Forum for Theological Exploration (FTE) Welcomes 17 Rising Scholars of Color Into Its 2023 Class of Doctoral Fellows

ATLANTA (May 1, 2023) — The Forum for Theological Exploration (FTE) selected 17 scholars of color to receive financial support for their PhD or ThD program in religion, theological studies, or biblical studies. 

Students will either receive the Fellowship for Doctoral Students of African Descent or the Fellowship for Latino/a, Asian, and First Nations Doctoral Students. Each Fellow will be awarded a living stipend of up to $30,000 to help further their studies beyond the coursework stage.

"This group of Fellows have projects that are redefining the academy in a world still living through and trying to make sense of the triple pandemic,” said FTE Senior Director of Learning Design Dr. Patrick B. Reyes. “The research now is as timely as the projects FTE first funded in 1968 in the wake of social unrest. Every single scholar in this class of Fellows has named embodied commitments to liberative research advancing the well-being and joy of our communities."

As part of the fellowship award, Fellows will receive a $1,500 travel stipend to attend this year’s American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature in San Antonio, TX. In addition, Fellows receive access to online resources and a mentor to help further their professional development, vocational exploration, and networking opportunities. 

FTE welcomes the following recipients into the 2023 class of Doctoral Fellows:


Fellowship for Doctoral Students of African Descent:

Kimberly Akano, Princeton University, American Religious History

Kimi N. Bryson, Rutgers University, Black Feminism & Religious Studies

Corwin Malcolm Davis, Emory University, Practical and Pastoral Theology

Bridget Gabrielle Hall, Vanderbilt University, Ethics and African American and Diaspora Studies

LaRyssa D. Herrington, University of Notre Dame, Systematic Theology & Liturgical Studies

Chandra C. Plowden, Harvard University, Religion and Society

Iris Reddick Manburg, University of Chicago, Constructive Womanist Theology & Theomusicology

Yolanda M. Santiago Correa, Southern Methodist University, Religion & Culture

Denson Staples, Harvard University, Religion and Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies

Kenya Tuttle, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, Pastoral Theology

Matt Vega, University of Chicago, Theology and Race

Nauff M. Zakaria, Vanderbilt University, Hebrew Bible


Fellowship for Latino/a, Asian, and First Nations Doctoral Students:


Danny Ballon-Garst, Emory University, American Religious History

Xenia Ling-Yee Chan, Wycliffe College, Toronto School of Theology Old Testament/Hebrew Bible

Elisha Chi, Villanova University, Ethics, Systematics and Indigenous Studies

E. David de Leon, Fordham University, Systematic Theology

Natalie Maria Reynoso, Fordham University, History of Christianity (Early)

Since 1999, FTE has awarded more than 585 fellowships to students of color and has maintained a 98 percent retention rate among its Doctoral Fellows. In addition to its fellowships for dissertation-stage doctoral students, FTE provides professional development opportunities for PhD and ThD students in the first two years of their studies. FTE developed these doctoral initiatives to help accelerate the completion of doctoral degrees among students of color and to foster diversity in the academy across North America.