Strange Journeys

If you had told my great-grandmother that one of her descendants would end up teaching at Harvard, she would have been delighted, if perplexed. Massachusetts is a long way from the windswept prairie of western Nebraska, where she and all seven of my other great-grand parents were born, where they married, and where they raised their families, including my parents. If you had told my parents, their daughter would be the first in the family to earn a doctorate at any point in my first twenty years, they might have laughed and said "Not at this rate, she won't!" If you had told my United Methodist pastor that I would leave the church the same year I was confirmed in it, only to be ordained as a Buddhist minister twenty years later, he might have wondered where he went wrong. Then he would have thought about every interaction we ever had and ruefully admitted that "kinda figured." And if you had told my middle school principal that I would some day be assigning the homework instead of ending up in detention for refusing to do it, he would have clarified the spelling of my name just to make sure we were talking about the same person.

Life takes us on strange journeys that no curriculum vitae, no matter how voluminous, can ever quite capture. Mine has taken me from Nebraska to California to New York to Massachusettes, with plenty of detours between. It has included multiple degrees and careers - from mortgage banking to architecture and urban planning to chaplaincy and higher education. It has taken me from a deeply conservative Christian upbringing to a liberating pluralistic Buddhist worldview. And it has taken me from an abiding hatred of anything labelled 'school' to a certainty that academia is my true home, two very different feelings rooted in the same love of learning (and frustration when learning is thwarted). 

I have found my academic home at Harvard Divinty School as the Assistant Dean for Multireligious Ministry. I look after students pursuing their MDiv here, with a special focus on the needs of non-Christian students, as HDS builts itself into a truly model multireligious institution. As a non-Harvard graduate, I bring a fresh perspective to a revered institution, along with particular specializations in chaplaincy and spiritual care, interfaith work, research methods, strategic planning, accreditation and assessment, leadership studies, Buddhism, young adult spirituality, and the growing movement of religious dis-affiliation. If you want to know more about me or my work, I suggest you review my CV and publications, send me an email, enroll in one of my classes, or wander over to Divinity Hall some day. I may just be willing to swap a story or two.