2014 Scholars

David Barickman

David Barickman was born and raised in the area around Champaign, IL. He earned a B.A. in Religious Studies and Sociology at Franklin College in Franklin, IN. He was involved in religious life, interfaith, and residence life as well as religion and sociology honorary societies there. David is starting his first year at CTS as a M.Div. student and is interested in the areas of college or hospital chaplaincy as well as interfaith engagement.


Laura BrekkeLaura Brekke is the Director of Religious Diversity at Santa Clara University, a Jesuit Catholic university in Santa Clara, CA. She is both the chaplain to Protestant students, and to all non-Christian students at on campus. She earned an M.Div from Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, GA and a Certificate in Theology for Ministry from the University of Cambridge. She has been ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA). Her research interests include the interplay of religious minority communities in countries with state-recognized religions, women in interfaith leadership, popular culture and its use in interfaith dialogue, and comparative theologies of the “Other.” She is published in Time and Relative Dimensions in Faith: Theology and Doctor Who, a collection of academic essays looking at theological themes in the long-running British sci-fi series.

Chris Crews

Chris Crews is an Appalachian, Ohio transplant currently living in Brooklyn. He is a doctoral candidate (ABD) in Political Theory at The New School for Social Research (NSSR) in New York City, where his work focuses on the intersections of religious worldviews and environmental politics in the Anthropocene—especially Earth-centered and animist spiritual traditions. He is an anti-racist organizer and has been involved with and written extensively about social and environmental justice movements in Ohio and New York. Through his involvement with the India China Institute he has worked in China, India and Nepal, and he is currently leading their Sacred Himalaya Initiative, which is focused on studying religion, ecology and climate change in communities around sacred Mount Kailash in Tibet. He writes regularly at www.chriscrews.com.

Abigail ClauhsAbigail Clauhs is a first year student at Claremont School of Theology, where she is pursuing an M.Div. Originally from deep in the Bible Belt, she graduated with a B.A. from Boston University in May 2014, where she concentrated in religion and in literature. With a dedication to diversity and interfaith cooperation, Abigail led the BU Interfaith Council, where she coordinated discussions and interfaith service events among many Boston-area colleges. She also has a love for community service and a commitment to social justice that has led her to teach classes to immigrants and refugees, work with the homeless, and volunteer with hunger-fighting initiatives. Abigail is pursuing ordination as a Unitarian Universalist community minister and hopes to work in a career in the nonprofit/NGO world, empowering marginalized communities through humanitarian work.

Shelley Donaldson holds a Master’s Divinity from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago and is currently a Master’s of Theology student where she is studying Interfaith Dialogue from the Presbyterian Church USA perspective. She is particularly interested in religious education inside and outside of religious institutions that is easily accessible for anyone. She spends her spare time learning Arabic, painting, and attempting to make the perfect Southern biscuit.

Haley FeuerbacherHaley Feuerbacher is a doctoral candidate in Religion and Culture and Women’s and Gender Studies at Southern Methodist University. As a doctoral candidate in Religion and Culture and Women’s and Gender Studies at Southern Methodist University, she believes scholarship is never neutrally related to economic, political, and social realities, and in order to be an ally for justice efforts, we must be engaged with the grassroots.  To keep her feet on the ground, she is a youth minister, a newly married mother of a 7-year-old son, and an activist in economic and gender justice efforts domestically and in South Africa.  She is constantly humbled by the brilliance, passion, creativity, and perseverance of leaders and participants in these efforts!  Her dissertation project explores patriarchal metanarratives concerning family structure and the material impacts on unmarried mothers, as well as the production of counternarratives and theologies that deconstruct these.  Her research interests include progressive evangelicalism; gender and economics; indigenous responses to imperialism; creative arts as social protest; and postcolonial theologies and theory.


577436_502744983104574_395889871_nE. Neil Gaiser is a dual-degree student pursuing a Master of Divinity specializing in Interreligious Contexts and a Master of Theological Studies at the Methodist Theological School in Ohio. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from Ohio Christian University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Leadership and Ministry in May of 2014 and is a member of the Pinnacle Honors Society. He is an active member of the United Methodist Church and is pursuing ordination in the West Ohio Conference. He has been studying comparative religion for over a decade and is interested in pursuing interfaith work professionally. To that end, Neil is currently serving as a committee chairperson for SAIL (Safe Alliance of Interfaith Leaders), a prominent interreligious and non-profit organization located in Columbus Ohio.  In his spare time, Neil enjoys traveling with his wife Alvie, playing golf, reading, writing, taking walks and going to the gym when his workload allows him to. He is also the proud owner of three cats!


Ilona Gerbakherllona Gerbakher is a scholar and journalist currently living in Rabat, Morocco. After completing her degree in Islamic Theology in 2013 at the Harvard Divinity School, she moved to Qatar as a Georgetown Arabic Language Fellow. While living in Doha, Ilona conducted research on Wahhabi fiqh in the Gulf. She then moved to Morocco to complete her studies of advanced Classical and Moroccan Arabic. She will be moving to Jerusalem this fall, in order to work as a Comparative Religions fellow at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.


-4Dorie Goehring is a first year MDiv student at Harvard Divinity School. Her research interests lie at the intersection of social ethics, comparative religion, and anthropology, particularly with regard to how to construct spaces of human flourishing. Vacillating between identities of “Catholic” and “heretic”, she has a passion for social justice, especially with issues concerning global women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, and mental health advocacy. A former intern with the Unitarian Universalist Office of the United Nations, she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Fordham. University cum laude in Theology and Anthropology, with a minor in Women’s Studies. At Harvard, she is a co-founder and current President of Harvard Better Together, the University’s first inter-school interfaith service initiative. In her downtime, one can find her learning languages (French, German, and Arabic), drinking tea, r eading poetry, and listening to and playing obscene amounts of music.

Saadia FaruqiSaadia Faruqi is editor of the Interfaith Houston blog, organizer of the annual Interfaith Women’s Peace Conference, and interfaith coordinator for the women’s group of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Houston. She writes on topics related to Muslim Americans on the Tikkun Daily blog, and is currently conducting a research project on the representations of Muslim women in American print media. She is enrolled in the Master in Liberal Arts program at Baker University with a concentration in sociology, where her main interest is the intersection of religion and sociology. Her upcoming short story collection “Brick Walls: Stories of Hope and Courage from Pakistan” is slated to be published in 2015.

David JoslinOriginally from the Boston area, David Joslin graduated from Merrimack College in 2005 with a B.A. in French. After working in finance for several years, David moved to Israel and volunteered for a combat unit in the I.D.F serving in the Nachal 50 Battalion during Operations Cast Lead and Pillar of Defense. After the army, he worked as a Marketing Analyst for a Tel-Aviv start-up company and obtained an M.A. in Security Studies at Tel Aviv University. Outside of work and school, he has been a leader in Ach Gadol (Big Brother), a mentorship program designed to help soldiers who are estranged from their parents. David is excited to begin his rabbinic studies this fall at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and continue his work in interfaith communities, Israel awareness, and gender queer issues. In his free time, he volunteers with home-bound seniors, and adamantly cheers on Boston sports teams.


-1Dina Malki is the Dallas Islam Examiner where she writes about Islam in Dallas. She has been published in several other publications as well. She has been an active participant in interfaith relations for many years. She is a public speaker about Islam. She is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations at the Hartford Seminary in Connecticut.



Christina MallaschChristi Mallasch is currently a dual degree student at Methodist Theological School in Ohio, attempting to get both her Masters of Arts in Practical Theology as well as her Masters in Theological Studies. She is particularly focused on Ethics and Ecology. She is known for laughing too loud, knitting ridiculous things, and being sunburned in the summertime.



Josh headshotJosh Weisman is studying to become a rabbi at Hebrew College. Josh has been bringing people together for community building and social change for over 14 years. As a Congregation Based Community Organizer in San Francisco, he helped congregations put their religious values into action by joining together to campaign for policies that addressed pressing community problems. Last year he was the Organizer for Philadelphia Emerging Religious Leaders, a new interfaith organization of leaders in formation. He graduated Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Macalester College where he produced ethnographies on communities in Guatemala and Minnesota. Josh practices Jewish mindfulness meditation, and traditional ecstatic prayer. He actively explores the intersection between spiritual practice and social justice. Josh lives with his wife, Pella Schafer Weisman, a Marriage & Family Therapist, in Boston.

-1Arzina Zaver is  currently a first year PhD student with the Department of Integrated Studies in Education (DISE) at McGill University. Her research looks at the complexities of neutrality in the professional- epistemological stance of Ethics and Religious Culture teachers in Quebec. Additionally, she is interested in areas of research around the pedagogy of religious education, third space and the role of faith in a secular society. Arzina graduated with a double masters (Masters of Teaching, Masters of Arts in Muslim Societies and Civilizations) from the Institute of Ismaili Studies and the Institute of Education (University of London) in London U.K in 2010. She received the highest grade on both of her masters reports as well as a distinction in my Masters of Teaching degree. She is also  involved in affairs at McGill University and sit on the DISE Faculty Research Committee and serves as Secretary for the Education Graduate Student Society.

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