A community of faculty, fellows, scholars, and students advance the Humanitarian Disaster Institute’s mission and M.A. in Humanitarian & Disaster Leadership program through their teaching, research and writing.
Meet Our Team
Jamie Aten, Ph.D.
Founder and Executive Director of the Humanitarian Disaster Institute
Blanchard Chair of Humanitarian & Disaster Leadership
Jamie Aten (Ph.D., Indiana State University) is the Founder and Executive Director of the Humanitarian Disaster Institute and holds the Blanchard Chair of Humanitarian & Disaster Leadership. His research focuses on the psychology of religion/spirituality and disasters, which has been supported by over $6 million in grant funding. He is the co-author or co-editor of 7 academic books, including the Disaster Ministry Handbook (InterVarsity Press) and Spiritually Oriented Psychotherapy for Trauma (APA Books). In 2016, he received the FEMA Community Preparedness Champion Award at the White House. He was also awarded the 2010 American Psychological Association Division 36 (Society for the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality) Early Career Award.
Director of Humanitarian and Disaster Leadership
Assistant Professor of Humanitarian and Disaster Leadership
Laura Leonard manages all communications for HDI, including social media, newsletter, publicity, editorial development, and managing writing and media opportunities. She previously worked as an editor at Christianity Today, overseeing various publications and websites during her time there. She has a degree in English with an emphasis in Writing from Wheaton College, and she specializes in editorial development and writing.
HDI Fellow, Anti-Human Trafficking
Beth Birmingham, Ph.D.
HDI Fellow, Leadership and International Development
Beth is an NGO leadership and organizational consultant, development researcher, trainer, and formerly tenured professor. She's a Founding Partner in BE Development Partners, an NGO Consulting and Research partnership. She brings knowledge and experience in leadership and change, an understanding of the complexity of poverty, and appreciation for the beauty of different cultures to help humanitarian organizations improve their leadership, organizational culture, partnership posture, and ultimately their missional impact. She's lived and served in over 20 countries. In addition to her new role with HDI, she's also a member of Wheaton's Consortium on Gender, Development and Christianity. She's published in the areas of NGO Leadership and International Partnerships. She holds a Ph.D. in Leadership and Change, and an MBA in Economic Development, and is also a Guest Lecturer in our MA in Humanitarian & Disaster Leadership program.
Ward Davis, Psy.D.
Director of Research
Associate Professor of Psychology
Dr. Davis is a licensed clinical psychologist who joined the Wheaton College faculty in 2012. He was an HDI Faculty Fellow from 2012 until 2019, when he transitioned into the HDI Director of Research role. In that role, Dr. Davis helps coordinate and share findings from the numerous research projects HDI team members are involved in around the world. Dr. Davis also is a core faculty member in the Wheaton PsyD Program, in which he mainly teaches psychological assessment and practicum seminar classes. Previously, Dr. Davis was an Assistant Professor in the Rosemead School of Psychology (Biola University), where he taught in the PsyD and PhD Programs and received the Sorenson Outstanding Faculty Award in 2012.
Ed Stetzer, Ph.D.
Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism & Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism
HDI Senior Fellow
Ed has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books. Previously, he served as Executive Director of LifeWay Research. He is a contributing editor for Christianity Today, a columnist for Outreach Magazine, and is frequently cited or interviewed in news outlets such as USAToday and CNN. He is the Executive Editor of The Gospel Project, a curriculum used by more than one million individuals each week. He is also Executive Editor of Facts & Trends Magazine, a Christian leadership magazine with a circulation of more than 70,000 readers.
George Kalantzis, Ph.D.
Professor of Theology
Director, The Wheaton Center for Early Christian Studies
George Kalantzis (Ph.D., Northwestern University) focuses his research and writing interests on the dynamic relationship between the written documents and their interpretation in early Christianity. He pays particular attention to the development of Christological and Trinitarian thought, as well as the interplay of classical Greco-Roman and early Christian philosophical understandings of anthropology and biblical hermeneutics.
View Dr. Kalantzis' faculty profile >
Scott Moreau, D.Miss.
Associate Academic Dean of Wheaton College Graduate School
Professor of Intercultural Studies
Dr. Moreau's professional interests include contextualization of the Christian faith, issues related to phenomenology (folk religions, spiritual warfare), and technology in missions (especially information technology and the use of the Internet). His personal interests include reading novels and working around the house.
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James Huff, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Anthropology and of HNGR
Associate Director of HNGR
James (Jamie) G. Huff Jr. received his Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from American University (Washington, DC) in 2004, and worked as Associate Professor of Anthropology at Vanguard University (2002-2014) prior to his faculty appointment to the Human Needs and Global Resources Program at Wheaton College. His scholarly interests focus on international and rural community development, religion in Latin America, faith-rooted social movements and non-government organizations (NGOs), and comprehensive community initiatives. As an applied anthropologist, Dr. Huff has worked with various NGOs and community-based organizations to evaluate the effectiveness of their programs to alleviate poverty and strengthen human well-being and community resiliency. Since 2008 he has worked collaboratively with the staff of a Christian non-profit organization (ENLACE) to implement evaluation studies that assess the impact of local development initiatives on the social, economic and physical well-being of rural communities across El Salvador.
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Laura S. Meitzner Yoder, Ph.D.
Director and John Stott Chair of Human Needs and Global Resources
Professor of Environmental Studies
Dr. Yoder has been the Director of the HNGR Program since 2013. Since 2008, Laura has taught North American students about sustainability and field research in rural and international development, in Thailand, Bhutan, Indiana, and elsewhere. She is keenly interested in the socio-political, legal, and faith dimensions of environmental issues worldwide. Her interests include languages, writing, tropical fruits, cooking and eating international foods, histories of botanical exploration and colonial governance, walking in forest shade, swimming, and asking questions.
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Susan Greener, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Intercultural Studies
Susan has invested in work and research with children-at-risk for over two decades in universities and Christian non-governmental organizations. She has served in global development work as a programming leader for Mission of Mercy and Compassion International, working with children and youth living in extreme poverty in more than 30 nations. She has also served in the academy as a researcher in emotional intelligence and health behavior at Yale University, an Assistant Professor and Executive Director of an Early Head Start program while at Berry College, and a Dean of Students for Trinity Evangelical Divinity and Graduate Schools. She is passionate about resourcing the church to engage in transformational and holistic ministry, particularly with children and families in difficult circumstances.
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Engineering Program Coordinator
Jeff is a water-focused civil engineer who has worked in development and humanitarian response for more than 20 years. He has directed water supply initiatives for an Australia and Timor-Leste bilateral rural water and sanitation program, overseen the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) 2004 Indonesia tsunami response program, and led MCC review teams in Jordan, Kenya and Ethiopia. Jeff has worked on post-disaster humanitarian initiatives with Christian and secular non-government organizations and as a FEMA consultant. Jeff is passionate about strengthening the church and God’s people through mutual support and relationships both in and out of times of crisis. In addition to teaching with HDI, Jeff is Wheaton’s Engineering Program Coordinator.
View Jeff Yoder's faculty profile >
Integral members of the Humanitarian Disaster Institute, Faculty Fellows are recognized leaders within their respective departments and disciplines. They serve as principals for HDI-related projects and help shape and carry out the institute’s initiatives.
Cynthia Neal Kimball, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology
My interests have included a wide range of research questions, specifically: high-risk families, attachment theory (particularly as it relates to our relationship with God), emerging adults, and gender issues.
I enjoy my extended family which includes 5 grandchildren. Additionally, when I'm not training for a marathon, you'll find me reading a wide variety of good books. I'm involved in a small congregation which is very concerned with social justice issues, e.g., feeding the poor and advocating for the marginalized.
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John McConnell, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Psychology
John M. McConnell, Ph.D., has six years of experience as a clinician in the Veterans Health Administration (VA). Dr. McConnell has additionally practiced in a community mental health center and a cancer hospital. As a licensed psychologist, he specializes in integrating cognitive/psychological assessments and interventions into medical settings with particular emphasis on the elderly, people with dementia, and individuals with physical illness. He was previously responsible for managing a VA outpatient mental health clinic during his postdoctoral residency. Dr. McConnell also is an expert in assisting individuals, couples, and groups accomplish forgiveness. He is passionate about teaching, clinical supervision, research advising, and student mentorship.
View Dr. McConnell's faculty profile >
HDI Contributing Scholars are respected psychologists at institutions across the country working with HDI as co-investigators on research projects.
- Donnie Davis (Georgia State University)
- Cirleen DeBlaere (Georgia State University)
- Josh Hook (University of North Texas)
- Stacey McElroy (Georgia State University)
- Laura Shannonhouse (Georgia State University)
- Daryl Van Tongeren (Hope College)
- Laura Captari (University of North Texas)
- Kevin Schaller (Resiliency Partners)