2018 Annual Meeting, Nov 17-20

Mark your calendars for the 2018 Annual Meeting! Plan to join your colleagues in Denver November 17-20. Register Now!

2019 Regional Meetings

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Southeastern Region

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AAR Women's Mentoring Lunch

2017 AAR Annual Meeting, Boston
Sunday, November 19
11:45 am – 12:45 pm

Andrea C. White, Union Theological Seminary, and Melissa M. Wilcox, University of California, Riverside, Presiding

Sponsored by the Status of Women in the Profession Committee, Status of Racial and Ethnic Minorities in the Profession Committee, and the Women's Caucus

Women who are graduate students and new scholars are invited to a luncheon with over thirty womanist, feminist, and LGTIQ mid-career and senior scholars. Women will have the opportunity to mentor and be mentored in a context where every question is valued. The lunch costs $13 per person; sorry, no refunds. Registration is limited to 100.

Registration for the luncheon is required and can be done while you are registering for the Annual Meeting online. If you have already completed registration, contact

2017 AAR Women’s Mentoring Lunch: Mentors and Self-descriptions

Kecia Ali is Professor of Religion at Boston University. She writes and teaches about early Islamic law; women in classical and contemporary Muslim discourses; and religious biography. Before joining BU’s faculty in 2006, she held research and teaching fellowships at Brandeis University and Harvard Divinity School’s Women’s Studies in Religion Program. She has been active at AAR for over a decade, serving on the Religion and Sexuality steering committee, co-chairing the Study of Islam and Islam, Gender, Women program units, and serving on the Status of Women in the Profession Committee. She now serves on the AAR Board. She is interested in professional formation for graduate students and junior faculty. Her short guide to Writing a Successful Paper Proposal appears on the AAR’s website and she co-edited the 2nd edition of A Guide for Women in Religion: Making Your Way from A to Z.

Rebecca T. Alpert, Professor of Religion and Senior Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Temple University, was among the first women in America ordained as a rabbi, at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 1976. She is the author of five books, including Like Bread on the Seder Plate: Jewish Lesbians and the Transformation of Tradition, Whose Torah? A Concise Guide to Progressive Judaism, and Out of Left Field: Jews and Black Baseball.  She is a recipient of Temple University’s Great Teacher Award, a member of the Academic Advisory Council of Jewish Voice for Peace, and a commissioner on the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations.

Ellen T. Armour holds the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Chair in Feminist Theology at Vanderbilt Divinity School and directs the Carpenter Program in Religion, Gender and Sexuality. She is the author of Deconstruction, Feminist Theology and the Problem of Difference: Subverting the Race/Gender Divide (University of Chicago Press, 1999) and co-editor of Bodily Citations: Judith Butler and Religion (Columbia University Press, 2006). Her latest book, Signs and Wonders: Theology after Modernity (Columbia University Press, 2016), uses photographs to diagnose and respond to our relationship to modernity. Her current book project, tentatively entitled Seeing is Believing: Politics, Theology and New Media, will analyze the impact on and import for our communal political life of significant changes in the media landscape by following photography’s role in specific recent story lines connected to critical issues that we confront in our time and place. Before joining the VDS faculty in 2006, Armour taught for 15 years at Rhodes College in Memphis, TN, where she received awards for outstanding service and for outstanding teaching. Among the challenges she has navigated: doing interdisciplinary scholarship; balancing teaching, research and scholarship; teaching religion in the Bible belt; and working for justice and inclusion (as a white lesbian) in college and university settings.

Loriliai Biernacki is Associate Professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Her research interests include Hinduism, ethics, gender and the interface between religion and science. Her first book, Renowned Goddess of Desire (Oxford, 2007) won the Kayden Award in 2008. She is co-editor of God’s Body: Panentheism across the World’s Religious Traditions (Oxford, 2013), and currently working on a study on Indian philosophy, wonder, and ideas of the body and the body-mind interface. Her undergraduate and graduate work was at smaller, liberal arts universities and she currently works in a large state university.

María Del Socorro Castañeda-Liles is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Santa Clara University. She is the author of Our Lady of Everyday Life: La Virgen de Guadalupe and the Catholic Imagination of Mexican Women in America (Oxford University Press, March 2018). Some of her greatest challenges have been in the area of work-life balance. As a faculty of color in a predominantly White institution, she has found that not only students of color seek her out, but also her White colleagues (across disciplines) send her the students of color they work with because as they often say, “they are like you.” She loves mentoring, but this has slowed down the pace of her own writing. Her areas of mentoring strengths include work-life balance; challenges that come with being a faculty of color; and challenges that come with writing (for example, self-doubt and finding time to write).

Monica A. Coleman is Professor of Constructive Theology and African American Religions at Claremont School of Theology. She is the author of Bipolar Faith: A Black Women’s Journey with Depression and Faith; The Dinah Project: A Handbook for Congregational Response to Sexual Violence; Making a Way Out of No Way: A Womanist Theology; and Not Alone: Reflections on Faith and Depression. She is editor of Ain’t I a Womanist Too?: Third Wave Womanist Religious Thought and co-editor of Creating Women’s Theology: A Movement Engaging Process Thought. Her article “Must I Be Womanist?” is widely taught in seminaries and universities. Her research interests include process theology, new movements in black and womanist theologies, African traditional religions (Yoruba-based traditions in the Americas), mental health, and theology and religious pluralism. She has earned degrees from Harvard, Vanderbilt, and Claremont Graduate Universities. She is happy to talk about: experiences of race, gender, and sexual orientation in the academy; the journey to tenure; job negotiating; and balancing ministry, academics, and public scholarship.

Melanie L. Harris is Founding Director of African American and Africana Studies and Associate Professor of Religion and Ethics at Texas Christian University. A graduate of the Harvard Leadership Program, her research focuses on Inclusive Excellence, access and equity in higher education, and ethical leadership. Her scholarship critically examines intersections between race, religion, gender, and environmental ethics. She is the author of many scholarly articles and books including Gifts of Virtue: Alice Walker and Womanist Ethics (Palgrave), Ecowomanism: Earth Honoring Faiths (Orbis) and co-editor of Faith, Feminism, and Scholarship: The Next Generation (Palgrave). Dr. Harris is a former broadcast journalist who worked as a news producer for ABC, CBS, and NBC affiliates. A community leader whose passion for education is linked to a commitment to social justice, she has also served as an educational consultant with the Ford Foundation, the Forum for Theological Exploration, the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion, and Lilly Endowment Inc. She is on the executive board of the Society for the Study of Black Religion and has served on the Board of Directors of KERA-TV/Radio, the American Academy of Religion, and the Society of Christian Ethics. Dr. Harris has been awarded several prestigious awards and academic fellowships, including the AddRan College of Liberal Arts Administration Fellowship and GreenFaith Fellowship. Dr. Harris earned her PhD and MA degrees from Union Theological Seminary in New York City, an MDiv from Iliff School of Theology, and a BA from Spelman College.

Mary E. Hunt, PhD, is a feminist theologian who is co-founder and co-director of the Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER) in Silver Spring, Maryland. A Catholic active in the women-church movement and on LGBTIQ matters, she lectures and writes on theology and ethics with particular attention to liberation issues. She is an editor of A Guide for Women in Religion: Making Your Way from A to Z (Palgrave, 2004, 2014) and co-editor with Diann L. Neu of New Feminist Christianity: Many Voices, Many Views (SkyLight Paths, 2010).

Jane Naomi Iwamura is Associate Professor and Chair of the Religious Studies department at the University of the West. Dr. Iwamura's research focuses on Asian American religions, race and popular culture in the United States (with an emphasis on visual culture). Her publications include Virtual Orientalism: Religion and Popular Culture in the U.S. (Oxford 2011) and the co-edited volume, Revealing the Sacred in Asian and Pacific America (Routledge 2003). She has also written on Japanese American lived religions, as well as on the intersection of religion and Asian American literary production. Dr. Iwamura currently serves as one of the co-directors for the Wabash Colloquium on Mid-Career Asian American and Asian Faculty in Religion & Theology and as an Advisor to the Pacific Asian North American and Asian Women in Theology and Ministry (PANAAWTM). She co-founded (with Paul Spickard) the Asian Pacific American Religions Research Initiative (APARRI)—a national scholarly network advancing the interdisciplinary study of Asian Pacific Americans and their religions. She has also received numerous awards for her teaching and mentoring, including the UWest Outstanding Faculty Member Award in 2013 and 2016.

Jung Ha Kim is the Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Sociology at Georgia State University. She has been working with various communities of refugees and immigrants through CPACS (Center for Pan Asian Community Services, Inc.) and IRC (International Refugee Committee).  She is the founder of the Asian American Community Research Institute at CPACS and directed the Institute until June 2015. Her publications include The Bridge-makers and Cross-bearers (Oxford University Press, 1997), Religions in Asian America (AltaMira Press, 2002), Singing the Lord’s Song in a New Land (Westminster John Knox, 2005), Off the Menu (Westminster, 2007), and Leading Wisdom: Asian and Asian North American Women Leaders (Westminster, 2017), and numerous peer-reviewed journal articles, whitepapers and editorial newspaper articles. She is a recipient of several awards for her community and scholarly work, including the Women’s Legacy Award of the United Way and the National Mentoring Award of Women of Color Scholarship. She has worked at a large state-funded university for over twenty years and worked at and with non-profit organizations, such as IRC (International Rescue Committee) and CPACS (Center for Pan Asian Community Services, Inc.) for an equally long time. Her areas of field/discipline are: social scientific approach to religion, Asian American Studies, Spirituality of immigrants/refugees, and women and religion, and she believes her experience may be particularly relevant to those interested in managing bi-vocational careers, approaching religion from social scientific perspectives, and/or working to balance work/life.

Valerie Miles-Tribble is Associate Professor of Ministerial Leadership and Practical Theology at American Baptist Seminary of the West (ABSW), Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley. Her work as a womanist scholar, practical theologian, and community activist informs her pedagogy. Course curriculum design includes leadership ethics, church leadership, social ethics, adaptive change theory, morality in society, intersectional issues for restorative justice, and public theological approaches to social justice praxis. Rev. Valerie is an ordained clergy woman and interim pastor, earning a Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees from ABSW and San Francisco Theological Seminary (GTU) respectively. With intentional interdisciplinary aims, Dr. Miles-Tribble earned her PhD in Management with degree specialization in Leadership & Organizational Change from Walden University in Minneapolis, MN, including quantitative research and dissertation focus on Assessing Student Leadership Competencies and Adequacy of Preparation in Seminary. Dr. Miles-Tribble has presented papers and published articles on leadership and behavioral ethics, religion and culture, and womanist theoethics. Other book and journal projects are in progress.

Elaine Padilla is Associate Professor of Constructive Theology at New York Theological Seminary. Her theological analysis constructively interweaves current philosophical discourse with Christianity, Latin American and Latino/a religious thought, mysticism, ecology, and gender. She is the author of Divine Enjoyment: A Theology of Passion and Exuberance published by Fordham University Press (2015), and co-editor of a three-volume project with Peter C. Phan, Theology and Migration in World Christianity, published by Palgrave MacMillan (2013–2016). She has published a number of chapters and articles, and is currently working on a manuscript on the “darkness of being.”

Michelene Pesantubbee is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Iowa.  She specializes in Native American religious traditions, especially Native American women and religious change, Native American religious movements, and Southeastern US Native American religious traditions. She is the author of Choctaw Women in a Chaotic World published by the University of New Mexico Press. She is currently working on a book project about the role of Native American women in selected religious movements. She is also currently co-chair for Native Traditions in the Americas group (AAR).

Michele Saracino is Professor of Religious Studies at Manhattan College in Riverdale, New York. Her research focuses on the intersections among theological anthropology, contemporary continental theory, psychologies of the self, and expressions of religiosity in everyday life. She is the author of various essays and four books, the latest entitled Christian Anthropology: An Introduction to the Human Person (Paulist Press, 2015). Currently she is working on the spirituality of water and water-related practices, including baptism, bathing, and swimming.

Angella Son is an Associate Professor of Psychology and Religion of the Theological School at Drew University and the Director of Korean Pastoral Care and Counseling Program at Blanton Peal Institute. She received her doctor of philosophy (PhD) degree from Princeton Theological Seminary and was an adjunct professor in New Brunswick Theological Seminary and New York Theological Seminary before she joined the Drew University faculty in 2001. She is an ordained Presbyterian minister and a certified member of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors with over 2,500 clinical hours. She published a book, Spirituality of Joy: Moving Beyond Dread and Duty, which is also published in Korean and has published many book chapters and articles, including “Agents of Joy: A New Image of Pastoral Care” in the Journal of Pastoral Theology and “Relationality in Kohut’s Psychology of the Self” in Pastoral Psychology. She served on the steering committee as the treasurer and president of the Society for Pastoral Theology, the executive committee of the AAPC Eastern Region, and the Status of Racial & Ethnic Minorities in the Profession Committee of AAR. She also serves on the editorial boards for several scholarly juried journals, including the Journal of Pastoral Theology, Pastoral Psychology, and the Journal of Pastoral Care and Counseling. She is also a recipient of the Open Rank Research Grant from the Yale Center for Faith and Culture at Yale Divinity School. Within the fields of psychology of religion, pastoral care and counseling, pastoral theology, and spirituality, her main scholarly interest focuses on the research on the formation of the psychological self and transformation of the spiritual self. She generally works with Karl Barth’s theological anthropology, Heinz Kohut’s psychology of the self, and Family Systems theory. Particular topics of her research interest include issues of narcissism, shame, depression, joy, atonement, women, the health of families, Confucianism, Korean-American cultural studies, and spirituality. In addition to her involvement in academic professional presentations, she is invited as a preacher and speaker to churches and other various organizations.

Nargis Virani’s research explores intersections between The Qur’an and Literatures originating in Muslim milieu. She has taught a variety of courses on Arabic language, literature, Qur'anic and Islamic Studies, Women's Studies, and Middle Eastern Films at the University of British Columbia, Washington University in St. Louis, and The New School in New York City. She is currently a Visiting Scholar at the Graduate Theological Union, in Berkeley, California. Dr. Virani is currently serving as the Chair of the American Academy of Religion’s Committee on the Status of Racial and Ethnic Minority in the Profession (CREM). She received her MA and PhD in Arabic and Islamic Studies from Harvard University.