Writer bios

We've heard from many women that mentors are essential to their flourishing, both personally and professionally. We've assembled a team of mentors to answer your questions about life, work, and relationships as a woman in the academy and professions. Read their perspectives in our Dear Mentor column.

Gillian Marchenko is an author, speaker, wife, mother, and advocate for individuals with special needs. Still Life: A Memoir of Living Fully with Depression is her second book. Her first memoir, Sun Shine Down (T. S. Poetry Press), chronicles her experience having a baby with Down syndrome while serving as a missionary overseas. She and her husband Sergei spent four years as church planters with the Evangelical Free Church of America in Kiev, Ukraine, and they now live with their four daughters in St. Louis, Missouri.

Aleah Marsden is a writer, speaker, and social media and communications director who is passionate about seeing women walk into all the plans God has for them. Her writing can be found in publications like Christianity Today and Books & Culture, as well as a handful of devotionals in the NIV Bible for Women: Fresh Insights for Thriving in Today’s World (Zondervan, 2015). Connect with her at AleahMarsden.com, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

Joanne M. Marshall is a former high school teacher and a current associate professor of educational administration at Iowa State University. Her long-term research agenda is driven by the question of how people's internal values and beliefs relate to their public school roles, particularly in the areas of religion/spirituality, moral and ethical leadership, philanthropy, social justice pedagogy, and work-life balance. She holds an Ed.D. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and has published articles in The Journal of School Leadership, Equity and Excellence in Education, Educational Administration Quarterly, The School Administrator, and Phi Delta Kappan. She is the lead editor of Juggling Flaming Chainsaws: Faculty in Educational Leadership Try to Balance Work and Family and editor of the Work-Life Balance book series from Information Age Publishing. More information is available at her website.

Camille McCall is an aspiring author who enjoys writing inspirational pieces, screenplays, and poetry. She obtained her BS in Mechanical Engineering in 2012 from Michigan State University and has since returned to pursue a graduate degree in Environmental Engineering. She is currently working on her first book eager to encourage women struggling with relationships, faith, and self-esteem through her own life experiences. Camille loves anything outdoors, but also appreciates curling up for a good movie, or gathering with friends for great outings and engaging discussions.  

Rachel McLaughlin, MD, has long been interested in medical missions and international work. She took her first missions trip to Mexico while in college and has since served at hospitals in Cambodia, Swaziland, Bangladesh, and Kenya. Rachel received her MD at Loma Linda University in California and did her residency training in Obstetrics & Gynecology in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She is currently serving in Burundi, East Africa, as a professor and clinical faculty at Hope Africa University and Kibuye Hope Hospital.

Jen Pollock Michel is the author of Teach Us to Want: Longing, Ambition and the Life of Faith, Christianity Today's 2015 Book of the Year. Her forthcoming book, Keeping Place: Reflections on the Meaning of Home, will release in May 2017. A wife and mother of five, Jen is an active member of Grace Toronto Church as well as an enthusiastic supporter of HOPE International and Safe Families Canada. She has written widely for print and digital publications and frequently speaks at churches and conferences. Jen lives with her family in Toronto.

Grace Ju Miller is a Professor of Biology at Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU). She has been at IWU for seven years. Before moving to Indiana, Grace and her family lived in Morocco where she taught at an orphanage for two years. Grace was the Seed Bank Director at ECHO (Agricultural Missions Agency) in Fort Myers, FL) for four years, taught at Gordon College for eleven years, and has led a travel course — “Sustainable Tropical Agriculture” — in Guatemala, Honduras, and Haiti for 15 years. She has a BA in Art and Botany from Duke University (including two years studying Chinese brush painting in Taiwan), MS in Agronomy from UC Davis, and PhD from Purdue University. She was recently elected as the IWU College of Arts and Sciences Faculty Chair by her peers.

Margarita Mooney is an assistant professor of Sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Faculty Fellow in the Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina. She received her MA and PhD in Sociology from Princeton University and her BA in Psychology from Yale University. Her areas of interest include religion, immigration, theory, culture, and economic sociology.

Kindra Morelock is a wife and a mother of three. She is studying Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana with a concentration in Data Curation. She enjoys baking, reading, spending time with her family, watching British TV, and cheering on the Detroit Tigers. She lives in Chicago.

MaryKate Morse is a professor of leadership and spiritual formation at George Fox University Seminary. She holds the BS degree from Longwood University; MA and MDiv degrees from Western Evangelical Seminary (now George Fox Evangelical Seminary); and PhD in Leadership, Gonzaga University. A recorded Quaker minister and a trained spiritual director, Morse has expertise and research interests in healthy spiritual leadership, leadership development and formation, deep change processes in individuals and in groups, power and influence, team and gender issues, spiritual direction, and prayer.

Deborah Risa Mrantz is Founder and principal creative of LOGOS DIVINITY GUILDWORKS and MINISTRIES™. LOGOS DIVINITY GUILDWORKS™ is a faith-based artists guild and Abrahamic interfaith initiative bringing together new models of theology, worship, arts-ministry and pastoral chaplaincy in combined creative enterprise.

Jerusha Matsen Neal is an ordained American Baptist clergywoman, currently finishing her doctoral work at Princeton Theological Seminary.  Her focus is on the work of the Holy Spirit in preaching, using Luke's account of Mary's pregnancy and birth of Christ as a primary conversation partner.  This year, her book of dramatic monologues, Blessed, was published as part of Cascade's Art for Faith's Sake series.

Amber Noel, M.Div., has been a teacher, blogger, beekeeper, librarian, and director’s assistant to an international arts initiative. She is currently a happily employed youth minister, and just moved to the wilds of urban Texas from Durham, North Carolina. She tends to spend her free time with animals, odd people, good writing, good food, good jokes, and people who laugh at those jokes. She does excellent impersonations and wishes she could make her money by reading aloud.

Kate Norlander is an assistant director of communication services at a private university in Minnesota. In addition to assisting academic departments and programs with their external communications, Kate edits one of the university’s magazines and writes for many of the magazines and newsletters published by her employer. She and her husband live with their teenage daughter and a small black dog named Vader. In her spare time, she teaches Sunday school, hosts anti-slavery chocolate parties, and attends science fiction and fantasy conventions.

Jamie Noyd, PhD, serves as Campus Ministry Coordinator for the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod congregations in Greater Cincinnati. In this capacity she lives in the space between church and academe exploring with students what it is to abide in Christ’s grace as they live out their vocations. Away from campus she enjoys times with family and continues to venture out on literary pilgrimages.

Angie Crea O’Neal is Assistant Professor of English at Shorter University in Rome, Georgia, specializing in eighteenth and nineteenth century British literature. She teaches writing and all facets of British literature, but her favorite literary subjects are the Romantic poets and Jane Austen. Angie received her PhD from Arizona State University in 2007. She lives with her girls, Marin and Maeve, and her aging dog, Lucy.

Holly Ordway is a poet, academic, and Christian apologist on the faculty of Houston Baptist University, where she is Chair of the Department of Apologetics. She is the author of Not God’s Type: A Rational Academic Finds a Radical Faith and blogs on literature, culture, and apologetics at Hieropraxis.com. She was a competitive sabre fencer for nearly twenty years and considers a really good cup of coffee to be one of life’s simple pleasures.

Sarah Orner is currently pursuing her MFA in creative non-fiction at Seattle Pacific University and works for the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES/USA) as a grant coordinator and writer. She enjoys good conversations, being near the ocean, and traveling to new places. She writes, works and lives in Tampa, Florida with her husband, Kevin.

Diane Paddison has an MBA from Harvard Business School and is the author of Work, Love, Pray. She has held several executive positions for corporations, including two Fortune 500 companies and is currently the Chief Strategy Officer at the commercial real estate firm Cassidy. Diane gathers professional women for connection and mentoring time whenever she travels for business. This passion for mentoring women inspired her to found 4word™, a national nonprofit designed to connect, lead, and support young professional Christian women to fulfill their God-given potential. Diane and her husband have four children and live in Dallas, Texas, and Portland, Oregon.

Ellane is an assistant professor of chemistry at Rollins College. She graduated from Wellesley College with a BA in Chemistry and from Columbia University with a PhD in Chemistry.

Sarah Pechan lives in Columbus, Ohio, where she works to undermine poverty production through education reform. She loves God, fun, obedience, passion, scuba diving, and dried strawberries.

Nancy Pedulla is the Director for Leadership and Talent Development for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. Before holding this role, she served InterVarsity’s Graduate and Faculty Ministries for twelve years. She holds a BS in Psychology and a MEd in International and Development Education, both from the University of Pittsburgh. Her ministry passions include whole life discipleship, men and women in partnership, leadership development, team building, and coaching. She is passionate about the development of women.

Heather Walker Peterson is a writer, mother, and assistant professor and chair of the Department of English and Literature at the University of Northwestern-Saint Paul.

A graduate of Baylor University, Anne Pharr has taught English as well as College Success at Pellissippi State Community College, Knoxville, Tennessee, since 1998. Through PSCC's Student Success Program, she connects struggling students with campus and community resources to help them pursue their academic goals.  Along with some of her colleagues, Anne has also developed a college-wide initiative, Partners for Student Potential, whose mission is to deepen and broaden faculty and staff awareness of the challenges and strengths represented by under-resourced students. Besides spending time with family and friends, her passions include music, reading, exercise, Blue Bell ice cream, Huckleberry the dog, and a great cup of coffee — preferably each morning. Anne maintains two blogs: shadowwonder (on Christian spirituality) and gritology (exploring how educators and parents can cultivate grit, determination, resilience, and perseverance — and why we should).

Sara Phillips is a nonfiction editor at the Wisconsin Historical Society Press and holds a doctorate in English from the University of Wisconsin. Sara was an active member of the InterVarsity grad chapter at UW-Madison and now spends her days thinking about American poets, the intricacies of knitting patterns, and Wisconsin history. She is currently finishing a dissertation on the American long poem—and in her downtime, is glad to lend her copyediting skills to The Well.