Wisdom CouncilAdvisory and Faculty
Dr. Deborah Bassett she/her
Deborah is a former international journalist, academic and research scientist with a PhD in communication and a significant body of published academic postdoctoral research in Indigenous health, culture and psychiatry. She is now a multimedia artist, singer/songwriter, musician, published poet, LIVE radio host and ever-evolving human being. Deborah is currently co-launching an independent internet radio station with a global reach, Sandcastle Radio, where they are working with other artists and broadcasters to bring awareness to the housing crisis in Florida and in the US alongside other issues related to social justice and health. Deborah’s musician father died living on the streets, so this is an issue that is deeply personal – paying artists for their work. You can hear her electronic music project, Out of Babylon at the link below.
Deborah is proud to be of Muscogee (Creek), Cherokee, and Scots-Irish ancestry. She worked for many years in Indian Country as a Native researcher conducting community-based research and can say with 100% certainty, we are stronger together.
Lerita Coleman Brown
I, Lerita Coleman Brown, am an embodied spirit, author, speaker, heart and kidney transplant recipient, former psychology professor and I consider each day to be a walk of gratitude, trust, and hope. A graduate of the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation, I serve as a *spiritual director/companion, retreat leader and encourage the pursuit of a spiritual life. I desire to support all people on their spiritual journeys and aid in the discovery of their unique sacred calling.
I am a strong advocate of organ and tissue donation and contemplative practices (e.g., solitude, silence, stillness, music, cooking, sewing) and all things that increase our awareness of the Presence of God. I was drawn to this way of life because I found it sustained me through a number of medical challenges including a heart transplant in 1995, a kidney transplant in 2005 and a valve replacement on my transplanted heart and had a pacemaker implanted in 2006. I believe forgiveness is an extraordinary healing force in the world and an essential tool for experiencing the Peace of God.
In 2008, I completed the Spiritual Guidance Program at the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation. It was the perfect spiritual direction training program for me because it led me to the discovery of the life and writings of mystic and spiritual leader, Howard Thurman and like him, I was born a contemplative. Basking in the stillness in nature or feeling the deep yearning in a gospel song or watching a hawk in flight offer me deep peace. I cherish my calling to the ministry of spiritual direction/companioning and I find professional support through Spiritual Directors International (SDI) and spiritual care from my church community and monthly meetings with other spiritual directors.
If I could select five other lives they would include being; a fashion designer, jazz pianist, playwright, vegetable gardener or pastry chef. I am a blossoming essayist and closet playwright and I am determined to get back to my two manuscripts (plays) “on the floor.”
I live in Stone Mountain, Georgia, USA, with my husband and our family includes two grown children, and one grandchild who reside in Dallas, Texas and Baltimore, Maryland. I savor reading, sitting in nature, gardening, sewing, watching college football, writing, viewing the visual and performing arts, telling stories, and laughing a lot.
Joy Celeste Crawford she/her
Joy Celeste Crawford is a long time Spiritual Guide living in intimate relationship with Earth and the Divine Feminine. She is founder of the Spiritual Life Center of Virginia, LLC, and co-founder of Church of the Wild James River, and Kindred Project – a weekly international contemplative prayer gathering. As a beekeeper and forager of wild medicinal plants, Joy is a keen observer of the cyclical consciousness that flows through all Sacred Earth Community. She holds Masters degrees in Theology and Christian Education, an Eco-Ministry Certificate from Seminary of the Wild, and a Certificate in Spiritual Guidance from the Shalem Institute where she also serves on staff. Joy offers individual and group spiritual guidance and retreats online and from her home in rural Virginia where she lives with her husband and dog on the banks of the James River, known before European colonization as the Powhatan River and ancestral home to the Native American Monacan people. She is mother of two fierce and compassionate adult daughters.
Armandee Drew she/her
Armandee Drew, co-founder of Mystic Artichoke, creates safe empowering spaces for spiritual leaders to peel back the layers and get to the heart of all that pertains to their own flourishing and leading well. Armandee Drew is an inner healing maven, world traveler, executive coach, and global leadership consultant. She is on a mission to transform toxic relationships, eliminate isolation, and raise up a community of people with strength to change the world. Armandee Drew relentlessly listens with a persistent tenderness, mining for the roots of your false story. She fights for your inner freedom and highest good! Armandee has a master’s degree in Global Leadership and is certified in advanced NLP, Life Coaching (ICF), DiSC, 5 Voices, Inter-Cultural Intelligence, and has multiple Inner Healing certifications. Through the MysticArtichoke retreats, founders Armandee Drew and Betsy Garmon combine their unique coaching and consulting practices to focus on healing for the healers, restorative leadership for spiritual leaders, and healthy community building. Their retreats live at the intersection of creative healing arts, leadership development, and spiritual practice.
Rev. Tara Lamont Eastman she/her/they
Tara is a creative, pastor and feminist who has been writing, drawing, and painting since she was old enough to hold a pencil. She engages the power of story to build community, challenge the status quo, and work for the cause of love and justice. Tara combines her passion for life with writing, music and visual arts in numerous projects.
Tara is a graduate of Wartburg Theological Seminary’s Theological Education for Emerging Ministry Program and the Youth and Theology Certificate Program at Princeton Theological Seminary. She recently completed a Certificate in the Fellowship For Emerging Leaders at Syracuse University.
Tara has served in various ministry roles in the Presbyterian Church in the USA and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. She currently serves as pastor of King of Kings Lutheran Church in Liverpool, NY.
Tara was a contributing writer with Sparkhouse (a division of Augsburg Fortress) on Collaborate & Connect, innovative confirmation curriculums, and Collaborate Lutheran Student Bible and the Connect Bible. Active in the arts, her show Meanderings was exhibited at Malone University in Canton Ohio in 2015, and she was the Artist-in-Residence at the 2013 Forums on Youth Ministry at Princeton Theological Seminary and 2012 Inhabit Conference in Seattle, WA. You can view some of her artwork at the link below.
Podcast: Tara hosts the “always sacred, never stuffy” weekly podcast, Holy Shenanigans.
Rev. Kelley Finch she/her
Kelley Finch is a UMC Pastor, social justice organizer, and inclusive church planter of Mosaic Faith Community. Education, Intersectionality, and Social Justice are the base of what Kelley has been doing in her over 25 years of ministry. Through her work online and in her community she is deconstructing the aspects of mainline churches and working to create a new faith community model. Her call is to break down the barriers of patriarchy and colonization to open the doors of the church to those who have been cast aside.
Known as Pastor Kelley, the Bible Nerd, on Tiktok she is bringing a following of over 90,000 people along in her journey. Her church plant has branched into the creation of an Interfaith Community Center. This collaborative work led by clergy and non-profit leaders will educate, organize, and empower those oppressed and marginalized from the LGBTQ+, BIPOC, Neurodiverse and Disability communities.
Rev. Donald Guffey they/he
Donald is a 33 year old queer person from rural Appalachia. In his early ministry and prior to coming out 4 years ago He was an ordained minister in the Assembly of God. While at Pentecostal seminary he came out, received his first reiki attunements, and fully jumped into the waters of New Thought Metaphysics. Today he is an ordained metaphysical minister and Reiki Master Teacher.
Mary Gutierrez she/her/ella
Mary Gutierrez is a 47-year resident of Northwest Florida. She is an Environmental Scientist by profession and passion with a background in sampling and analysis, land use and water quality and quantity. She is currently the Director for Earth Ethics, Inc., a non-profit environmental and social justice organization. Visit the link below to learn more. On a more personal note, Mary is a Latina and Choctaw Indian writer. She is a published poet and has been published in numerous local and national poetry zines and magazines. She has one self-published book, “Naked in the Rain” and is currently working on three other poetry books/chapbooks for publication. One is an anthology with other poetics and writers. See the link below. Her environmental background is often reflected in her writings. Ms. Gutierrez is also an ordained minister and strives to educate others on our connection to nature and its importance to us and other species.
Rev. Stan Mitchell he/him
Stan Mitchell is the Founding Pastor of GracePointe Church in Nashville, TN. He is a passionate advocate for his LGBTQIA siblings and a thought-leader in the evolution of Progressive Christian Theology. He spends almost all of his time in pastoral care, traveling the country to work with queer people and their families at the intersection of gender, sexuality and faith.
Lizzy Pérez she/her
Lizzy is a certified professional coach and a member of the International Coaching Federation (ICF). Lizzy was trained by Brené Brown in 2019 to serve as a Certified Dare to Lead Facilitator. Lizzy has trained and facilitated thousands and coached hundreds of teams and emerging & experienced leaders in schools, nonprofits and corporations across the country. Lizzy grew up in a small, south Texas rural town and is a proud Latina small business owner and member of the LGBTQ community. She uses her innate talent to facilitate an all-out habitat of consciousness-raising allowing participants to mirror her in the immersion of learning. Taking deep dives into diversity and inclusion, social activism, emotional agility, mindfulness, and personal ecology is the crux of her work. During her free time you might see Lizzy has also been certified as an Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE)Master trainer and is a Trauma-Informed Care Practitioner and utilizes these lenses in her daily interactions. She will be completing her PhD in Leadership Studies with a research focus on perfectionism.
Catherine Quiring, MA, LMHC she/her
Catherine is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Self-Trust Coach. She helps exvangelicals learn to trust their desires and reconnect to their inner wisdom. She also helps people-pleasers learn to trust themselves and recenter themselves at the helm of their lives. Catherine says: “I love this life-changing work of therapy and healing and feel so privileged that I get to spend my days doing this. Outside of work, I am an avid podcast-listener, book lover and paddleboarding enthusiast.”