Travel Seminar Participant Bios

Harold Attridge

Harold W. Attridge, The Reverend Henry L. Slack Dean of Yale Divinity School and Lillian Claus Professor of New Testament, is a New Testament scholar with expertise in New Testament exegesis, the study of Hellenistic Judaism, and the history of the early church.   A strong advocate of interfaith cooperation, he was one of the principal drafters of the Loving God and Neighbor Together document that pointed to commonalities between Christianity and Islam and that was published in its entirety in the New York Times.  He has written a number of books, including, among others, Hebrews: A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, The Acts of Thomas, and Essays on John and Hebrews. He co-edited Religion, Ethnicity and Identity in Ancient Galilee and served as general editor of The HarperCollins Study Bible, Revised Edition (2006). He was president of the Society of Biblical Literature in 2001.  A Roman Catholic layman, Dean Attridge previously taught at the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University and in the Department of Theology at the University of Notre Dame, where he also served as dean of the College of Arts and Letters.  He holds an A.B from Boston College; a B.A. and M.A. from Cambridge University; and a Ph.D. from Harvard University.


Jan Attridge

A native of Massachusetts, Jan Attridge is a seasoned executive with more than twenty-five years of leadership experience with not-for-profit organizations, many of them faith-based. Most recently she was publisher of America magazine, the Jesuit weekly. Prior to that, she served as Executive Director of Saint Thomas More Chapel and Catholic Center at Yale University. She is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration. Jan has taught in the undergraduate and graduate programs of the Mendoza College of Business of the University of Notre Dame and conducted many workshops for not for profit managers and board members. She has served as a director/advisor for several Catholic organizations and is currently a member of the New York Regional Council of the Ignatian Volunteer Corps. Part of a two-career couple, Jan and her husband, New Testament scholar Harold W. Attridge, have two children and three grandchildren.


Christina Baik

Christina is a first year M.A.R. student concentrating in Religion and Literature at YDS and the ISM. She grew up in the Chicago area and graduated from Swarthmore College’s Honors Program in 2008 with a degree in English Literature and Sociology/Anthropology. Following graduation, she raised funds for arts education programs and founded an open-mike artists cafe at the Painted Bride Art Center through Philly Fellows, a fellowship affiliated with Americorps*VISTA. Then Christina found her calling as a teacher over her two years teaching middle school English, Spanish, and a course she created called “Identity in Community” at Abington Friends School. With each lesson she created for her eighth graders, she realized the value of faith-informed teaching as her students confront the profound ethical-political issues of today. She is grateful for the opportunity to join the "Sacred Land" travel seminar, and looks forward to getting to more intimately know this fraught home of two nationalities and three faiths with all of you.


Carol Bauer

Carol grew up in St. Louis, MO, graduating from Harris Teacher’s College in Elementary Education, teaching in four states before becoming a mother. Her interest in teaching continued in Christian Education, with which she has been involved for over 60 years.  She currently is lay leader of her church.  Carol has served in many nonprofit leadership roles, including as chairman of the board of Norwalk Hospital in Connecticut. Other board service includes AmeriCares, Honey Hill Nursing Home, the Spiritual Care Advisory Board at Norwalk Hospital, and United Way. Through the Bauer Foundation she and her husband sponsor an “I Have a Dream” program for underprivileged children and have provided substantial scholarships for others in the fields of health care and education. Their interest has sponsored a halfway house for young girls in Thailand who have been sold into slavery.  Carol spent four years in clinical pastoral education and currently serves as a hospital chaplain.  She and George have been married 57 years and have three children and five grandchildren.


George Bauer

George grew up on the family farm in De Soto, MO. He attended Washington University in St. Louis and graduated from the School of Engineering and Applied Science with a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering in 1953. He earned a master’s degree in engineering in 1959. George spent his career at IBM serving for 31 years in a variety of executive positions in marketing, finance and business systems. He served as group director in Paris for Europe, Africa and the Middle East, and was an early member of the group in the United Kingdom that launched IBM in the consulting business.  Upon retiring in 1987, George founded an investment banking firm, The GPB Group Ltd., and he serves on a number of corporate boards, the Advisory Board of the Yale Divinity School, Washington University Board of Trustees, the National Council for Olin Business School, Norwalk Hospital, Princeton University’s Faith at Work Initiative, and the Board of U.S. Ameribank in Tampa, FL.  The Bauer Family Foundation, founded in 1989, serves as his support of education and healthcare internationally. George and his wife, Carol, have been married 57 years and have three children and five grandchildren.

Marilyn Biggins

Peter Biggins

Peter attended Quigley Preparatory Seminary, earned a B.S. in 1960 from Loyola University Chicago, and an M.B.A. in 1962 from the University of Chicago.  He has worked as employee benefits manager at Xerox, Ford, LTV, and as a consultant at Hewitt Associates (now Aon Hewitt).  He retired in 2002.  Peter’s hobbies include genealogy, genetic genealogy, website development, reading the Classics, Bible study (with Maryann Knag, who has a master's degree from Yale Divinity School, and who with her husband, Paul, invited Peter and his wife, Marilyn, on this trip to the Holy Land).


Mary Carney

I am New Haven born and raised, in Newhallville and the Elm Haven project, by Irish immigrant parents.   My Dad, Pat Carney, was one of the first janitors at YDS on Prospect Street.  My mother was an avid reader and dedicated to having her children go to college. I graduated from St. Mary’s Hospital Nursing program 50 years ago and retired from CT Hospice, where I was a founding member and served as a staff nurse from 1980 to 2010.  Previously, I was assistant head nurse at Yale New Haven Hospital in Oncology/General Research. I participated in one-year programs in clinical pastoral education at Yale New Haven (first layperson) and CT Hospice; was a special student at YDS in courses with Margaret Farely, Letty Russell, and David Kelsey; and participated at YDS in an evening adult education program with Henri Nouwen.  I’m a crazed gardener who supports her habit by renting rooms to graduate students.  I take the opportunity to travel whenever and wherever I can. I have been a worshipping member of Yale’s St. Thomas Moore community since 1968. I frequent the L’Arche Community Daybreak in Toronto and Genesee Abbey.


Kathleen Cooney

I grew up in Boston, the oldest daughter in a family with eight children. I met my husband, Leo, at Boston City Hospital.  We married 41 years ago and moved to New Haven, where we made our home in Westville.  We have two wonderful sons, a terrific daughter-in-law, and four delicious grandchildren.  I taught special education in the New Haven School system for 30 years and recently retired from a position that I loved.  I then became busy organizing home health care for my mother in Boston.  I was able to spend quality time with this remarkable woman in her last years of life.  I now spend time volunteering at the St. Thomas More Chapel soup kitchen, at the Sacred Heart Manor, and at New Haven Reads as a tutor.  The highlight of my week is spending time in New Canaan with my grands.  Leo and I enjoy traveling, hiking, theater, and reading.  We are very lucky to be surrounded by a wonderful family and very many lifelong friends.  We are active members of the St. Thomas More Community.  We are blessed with a full life!


Leo Cooney, Jr.

I have been practicing and teaching geriatric medicine at the Yale University School of Medicine for 36 years. I enjoy this role greatly. Kathleen and I have two sons, Timothy and Joshua, and four grandchildren, Lydon, Keira, Teddy, and Niamh. My hobbies are reading history and photography. My favorite activities are spending time with Kathleen and our family, my nine brothers and sisters, and conversations with our wonderful Westville friends and neighbors. I feel very fortunate to be part of the St. Thomas More community and enjoy a very stimulating Small Church Community group. Kathleen and I are looking forward greatly to the trip to Israel.


Bernadette DiGiulian

Bernadette earned her M.Div. from Yale Divinity School in 1983. Before attending YDS she was a public school teacher. She was the acting director of supervised ministries at Yale Divinity School and the coordinator for Roman Catholic students for seven years following her graduation. Bernadette is a certified chaplain (NACC) with a focus on geriatric care.  She has worked in geriatrics for over 25 years as chaplain, director of community life, and resident services director in various facilities with all levels of care.  For the past seven years, Bernadette has had her own practice (Elder Caring LLC) as a geriatric care manager, and she is the founder and president of The Shoreline Eldercare Alliance.  She is an active member of St. Thomas More Chapel at Yale and a fellow at Saybrook College.


Bonita Grubbs

Bonita Grubbs has been the executive director of Christian Community Action (CCA) since 1988. CCA is a faith-based organization whose mission is to offer help, housing and hope to those who are poor in New Haven. This mission is accomplished through emergency and transitional housing programs for families through neighborhood services that meet basic needs. It also involves advocacy that involves the participation of those who are interested in working on solutions to poverty and homelessness. She came to this position after having been ordained one year earlier to the Christian Ministry by the American Baptist Churches of Connecticut. She is a graduate of YDS and Yale’s School of Public Health. Prior to graduate school, she worked for the American Heart Association in Connecticut.   Her undergraduate degree is in Afro-American Studies and Sociology from Smith College.


Lynn Harrington

I've lived in Pound Ridge, NY for over forty years with my husband, Denis. We have three grown children and two grandchildren. I graduated from YDS in 1983 with an M.Div. and later received a M.Th. from Maryknoll School of Theology, Maryknoll, NY. I am an Episcopal priest and the recently retired rector of St. John's Parish, South Salem, NY. After five years as an assistant in two local churches, I was called as the rector of St. John's Parish in the neighboring town of South Salem, NY. I was blessed to serve there for twenty-three fruitful, happy and busy years. In 1999, I received The St. John the Theologian award for exemplary pastoral care from our diocesan bishop, The Rt. Rev. Richard Grein. For 25 years, I worked as a volunteer in the local maximum-security prison for women. In retirement, I've renewed my interest in art and am joyfully spending time with my husband and family, which includes my 94-year-old mother and my 98-year-old mother-in-law.


Frannie Kieschnick

Frannie was ordained 23 years ago at All Saints in Pasadena, a church renowned for its prophetic and progressive Beatitudes spirit. Having served at All Saints for five years, she moved to the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, Michael, to raise their family. She served in various parochial positions, including interim rector, for the next 10 years before moving on to found alternative, informal, interfaith and family-friendly congregations within two parish communities. Reaching out to those questioning the relationship between their faith and the rest of their lives, these faith communities ask what it means to be a follower of Jesus in today's world. A graduate of Yale University and the Episcopal Divinity School, Frannie now serves on the Advisory Board of the Yale Divinity School. She is the founding director of The Beatitudes Society and parent of two teenagers


Maryann Knag

Maryann (McCaffrey) Knag, Darien, CT, is an ’04 graduate of YDS (MAR-Bible concentration). She and Paul have been married 41 years and are the parents of four children (Paul, Jr., Peter, Kathleen and John Patrick) and 10 grandchildren. Presently she serves as a parish Bible teacher in churches in Fairfield County, CT and Narragansett, R.I.  Formerly, Maryann taught foreign languages in Massachusetts, New York, and, most recently, at Stratford (CT) High School. She is a graduate of Manhattanville College ’68 and Harvard GSE MAT ’70, where she and Paul met.  Her vocation is wife, mother, grandma and teacher, as well as presenting John Paul II’s Theology of the Body and making outreach to victims of clergy abuse.


Paul Knag

Paul Knag is a partner at Murtha Cullina LLP.  He is a litigator, and chair of Murtha Cullina's Health Care Group. He also serves as chair of the Health Law Section of the Connecticut Bar Association.  He represents a variety of hospitals and other health care providers, as well as other clients in the area of litigation.  He is a 1970 graduate of Harvard Law School. He is a member of the bars of the States of New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.  He is the author of a book on HIPAA and has written and lectured widely on health law and litigation issues. He is an avid baseball and football fan. He skis, plays tennis and golf, and enjoys traveling.  He is married to Maryann Knag (MAR '04), and they have four children and 10 grandchildren. 

Evelyn Lasaga

As a clinical social worker I have been employed at Yale New Haven Hospital at the Primary Care Center for over a year. I have worked as a social worker in different settings for almost 20 years. I am also a graduate of the Yale Divinity School, M. Div. ’92. My years of study at the Div School were very fulfilling and left me with an outlook that have strengthened and clarified my faith. I went into social work because as a Roman Catholic I could not at that time and with other commitments, serve in ministry or look for a job that was out of the Connecticut.  This will be my second trip to Israel. On first trip in 1997, I was stunned and surprised by what I encountered; I was amazed by how the land and what I encountered in traditions brought to life for me many of the things that I had simply read in Scripture. I am looking forward to what I will learn and encounter on this my second visit to Israel. I live in Cheshire, CT.


John Lindner

John B. Lindner serves as director of the Department of External Relations at Yale Divinity School since 2002.  Among the spectrum of his responsibilities, he has given leadership to Reflections magazine, a national publication of theological and ethical inquiry. He spent over a quarter century providing leadership for international, ecumenical/interfaith programs of the PCUSA, the National Council of Churches (NCCCUSA) and the World Council of Churches (WCC).  He served as writer for the NCCCUSA’s Middle East Policy and directed its program of US-USSR Church Relations. He served the WCC as director of planning and development for the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey. Lindner is co-author of By Faith: Christian Students Among the Cloud of Witnesses (1991, Friendship Press) a history of the ecumenical Christian student movement in the U.S. and co-issue editor of a special issue of the journal Theological Education (vol. 34, autumn 1997) on “Ecumenical Formation: A Methodology for a Pluralistic Age.  The Case of the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey.” He is active in programs supporting peace initiatives for the Middle East.  He has served as a member of the Leadership Council of Churches for Middle East Peace and on the Executive Committee of A Different Future.


Jill Martin

I am a professor of legal studies at Quinnipiac University and teach law to undergraduates. I chair the department and serve on many committees.  I haven’t practiced law for a while, but was a Legal Services attorney in my past.  I have a Master’s degree in American history from Yale (1990).   My research area is federal Indian law and policy, looking at how the courts have treated individual Indians and tribes, mostly from a historical perspective.   I heard about this trip through St. Thomas More, the Catholic Chapel at Yale, which is my spiritual community.   I am a passionate genealogist and teach a Quinnipiac seminar course using genealogy and family history.  I love to visit historic sites, and ruins.  The Holy Land will be perfect for exploring older civilizations. I also look forward to the conversations and the different perspectives we will hear.


Bob Massie

Bob Massie is an author, environmental leader, and Episcopal priest.  He received his M. Div. from Yale Divinity School in 1982 and his doctorate from Harvard Business School in 1989.   He taught courses in ethics and directed the Project on Business, Values, and the Economy at Harvard Divinity School from 1989-1996.  His book, Loosing the Bonds: The United States in South Africa in the Apartheid Years, won the 1998 Lionel Gelber prize for the best book on international relations in the world.   He subsequently created or led three of the world's most influential sustainability organizations: Ceres (a coalition of investors and environmental groups), the Global Reporting Initiative, and the Investor Network on Climate Risk.  For most of 2011, he was a Democratic candidate for the United States Senate in Massachusetts.


Debbie McLeod

Debbie McLeod (Sears) graduated in 2009 from YDS with an M.Div. and from Baylor in 1982 with a B.A. in French.  She currently lives in Houston with her husband of 30 years, Jay Sears.  They have two married children:  Jonathan, 27, lives in LA, and Meredith, 25, lives in Boston.  She is currently the executive director of the Grant Me The Wisdom Foundation, which focuses on education and health care for women and girls in the developing world.  Debbie is on the YDS Advisory Board and Sojourners Board of Directors.  She is currently involved with Impact Partners (documentaries that change the world), Women Moving Millions (NGO focused on women and girls), KIPP, Teach for America, Teach for All, The Fistula Foundation, Clinton Global Initiative, Donors Choose, Acumen Fund, and Communities in Schools.  Debbie and Jay went to Israel and Palestine this summer on a cruise and had a less than academic, aka credible, tour.  We know that Harry, John and Connie will wipe that experience from our brains and replace it with thoughtful, informed commentary!


Betsy Peterson

Mahalia Jackson's version of  Walk in Jerusalem expresses beautifully my longing to see the Holy Land -- to "walk in Jerusalem, talk in Jerusalem, be in Jerusalem, sing in Jerusalem..."  In the song, all this happens "when I die,” which I would like to change to "in March.”  I have been married to Steve for nearly 30 years and am the mother of Emma (23) and Sam (20). In my youth I was a chef and now do part-time taste testing work, which is less glamorous then one would hope. I have been a Sunday school teacher/catechist in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd for 21 years, and I love it.  I train Catechesis formation leaders and am on the editorial staff of the Journal. If I had a bumper sticker on my car, it would read: Ask Me About the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd!  All these years I've been listening with the children to Jesus' words, tracing the cities of the Annunciation, his birth, his death and resurrection on our raised surface map, noting on the pin maps the places Jesus prayed and preached and healed; to actually be there will be a dream.


Steve Peterson

Steve, a 1984 YDS graduate, is an investor, a voracious movie watcher, and a gardener of limited competence.  He spent many years studying early modern philosophy, theology, and history of science, and many years trading distressed bonds.  He is board chair of the Neo-Futurists and generally hates to travel.  While at YDS, the love letters from his future wife were too often delivered to YDS librarian Steve Peterson, and the book reviews intended for the librarian were often misdelivered in the other direction.  Somehow everything worked out.


Lorna Phan

I thoroughly enjoy cooking for friends and family and dining out -- you could say I am a “Foodie”! My other interests include photography, aqua aerobics, travel, and cycling. I am an avid supporter of the annual Pan Mass Challenge Fundraising bikathon, which supports cancer research and treatment at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute through its Jimmy Fund. I especially enjoy relaxing at home, in Needham, MA, with my husband, Larry, and son, Julian, along with our golden retriever puppy, Phoebe. When not participating in these pleasures I work as a private practice dental hygienist in Brookline, MA, one of a number of direct patient care and research settings I have enjoyed for three decades! What I enjoy most about traveling is meeting different peoples and learning about their cultures. I look forward to deepening my understanding of Christianity, Judaism and Islam during our trip to Israel. Especially interesting to me are the archaeological/Biblical sites and the planned visits with the academic, political, and religious leaders in Jerusalem to learn about their aspirations for the future. My hope is to leave Israel with a better understanding of the complexity of the problems in this volatile region, sans media.


Kate Peer

Kate Peer is the president and founder of Group Travel Directors/Accolades International Tours for the Arts. Through Kate’s leadership, Group Travel Directors (GTD)/Accolades has become nationally renowned for planning life-enriching tours for schools, churches, clubs, families, and other special interest groups to destinations all over the world.  After 10 years in the travel industry, Kate founded GTD in 1982 because she knew she could make a difference in ways that other companies could not.  Since then, Kate's firm values, unwavering drive, and ability to recognize market trends have allowed the company to thrive while other agencies have disappeared.  Kate is an active member of professional travel industry groups, business owners/executives groups, and is a dedicated community volunteer.  Her global outlook has been developed during travels to over 40 countries and in the course of hosting foreign exchange students, including a young man from Palestine who is currently part of her family.


Constance Royster

Connie Royster is director of development at Yale Divinity School following positions at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and as the first director of major giving at WSHU Public Radio in Fairfield, CT.  Connie is a lawyer who practiced law for more than two decades after graduating from Yale College as part of the first group of women undergraduates at Yale. Her law career included clerkships on the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, as an associate with Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in New York City, as an assistant United States attorney in the Southern District of New York, and as a law firm partner.  Connie has travelled extensively since her gap year as an English Speaking Union Scholar. Most recently she helped lead a Yale Alumni Service Corps/Yale China Association/Yale Global Alumni Leadership Exchange trip to China in 2011. Connie is an active member of the Yale/ New Haven community. She is chair of the board of Dwight Hall at Yale, and serves on the board of the International Festival of Arts and Ideas. Connie is also an active Yale volunteer, having served on the AYA Board of Governors, the Yale Alumni Schools Committee, and the Yale Annual Fund board. She is a fellow of Jonathan Edwards College. Connie lives in Bethany, CT, with her daughter, who is a scholar/athlete/singer/actress at Cheshire Academy.


Jay Sears

Jay Sears is a co-founder and principal of NewQuest Properties, a Houston-based retail real estate company with a portfolio of over 100 properties, including more than 50 retail centers. NewQuest manages every aspect of retail center development, from land acquisition, financing, design and development to leasing and property management, in addition to representing many key retailers. Jay has been married to Debbie McLeod Sears for 29 years, has two married children Jonathan & Meredith. Jay received a B.B.A. from Baylor University in 1982.


George Seay

I was born in Tullahoma, TN, and raised in Hopkinsville, KY, a small town in Western Kentucky. I attended Hanover College, a liberal arts Presbyterian college in Southern Indiana, graduating with a B.A. in History in 1970.  I then attended law school at the University of Louisville in Kentucky and graduated with a J.D. degree in 1973.  I began my practice as chief law clerk for the Kentucky Supreme Court in 1973-1974 and then became senior counsel with the Kentucky Department for Natural Resources and Environmental Protection.  In 1978, I founded the environmental law firm of Zaluski and Seay, which merged with the regional law firm of Wyatt, Tarrant, and Combs in 1984. I have been a partner in that firm since that time, practicing environmental law.  I live in Frankfort, KY and am married with two sons, ages 32 and 22. I am active in various civic organizations including, at various times, Rotary, Bluegrass Theater Guild, and Chair of the Board of Capital Day School. My wife and I are active members of the South Frankfort Presbyterian Church, where we are members of the choir.  I have served as deacon and elder and on various committees, and have just rotated off the session, having served two years as clerk of session.


Yolanda Smith

Yolanda Y. Smith served as Associate Professor of Christian Education at Divinity School. She is the author of the book Reclaiming the Spirituals: New Possibilities for African American Christian Education. Her forthcoming book is titled Women’s Spirituality and Education in the Black Church. Yolanda is currently engaged in a research and writing project, in collaboration with Moses N. Moore, Jr., titled “‘Been in the Storm So Long’: Yale Divinity School and the Black Ministry—One Hundred and Fifty Years of Black Theological Education.” She has served as a member of the Yale Divinity School Women’s Initiative on Gender, Faith, and Responses to HIV/AIDS in Africa and as a board member of the AIDS Interfaith Network, New Haven, CT. She is also a past member of the Religious Education/Scholars Subcommittee of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation and Advisory Board of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture. Yolanda is currently serving as program chair and president-elect of the Religious Education Association. An ordained Baptist minister, she has served as an associate minister and minister of evangelism and discipleship in the local church.


Alan J. Sorem

I recently retired as pastor of the South Frankfort Presbyterian Church at the conclusion of my work life.  My academic background (for folks interested in such things) includes College of Wooster B.A. in '63, Yale M.Div. in '66, and an M.B.A in marketing in '85 from Fordham.  If you want to learn about delivering calves, cutting wheat, London theater, movies, improving church finance, reasons why we rarely can outguess the stock market, and other significant matters, just ask.  But first you have to look at pictures of my two wonderful grandchildren.  I like to think I have a sense of humor, which vanishes when confronted by the Arab-Israeli impasse.  My goal for this trip is to learn more about the Whole Thing with your help, the insights of Dean Attridge, and the people we meet.  My roommate is George Seay, a very fine fellow who is a Ruling Elder and former Session Clerk at SFPC.


Elaine Ellis Thomas

Elaine is a second-year Master of Divinity student at Berkeley Divinity School at Yale. Prior to arriving in New Haven, she worked as director of human resources for Episcopal Community Services in Philadelphia and has served as an organist and choirmaster throughout southeastern Pennsylvania. Married to Timothy Thomas, she commutes to Downingtown, PA most weekends to see him and, of course, her dogs, Boudreau (Bernese Mountain Dog) and Satchel (Great Pyrenees) and the cat, Cocoa. In her non-existent leisure time, Elaine enjoys sports (especially baseball), playing the piano, cooking, and curling up with a glass of wine and a good book. A native of North Carolina, Elaine is mother to Rachel Barr Peterson of Cardiff, CA, and Seth Alan Peterson, whose death in February 2009 is a continuous source of heartbreak and grief.

Timothy I. Thomas

Timothy, husband of Elaine, is founder and principal of Makarios Consulting, LLC, an organization management and leadership development consulting firm located in Downingtown, PA. A graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, Tim served as a Presbyterian pastor for 7 years before pursuing an additional degree in organization development at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia, which led him to start his own company. Born in Cleveland, OH, Tim bemoans the lifelong curse of living as a Cleveland sports fan. He is blessed, however, to have a wife who shares his love of sports and, when he's not begging for meals from friends during her absence in New Haven, he can generally be found working on building his 8-year-old business or reading works on business or spirituality. A particular favorite bedtime reading for him is Calvin's Institutes.


Mary Tyrrell

Mary Tyrrell, an avid hiker, reader, and lover of music and all things organic, is a native of Massachusetts, born and brought up in Fall River and a resident of Boston for many years. She has lived in Hamden since 1999 and has been a member of the Saint Thomas More Community since 1998. She has traveled extensively in North America, Europe and parts of Asia, but this will be her first trip to the Middle East. She is currently executive director of Yale’s Global Institute of Sustainable Forestry. Her work focuses on land use change, forest fragmentation, sustainable forest management, and U.S. private lands, with a particular emphasis on review and synthesis of scientific research, and making scientific information available to forest managers and conservationists. Prior to 1995, when she leapt into a new career working for the environment, she spent many years in the electronics manufacturing industry. She is a member of the Board of the Hamden Land Conservation Trust and the Board of Advisors of the New England Forestry Foundation. She received a B.A. in mathematics from the University of New Hampshire, a Master of Business Administration from Boston University and a Master of Forest Science from Yale University.


Alison Weir

Alison grew up in Guilford, CT and attended Cornell University, where she studied electrical engineering and English.  Upon graduation, Alison was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Air Force.  Alison's primary career field in the Air Force was program management for military space programs, but she also taught English at the Air Force Academy and served as a speechwriter for the secretary and chief of staff of the Air Force.  Alison earned a Ph.D. in English at the University of Illinois and a J.D. from Georgetown. Upon retirement from the Air Force as a lieutenant colonel in 2007, Alison returned to the New Haven area to clerk for Judge Jose Cabranes of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.  Following her clerkship in 2008, Alison was an associate attorney at Wiggin and Dana in New Haven, until December 2011, when she was named director of programs for the National Diaper Bank Network.  Alison lives in New Haven in the Wooster Square neighborhood.