bipolar Faith shares her life-long dance with trauma and depression, and how she discovers a new and liberating vision of God. Her book Making a Way Out of No Way is required reading at leading theological schools around the country. Dr. Coleman speaks widely on navigating change, religious diversity, mental wellness, and surviving sexual and domestic violence.
Associate Professor of Practical Theology | McCormick Theological Seminary
Artist & Author | Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi
CEO and Founder | KYND
Kyndra Frazier is an ordained Baptist clergywoman, licensed clinician, and the Founder and CEO of KYND (Knowing Yourself In Need of Devotion) Consulting, Inc. KYND offers trauma-informed care through a variety of services from clinical therapy for individuals, families, and couples to trauma-informed training for corporate entities and ecclesial communities, as well as spiritual direction. These services are centered in evidenced-based interventions such as mindfulness, motivational interviewing, CBT, and IPT. KYND also offers Executive Listening sessions for organizations. Kyndra was most recently the Founding Executive Director of The HOPE Center, a free mental health facility located in Central Harlem of NYC, and formally served as the Associate Pastor of Congregational Care and Wellness at First Corinthian Baptist Church. Known for her work in removing barriers to mental health access for communities of color. She was recently featured on the 2020 Root 100 list of Most Influential African Americans. She has also been featured in multiple print and digital publications including Vice Magazine, New York Times, and Sojourners Magazine. She holds a Master of Divinity from Candler School of Theology|Emory University, a Master of Social Work from Columbia University, and a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from North Carolina A&T State University.
Author & Political Activist | Black Lives Matter Movement
"Alicia believes that Black communities deserve what all communities deserve -- to be powerful in every aspect of their lives. An author, political strategist, organizer, and cheeseburger enthusiast, Alicia founded the Black Futures Lab to make Black communities powerful in politics. She is the
co-creator of #BlackLivesMatter and the Black Lives Matter Global Network, serves as the Strategy & Partnerships Director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance, and is a co-founder of Supermajority, a new home for women’s activism. Alicia has become a powerful voice in the media and frequently contributes thoughtful opinion pieces and expert commentary on politics,
race and more to outlets such as MSNBC and The New York Times. She has received numerous accolades and recognitions, including being on the cover of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People in the World issue and being named to Bloomberg's 50 and Politico's 50 lists. She is the author of the
critically acclaimed book, The Purpose of Power: How We Come Together When We Fall Apart (One World Penguin Random House), and she warns you -- hashtags don’t start movements. People do."
Celebrating over four decades of musical excellence.
Graduate Fellow | Katie Geneva Cannon Center for Womanist Leadership at Union Presbyterian Seminary
"Aria Michal Kirkland-Harris is a seminarian, womanist practitioner, and ministry consultant. Aria is a Graduate Fellow at the Katie Geneva Cannon Center for Womanist Leadership at Union Presbyterian Seminary where her research focus is Black women’s (read womanist) approaches to economic sufficiency and sustainability.
Aria is also active in Baptist denominational life. In addition to being in school full-time, she serves the Baptist General Convention of Virginia as the Ministry Assistant for Administration and Development. In April 2019, Aria was accepted into the inaugural cohort of the American Baptist Home Mission Society (ABHMS) Co-Creators Incubator, a two-year integrative program for missional entrepreneurs that helps grow ministry ideas into viable ventures with a Christ-centered mission. Aria is also the Pastoral Intern and an active member of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Richmond, VA where the Rev. Dr. Adam L. Bond is pastor.
Before moving to Richmond to attend the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University, Aria made a living as freelance strategy consultant for churches, mainline denominations, and faith-based nonprofit institutions that work to transform communities through affordable housing, education, and community health initiatives. Her areas of expertise include nonprofit board development, advocacy and community organizing, PK-12 education policy, and fundraising.
Aria is an alumna of Teach For America, the Education Pioneers Graduate Fellowship Program, and The Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation’s Young Adult Life & Leadership Initiative. She holds a B.A. in Political Science and Psychology from Columbia University and a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from George Mason University. In her free time, Aria likes to explore different parts of the world through contemplative pilgrimages and retreats. She also enjoys outdoor music, food, and art festivals and recently discovered a love for hiking."
Co-Founder & COO | Mented Cosmetics
"Amanda E. Johnson is the Co-Founder & COO of Mented Cosmetics, a pigment-first beauty brand celebrating women of all hues. Mented launched in January 2017 and has taken the beauty industry by storm by unapologetically placing women of color at the forefront. The company has been featured in several publications including Essence, Allure, Vogue and Black Enterprise, and the co-founders were honored with the 2019 Dreamers award from the National Retail Federation. A graduate of Howard University and Harvard Business School, Amanda is excited to be an entrepreneur focused on digital strategy and brand building. With a myriad of experiences in finance, consumer marketing, and digital experience Amanda is excited to craft brand stories and build customer communities.
Amanda is very involved in her community through involvement in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc, The Junior League of New York, and Howard Alumni Association."
Assistant Professor in the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology and Faculty Director of the Global Pop Music Initiative | Indiana University (Bloomington)
Rev. Dr. Alisha Lola Jones is an assistant professor in the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology and faculty director of the Global Pop Music Initiative at Indiana University (Bloomington). Dr. Jones is a board member of the Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM, a member of the strategic planning task force for the American Musicological Society (AMS), and a co-chair of the Music and Religion Section of the American Academy of Religion (AAR). Additionally, as a performer-scholar, she consults museums, conservatories, seminaries, and arts organizations on curriculum, live and virtual event programming, and content development. Dr. Jones’ book Flaming?: The Peculiar Theopolitics of Fire and Desire in Black Male Gospel Performance (Oxford University Press) breaks ground by analyzing the role of gospel music making in constructing and renegotiating gender identity among black men. Her research interests extend to global pop music, musics of the African diaspora, music and food, the music industry and the marketplace, and anti-oppressive ways of listening to black women. A little known fact is that Dr. Alisha Lola Jones and her sister Rev. Angela Marie Jones are co-owners of Paradise Media Group, a Black women-owned radio company based in Oxford and Henderson, NC continuing the multi-media work pioneered by their parents Rev. Dr. Alvin Augustus Jones and Rev. Dr. Martha Butler Jones. Rev. Dr. Alisha Lola Jones is newly wed to Rev. Calvin Taylor Skinner, her partner in both ministry and love. For more information, please visit DrAlisha.com.
Director of the Katie Geneva Cannon Center for Womanist Leadership | Union Presbyterian Seminary
CEO | Love Cork Screw
Vice President for Academic Affairs and Associate Professor of Constructive Theology | Meadville Lombard Theological School
"Dr. Pamela Lightsey has a stellar history as a senior administrator and scholar in higher education. She currently serves as Vice President for Academic Affairs at Meadville Lombard Theological School and Associate Professor of Constructive Theology. Before her appointment at Meadville, she was Associate Dean at Boston University School of Theology. She is also an ordained elder in the Northern Illinois Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Dr. Lightsey is a womanist theologian who has lectured at schools within and outside the continental United States. She has served as co-chair of the American Academy of Religion's Womanist Approaches to Religion and Society Group. She is currently a member of the Workgroup on Constructive Theology. Dr. Lightsey is an honorably discharged veteran of the United States Army. She served as a member of the original executive committee for the Soul Repair Project, which studies the role of moral injury in military veterans.
As an activist, Dr. Lightsey has worked within the LGBTQ community to end Don't Ask, Don't Tell military policy, and to ensure marriage equality. She continues to critique churches for homophobic polity, liturgy, and homiletics. Pamela was on the ground protesting against excessive police force during the first 21 days of unrest in Ferguson and across one year was one of several livestreamers providing ongoing broadcasts. Her work is the largest video archive on this historic time captured live by a solo African American theologian in the country. Dr. Lightsey has consistently collaborated with activist colleagues in the movement for the liberation of Black lives, those addressing violence against Black transwomen, and institutional racism on college campuses. She currently serves as a member of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Advisory Council on LGBTQ+ issues.
As ordained clergy, Rev. Dr. Lightsey is among the leading voices fighting for LGBTQ rights in the United Methodist Church. She was the first out queer lesbian African American ordained elder in full connection in the denomination. As United Methodism faces schism, Rev. Dr. Lightsey - understanding the subtle work of racism in times of crisis - is coordinating with other LGBTQ persons of color to ensure their lives are not made subordinate to the needs of white LGBTQ persons.
Pamela’s several publications include the full manuscript, “Our Lives Matter: A Womanist Queer Theology” (Wipf and Stock, 2015), Transforming Service: Reflections of Student Services Professionals in Theological Education. Editors Shonda R. Jones & Pamela R. Lightsey. (Wipf and Stock, 2020). “He Is Black and We are Queer” in Albert Cleage Jr and the Black Madonna and Child (New York: Palgrave Macmillan), “Blinking Red: The Escalation of a Militarized Police Force and Its Challenges to Black Communities” (Lexington Books, 2019)."
Foundational Associate Professor of African American and African Studies | Michigan State University
Tamura Lomax is the Foundational Associate Professor of African American and African Studies at Michigan State University. She received her Ph.D. in 2011 from Vanderbilt University in Religion, where she specialized in Black Religious History and Black Diaspora Studies, and also developed expertise in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Black British and U.S. Black Cultural Studies. In 2018, Dr. Lomax published Jezebel Unhinged: Loosing the Black Female Body in Religion and Culture with Duke University Press. In addition, she organized and guest edited “Black Bodies in Ecstasy: Black Women, the Black Church, and the Politics of Pleasure,” a special issue published with Black Theology: An International Journal. In 2014, she published Womanist and Black Feminist Responses to Tyler Perry’s Cultural Productions with Palgrave Macmillan, a co-authored edited volume with Rhon S. Manigault-Bryant and Carol B. Duncan. And she is currently at work on a new book, Parenting Against the Patriarchy: Raising Non-Toxic Sons in White Supremacist America with Duke University Press. However, Dr. Lomax isn’t solely a writer and researcher. She’s a scholar-activist. In 2017, she co-organized “Our History, Our Future: A Multigenerational Human Rights Conference" at Boston University, which brought together 1960s Civil Rights and Black Panther Party activists with Black Lives Matter activists. And in 2011, Dr. Lomax co-founded The Feminist Wire (TFW), an online publication committed to feminist, anti-racist, and anti-imperialist socio-political critique. Her vision is to create space for justice work through critical conversation, exchange, mass-mediation, and dynamic accessible education. Her hope is to bring academic expertise to the streets and vice versa. Since its founding, TFW has published close to 3,000 intersectional and justice centered scholarly essays, including the original Black Lives Matter herstory by Alicia Garza in 2014; organized the very first university conference on Black Lives Matter at the University of Arizona; and coordinated various forums on topics such as Black (Academic) Women’s Health; Assata Shakur; Trayvon Martin; Disabilities; Race, Racism, and Anti-Racism within Feminism; and Mumia Abu-Jamal, Race, Gender, and the Carceral State. In addition to online publishing, TFW has a book series with the University of Arizona Press: The Feminist Wire Books: Connecting Feminisms, Race, and Social Justice.
Professor of Africana Studies and Faculty Affiliate in Religion | Williams College
Associate Professor and Chair of Philosophy and Religious Studies | Beloit College
Artist | Austin "Auz" Miles
Associate Professor of African-American Studies, Religious Studies | Georgia State University
"Dr. Monique Moultrie is an Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Georgia State University and was recently a Visiting Associate Professor of Women's Studies and African American Religion at Harvard Divinity School. She earned degrees from Vanderbilt University, Harvard Divinity School, and Duke University. Her scholarly pursuits include projects in sexual ethics, African American religions, and gender and sexuality studies. Her book Passionate and Pious: Religious Media and Black Women's Sexuality was published by Duke University Press and was the 2018 Book of the Year for the Religious Communication Association. She has published extensively in journals and edited volumes, and her forthcoming research is a study of black lesbian religious leadership and faith activism. Her research has been supported by Harvard Divinity School's Women's Studies in Religion Fellowship, a Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship, Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning Grants, a GSU Dean's Early Career Award, and an American Academy of Religion Individual Research Grant.
Outside of the university, D. Moultrie was a consultant for the National Institutes of Health and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual. Transgender-Religious Archives Network. She was a Content Development working group member for the Columbia University’s Center on African-American Religion, Sexual Politics, and Social Justice and the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice’s Scholars Group, a group of religious scholars collaborating at the intersection of religion and reproductive justice. Within the larger American Academy of Religion guild, Dr. Moultrie is the former Status of Women in the Profession Chair and a former co-chair of the Religion and Sexuality unit."
Associate Minister of Faith Formation and Community Outreach | Myers Park Baptist Church
Reverend Mia McClain is an artist, pastor and king cake lover. She currently serves as the Associate Minister of Faith Formation and Community Outreach at Myers Park Baptist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she works to create and sustain a vibrant adult small group ministry, Sunday morning classes, and educational conferences, as well as coordinating and facilitating justice initiatives and community partnerships. Originally from New Orleans, Mia went on to obtain a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre from Syracuse University, a Master of Arts in Art and Public Policy from New York University—Tisch School of the Arts, and a Master of Divinity, with concentration in Psychology, Religion, and Homiletics from Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York. At Union, she was 2018 recipient of the Jonathan Kneeland Preaching Fellowship—awarded by Auburn Seminary—and the 2019 recipient of the Karen Ziegler Feminist Preaching Prize. This year, she is the recipient of the Duke Divinity Innovation Grant that will enable research and production around decolonizing liturgical practice and space. A licensed Baptist minister, Mia is ordained in the United Church of Christ and will serve as a liturgist and songwriter at the UCC's 2021 General Synod this summer. Prior to her call to ministry, Mia lived into her arts career fully, performing in theatres across the country, composing and executive producing projects, such as the Voice of Peace EP (’12). When Mia is not working, she enjoys cooking, taste-testing banana pudding, and being a dog-mom to Harry.
Founder & CFO | The Free People Project
EbonyJanice is a dynamic lecturer, transformational speaker, and passionate multi-faith preacher focused on Decolonizing Authority, Hip Hop Scholarship, Womanism as a Political and Spiritual/Religious tool for Liberation, Blackness as Religion, Dialogue as central to professional development and personal growth, and Women and Gender Studies focused on black girlhood. EbonyJanice has a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology and Political Science, and a Master of Arts in Social Change with a concentration in Spiritual Leadership, Womanist Theology, and Racial Justice. She is the founder of Black Girl Mixtape, a multi-platform safe think-space, centering the intellectual authority of black women in the form of a lecture series, a podcast, and an online learning institute lead by black women scholars, and Dream Yourself Free, a Spiritual Mentoring project focused on black women's healing, dreaming, ease, play and wholeness as their activism and resistance work.
Program Associate | The Katie Geneva Cannon Center for Womanist Leadership
"Rev. Dr. Paula Owens Parker is the program associate for The Katie Geneva Cannon Center for
Womanist Leadership and also the senior program developer of Roots Matter LLC, a program
which identifies approaches to healing generational trauma in families and communities. Dr.
Parker is the developer of RAPHA: A Course in Contemplative Healing Prayer, a spiritual direc-
tor, and a certified facilitator of Emotional Emancipation Circles (EEC) of Community Healing
Network. Dr. Parker is the author of Roots Matter: Healing History, Honoring Heritage, Renew-
ing Hope (2016) which recognizes the impact of transgenerational trauma, as a result of chattel
slavery, on the African American community. She has contributed articles to Healing Line,
Christian Century and Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology and co-authored the
chapter “Internal Liberation” in Kaleidoscope:Broadening the Palette in the Art of Spiritual Di-
Dean, and Professor of Religion and Literature | Howard University
Principal Researcher of African American History Project | Richmond Hill
Tank and The Bangas don’t go anywhere quietly. Sitting around a dimly lit room in London’s neighborhood of Camden Town, vocalist Tank Ball, bassist Norman Spence, drummer Joshua Johnson and saxophonist Albert Allenback can’t go mere minutes without bursting into play fights, or talking over one another, or laughing from their deepest guts. They are a beacon of life. And it’s that life that you hear in their music. That’s what makes this fivepiece one of the most thrilling, unpredictable and sonically diverse bands on the planet; a unit where jazz meets hip-hop, soul meets rock, and funk is the beating heart of everything they do. Their new album Green Balloon is on the horizon, and it’s their first release now they’re signed to major label Verve Forecast – a deal that came after they won NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest in 2017, beating out hundreds of other acts. They admit that it was a moment that has entirely changed their lives. This resulting record is set to prove their pizazz and their staying power. It’s everything they’ve worked so hard for so far.
Assistant Professor of Preaching and Practical Theology | Wake Forest University School of Divinity
Melva L. Sampson is Assistant Professor of Preaching and Practical Theology at Wake Forest University School of Divinity. She is a digital hush harbor curator, ritualist and preacher. Her research interests include Black preaching women’s embodiment, African heritage spiritual traditions, Black girls’ ritual performance, and the relationship between digital proclamation and spiritual formation. She has published articles like, “The Making of Digital Griots and Cyber Assemblies,” and “Digital Hush Harbors: Black Preaching Women and Black Digital Religious Networks,” each address the politics of location and challenge traditional Black Church pulpit authority. She is the creator of Pink Robe Chronicles ™ a digital hush harbor that centers faith and spirituality using the womanist and Afrocentric values of self-determination, serious engagement, and liberating self-love to highlight the importance of collective work and responsibility in healing and sustaining marginalized communities. She is currently working on her first book length project entitled Going Live: Black Women Preaching in the Digital Age.
Associate Professor of Ethics and Society | Vanderbilt Divinity School
Owner | Sankofa Center for Strategic Planning and Evaluation LLC
Dean | Vanderbilt Divinity School
Assistant Professor of Theology and African American Religion | Yale University
"The Reverend Eboni Marshall Turman, Ph.D. teaches theology, ethics, and African American religion at Yale University Divinity School in New Haven, CT. A first-career concert dancer and ordained National Baptist preacher, her research interests span the varieties of 20th century US theological liberalisms, most especially Black and womanist theological, social ethical, and theo-aesthetic traditions.
She co-chairs the Black Theology unit of the American Academy of Religion; is treasurer of the Society for the Study of Black Religion; a board member of the Society of Christian Ethics; and a founding member of the Black Church Collective for which she served as lead author of the recent “On Black Lives Matter: A Theological Statement from the Black Churches.”
Dr. Turman is currently completing her second monograph tentatively titled, Black Women’s Burden: Male Power, Gender Violence, and the Scandal of African American Social Christianity, and she has recently begun preliminary research for her third monograph titled, In My Flesh Shall I See God: Black Womanist Theological Aesthetics. Through her research and scholarship, Dr. Turman is transforming the way we frame the Black experience, the contemporary movement for Black lives, and the moral significance of the Black community specifically the 21st century black church.
A trailblazer in the church and academy, she is the youngest woman to be named Assistant Minister of the historic Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York City (2002-2012), and the second woman to preside over the ordinances in its 212-year history. She formerly served as Director of Black Church Studies at Duke University Divinity School (2013-2016).
She is the only womanist theological ethicist on faculty at Yale Divinity School; the recipient of the 2018 Yale University Bouchet Faculty Excellence award for research and teaching; the 2018 Inspiring Yale award; a 2017-18 Yale Public Voices fellow; one of Ebony Magazine’s Young Faith Leaders in the Black Community; included on the Network Journal’s prestigious 40 Under 40 List; named as one of the “Top 5 Young Preachers in America” by ROHO; and Auburn Theological Seminary’s 2017 “Lives of Commitment” honoree.
She lives in New York City with her wonderful spouse, Rossie E. Turman III, Esq., and their two beautiful daughters, Haarlem and Kroux."
Co-Founder of Center of the Heart & Founder of Audre: Spiritual Care for Women with Cancer.
Pamela Ayo Yetunde, J.D., Th.D. is the co-editor of Black and Buddhist: What Buddhism Can Teach Us About Race, Resilience, Transformation and Freedom (Shambhala Publications, 2020), Buddhist-Christian Dialogue, U.S. Law, and Womanist Theology for Transgender Spiritual Care (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020), and Object Relations, Buddhism, and Relationality in Womanist Practical Theology (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), and "Black Lesbians to the Rescue! A Brief Correction with Implications for Womanist Christian Theology and Womanist Buddhology" (religions, 2017). Ayo, a Community Dharma Leader, is the co-founder of Center of the Heart (www.centeroftheheart.org) and founder of Audre: Spiritual Care for Women with Cancer. Ayo also works as a pastoral counselor and chaplain.
Associate Provost for Equity and Inclusive Excellence & Associate Professor of Women's and Gender Studies and Religion | Bucknell University
Executive Pastor | First Corinthian Baptist Church
"Educator, visionary leader, sought after speaker, and consummate change agent, Dr. LaKeesha Walrond is a force faithfully encouraging those she encounters to embody their infinite possibilities. In June of 2019, she became the first woman and first African American woman President of New York Theological Seminary, she is committed to preparing faith and thought leaders to engage relevant, restorative, and revolutionary ministry.
A native Texan, Dr. Walrond earned her undergraduate degree from Spelman College in Atlanta, Ga., a Master of Education, Master in School Administration, and Doctor of Philosophy in Special Education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary in New York, NY. Dr. Walrond has a passion for children and education. She worked in the public-school system in North Carolina for eleven years as a teacher, a coordinator for special education programs, an assistant principal, and as a principal.
Dr. Walrond is a dynamic speaker who has addressed a number of national and international
audiences. She has received numerous recognitions including honors by the New York Liberty WNBA Basketball Association, the National Action Network, the MC Donald’s GospelFest, NCNW, NAACP, her alma mater, Spelman College and Union Theological Seminary. She served on the board of trustees at Union Theological Seminary for three years. Mayor Bill DeBlasio of NYC named October 26, 2019, “Rev. LaKeesha Walrond Day” in the city of New York.
Dr. Walrond answered her call to the ministry in December of 1995 and has fully embraced the
calling that God has placed on her life. She began her journey in ministry serving as an Associate
Minister at Zion Temple United Church of Christ in North Carolina for six years. She served as the Executive Pastor and Chief of Staff of First Corinthian Baptist Church (FCBC) in Harlem, NY for thirteen years. As Chief of Staff, she used educational and organizational strategies to maximize FCBC’s capacity and influence in the community and abroad. As Executive Pastor, she implemented strategies to create a culture of learning which evolved into a community of learners.
In an effort to authentically reach the hearts of women, Dr. Walrond launched the Getting to
Greatness Women’s Conference (G2G) in 2013. G2G holds conferences, retreats, workshops, and panel discussions promoting women’s empowerment, leadership development, spiritual, mental and psychological wellness. Reaching thousands of women nationwide, the G2G conferences have been held in New York, Florida, South Carolina, Canada, the Bahamas, Arizona and Washington, DC. She is the author of two books. My Body is Special (2017) is the first of her six-part “Let’s Talk About It” (LTAI) children’s book series. Written to help end sexual violence against children, this book provides parents, children, and child advocates with problem solving tools to prevent unhealthy touching. Her first e-book, Stronger Than Your Worst Pain: A Spiritual Guide to Activating Your Inner Power (2018), empowers women to recognize their passion, power and potential to overcome life’s most difficult challenges.
Dr. Walrond is happily married to The Reverend Michael A. Walrond Jr. and they