Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.1 Corinthians 12:27
People are at the heart of the Forum for Theological Exploration. Our legacy is rooted in the dedication of passionate educators, theologians and laity who work to cultivate the next generation of faithful, courageous leaders.
Every member of our FTE leadership team brings unique wisdom and purpose to the organization. Together with our partners, we nurture young leaders as they explore and pursue ministry as a way to change the world.
Please do not hesitate to contact the appropriate team member with questions, or to become a part of this vital community.
Dori Baker builds and maintains relationships with chaplains and campus ministers. She also provides research and co-hosts events for young adults and those who support them in their vocational exploration.
I am a spy for hope. FTE perfectly positions me for that task. My inspiration is found in young people who are passionate about the future of God’s work in the world and who are acting out lives of justice and commitment. As a pastor imbued with the curiosity and credentials of a scholar, I get to share that inspiration with others. I spend half of my time with FTE, and the rest of my time is balanced between consulting on issues related to young people and spiritual activism.
Elsie Barnhart provides leadership and support for FTE Fellows, young adults and students exploring Christian leadership, pastoral ministry and teaching.
Simply put, FTE matters and that’s why I am here. When I interviewed for my position with FTE I said, “Whatever job leads me away from being a full-time care provider for my kids would have to matter.” As I researched FTE and interviewed with the full staff, it was clear to me that they weren’t just there to do ‘a job.’ At FTE, the people truly are committed to serving in roles that help young people become future leaders, instrumental in shaping the church of the 21st Century.
Paul Bois is responsible for the talent development, operations management, human resources and infrastructure enhancements that advance the organizational mission through functional support of program development.
I asked the Lord, “What would you have me do next?” I pondered my calling after a lengthy corporate career, and the answer was FTE. This job appealed to me initially because I would get to work on the business side of an impactful organization. More importantly, it allows me to do work that is aimed at developing people — and not just any type of person; young people who are becoming leaders for the church.
Ted Boone manages data for FTE, and provides guidance on information gathering protocols and practices.
Purpose is not rooted in tasks. The thought of working at FTE was appealing to me initially because of the job and its duties. I now know that working in an organization that supports young leaders in dedicating their lives to service gives me daily satisfaction.
Kimberly R. Daniel-Brister is responsible for managing communications strategies, public relations and marketing for FTE and its efforts.
Growing up a preacher’s kid, I saw the need for young leaders to have real space to explore. I recognized the value of a context where these students could be nurtured while exploring their purpose, whether ministry-related or secular. Working at FTE gives me a sense of fulfillment in knowing that I am contributing to young adults’ discovery of their gifts, and their exploration of what they are called to do and be in the world.
Fran Davis-Harris provides planning and support for FTE meetings and events.
The work we do here is amazing and I’m proud to be a part of it. FTE sparked my interest several years ago because I have always loved the church and working with young people. As soon as I began working at FTE, I realized that here, my passion collides with my purpose in life.
Diva Morgan Hicks manages social media and online communications efforts for FTE.
I dream of changing the world. Growing up, I thought God was calling me to be a missionary. Not being able to discern if that was my purpose in life, I began working in the non-profit sector as a communications professional. This role at FTE gives me the opportunity to change the world by helping those who God has called to be servants, teachers and leaders in the church.
Darlene Hutto provides leadership for FTE grant and fellowship initiatives.
It is exciting to know that my life’s passion and love for ministry serves a critical mass of young adults—that’s worth coming to work. FTE provides me the opportunity to be engaged in conversation and service with the larger church in a way that I could not be if I were in a specific ministry. I work with leaders of congregations and church-related organizations that support young Christian leaders, and in so doing, have the chance to impact young adults who are exploring their call.
The President of FTE, Stephen Lewis holds lead responsibility for the strategic direction of FTE.
I do what I do in hopes that my work with good colleagues will have a lasting impact on everyday people and communities across the world. The future is inevitable. Communities of faith, their leaders and the next generation are important catalysts in shaping the future. There is no viable path to the future absent of developing faithful, wise and courageous leaders now. No other national organization is like FTE in shaping the future by developing leaders on behalf of a diverse church and the academy.
Chris Tina Mason is responsible for gathering and updating organizational data for FTE.
Growing up in church, I never thought about my preacher’s education or the trials that may have come with a call to ministry. Working at FTE gives me a better understanding of the theological field and a new respect for those making sacrifices for their calling. I enjoy what I do while supporting an organization that empowers young people to make a positive impact on the world.
Chris McCain builds relationships with colleges and universities, chaplaincies, para-church and campus ministries, and faith-based volunteer service organizations developing future Christian leaders.
I work at FTE because young people are the church’s future. Inspired by the many incredible young leaders I’ve come to know across the country, I am excited to engage young people who are discerning how their lives may align with God’s work in the world.
Jodi Porter is responsible for managing and implementing the Lilly Endowment’s coordination work with high school ministries.
I believe discerning vocation is about finding one’s most faithful voice, an exploration best done in community. And I believe it is at the nexus of church and academy where young people can cultivate the most compelling voices for Christian leadership in our world today. FTE engages exactly this kind of work; we support others - even each other - in finding our own voices. Given my special interests in theological literacy and the shape of higher education in America, I cannot imagine a more life-giving place for me to serve.
Patrick B. Reyes oversees the fellowship programs for doctoral students, builds relationships and provides support for leaders of theological institutions across the country to develop future leaders for the church and the academy.
To put it simply, theological educators saved my life. At every major crossroads, a theologically trained elder was there to make a difference not just in my own life, but also in the lives of others in my community. It is humbling to do the sacred work of identifying, supporting, and placing the next generation of scholars and theological educators who are going to transform the academy, the church, and local communities.
Tamara Richards manages daily accounting functions and contributes to the financial strategy and planning for FTE.
FTE is changing the future of Christian leadership. We recognize the Christian community is diverse and thus needs leaders who reflect that diversity. After working for years in corporate America where values and diversity often hold no meaning beyond words printed in the company handbook, FTE is a breath of fresh air.
Karla Van Zee is responsible for managing and implementing the Lilly Endowment’s coordination work with campus ministries.
An important tenet of FTE is encouraging people in the development of their gifts and passions while allowing them the space to listen to that which is genuine, and I am pleased to be a part of this! My inspiration to do this work with FTE comes from my research interests in formation, vocational discernment practices, mentoring and how people make adaptive changes for increasing meaning and purpose in their lives. Because of this, I am excited to partner with FTE as we discern those practices that can cultivate and incubate a diverse generation of leaders for the church, the academy and for the world.
Heather Wallace oversees FTE's strategic initiatives with a diverse network of church-related organizations to develop future church leaders. She also works with the team to manage and administer grant and fellowship initiatives.
After nine years in Illinois, FTE feels like coming home both geographically and vocationally. I grew up in the Southeast and moved immediately after college to the Midwest. I worked for a youth theological discernment program and then stepped out to work in the secular non-profit world. FTE is the place where my passions and my abilities meet. I’m excited to help cultivate and support young-adults taking leadership roles in the church.
Matthew Wesley Williams provides leadership, management and oversight for FTE's strategic initiatives to cultivate diverse leaders for the church and academy.
I work at FTE because a lot is at stake in our effort, and I care about it. In my life, there has been no greater influence than the church. Healthy, relevant, visionary leadership is critical for the work of the church in the world. I have seen evidence that leadership, service and scholarship are matters of life and death, especially for oppressed and vulnerable communities.
Traci Wright provides secretarial and administrative support to the FTE President and Vice President of Administration.
I am part of an organization that provides opportunities for those discerning their vocations in life. Before I began working at FTE, I prayed for a position that would allow me to utilize my skill set so that others would benefit from my work. The answer to that prayer led me to FTE.