Spiritual Directors International

The Home of Spiritual Companionship

Workshop Presenters

Rev. April Bolin is an interfaith minister and a licensed clinical social worker in the San Francisco Bay Area with over two decades in the fields of mental health and child welfare. Founder of The Peace and Wellness Project, she is now dedicated to honoring the diversity and unity of all beings. Her commitment to social justice is reflected in her commitment to serving others with compassion and respect; and supporting others in spiritual wellness.

F1. Building Bridges to a World of Diversity and Acceptance

Valerie Brown JD, MA, ACC, is a spiritual director, international retreat leader, ICF-accredited leadership coach, and president of Lead Smart Coaching, LLC, specializing in mindfulness and leadership coaching. She is a member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), has led clearness committees nationally and internationally, and is the author of numerous writings published by Quakers. She teaches at Quaker institutions worldwide.

S1. Deep Speaks to Deep: Exploring the Clearness Committee

Alexandra Caverly-Lowery is a movement educator, liturgical dance artist, lay theologian, and spiritual director. Former associate professor of dance at York University in Toronto, she holds master’s degrees in divinity and theology from Trinity College, Toronto, and has facilitated in spiritual direction training programs since 1990. For over thirty years, Alexandra has danced in liturgies, conducted workshops like “The Body and Spirit in Movement,” and has been artist and theologian at conferences and spirituality events across North America.

F2. The Body’s Voice in Spiritual Direction

Alfred DePew is a professional certified coach and serves on the faculty of the Center for Right Relationship, which trains organizational development and human resource professionals, managers, clergy, directors of non-profits, family therapists, and community organizers in relationship systems coaching. He has presented workshops, retreats, and trainings throughout the Unites States and Canada, as well as in Australia. He is a candidate in the formation program at the CenterQuest School of Spiritual Direction. He maintains a private practice in facilitation, leadership development, dream work, and spiritual direction in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

F3. Connecting the Dots: Paper Constellation as a Discernment Tool

Sue Dunbar, BSc, DipEd, MA, is the director of Barnabas Ministries Inc., an ecumenical agency offering spiritual care. Sue trained at the Institute for Spiritual Leadership in Chicago, Illinois, USA, joining the teaching staff for two years. She is now the director of three training programs in Australia where she has taught since 2007.

Sue works as a spiritual director, supervisor, and retreat/workshop leader. Sue has presented workshops and keynote addresses for conferences in Australia and overseas.

S2. The Transformation Story: The Truth of our Connectedness

Margaret Gunnell, JD, is a Roman Catholic laywoman, lives in northern California and teaches political science at Butte College. She created Media Divina™ from the intersection of her lifelong engagement with political processes and her love and practice of contemplative prayer. A retired attorney, mediator, and nonprofit executive, Margaret received her training in spiritual and retreat direction from Mercy Center, Burlingame, California, USA. She facilitates retreats and days of prayer throughout northern California.

S3. Media Divina: Connecting the Contemplative Heart to the Heartbeat of the World

Ryan Kuja, MA, is a spiritual director who has spent several years living in economically marginalized communities in South Sudan, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, India, and the Caribbean. He writes about the intersection of theology, psychology, and global justice work. His work has appeared in Sojourners, The Other Journal, Journal of Feminist Theology, The Good Men Project, and more. Ryan has degrees from the University of Vermont, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, and The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology, where he completed a master’s degree in theology and culture. He currently resides near Seattle with his wife.

F4. Sacred Wounds: Scars as Sites of Transfiguration

Rev. John R. Mabry, PhD, is the director of the interfaith spiritual direction certificate program at the Chaplaincy Institute in Berkeley, California, USA. He served SDI for many years as editor of Presence journal. He is also a United Church of Christ minister, and pastor of Grace North Church (UCC/NACCC) in Berkeley. He is the author of many books on spirituality and spiritual direction. He lives with his wife and dogs in Oakland, California.

F6. Spiritual Guidance Across Traditions

Diane M. Millis, PhD, is an educator, spiritual director, retreat facilitator, and author of Conversation–the Sacred Art and Deepening Engagement. Her deep gladness is witnessing hearts awaken through contemplative practices and group spiritual companioning.

S4. Turning Toward Genuine Meeting

Igal Harmelin Moria has extensive experience as a practitioner and teacher of meditation and a facilitator of groups. Jewish by upbringing and affiliation, he has studied extensively the mystical teachings of other religions.

S5. Spiritual Direction as an Enabler of Social Change

Rev. Allen Mosley is a motivational speaker, author, life coach, Reiki master, and founder of the Amor Spiritual Center. Rev. Allen has been sharing his life-changing ideas on love, relationship building, transformation, and healing with thousands of people for over the last twenty years. His work has produced profound personal results in the lives of the individuals he has worked with. Personal struggle is not a foreign concept to Rev. Allen. He was diagnosed with and overcame two forms of cancer. He currently lives with the diagnosis of HIV. It is because of these challenges within his life that he found the courage from within to create a new life.

F1. Building Bridges to a World of Diversity and Acceptance

Christine Luna Munger completed her master’s degree in Christian spirituality and a certificate in spiritual direction at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, USA. Her doctoral work in practical theology was through Saint Thomas University, Miami, Florida, USA. Christine was the associate director of Companions on a Journey at the College of St. Benedict. She currently resides in St. Paul, Minnesota, USA, where she also serves as the coordinator and professor for the graduate spiritual direction certificate at St. Catherine University.

F5. Group Spiritual Direction: Teaching Contemplative Skills for Connecting Participants in Small Groups

Kirsten Olson is chief listening officer at Old Sow Consulting in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. A coach who specializes in conscious leadership, Kirsten works with leaders who are responding to vast sector change and spiraling complexity. Mindful pausing, revering silence, and deep listening are central to this work. She is the co-author of The Mindful School Leader, Wounded by School, and Schools as Colonizers. She holds a doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and is a graduate of the Georgetown Leadership Coaching program.

S1. Deep Speaks to Deep: Exploring the Clearness Committee

Yvonne Prowse holds a master’s in spiritual direction from Fordham University. She chairs the spiritual direction training programs at Loyola House, Guelph, Ontario, and leads the centre’s work in integrating spirituality, ecology, and agriculture. She has developed a variety of retreats and programs joining Ignatian Spirituality and ecology. She has presented on eco-spirituality at Inisfada Retreat House in New York, USA, St. Paul’s University in Ottowa, Ontario, and various churches and community groups in Ontario and the USA.

S6. Cultivating Earth’s Hope: Addressing the Call to Ecological Conversion in Spiritual Direction

Samuel Rahberg is the director of the Benedictine Center of St. Paul’s Monastery, owner of River Place Tree Farm, and author of Enduring Ministry. Samuel also serves as a supervisor for the spiritual direction preparation program in La Crosse, Wisconsin, USA. He holds a master’s in theology from Saint John’s, Collegeville, Minnesota, USA, and has experience in parish education and administration. He has participated in Duke Divinity’s Foundations of Christian Leadership and SDI’s New Contemplative programs.

S7. Into the Woods: Harvesting Nature’s Wisdom for Listening and Leading

Karl Ruttan, PhD, is an Episcopal priest, spiritual director, and teacher from Louisville, Kentucky, USA. He holds a doctorate in formative spirituality from Duquesne University. His article, “The Appreciative Way in Spiritual Direction and Supervision," will soon be published in Presence.

S8. Connecting to the Divine Within: Using the Appreciative Way to Uncover the True Self

Kava Schafer, MDiv, MA, is a spiritual director and palliative care chaplain at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Author and teacher, Kava teaches spirituality and end of life care throughout the health system. She was an SDI workshop presenter in 2014 and co-presenter at SDI’s presentation at the Parliament of World Religions in Australia. In 2011, Presence journal published her article, “Death as Spiritual Teacher.”

F7. Poetry as Medicine for the Soul: How to Express the Inexpressible through Imagination

Colleen Sharka, MA, LMHC, is a psychotherapist and spiritual director; director of a trauma program at Roxbury Presbyterian Church in Boston, Massachusetts, USA; offering community gatherings for people to share their stories of trauma, loss, grief, healing. She currently serves as chair of the SDI Spirituality and Health Care Institute.

S9. Can We Talk: The Spiritual Response of Community Companions to the Disconnection of Trauma

Kaye Twining, BTheolGradDip(spiritual direction), MA, is an accredited spiritual director who founded Tree of Life Spiritual Wellbeing in Victoria, Australia, in 2007. Since then Kaye has offered workshops for the general public on themes relating to living meaningfully in today's world. She has also offered professional development programs for those in the field of spiritual care. Kaye's workshop material draws from her formal education, ongoing research, and lived experience. 

F8. The Sacred Work of Being Human

Rev. Jane Vennard is senior adjunct faculty at the Iliff School of Theology and a regular presenter at the Academy for Spiritual Formation sponsored by the Upper Room. Jane is a retreat and workshop leader in a variety of ecumenical settings. She participates in spiritual direction training programs at Garrett Theological Seminar, Columbia Theological Seminary, and a Community of Christ program. Jane is a spiritual director in private practice and author of eight books.

F9. Connecting to Our Souls by Engaging the World

Melanie Weidner, MDiv, is an artist, spiritual director, and workshop leader shaped by years of Quaker, contemplative, and mindfulness practice. Her work celebrates beauty, presence, self-reflection, compassion, and joy. Melanie offers spiritual direction listening sessions in-person and remotely. Participants have enjoyed her art and spirituality workshops and presentations annually at Pendle Hill Quaker Contemplative Center and across the USA at seminaries, colleges, and faith communities. Her art serves in homes, offices, publications, private collections, and illustrate her book Storm Journey. Melanie and her partner Holly live in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA.

S10. Between Us: Engaging Interconnection in Art and Poetry

Dr. Elyssa Wortzman is a spiritual director, educator, and artist and recipient of the Rabbi Samuel Sandmel Award for her doctorate of ministry on art as spiritual direction with youth from the Graduate Theological Foundation.

F10. Creating Soul Connections: Art as a Means of Jewish Spiritual Direction with Youth


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