Questions about the Alumni/ae Council?

Contact the Alumni/ae Office, alumoffice@psr.edu or 510/849-8260

Thank you for taking the time to vote for your Alumni/ae Council. Please meet your new alumni/ae representatives below!

Israel “Izzy” Alvaran (DMin ’10)

United Methodist Church; San Francisco, CA
Israel “Izzy” I. Alvaran is an ordained Elder in the Philippines Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church. He has served in various ministry settings as pastor, youth minister and faculty at a UMC university and seminary in the Philippines. He is currently under episcopal appointment to serve as Western Regional Organizer with Reconciling Ministries Network, covering 11 states in the west coast. A long-time activist, Israel worked as Person-in-Mission of the UMC General Board of Global Ministries for the Manila Episcopal Area, focusing on advocacy for low-wage workers. For a number of years, he was a community outreach organizer for UNITE HERE Local 2 (the hotel workers union) and Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice of California. Prior to joining RMN, he served as national organizer for economic justice with the UMC General Board of Church and Society. A political asylee from the Philippines, Israel lives in San Francisco, CA and is immersed in the life of his community. He has served on the boards of API Equality, East Bay Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice, San Francisco Pride at Work, Jobs with Justice-San Francisco, and currently on the leadership teams of Network on Religion and Justice for API LGBTQ People and National Ecumenical Forum for Filipino Concerns. Israel has a Masters of Divinity degree and a Masters of Theology degree from Union Theological Seminary in the Philippines. With a dissertation focused on faith-rooted organizing, he received his Doctor of Ministry degree from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA in 2010 as a recipient of the UMC Crusade Scholarship.


Diana Becton (MTS ’15)

El Sobrante, CA

Diana BectonJudge Becton attended Oakland Public Schools, and earned a Masters of Theological Studies at Pacific School of Religion (2015). Judge Diana Becton is a Superior Court Judge in Contra Costa County, appointed to the bench in 1995, and has served in numerous leadership roles including, Presiding Judge, Assistant Presiding Judge, Supervisor Civil Fast Track, Supervisor Felony Criminal Calendar.  She is President of the National Association of Women Judges, the nation’s leading voice for women in the judiciary.

Judge Becton received honors: CCCBOS Outstanding Judiciary/Community Service (2017); CABL Bernard S. Jefferson, Judge of the Year (2016); CWL “Rose Bird Memorial” (2012); Positive contributions City of Richmond (2016); National Organization of Black Law Enforcement, “Trail Blazer” (2014); BWOPA Honoree 2013; ABWA (2012) “Women of Distinction”; CWL (2011-2012) Women of Distinction;” KGO “African American Salute (2012); “Judicial Excellence Award,” CABL Judicial Section (2011); “Judge of the Year” Alameda-Contra Costa Trial Lawyers (2007); “Award of Judicial Excellence, Charles Houston Bar Association” (2006); Black Women Lawyers of Northern California (2011).

She convened “Clean Slate Day (2016),” helping over 800 individuals clean up criminal records and traffic tickets, and Co-Chaired “Know Your Rights,” a Youth Symposium for West Contra Costa County, as part of a dialogue to educate communities.

Judge Becton serves as faculty and a minister at her church in Richmond, teaching theology for LIAT of Allen Temple, and is a frequent lecturer, teacher and preacher both at home an nationally.

Judge Becton serves on The State Bar Council on Access and Fairness Committee, and is the Vice-Chair.  In 2008, the Chief Justice, appointed her to the Judicial Council Advisory Committee on Civil Jury Instructions, in 2007 to the Judicial Council Access and Fairness Advisory Committee (re-appointed 2010; 2014), where she served as Chair of the Women of Color Subcommittee.


Therese DesCamp (MDiv ’92)

United Church of Canada; New Denver, British Columbia

Therese DesCamp is a 1992 graduate of PSR and a 2004 graduate of the GTU. While she has worked in the church, her call is to a different kind of ministry: spiritual direction; a funky kind of community-based pastorate called Wide Spot; writing; retreat work; and the occasional teaching opportunity. She lives in the middle of nowhere, British Columbia, with her spouse Rev. George Meier (also 1992). Her biggest concern is the lived integration of spirituality and skillful action; her intellect is stimulated by the intersection of cognition studies with the language of spiritual disciplines; and her favorite pastime is Mahjong.

 


Sonny Graves (MDiv ’16)

United Church of Christ; Berkeley, CA 

My name is Sonny Graves. I am a PSR Graduate from the class of 2016, Master of Divinity Program. While at PSR I worked as a chaplain, a congregational intern, and participated in the Trans*gender Seminarian Program of CLGS. I have extensive community relationships in the Bay Area, and currently work for the Northern California Nevada Conference of the United Church of Christ. I would be excited to help build relationships, and resources for PSR alumni/ae – and continue to be a voice that guides and nourishes this seminary where I received my education for religious leadership. It is my hope to serve in the tradition of Boldness, and holy faith that is the legacy of the Pacific School of Religion to be a part of building a more just, and joyful world for all people.

 


Jeremy Hamilton-Arnold (MA ’12)

Disciples of Christ; Houston, TX

Jeremy Hamilton-ArnoldJeremy Hamilton-Arnold completed his Master of Arts degree (Art & Religion concentration) from the GTU, affiliating with PSR, in May 2012. Jeremy wrote his Master’s thesis on the (mis)appropriation of a sacred Aboriginal figure/image by a Perth street artist, but he considers the most significant aspects of his time at PSR to be the powerful bonding of community––through casual D’Autremont conversations to excursions with the Great Outdoors group––as well as an initial forging of interest in gallery and museum work. Following graduation and a summer of work at Crater Lake National Park, he moved to Claremont, CA to live with his spouse, Rev. Caroline Hamilton-Arnold, then attending Claremont School of Theology. Jeremy worked for two years at the Disciples Seminary Foundation as an administrator while also working part-time as an instructor at the First Street Gallery Art Center, a gallery that hosts and exhibits the work of adult artists with mental disabilities. He then went on to Yale Divinity School in New Haven, CT, affiliating with the Institute of Sacred Music, to complete a second Master of Arts degree in Religion (Visual Art and Material Culture concentration). While there, he immensely enjoyed working as a Gallery Teacher at the Yale University Art Gallery and soon found his calling to be an educator shift from higher education to the art museum. He now teaches as a FAQ Team Member at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston.


Richard Nugent (MDiv ’96)

Unitarian Universalist Association; Washington, DC

Reverend Richard A. Nugent was ordained to the Unitarian Universalist ministry in April 1997.  From 1997 to 2008, Rev. Nugent served as interim minister to seven congregations.  Since 2008, Richard has served as Director of the UUA Office of Church Staff Finances.  In that capacity, Richard is responsible for the UUA’s national health plan, retirement plan, and other employee benefit plans.  In addition, he advocates for “fair compensation” for congregational staff and administers the Living Tradition Fund and other accounts providing financial assistance to ministers, both working and retired, in times of personal economic need.

Richard earned a B.A. in Economics from George Washington University, Washington, D.C. and a Masters of Divinity degree (1996) from the Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley, California.  While a PSR, Richard chaired the CAPSR Council and received the Koinonia Award for community-building.

Before attending seminary, he spent 22 years working in public policy.  He has worked as a staff assistant to two United States Senators (Senator Gaylord Nelson and Senator Joseph Biden) for eleven years (1972-1983); as a political/market research consultant (1983-1984); as Director of Government Affairs for the Epilepsy Foundation for seven years (1984-1991); as administrator of a health care project in Indonesia (1992-1993); and as a lobbyist for the Unitarian Universalist Association (1996-1997).

Richard lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife, Eileen, and son, Asa.  Eileen recently retired from her career as a diplomat with the United States Department of State.


Loey Powell (MDiv ’77)

United Church of Christ; Cleveland, OH

I graduated from PSR with an M.Div. in 1977 and was ordained in 1978 by the Golden Gate Association of the N. California-N. Nevada Conference of the UCC.  I have served in ministry for almost 40 years, beginning as the Director of an ecumenical environmental justice organization, as an Interim Associate Conference Minister for the No. Cal. Conference, as in Interim Associate Minister at 1st Congregational UCC in San Francisco, as the founding pastor of Peace UCC in Oakland (since dissolved), as Pastor of the United Church in Tallahassee, FL, as the last Executive Director for the Coordinating Center for Women in Church and Society of the UCC, as a Team Leader in Justice and Witness Ministries of the UCC with responsibility for justice for women, peace, and human rights issues, as the Executive Associate to the General Minister and President of the UCC with a focus on leadership development, and on the staff of the UCC’s Council for Health and Human Service Ministries as a contract staff prior to my retirement in 2016.  I have a breadth of experience in the UCC and a commitment to developing new leaders who are equipped with the skills and experience needed in a church and world that is rapidly changing. Through my work, I have worked in interfaith, multi-faith and ecumenical organizations, including serving as Chair of the Board of Directors for the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. I remain good friends and colleagues with many of my classmates from PSR and we share a common experience of our years there as being transformative of us in so many ways.  On a personal note, I am married to my partner/spouse, Brenda Joyner, of 21 years, an interracial relationship through which I have learned a great deal about racism, privilege, white supremacy and love.


Ron Stief (MA, MDiv ’87)

United Church of Christ; Washington, DC

Rev. Ron Stief, an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, is the executive director of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, an interfaith organization of more than 325 religious organizations committed to ending U.S.-sponsored torture. NRCAT is based in Washington, DC.

Rev. Stief is a national leader and faith strategist on torture and human rights. He speaks widely at college campuses, interfaith events, and coalition actions to end CIA torture, end the torture of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons, and oppose the racism and religious bigotry that drives torture. He has been interviewed by CNN, HuffPost Live, the New York Times, Religion News Service, Washington Post, the Christian Post, National Catholic Reporter and many other national publications. He serves as chair of an interfaith coalition of 34 national religious bodies and denominations, Shoulder to Shoulder / Standing with American Muslims Upholding American Values, and is a board member of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good.

From 1999 to 2008, Rev. Stief was director of the Washington D.C. office of the United Church of Christ where he led advocacy for its 5,000 congregations and 1 million members across the country on a broad range of domestic and international issues, through both the UCC’s Washington D.C. and United Nations offices.

Rev. Stief has taught as an adjunct faculty member of the Pacific School of Religion and the Starr King School for the Ministry, both in Berkeley, and the McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, and earned his undergraduate degree in philosophy at the University of Montana. He holds a Master of Arts in Social Ethics and a Masters of Divinity from the Pacific School of Religion.

Ron and his wife, Rev. Sandee Yarlott, also a PSR alum, have one son and two grandchildren.


Who is currently serving and who has recently served?

After checking with our current Council Members, four opted to re-up, and to them we send a debt of gratitude:

Katherine Kunz (MA ’06) is currently Director of Alumni Relations at Dominican University, and is working on her doctorate in Theology at the GTU. She served as the Director Alumni Relations at PSR from 2007-2013.

 

 

 

Michael BauschMichael Bausch (MDiv ’74) is an ordained UCC minister who served churches in California, Iowa and Wisconsin, where he lives (near Madison) with spouse Rev. Catherine Ann Carlson (MDiv ’75). Michael was an Earl Lectures Preacher 2002; PSR Minister in Residence 2007; PSR Adjunct Faculty teaching summer sessions and online courses 2005-2011; and led an Earl Lectures Workshop in 2015. He is the author of several books and articles on practical and prophetic ministry.  Michael taught biblical studies courses at University of Wisconsin-Platteville 2007-2015.

 

Kent GilbertKent Gilbert (MDiv, ’91) is an ordained pastor in the United Church of Christ who has served churches in Idaho, Oregon, and Kentucky. He has served as Lead Pastor of Union Church (The Church of Christ, Union) in Berea, Kentucky since 1997, where he has been extremely active in continuing the church’s historical social justice witness. He has served as a member of the Kentucky Council of Churches Executive board for 19 years, including 2 terms as Secretary and one as First Vice President. He was elected President in 2016. Kent has also served various settings of the United Church of Christ and is active in the Indiana-Kentucky Conference. His work at PSR empowered a creative ministry utilizing the arts and prophetic preaching to inspire inclusive communities of justice and joy.

Allison MarkBorn and raised in Honolulu, Hawai’i, Rev. Allison Kanani Mark (MDiv ’07) is a 3.5 generation Chinese American and 5th generation Japanese American Pastor’s Kid. Graduating from University of Washington in Seattle in 2000, with degrees in Sociology, American Ethnic Studies, and Communications, Rev. Kanani returned to Hawai’i and worked for four years as a Christian Education Director (Kilohana) and became more engaged with community organizing through Faith Action for Community Equity (FACE).

Answering a call to ministry, she entered seminary at Pacific School of Religion in 2004. In seminary, she cultivated her passion for Peace & Justice ministries and Mission & Compassion work. She served with Buena Vista UMC and on the East Bay’s Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice (ICWJ) in Oakland, the Cal-Nevada Philippine Human Rights Work, and the Kairos Response in the Holy Land. In 2008, Pastor Allison was appointed to the Cal-Pac Annual Conference as the Associate Pastor at First UMC Pasadena. Pastor Allison is very engaged in the work of the Annual Conference and community abroad.

Heavily influenced by Rev. James, and his brother Phil Lawson’s non-violent justice work during the Civil Rights Movement, Pastor Allison and her husband, Pastor Andy, have committed acts of Civil Disobedience in the name of worker justice for OurWalmart workers and Immigration Reform. Their 21-month-old daughter, Kaira is a young activist at heart and has been very supportive, attending every rally and protest with her parents!


With Gratitude

Because we have not held elections in a very long time, most of our members already served far beyond what they might have otherwise, and to them we say a hearty thank you and blessings in their continued ministries:

  • Bruce Saunkeah (MDiv ’05)
  • Jeannette Broderson (MDiv ’09)
  • Kacey Alexander (MDiv ’07)
  • Kelly Carpenter (MTS ’08)
  • Kim Morrow (MDiv ’00)
  • Laura C. Engelken (MDiv ’08)

Paige Foreman, Editor of Weekly Update

Paige Foreman is pursuing a Masters in Social Transformation degree at PSR, studying the intersection between interreligious dialogue, social justice work, and the arts. Prior to PSR, she studied at Gallaudet University and earned two B.A. degrees in English and Philosophy, graduating Summa Cum Laude and with University Honors. Her research as an undergraduate centered on doing philosophy through literature and Deaf philosophy of music. After PSR, she hopes to pursue doctoral work in religious studies.

Paige is a “renaissance soul” and has a wide range of interests, but she considers herself a writer at heart, and writing is how she does interreligious dialogue and social justice activism. She is a journalist, novelist, performance poet, and composer. Her journalism has been published in Tikkun Magazine, Thought Catalog, Technical.Ly D.C., and The Buff and Blue.

When Paige is not contemplating the meaning of life or figuring out how to achieve world peace, you can find her swimming in the bay, playing piano, or doing karate.

Tara Limbaugh – First-Year Graduate

Tara Limbaugh is a recent graduate of the 2014-2015 PSR Changemaker Fellowship where she was awarded a Certificate of Spirituality and Social Change. The fellowship experience confirmed her call to ministry and led her to pursue a Master of Divinity from PSR. Prior to seminary she obtained a BA in Nonprofit Business Administration from the University of South Carolina and worked as a professional grant writer and development associate. She also served on the board of Upstate Pride and organized various events for the rural LGBT community in the Upstate of South Carolina. She is seeking ordination in the United Methodist Church where she hopes to blend military chaplaincy with parish ministry. She is passionate about new ministry initiatives based on existing Wesleyan theology, Clemson football, good BBQ, and following the way of Jesus. She lives in Berkeley with her partner, Pastor Caiti Hamilton, and the love of her life, a 15-month-old goldador named Amos.

Todd Whitley – Current Student

Todd Whitley is a second-year MDiv student also enrolled in the Certificate for Spirituality and Social Change and Certificate in Sexuality and Religion. He is from Dallas, Texas where he is a member of Cathedral of Hope UCC and guided the church’s associated social justice organization before beginning seminary. Todd is currently a pastoral intern at Glide Memorial UMC, serves on the PSR chapel planning committee, and is co-moderator of CAPSR. He is a father of four, grandfather of two, and partner to Miguel Atkins whom he will marry in July.