TI2015 presents speakers and panelists who are leading activists, theologians, authors, and experts on economic inequality. Click a name below to skip down to that person’s biography.
The Most Rev. Justin Welby was educated at Eton College and Trinity College in Cambridge, where he studied history and law. For 11 years – five in Paris and six in London – he worked in the oil industry, becoming group treasurer of a large British exploration and production company. He focused mainly on West African and North Sea projects. During this period he became a lay leader at Holy Trinity, Brompton in London, having been a council member at St. Michael’s Church in Paris. Welby took a theology degree at St John’s College, Durham, in which he focused on ethics – particularly in business. He has since published articles on ethics, international finance, and reconciliation. His booklet, “Can Companies Sin?” drawing on his experience in the oil industry, evolved from his dissertation at theological college. Welby officially became Archbishop in February 2013, succeeding Dr. Rowan Williams who retired at the end of December 2012. Welby was enthroned at Canterbury Cathedral on March 21, 2013.
Cornel West is a prominent and provocative democratic intellectual. He is a Professor of Philosophy and Christian Practice at Union Theological Seminary and Professor Emeritus at Princeton University. He has also taught at Yale, Harvard, and the University of Paris. West graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard in three years and obtained his M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy at Princeton. He has written 20 books and has edited 13. He is best known for his classics The Rich and the Rest of Us, Race Matters and Democracy Matters, and his memoir, Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud. West appears frequently on the Bill Maher Show, Colbert Report, CNN, and C-Span as well as on Tavis Smiley’s PBS TV Show.
Barbara Ehrenreich is the author of 21 books, including The New York Times best sellers, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America and Bright-Sided: How Positive Thinking Is Undermining America (2010). Ehrenreich’s latest release, Living with a Wild God, is a brave and honest memoir unlike anything she’s written before. In it, she reconstructs her childhood mission, bringing an older woman’s wry and erudite perspective to a young girl’s impassioned obsession with the questions that torment us all. The result is a searing memoir and a profound reflection on science, religion, and the human condition. Ehrenreich is also a frequent contributor to The New York Times, Harpers, The Progressive magazine, and Time magazine, and has appeared on Oprah, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and The Joy Behar Show, to name a few. Before becoming an activist, Ehrenreich studied cell biology and physics, graduating with a degree in physics from Reed College in 1963 and a Ph.D. in cell biology from Rockefeller University in 1968. A few years later, her work life settled into three tracks, which continue to this day: journalism, book-length projects, and activism on such issues as health care, peace, women’s rights, and economic justice.
Robert B. Reich is the Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He was Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration. Time magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written thirteen books, including the best sellers Aftershock and The Work of Nations. His latest, Beyond Outrage, is now out in paperback. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause. His new film, Inequality for All, is now available on Netflix, iTunes, DVD, and On Demand.
Bishop Julio E. Murray studied theology in the Latin American Biblical Seminary in San José, Costa Rica; at the National University of Heredia; at the Latin American Biblical University in San José, Costa Rica and at the Bossey Institute in Geneva, Switzerland. He was elected Diocesan Bishop in a Special Convention on May 20, 2000 and is ordination and consecration took place on August 19, 2000. Murray is a member of the Afro-Panamanian Religious Organizations; precursor of the Celebration of Black Ethnicity Day in Panama since May 30, 2002; as well as the National Council of Black Ethnicity since 2005. Murray’s states his basic life principle in these words: “The most important goal that a human being can achieve is not to simply create a state of comfort, self-satisfaction and fun. The final goal is achieved by upholding the freedom of every human being, by raising and defending the dignity of our neighbors and by getting closer to the humility and nobility of our creator.”
Juliet Schor is Professor of Sociology at Boston College. She is also a member of the MacArthur Foundation Connected Learning Research Network. Before joining Boston College, she taught at Harvard University for 17 years, in the Department of Economics and the Committee on Degrees in Women's Studies. A graduate of Wesleyan University, Schor received her Ph.D. in economics at the University of Massachusetts. Previous books include national best-seller The Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline of Leisure and The Overspent American: Why We Want What We Don’t Need. The Overworked American appeared on the best-seller lists of The New York Times, Publisher's Weekly, The Chicago Tribune, The Village Voice, The Boston Globe as well as the annual best books list for The New York Times, Business Week and other publications. The book is widely credited for influencing the national debate on work and family. The Overspent American was also made into a video of the same name, by the Media Education Foundation.
Rachel Held Evans is an author of books, blog posts, and articles. She writes from Dayton, Tennessee—a small town made famous by the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925. Her first book, Evolving in Monkey Town (Zondervan, 2010), explores the relationship between faith and doubt and recounts the challenges of asking tough questions about Christianity in the context of the Bible Belt. Her second book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood (Thomas Nelson, 2012), documents a year-long experiment in which she attempted to follow all of the Bible’s instructions for women as literally as possible. She has been featured on NPR, Slate, The BBC, The Washington Post, The Guardian (UK), The Times London, The Huffington Post, and Oprah.com, and was recently named one of Christianity Today’s “50 Women to Watch.”
Jennifer Jones Austin is the CEO of the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA), which supports New York agencies that deliver human services. FPWA has branched out beyond its original faith-based membership and provides management assistance, capacity building, and advocacy services to nearly 200 member agencies and churches throughout the City’s five boroughs and beyond. Before joining the FPWA, Jones Austin served as Senior Vice President of Community Investment for United Way of New York City, where she was responsible for providing vision and leadership in leveraging human and financial resources toward making measurable progress in solving complex health and human services problems. Previous to this, she served as the first Family Services Coordinator of the City of New York, a position to which she was appointed by Mayor Bloomberg in 2006 after four years as Deputy Commissioner for the City’s Administration for Children’s Services. She also served as Civil Rights Deputy Bureau Chief in the Office of the New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, and as a Vice President for LearnNow/Edison Schools Inc.
R. R. Reno is Editor and Executive Director of First Things institute. He has been published in many academic journals; his essays and opinion pieces on religion, public life, contemporary culture, and current events have appeared in Commentary and the Washington Post, among other popular outlets. His most recent books include Sanctified Vision: An Introduction to Early Christian Interpretation of the Bible and Fighting the Noonday Devil, published in December 2010. Reno has appeared as a guest on CNN’s Crossfire, EWTN’s Faith & Culture, and numerous radio shows.
Nicole Baker Fulgham is the founder and president of The Expectations Project, a non-profit organization that develops and mobilizes faith-motivated advocates who help close the academic achievement gap in public schools. She is the author of Educating All God’s Children: What Christians Can – and Should – Do to Improve Public Education for Low-Income Kids (Brazos Press, April 2013). A native of Detroit, Fulgham graduated from the University of Michigan and joined Teach For America where she taught fifth grade in Compton, California. She received her doctorate in education from UCLA with a focus on urban education policy and teacher preparation. Christianity Today magazine featured Fulgham as One to Watch and also named her one of the 50 Women Leaders Influencing the Church and Culture.
The Rev. Dr. Traci C. West is Professor of Ethics and African American Studies at Drew University Theological School in Madison, NJ. She received her B.A. from Yale University in New Haven, CT, her MDiv. from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA, and her PhD from Union Theological Seminary in New York City. West is the author of Disruptive Christian Ethics: When Racism and Women's Lives Matter, Wounds of the Spirit: Black Women, Violence, and Resistance Ethics, and the editor of Our Family Values: Same-sex Marriage and Religion. She has also written several articles on violence against women, racism, clergy ethics, sexuality, and other justice issues in church and society. West is an ordained elder in the New York Annual Conference of the United Methodist church who previously served in campus and parish ministry in the Hartford, CT, area. She is a member of United Methodists of Color for a Fully Inclusive Church, participated in an interfaith clergy delegation to Baghdad, Iraq, and was interviewed in the documentary on violence against black women "NO!" and "Breaking Silences: A Supplemental Video to No!" by Aishah Simmons.
The Rev. Dr. Amy Butler serves as the seventh Senior Minister of historic Riverside Church in New York City. Prior to her work at The Riverside Church, she served for eleven years as Senior Pastor at Calvary Baptist Church, Washington D.C. Butler received her B.A. and M.A. in Church History from Baylor University in Waco, TX, her Bachelor of Theology from the International Baptist Seminary in Rüschlikon, Switzerland, and her Doctor of Ministry in Preaching from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. Before her call to Calvary, Butler served as Associate Pastor at St. Charles Baptist Church in New Orleans and worked for eight years with homeless women in the city of New Orleans. She writes a regular column for the Associated Baptist Press and blogs at www.talkwiththepreacher.org. You can connect with Butler on Twitter at @PastorAmyTRC and on Instagram at PastorAmyTRC.
Douglas Meeks is Cal Turner Chancellor Professor of Theology and Wesleyan Studies and director of The Turner Center for Church Leadership at Vanderbilt Divinity School. His research interests focus on the relation of Christian doctrine to economic, social, and political theory. Professor Meeks is the author, co-author, or editor of 16 books, including God the Economist: The Doctrine of God and Political Economy (Fortress). Prior to joining the faculty at Vanderbilt he was the dean and professor of systematic theology at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC, and professor of systematic theology at Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis. He has authored numerous chapters, articles, and reviews and has lectured throughout the United States, Europe, and Great Britain. His record of professional service includes membership on a variety of academic and ecclesial councils and commissions dealing with theology and economy, religion and science, liberation theology, points at issue between black and white theologies, and theological education. He is an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church.