Faculty

Our faculty is the most experienced educational staff in Interfaith/Interspiritual Education

The One Spirit Interfaith Seminary faculty is the most honored, respected and celebrated teachers in Interfaith/Interspiritual education. Our Spiritual Educational Director Diane Berke has been leading Interfaith Seminary education for more than 20 years. Diane has written curriculum used at several Interfaith Seminaries nationally and internationally. Our strong, diversified and experienced group of Deans skillfully and lovingly shepherd students into ministry.

In addition to One Spirit’s core teaching staff we have an acclaimed group guest teachers such as Rabbi David Ingber, Miranda Macpherson, Mirabai Starr, Kurt Johnson, Marta Moreno-Vega, and others.


Rev. Diane Berke, Ph.D.

Rev. Diane Berke, Ph.D.

Founder and Spiritual Director

Rev. Diane Berke, Ph.D. (Founder and Spiritual Director) holds advanced degrees in sociology, psychology, and therapeutic counseling. Ordained as an interfaith minister in 1988, she is a widely respected pioneer in developing interfaith/interspiritual ministry education. Diane is on the faculty of Andrew Harvey’s Institute for Sacred Activism, a founding member of The Contemplative Alliance of the Global Peace Initiative of Women, and a certified facilitator for the Circle of Trust® work of the Center for Courage and Renewal. She is the author of numerous books and educational manuals, including Love Always Answers, The Gentle Smile, Developing and Deepening Your Spiritual Practice, and Interfaith Ministers’ Service and Reference Manual. A psychotherapist and spiritual counselor for over thirty years, Diane is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in the State of New York. Most important, Diane is widely known and respected for the impact she has on those who study with her. With boundless care, clear intelligence, and deep safety, she creates an extraordinarily rich learning environment. Diane’s students, as well as her clients in private sessions and participants in her workshops and retreats, report experiencing profound acceptance and a deep invitation to the truth that facilitates genuine transformation and healing.


Iyanifa Rev. DeShannon Barnes-Bowens

Iyanifa Rev. DeShannon Barnes-Bowens

Assistant Director

Iyanifa Rev. DeShannon Barnes-Bowens (Assistant Director) enjoys journeying with others to help them discover their personal path to freedom. In 2010, she was ordained as an Interfaith-Interspiritual minister through One Spirit and served as a first year dean for three years. DeShannon is an initiated priestess in the Yoruba spiritual tradition of Ifa which has been her spiritual path since 2001. She has a Bachelor’s degree in psychology, Master’s degree in counseling and is an Emeritus Scholar for the Inter-religious on-line publication, “State of Formation.” DeShannon is also the author of Hush Hush: An African American Family Breaks their Silence on Sexuality & Sexual Abuse (2007, 2015) and A Road Less Travelled, published in the Journal of Inter-religious Studies in 2018. She is a trained sexual trauma therapist and currently serves as a professional development trainer through her consulting organization ILERA. Since its inception in 2004, ILERA has offered: transformative programs on vicarious trauma and wellness, forums to discuss the intersection of sexuality and spirituality, educational programs on sexual abuse prevention and self-development workshops grounded in indigenous spiritual wisdom.


Rev. Sunita Algoo

Rev. Sunita Algoo

Dean

Rev. Sunita Algoo (Dean) is a spiritual teacher and happiness guide. Offering sacred heart wisdom, she believes that humanity is on a quest to experience and remember who we truly are…Love. We must have the courage to uncover our hidden gifts, tenderly embrace all aspects of ourselves, love our own hearts, and boldly live an authentic life. The potential for people to be vessels of transformation and beacons of hope for others has led Sunita down various paths of study. Ordained by One Spirit Interfaith Seminary in 2010, Sunita is an Interspiritual Minister and counselor. She holds a Master’s degree in Counseling, and Bachelor’s Degrees in Psychology and Communications. Sunita is a certified professional Life Coach and holds advanced certification in shamanism, hypnotisms, Theta Healing, and various other forms of healing. Being empathic, and intuitive, Sunita has been helping people transform their reality through the power of love for over 30 years. Offering healing energies of Divine Love, Sunita is dedicated to the heart centered consciousness and empowerment of any being that she meets. Sunita’s hope is for tender hearts to feel more loved, inspired, supported, and open to the greatest possibilities in their life. The greatest teacher in Sunita’s life has been life itself. Her lifelong spiritual journey has led her to the undeniable conclusion that our happiness is a service to the world. In her spare time, she enjoys Crossfit and being in nature. Sunita is an eternal champion of the human spirit and a warrior of the Light.


Rev. Barbara Becker

Rev. Barbara Becker

Dean

Rev. Barbara Becker (Dean) considers herself spiritual and multi-religious.  As a senior community minister at Judson Memorial Church in NYC, she has been instrumental in developing an interfaith program that focuses on immigration issues.  For twenty years Barbara has been a committed Buddhist practitioner. Recently she has been actively associated with a delegation of Zen Peacemakers and Lakota elders in the sacred Black Hills of South Dakota.  At home on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, she observes a Jewish life with her husband and two sons. Barbara is the founder and principal of EqualShot, where she develops strategies in partnership with human rights advocates around the world.  For nearly a decade, she taught communications for social change at Columbia University.  She holds master's degrees from The New School and The School for International Training, as well as a bachelor's degree from Haverford College. She was ordained by One Spirit in 2017.  In all that she does, she strives to balance a still heart with action in the world.


Reverend Karim Beldjilali

Reverend Karim Beldjilali

Dean

Reverend Karim Beldjilali (Dean) is a musician, engineer, and minister, graduating from One Spirit Learning Alliance’s seminary in 2014. Having previously served as One Spirit Board President, he offers his work and ministerial experience of organizational leadership and development, focusing on communication, technology, managing change, and mindful planning. He has worked in the non-profit sector for over 12 years, consulting with over 50 non-profits throughout the New York City area regarding strategic planning and project oversight. Karim speaks at spiritual centers, performs wedding ceremonies, and facilitates workshops on Compassionate Communications in the New York tri-state area. Born into a multicultural family in Algeria, then moving to US, Karim has had a life experience that continually reaffirms one truth that One Spirit Learning Alliance embodies: the great diversity of the world enriches every moment. He is blessed to have a wonderfully supportive husband and family, and he is honored and humbled to serve an organization he loves so dearly.


Rev. Sarah Bowen

Rev. Sarah Bowen

Dean

Rev. Sarah Bowen (Dean) is passionate about animal chaplaincy as well as the intersection of ancient spiritual wisdom with pop culture. Ordained by One Spirit in 2017, Sarah has a BA in Human Ecology and has also studied with The University of Edinburgh and Emerson Theological Institute. She is currently completing her MA in Religious Studies with Chicago Theological Seminary, focused on the intersection of spiritual/religious values with animal welfare issues. When she doesn’t have her nose in a book, Sarah is an inspired keynote speaker and workshop facilitator for women’s and LGBTQ+ issues in recovery, with over a decade of companioning people in their journeys to connect with the higher power of their own understanding (including serving on the World Service Board of a 12-step fellowship). An award-winning spirituality author, her creative take on the Hebrew and Christian scriptures, Void if Detached: Seeking Modern Spirituality through My Father’s Old Sermons, won a Nautilus and an International Book Award. Her second book, a guide to discovering spiritual practices for the spiritual-but-not-religious, will be released by Monkfish Publishing in Spring 2019. Sarah is a member of Spiritual Directors International, the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement, the Christian Vegetarian Association, and the Reducetarian movement. As a member of multiple faith communities and a retreat junkie, Sarah considers herself a deeply spiritual and religious “free agent” who is positively addicted to spiritual practice.


Rev. Martha Dewing

Rev. Martha Dewing

Dean

Rev. Martha Dewing (Dean) was ordained by One Spirit in 2006. She has served as a member of the admissions team, coordinator of the mentoring program, and as a second year deans’ assistant before becoming a first year dean. She began her career as an elementary school teacher in New York and abroad and subsequently published and edited Children’s Video Report, a newsletter about children and media. Martha worked for several years with the Caring Circle, a family bereavement program in Westchester County. She served on the board at Miriam’s Well, a teaching facility in upstate New York whose mission is to offer transformational experiences that initiate and sustain conscious spiritual evolution toward peaceful coexistence. Her undergraduate degree is from New York University and she holds a master’s degree from Harvard University. Of the many spiritual practices that she engages throughout the day, the two primary ones are mantra meditation twice a day, every day, without fail, and a heartfelt practice of gratitude from morning to night.


Rev. Eileen Fisher

Rev. Eileen Fisher

Dean

Rev. Eileen Fisher (Dean) has been teaching in NJ public schools for over 20 years. She holds a Master’s degree in education and has experience developing educational programs while working with young children, families and adult learners. She is currently the facilitator of a mindful education program in a middle school. Eileen was ordained by One Spirit in 2010 and has supported One Spirit as a classroom assistant and coordinator of the mentoring ministry program. She has served through her local hospice and a women’s prison in New Jersey. A Sufi dervish in the Nur Ashki Jerrahi Order, Eileen strives to walk the path of remembrance and expresses her ministry by supporting the spiritual growth of others through officiating life cycle ceremonies and spiritual counseling. She is deeply committed to protecting and caring for the Earth and all sentient beings. Eileen believes we are all connected and called to demonstrate the ​​transformative power of Love through expression of our own Divine Wisdom in ways that will bless and heal the world.


Rev. Elizabeth-Friend Ennis

Rev. Elizabeth-Friend Ennis

Dean

Rev. Elizabeth-Friend Ennis (Dean) was Born to a devoutly Catholic family in the Midwest, Elizabeth felt a call to sacred service and exploring her spirituality from an early age. She had a career for many years in non-profit development, supporting environmental, educational, and health service agencies, at the same time that she and her husband became foster parents to several special-needs children. In 2009 she left the workforce to be lead parent for their three children, adopted through the Foster Care System. Her experiences in this arena have immersed her in the work of healing from trauma, abuse, and addiction. After ordination from One Spirit in 2016, she pursued clinical pastoral education and is currently assistant chaplain at Lutheran Care Center in Poughkeepsie, NY. Her spiritual path has been a circuitous journey from her Catholic roots to her current practice, which is heavily influenced by Buddhism and Science of Mind. Much of her experience of the Divine is through nature and the outdoors. She lives in southern Westchester with her husband, youngest daughter, three cats and her dog.


Rev. Barbara Hetzel

Rev. Barbara Hetzel

Dean

Rev. Barbara Hetzel (Dean) was ordained by One Spirit in 2009 and lives her ministerial calling through officiating at weddings, memorial services, and blessings. Barbara has over 25 years’ experience in the field of training and organizational development. She has engaged individuals, teams, and executives in the ministerial, non-profit, education, and for-profit sectors to help them discover their strengths and build their skills and talent for the world. Barbara serves as a board member for LiDER a non-profit that brings leadership development to the Global South. Barbara is the owner and founder of Ridge Top Coaching, a life and leadership-coaching firm. She has a B.S. degree in psychology from East Stroudsburg University and two master’s degrees; one in pastoral ministry from LaSalle University and the other in administrative science, concentration leadership from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Barbara holds a certification in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and is a master practitioner in the Energy Leadership Index (ELI). She is a certified professional coach with an ACC designation through the International Coach Federation (ICF). Barbara is a native of Central Pennsylvania and currently resides in Harrisonburg, VA with her wife.


Rev. Christopher J. Portelli

Rev. Christopher J. Portelli

Dean

Rev. Christopher J. Portelli (Dean) was ordained an Interfaith and Interspiritual Minister by One Sprit in 2016, and he completed the Interspiritual Counseling program there in 2018. He performs weddings, baby blessings, house blessings, funerals, and memorial services, and offers individual and group spiritual counseling. Raised Roman Catholic, he studied and followed the spiritual teachings of Teilhard de Chardin, Thomas Merton, Pope John XXXIII, St. Francis of Assisi and Dorothy Day. Today he studies and practices Effortless Mindfulness, a set of spiritual exercises developed by contemporary Buddhist scholar Loch Kelly He is also coordinating attorney at the non-profit New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) in Manhattan, where he founded the Economic Justice Clinic in 2010. The clinic trains law students in poverty law and allows them to provide free legal services to low income and homeless New Yorkers with attorney supervision. Chris lives with his husband in Jersey City, NJ.


Rev. Leslie Reambeault

Rev. Leslie Reambeault

Dean

Rev. Leslie Reambeault (Dean) is an ordained Interfaith/Interspiritual Minister of the One Spirit Class of 2012. Her cornerstone tradition is Roman Catholicism; throughout her life she has taken training and practiced in many others, especially the Lakota and Mescalero Apache medicine paths, the Reclaiming tradition of Wicca, eco-spirituality and Tibetan Buddhism. Since ordination, Leslie has facilitated weddings, baby welcomings, and memorials. She continues working on a dissertation for her Doctorate in Ministry through Wisdom University on Meeting Death. She is honored to have taught both core courses and an elective at One Spirit. Leslie is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in private practice for 18 years, using an integrated approach with the physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual parts of clients who are adversely impacted by trauma. Since moving to New Mexico in May 2016, she has become certified in working with first responders (police, sheriff, firefighters, EMTs and flight medics) and their families, and is a new member of the Red Cross Disaster Mental Health and Disaster Spiritual Care teams. Leslie worked for AT&T for 30 years in an array of management assignments from recruitment to operations, engineering, finance, sales, marketing, and process improvement. She is indebted to many teachers there who supported her development and encouraged her as she worked with a small group to secure the rights of LGBTQ and two-spirited employees in gaining health care and retirement rights for their same sex domestic partners, long before legal marriage was even a faint gleam in the eye. Leslie lives with her wife and miniature poodle, Lahli; in Santa Fe.


Rev. Diane Rooney

Rev. Diane Rooney

Dean

Rev. Diane Rooney (Dean) was ordained as an Interspiritual Minister by One Spirit in 2014 and serves on the leadership team of One Spirit In Action, whose mission is to bring social justice to those who have been forgotten, underserved or are in need.  Diane is a licensed acupuncturist, licensed massage therapist, certified aromatherapist and Reiki master. She integrates these techniques along with her ministerial training in her private healing sessions. Diane is also a senior faculty member at Tri-State College of Acupuncture. She helped create and launch the Integrative Therapy Department for Children with Cancer at both New York Presbyterian and St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospitals. One of her passions is to travel to small towns around the world and bring healing to those who would otherwise not have the opportunity. She has treated and taught self-healing techniques to those in India, China, Africa and Central America. Another passion of hers is to facilitate workshops on The Spirit of the Tao and self-healing techniques in and around New York City.

Rev. Diane Berke, Ph.D.

Rev. Diane Berke, Ph.D.

Founder and Spiritual Director

Rev. Diane Berke, Ph.D. (Founder and Spiritual Director) holds advanced degrees in sociology, psychology, and therapeutic counseling. Ordained as an interfaith minister in 1988, she is a widely respected pioneer in developing interfaith/interspiritual ministry education. Diane is on the faculty of Andrew Harvey’s Institute for Sacred Activism, a founding member of The Contemplative Alliance of the Global Peace Initiative of Women, and a certified facilitator for the Circle of Trust® work of the Center for Courage and Renewal. She is the author of numerous books and educational manuals, including Love Always Answers, The Gentle Smile, Developing and Deepening Your Spiritual Practice, and Interfaith Ministers’ Service and Reference Manual. A psychotherapist and spiritual counselor for over thirty years, Diane is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in the State of New York. Most important, Diane is widely known and respected for the impact she has on those who study with her. With boundless care, clear intelligence, and deep safety, she creates an extraordinarily rich learning environment. Diane’s students, as well as her clients in private sessions and participants in her workshops and retreats, report experiencing profound acceptance and a deep invitation to the truth that facilitates genuine transformation and healing.


Iyanifa Rev. DeShannon Barnes-Bowens

Iyanifa Rev. DeShannon Barnes-Bowens

Assistant Director

Iyanifa Rev. DeShannon Barnes-Bowens (Assistant Director) enjoys journeying with others to help them discover their personal path to freedom. In 2010, she was ordained as an Interfaith-Interspiritual Minister through One Spirit and served as a first year dean for three years. DeShannon is an initiated priestess in the Yoruba spiritual tradition of Ifa which has been her spiritual path since 2001. She has a Bachelor’s degree in psychology, Master’s degree in counseling and is an Emeritus Scholar for the Inter-religious on-line publication, “State of Formation.” DeShannon is also the author of Hush Hush: An African American Family Breaks their Silence on Sexuality & Sexual Abuse (2007, 2015) and A Road Less Travelled, published in the Journal of Inter-religious Studies in 2018. She is a trained sexual trauma therapist and currently serves as a professional development trainer through her consulting organization ILERA. Since its inception in 2004, ILERA has offered: transformative programs on vicarious trauma and wellness, forums to discuss the intersection of sexuality and spirituality, educational programs on sexual abuse prevention and self-development workshops grounded in indigenous spiritual wisdom.


Rev. David Wallace

Rev. David Wallace

Senior Instructor

Rev. David Wallace (Senior Instructor) was ordained as an Interfaith Minister in 2001 and has been a second year dean for One Spirit Interfaith Seminary since 2004. He is a graduate of St. John’s College in Santa Fe, NM, and has continued these studies as a lifelong student of the “great books” of philosophy and archetypal psychology. Prior to his work in ministry, David had an extensive career in publishing and marketing, and created the award-winning retail galleries, The Enchanted Forest and After the Rain in Soho. He was a founding board member of the teaching facility at Miriam’s Well in Saugerties, NY, and served on both the worship committee and board of Judson Memorial Church in NYC, where he also preached and taught centering prayer. David has an active ministry as a ceremony officiant, has served as a spiritual disaster care chaplain in NYC, and has been active with the Alzheimer’s Association.  A popular teacher, David has been a regular guest lecturer at the Kripalu Institute in Lenox, MA, the Interspiritueel Seminarie in the Netherlands, and has taught at Integral Yoga, the Esalen Institute, the Omega Institute and other educational venues. In addition to the core curriculum of the seminary, David teaches electives on the sacred texts of both the Eastern and Western spiritual traditions for One Spirit.


Rev. Jennifer Bailey

Rev. Jennifer Bailey

Dean

Rev. Jennifer Bailey (Dean) was ordained as an interfaith/interspiritual Minister at One Spirit in 2016. Jennifer’s vocation is through a combination of art making and spiritual care, particularly around issues of grief and loss. An experienced group facilitator, she has had the privilege of creating diverse groups and arts programs for senior centers; and coordinated a safe housing program for human trafficking survivors.  At Center for Urban Community Services, Jennifer provides therapeutic arts and chaplaincy in supportive housing facilities for adults, some who have been formerly homeless, many with persistent mental illness and substance abuse challenges. For several years she served as an emergency room crisis counselor for rape and domestic violence survivors at Mount Sinai Hospital. She is currently training to be a disaster spiritual care worker for the Red Cross. She is very drawn to the paths of Buddhism and nature-based spirituality, with art making as one of her primary spiritual practices. Jennifer was ordained as an Interfaith/Interspiritual minister in 2016 through One Spirit Seminary. She holds a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Fine Arts and Toy Design from F.I.T. and has studied anthropology, international relations and religion at CUNY Hunter College.


Rev. Nura Hirmina

Rev. Nura Hirmina

Dean

Rev. Nura Hirmina (Dean) was ordained by One Spirit Interfaith Seminary as an Interfaith/Interspiritual Minister in 2014 and completed the Interspiritual Counseling program in 2016.  Nura holds a B.S. in Business Administration and an MBA in Global Management. She is currently working on her doctorate at New York Theological Seminary. A life-long student of the world’s faith and mystery traditions, Nura has embraced interspirituality as her path while also identifying with the spiritual but not religious movement.   With over two decades of corporate experience, Nura engages in her “stealth ministry” by creating a safe and affirming work environment for those she leads and with whom she collaborates. For Nura, every interaction is an opportunity to embody kindness as a spiritual practice.


Rev. Mark Fowler

Rev. Mark Fowler

Dean

Rev. Mark Fowler (Dean) is an ordained interfaith/interspiritual Minister. He completed One Spirit Interfaith Seminary in 2012. He is appreciative of the privilege of seeking God in all its manifestations on the planet. Mark was honored to be the commencement speaker at his graduation and has given the morning message several times over the past four years at the New Thought Spiritual Center of Eastern Long Island in Southampton, New York, at the Community Protestant Church in the Bronx, at Unity of New York in Manhattan, and at Sacred Fellowship Ministries. Mark continues to work on a series of sermons entitled, “The Myth of…” that will be further developed into a book. Mark began his spiritual journey at the Rendall Memorial Presbyterian Church in Harlem, New York, and was a member of the Community Protestant Church of the Bronx, singing on the Young Adult Choir and the Inspirational Choir. He furthered his spiritual development and education at Unity Fellowship of Christ Church where he served on the hospitality committee, was a chair of the Men’s Fellowship and served on the board of Breaking Ground. Mark serves as the deputy chief executive officer at the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding, a secular, non-sectarian not-for-profit organization. He is responsible for overseeing the design and implementation of programmatic trainings, operations and development. He has presented at conferences globally. He is a sought-after keynote speaker and facilitator on issues of equality in race, gender, sexual orientation and religion. Mark earned a B.A. in English and Education at Duke University and was trained as a mediation and conflict resolution specialist with the NYC Department of Education and leads retreats.


Rev. Sue Koehler-Arsenault, M.Div.

Rev. Sue Koehler-Arsenault, M.Div.

Dean

Rev. Sue Koehler-Arsenault, M.Div. (Dean) has been inviting others to look within and discover their spiritual strength for thirty years of active ministry in interfaith settings. She earned her Master’s of Divinity degree from the Weston Jesuit School of Theology (Boston College) in 1994 and was ordained by One Spirit Interfaith Seminary in 2011. She has served as a Jesuit Volunteer working at the St. Martin de Porres Shelter in Seattle, WA and she developed an innovative service-learning program at Seattle University. While chaplain at Wellesley College, she helped establish a pioneering multi-faith approach to religious and spiritual life on campus. As a hospice and palliative care chaplain for over 12 years, Sue became a skilled counselor and end-of-life spiritual educator. She teaches a variety of classes and workshops at One Spirit, including an Introduction to the Spiritual Care of the Dying, Healing from Religious Injury, Building Your Wedding Ministry, Creating Healthy Spiritual Community and more. Based in Rockport, MA, Sue is a "Minister without Walls" offering life-cycle ceremonies, spiritual counseling, workshops, and retreats. She is Director of Christian Education at First Congregational Church of Rockport (United Church of Christ).


Rev. Robin Lane

Rev. Robin Lane

Dean

Rev. Robin Lane (Dean) is an Interfaith/Interspiritual Minister, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and served as Dean for second year students at One Spirit Interfaith Seminary from 2007 through 2016, seven of those years as Senior Dean. She is a Supervisor, Spiritual and Foundations Counselor for One Spirit’s InterSpiritual Counseling program. Robin was ordained in 2003 as a member of the first graduating class at One Spirit Interfaith Seminary. Upon Ordination, Robin was hired as an Interfaith Chaplain at Jacob Perlow Hospice. She maintains a Psycho Spiritual/ Essential Counseling Practice, and an active ceremony/ritual based ministry. Robin worked in the field of women’s reproductive health for 30 years, first running a NYC community- based family planning agency with a network of 11 clinics in NYC’s areas of highest need. She recently retired after 10 years at US Department of Health and Human Services where she provided funding for reproductive health clinics in NY, NJ, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Robin volunteers at The Health Alliance’s Oncology Support Program in the Hudson Valley, counseling and nurturing newly diagnosed women. As well she works as a consultant on various projects for former employers. Robin holds an undergraduate degree from SUNY Albany and a MSW from Hunter School of Social Work in NYC. She completed a training program at the Association of Spirituality and Psychotherapy in NYC. She holds numerous certificates from clinical and management training programs during her years working in Women’s Health. Robin has lived in Woodstock, New York for the last 12 years. Prior to that she lived in Park Slope, Brooklyn for 25 years where her daughter Rachel and four year old grandbabyboy Angel now live.  She has a passion for the natural world, including gardening and bird, animal, tree, and storm watching. As well she has a deep passion for ministering to and serving her One Spirit students, clients and counselees.


Rev. Ava Schlesinger

Rev. Ava Schlesinger

Rev. Ava Schlesinger is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, an adjunct professor at NYU’s Silver School of Social Work, an Interfaith Minister (ordained at One Spirit in 2012) and formerly the senior program manager on the Survivor Team at Everytown For Gun Safety.  Ava’s expertise over the last 20 years has been focused on holistically addressing the short- and long-term symptomatology and human and community cost associated with different aspects of interpersonal trauma. This work has informed her depth of commitment to social movement and change. She has had the privilege to work locally in the arenas of gun violence, human trafficking, domestic violence, sex assault/abuse, food and income insecurity and has traveled to Thailand, Cambodia, Liberia and India in her pursuit of discovering how to best be of service to those most marginalized and compromised. Through her travels, Ava came to recognize that she did not need to look further than her own backyard to work toward change, which is where her energies are currently focused.  In regard to her seminary education Ava says: “My seminary education has helped me articulate a depth of understanding that our human family is borne out of oneness; we have somehow fallen asleep, forgetting that a precious, radical, love is waiting to guide us as an alternative to the hate, fear and violence which has us shadowed and lost. I believe it is through this love that we will ultimately find our way.” Ava has been married for over 30 years and is a mom to two beautiful adult children.


Rev. Melissa Stewart, LCSW-R

Rev. Melissa Stewart, LCSW-R

Dean

Rev. Melissa Stewart, LCSW-R (Dean) holds a Master’s of Science in Social Work Degree and has specialized in Oncology Social Work since 1992. She completed post-graduate training in Gestalt Psychotherapy and Heart-Centered Hypnotherapy. Melissa believes in honoring and providing care to the whole person. She values therapeutic approaches that include an awareness of the interplay between the mind, body and spirit in healing, which led her to seminary. Melissa attended the One Spirit Interfaith Seminary and was ordained in 2010. She has served as a dean for the second year seminary class since 2016 and is grateful for the soul-expanding learning, spiritual grounding and evolving social consciousness and commitment to justice that the One Spirit community provides and nurtures. Melissa is a senior clinical social worker in a NYC hospital and provides psychoeducation, practical guidance, counseling and emotional support to people with cancer and their loved ones. She recognizes encounters with her clients/patients as sacred and has been an advocate and educator about the importance of attending to the spiritual needs of patients in the healthcare system. Melissa is an interspiritual mystic. She believes in loving-kindness as a guiding principle and that poetry and music provide a path to the divine. In addition to One Spirit, Melissa finds another spiritual home-base at Romemu in New York City.