Spiritual Ecology for Spiritual Leaders

Meet our Participants

Aaron Goggans


The most accurate description of me was written by Breitbart. They once said “Aaron Goggans wants to fundamentally transform American society and wants to use the Black community to do it.” When I read that article I thought, finally, someone really gets me…

I have spent my whole life trying to recover the depth of spirituality I had as a child when I experienced God-Universe-Interbeing talking to me through the wonder of the natural world. I have had a conflicted relationship with spirit even since I realized that it was not common for people to feel like the Universe-God spoke to them. Over the past 4 years I have been a co-instigator of the WildSeed Society a spiritual community at the intersection of movement for Social Transformation, Spiritual Liberation and Economic Revolution.

Alison McCrary


Alison McCrary is a social justice movement lawyer strategist, community mediator, transformative justice practitioner, and an internationally sought-after speaker on social justice, spirituality, and liberation. She has served as a Spiritual Advisor on Louisiana’s death row for the past 18 years. She formerly served as the Movement Capacity Building Strategist supporting about 50 formerly-incarcerated-people-led non-profits in the United States, the Statewide Campaign Manager for the Unanimous Jury Coalition abolishing a 138-year-old Jim Crow law in Louisiana, the founding Director of the ReEntry Mediation Institute of Louisiana, the Executive Director of the National Police Accountability Project, President of the Louisiana Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, and Founding Director of the New Orleans Community-Police Mediation Program. She serves as a Scholar-In-Residence at Loyola University College of Law, author, and contributor for the AntiRacist Development Institute through Penn State Dickinson Law School. Alison formerly served as adjunct professor teaching Christian Ethics at Loyola University-New Orleans and as the Practitioner-In-Residence at Wake Forest University’s School of Divinity. As a 2010 Soros Justice Advocacy Fellowship in New Orleans, she challenged and changed policing practices and policies to transform relationships between police officers and the bearers of New Orleans’ indigenous cultural traditions. She works on issues related to criminal justice reform, environmental justice, immigrant rights, international human rights, cultural preservation, voting rights, disaster recovery, housing rights, and provides support to various social justice movements and organizations locally, nationally, and internationally. Prior to law school, she worked at the Capital Post-Conviction Project of Louisiana providing litigation support on death penalty cases and at the United Nations monitoring the implementation of U.N. Security Council Resolutions relating to women, peace, and security. In 2009, she was an Ella Baker Fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights. She received her J.D. from Loyola University’s College of Law in New Orleans and her B.A. in English at Georgia State University in Atlanta. She also completed coursework and programs at Johannes Gutenburg Universität in Mainz, Germany, University of Surrey in London, Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, Loyola University Chicago, and Catholic Theological Union. Alison is an enrolled citizen of the Ani-Yun-Wiya Cherokee Nation and is active with the Bvlbancha Intertribal Community in New Orleans.

Br. Cristofer Fernández, OFM Conv.


Please feel free to find me on LinkedIn to read more about my professional and academic background. Generally, I'm an ecologist by training and entered the Franciscan Order after feeling called to spiritual leadership in the eco-justice movement and to help Christians undergo an ecological conversion. I would describe myself as earthy, adventurous, neurodivergent, an ambivert, a person of wide interests, a geek, runner, hiker, nature lover, foodie, code switcher, scientist, active contemplative, and culturally enthused Franciscan friar. I look forward to the ecumenical and interreligious fellowship we'll share at this gathering.

Peace and all good things!

Rev. Jared Hamilton


Rev. Jared Hamilton (United Church of Christ) has served the United Church of Hinesburg since 2013. As pastor, Jared works in this vibrant faith community, advocating a faith of exploration, mutual support, inclusion, and works of justice. Ministering to a multi-generational community, Jared's work includes youth group and coordinating youth trips, communion education classes, adult faith formation groups, pastoral visitation, and leading community worship.

​Jared received his Master of Divinity from Andover Newton Theological Seminary in 2012. He has served as a chaplain at New England Baptist Hospital and on staff at Human & Civil Rights Organizations of America. He is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature and the Next Generation Leadership Initiative of the United Church of Christ.

Jared homesteads, keeping gardens, chickens, and bees. He is married to Leah Hamilton and spends his downtime with their three young children, Camille, Simon, and Miles.

Jasetyn (Jase) Hatcher


Jasetyn (Jase) Hatcher (she/ella) is a plant mama and a lover of daydreaming. Born scheming on ways to co-create a beautiful world, she is currently the Economic Justice Program Manager at the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy where she leads worker justice campaigns and statewide economic justice policy initiatives. Master’s qualified in Conflict Transformation (Conflictology) through the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, Jase has 10+ years of global experience spanning public policy, nonprofit services, and public education. She is passionate about co-creating strategies for conflict transformation inclusive of all identities (e.g. gender/sexual, religious, ethnic, racial, ability) that facilitate innovative systems change and empower historically excluded communities. She is a dual resident of the USA and Aotearoa New Zealand and spent most of her adult life living and working in Aotearoa, South Korea, and Ecuador. She currently calls Richmond, VA, home.

LaUra Schmidt


LaUra Schmidt is the founder of Good Grief Network and the brain behind the “10-Steps to Resilience & Empowerment in a Chaotic Climate” program and the FLOW Facilitation Training modality. She is a lifelong student, curator, and practitioner of personal and collective resilience strategies. LaUra holds a BS in Environmental Studies, Biology, and Religious Studies and an MS is in Environmental Humanities. LaUra has earned certificates in “Integrative Somatic Trauma Therapy” and “Climate Psychology.”

LaUra is the author of How to Live in a Chaotic Climate: 10 Steps to Reconnect with Ourselves, Our Communities, and Our Planet.

Rev. Mira Sawlani-Joyner


Rev. Mira Sawlani-Joyner wears many hats as The Riverside Church’s Minister of Justice, Advocacy and Change; she is also a mother to three daughters, a pastor, a preacher, an educator, a peace activist and a public theologian. Mira received her Master of Divinity degree from Wesley Theological Seminary, where she received awards for Community Life and Excellence in Public Theology. During her time in seminary, Mira served as the Associate Pastor of Spiritual Formation at Peace Fellowship Church and served on the launch team of Resurrection City, a Queer and Black-led church plant. She has also served as the former Community Pastor at Forefront Church NYC, and most recently as the Minister for Spiritual Development and Care at Middle Collegiate Church. She is a cohort leader with the Faith and Justice Network and an active member of the Progressive Asian American Christians network.

Nikhil Mandalaparthy


Nikhil Mandalaparthy is a writer, organizer, researcher and curator. He is an Executive Board Member of Sadhana: Coalition of Progressive Hindus, and recently served as Deputy Executive Director of Hindus for Human Rights. Nikhil also curates Voices of Bhakti, a digital archive showcasing translations of South Asian poetry on religion, caste, and gender. With the Aspen Institute's Religion & Society Program, he helped launch a national network of civic and faith leaders advancing religious pluralism.

Nikhil's writing and reporting has been published in several outlets, such as Foreign Policy magazine, Religion News Service, and Religion Dispatches, and has been supported by the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting. He has been quoted and interviewed by publications including BBC World Service, Al Jazeera, Jewish Currents, and the Huffington Post. He has presented at national and international forums including the 2018 and 2021 Parliament of World's Religions. Nikhil completed undergraduate and master's degrees in public policy at the University of Chicago.

Phoebe Chatfield


Phoebe Chatfield is the Program Associate for Creation Care and Justice for the Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop’s Office. In that role, she encourages and celebrates Episcopal efforts towards environmental justice, sustainability, and repair, and supports the work of the churchwide Task Force on Care of Creation and Environmental Racism. Phoebe graduated from Yale University in 2018 with a double major in Environmental Politics and Ethnicity, Race, and Migration. She lives in Somerville, Massachusetts and is passionate about grassroots organizing, mutual aid, science fiction, women’s soccer, and cooking and baking with locally grown ingredients!

Priscilla Martínez


I am a Muslim woman of Indigenous and Latinx heritage, and have been a community organizer and grassroots activist for three decades, with a depth of experience focusing on coalition-building, equity and social justice, interfaith/intrafaith/multifaith, civic engagement, and climate action. My lived experiences unfortunately bear witness to marginalization, discrimination, lack of representation, and microaggressions. When I was a child, my family spent summers picking cotton as migrant workers. My childhood experiences also include Head Start, public housing, free school lunches, WIC, Medicaid, and reliance on pawn shops, payday lenders, and “food stamps.” I live the multi-generational effects of systemic inequity on my heritage and identity. Over the past 30 years, I have brought together faith leaders, local and state government officials, health practitioners, and fellow community leaders for discussion, partnership, and advocacy serving my fellow humans. In addition, I have been called upon by local, state, and national elected officials to engage in roundtable and panel discussions where I am able to advocate for historically excluded groups on such topics as immigration, health care, and housing. Further, I have helped others understand that we are working to rectify a history – as well as the present – which does not center the needs and voices of BIPOC families: from lack of access to clean, open spaces for recreation or decisions on placements of environmentally degrading utilities, to food deserts, economic and criminal justice reform, and systemic health care inequities.

At the intersection of my worlds lies my former service on the board of the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship and my current service on the board of Interfaith Power and Light (DC/MD/VA chapter). I have also been invited to present on Nature Deficit Disorder at Jewish educators’ and parents’ conferences and to deliver testitmony to the Environmental Protection Agency. My personal and professional focus is to bring collaboration and actionable activism to (and on behalf of) communities not historically included in these conversations – whether due to their being a follower of a minority religion, or due to socio-economic constraints, educational inequity, and racial inequity. When presented with an opportunity to bend the arc of the moral universe toward justice, I maintain a sincere and firm commitment to consistently lift up others' voices alongside (and very often instead of) my own. My work has always been steeped in social justice, as I've endeavored to bring people together, build bridges, and find common goals, while empowering each person and each group to also take actions to advocate, speak, and shine in their own ways and in their own authentic voices.

Rebby Kern


Rebby Kern (they/them) is a biracial, nonbinary queer person whose personal experience and professional career has placed them in the work of opening hearts and minds to equity, inclusion and action.

Rebby serves as the Director of Education Policy at Equality NC, advocating for and investing in young changemakers, supporting policy reform and implementing LGBTQ-inclusive training and professional development across North Carolina. Rebby joins colleagues as a board member of Youth Outright, empowering LGBTQIA kids and teens. In 2021 Rebby was welcomed as a new member of the Youth Action Council, an appointment by Governor Roy Cooper for the state of North Carolina.

Expanding their work across the nation, Rebby is a Nationally Certified Trainer for the Human Rights Campaign Foundation Welcoming Schools programs and an Expert Trainer for All Children, All Families. Each program creates space for LGBTQ+ youth, their families and youth livelihood. Rebby serves as a board member for the Fitness Inclusion Action Committee, a project of the Out Foundation, creating more welcoming fitness and wellness spaces.

Rebby is an alumnus of the Community Builder’s Initiative Leaders Under 40 Program and in recognition of their work within youth policy, Rebby has been awarded with the 2017 Champions of Pride Young Catalyst Award from Charlotte Pride, the 2020 Impact Awards by the Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce and the 2020 Self-Care Revolutionary Award by Amplify and Activate Charlotte.

Sara Gurule


Hi! My name is Sara Gurule. Although I am originally from the southwest/west coast (USA), I currently live in Lancaster, PA with my partner, Abby, and our two kitties, Georgia and Melee. I enjoy reading, knitting, hiking, cooking, and so much more! I tend to travel lots for my job, which has been a really neat opportunity to get to know different parts of the country as well as build relationships with so many. I look forward to meeting you all soon!

Shula Pesach


Shula Pesach (she/they) is a community ritualist, rite of passage facilitator, and trans theologian. Shula lives as a white settler on Nipmuc Land, and traces her ancestry from diasporic Ashkenazi Jewish peoples from the Danube and Dnieper watersheds. Shula serves movements for flourishing and collective liberation through her work with Weaving Earth Center for Relational Education, as a co-founder of Re-Calling Our Ancestors, and as the program director for Taproot. Shula is an apprentice of bird-language, the tarot, and stretching strudel dough. Shula also goes by Solace and Salomé.

Teddy Lee Wilder


Teddy Lee Wilder (they/he) is a lifelong farmer and forester and currently works as an agroecology educator and ecological chaplain with young people. They live in the Connecticut River drainage basin on traditional, unceded lands of the Nipmuc and Pocomtuc people as a 16th generation white settler in the region. Teddy sees their work primarily as that of forwarding the land justice movement, collective liberation, and seeding community-based economic sovereignty and place-embedded culture. Teddy is a zen chaplain in the American Soto Zen tradition, having received the precepts from Roshi Joan Halifax. Zen, however, is only one riverstone in his spiritual life, which is mostly the river itself and embodied through learning to be in reciprocity with the land. In previous iterations, Teddy has played semi-pro baseball, worked as a jail chaplain, a bartender, and in settings attending to the daily physical and emotional needs of neurodiverse elders. In spare time, they love to go bicycle camping, play in a folk rock band, and learn the birdsongs.

Wietske Merison


I am a board member of an Islamic grassroots organization called Green Muslims. We strive to contribute to the healing of the broken bonds between humankind and the rest of creation. We organize hikes, lectures, workshops, excursions, communal meals, tree planting, and much more. I am also a certified Muslim and interfaith chaplain. I am currently working on my doctorate in Islamic Law. In my dissertation, I aim to articulate an Islamic framework for climate justice. My supervisor is Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl, and as such, I am a part of the Institute for Advanced Usuli Studies (Usuli Institute), where we also aim to bring matters of climate justice to the forefront in Muslim spaces.