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
Kent Annan is Director of Humanitarian & Disaster Leadership. In this role he works with Dr. Aten to develop vision and strategy for growing and sustaining the MA in Humanitarian & Disaster Leadership program while managing its day-to-day operations, teaching courses, and advising and mentoring students. He is author of You Welcomed Me: Loving Refugees and Immigrants Because God First Loved Us (2018), Slow Kingdom Coming (2016), After Shock (2011), and Following Jesus through the Eye of the Needle (2009). He writes regularly for national publications. He speaks often at churches, colleges, and conferences around North America. He cofounded and formerly served as codirector of Haiti Partners, a nonprofit focused on education in Haiti. He’s on the board of directors of Equitas Group, a philanthropic foundation focused on ending child exploitation in Haiti and Southeast Asia. He’s a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary (M.Div.) and Palm Beach Atlantic University (B.A.). He teaches adult education at his local church. He is married to Shelly, and together they have a daughter and son.
Assistant Professor of Humanitarian and Disaster Leadership
Jamie Goodwin is a bilingual scholar who comes from the world of practice. Her research focuses on international philanthropy and civil society, with a focus on faith-based organizations and immigrant groups. She has served on grant-funded research teams including The Global Philanthropy Environment Index, The Global Religion Research Initiative, and The National Study of Congregations’ Economic Practices. Her work has been published by The Urban Institute, The Conversation, and featured in The Stanford Social Innovation Review. She held the Ilich-Dickinson Fellowship at Indiana University and was named one of the premiere ten graduate students at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis for 2019-2020.
Laura Finch (M.A., American University) directs HDI's communications efforts, particularly the Better Samaritan blog and podcast produced by HDI and hosted by Christianity Today. She worked previously at the nonprofit cable network C-SPAN, where she handled nationwide publicity initiatives and worked as a producer for the Washington Journal, the network's flagship morning program. She has also worked in the Illinois Senate, the Indiana House of Representatives, and the U.S. House of Representatives. As a journalist, Laura has freelanced for publications like WORLD, Christianity Today, and Relevant Magazine. She has participated in the Redbud Writers Guild, the WORLD Journalism Institute, the Lugar Series, and the American Studies Program. In 2018 Wheaton Academy selected her as Young Alumni of the Year.
Joy Lee oversees the education programs of the Humanitarian Disaster Institute and supports a growing alumni community. She also maintains partnerships with NGOs for collaborative opportunities. Joy’s previous work involved coordinating and developing projects related to anti-oppressive education, the arts, gender-based violence, and advocacy. She has worked on projects in different mediums such as: Torn Memories of Nanking by Tamaki Matsuoka (ALPHA Education); In Sundry Languages by Toronto Lab Theatre (play); Make Food, Not War by Siobhan Productions Inc. (short documentary); Everything will Live Where the River Goes by Blades Art Project (Mural). Joy has B.A. degrees in Theatre and Semiotics, and Urban Education from the University of Toronto/OISE. She is currently completing her M.A in Humanitarian and Disaster Leadership. At her church, she serves on the Race & Justice Committee, and previously, the COVID-19 response community engagement team.
(MSSW, University of Louisville) produces content for HDI’s social media channel and promotes the institution’s worldwide work, particularly The Better Samaritan. She has worked in the intersection between entrepreneurship, faith, and justice in the last several years, namely with Area Code Network, Let My People Go, and Sermonary. Jennifer co-leads her church’s partnership with World Relief and is passionate about building bridges toward racial reconciliation. She has written for Christianity Today and has voiceover and audio production experience. In 2013 the Kent School of Social Work gave her the Whitney M. Young Award for best demonstrating commitment to social justice and equality of opportunity for all.
Rachel Varghese supports the Better Samaritan Blog and HDI as Communications Associate. She worked previously as Director of Women’s Ministries and Director of Children’s Ministries at Evanston Bible Fellowship. She also worked at Christian Heritage Academy, teaching Middle and High School English. Rachel has her Masters in Education from National-Louis University and her B.A. in Elementary Education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In her free time, Rachel loves trying new coffee shops with her husband, playing and singing with her two daughters, and reading as much as time allows
Office and Operations Coordinator
As Office Coordinator, Rose provides administrative support to both the M.A. in Humanitarian and Disaster Leadership and the Humanitarian Disaster Institute. Rose previously worked with HDI from 2016-2017 and is excited to be back at Wheaton College and supporting the HDI team. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts, and in her free time enjoys exploring creative projects and spending time with her husband and daughter.
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, India, 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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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.
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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.
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 (Boston University)
- Kevin Schaller (Resiliency Partners)