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.

Halee Gray Scott, PhD, is an author and global leadership researcher and consultant who focuses on issues related to leadership and spiritual formation. Her book, Dare Mighty Things: Mapping the Challenges of Leadership for Christian Women, is published by Zondervan. She teaches seminary courses in spiritual formation, theology, and leadership in seminaries across the country. She is a regular contributor to Her.Meneutics.com and her writing has appeared in Christianity Today, Christian Education Journal, Real Clear Religion, Relevant, Books and Culture, and Outcomes. She lives in Littleton, Colorado, with her husband, Paul, and their two daughters. When she’s not writing or teaching, she is usually baking challah bread, running, or doing Crossfit. She blogs at hgscott.com

Luci Shaw is the author of ten volumes of poetry including What the Light Was Like, Accompanied by Angels, and The Genesis of It All, and the non-fiction prose books The Crime of Living Cautiously and Breath for the Bones: Art, Imagination & Spirit. She is Writer in Residence at Regent College in Vancouver, B.C. For further information, visit her website.

Nicole Shirilla is a second year medical student at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Prior to entering medical school, she was a high school religion teacher and the Assistant Director of the Notre Dame Vocation Initiative. She has her BA and MEd from the University of Notre Dame.

Jay has been with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship for 35 years. She is the National Co-Director of Spiritual Formation & Prayer, which includes being the Chaplain to the Leadership Team for the Graduate and Faculty Ministry Team of IVCF. Jay is also a Registered Nurse.

Alison Marie Smith works for Greek InterVarsity at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. She ​and her husband, Sean, moved to Utah four years ago from the great state of Michigan. She loves reading, running, making meals for her students, and sharing adventures with her husband. Alison blogs at alisonsmithblog.wordpress.com.

Sarah Wynia Smith completed her PhD in physiology at UW-Madison in 2009. She is currently a postdoctoral researcher at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, studying nitric oxide signaling. In her spare time she enjoys spending as much time as possible with her husband Brian and son Jackson, exploring California, and playing the trumpet.

Sarah Conrad Sours is Assistant Professor of Religion at Huntingdon College and a Licensed Local Pastor in the United Methodist Church. She is working on a book on academic integrity, and another on autonomy and bioethics.

Debbie Splaingard has an undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia and a Masters in Organizational Communication from Marquette University. Over the years, she has been a medical grant writer, owner of a personnel consulting business, church staff member, wife, mom and grandmother. She is currently a research associate at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and a campus volunteer with InterVarsity Graduate and Faculty Ministries at Ohio State University.

An editor, writer, and avid library-goer Elisa Fryling Stanford lives with her husband and two daughters in Colorado. She is the author of Ordinary Losses: Naming the Graces That Shape Us. To read Elisa’s blog on why we read stories, go to conversationsjournal.com/2012/05/a-god-of-stories/.

Margot Starbuck, a writer and speaker, is the author of the spiritual memoir The Girl in the Orange Dress: Searching for a Father Who Does Not Fail (InterVarsity Press, 2009) and Unsqueezed (InterVarsity Press, 2010). Her writing has also appeared in Radiant, Neue, Rev!, and Today’s Christian Woman. Margot lives with her family in Durham, NC. You can learn more about Margot at her website.

Sharri Bockheim Steen is a full-time mother and a part-time freelance medical writer for the pharmaceutical industry. She lives near Princeton, New Jersey, with her husband and two children. Sharri earned her BS in biology from Calvin College and her PhD in molecular biology from Baylor College of Medicine and did a post-doctoral fellowship at Princeton University. When Sharri finds a spare minute, she jogs, reads, or writes. She kept a blog of her experiences with breast cancer at http://burnishingbrightens.blogspot.com/

Travis Stevick received his PhD in Theology from the University of St. Andrews, Scotland in 2015. He is an ordained elder in the Iowa Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. He lives in Northern Iowa with his wife and two children.

Karen Stiller is a freelance writer and an editor with Faith Today magazine. She is managing editor of Evangelicals Around the World: a global handbook for the 21st century (Thomas Nelson, 2015); and co-author of two books about the Canadian Church (Going Missional and Shifting Stats: Shaking the Church). She’s also an MFA student.

Linda Stratford received her PhD from the State University of New York, Stony Brook, in History, with emphasis on Art in Society. Her life mission is to stir up thoughtful discussion of the visual arts. She teaches Art History at Asbury College where she also serves as Art Department Chair and a Lilly Scholar. She serves on the Board of Christians in the Visual Arts (CIVA) where she recently edited an issue of the CIVA journal SEEN dedicated to the topic of “Art and Vocation.”

Debra Sulai holds a Ph.D. in religious ethics from the University of Chicago Divinity School and a Master's degree in theology from Regent College (Canada). She has taught at several colleges and universities, most recently as Visiting Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Siena College. Her research focuses on applied ethics and politics and she is a vocal advocate for a more just and humane academic labor system, particularly for contingent faculty. Debra currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin with her husband, who is also an academic.

Lauri A. Swann received a B.A. from Syracuse University, an M.A. from The George Washington University, and her M.Div. and D.Min. from Wesley Theological Seminary where her thesis was Sex Trafficking within the Black Church Community: A Call and Response. She currently serves as the campus staff minister of InterVarsity's Graduate and Faculty Ministries, Black Scholars and Professionals (BSAP) Fellowship for the Washington, D.C., region, specifically on the campuses of Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). Before joining Intervarsity she served as both a youth and young adult pastor and taught in both the private and public charter school systems in Washington, D.C. She is married to Kevin and together they have three beautiful children. Lauri blogs at Peeling Oranges at Midnight.

Edwin Woodruff Tait is a freelance writer, farmer, and consulting editor for Christian History magazine. He blogs at Ithilien and tweets as @Amandil3.

Jennifer Woodruff Tait is the managing editor of Christian History Magazine and the Patheos Faith and Work Channel. She lives on a farm in Richmond, Kentucky, with two children, one husband, her in-laws, and a laptop. 

Christine Tatum is editor-in-chief of Infoition News Services, which delivers business news and information on demand to Fortune 500 companies, congressional lawmakers, and White House officials. Her career stops include The Chicago Tribune and The Denver Post. She is a North Carolina native who now lives in Denver with her husband and their two children.

Tina Teng-Henson was born and raised on Long Island, New York. Although she grew up in a Chinese church, she became involved with the multi-ethnic InterVarsity chapter at Harvard and a socioeconomically diverse church in the South End of Boston where she felt her world and heart blown open by God. Tina was also significantly influenced by seasons of life spent overseas in the Dominican Republic, China, and Kenya. In addition to being a wife to John and a mom to their young daughter and son, Tina is serving at  First Presbyterian Church of Santa Clara (reachingthevalley.org), having completed her Master of Divinity degree at Fuller Theological Seminary. She loves playing volleyball, helping people grow in their spiritual life, and is always up for connecting with new people! 

Miriam Thangaraj is a doctoral candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Comparative and International Education at the Department of Educational Policy Studies. Her research considers global education and development discourses of schooling, childhood, and vulnerability as they shape national policy, as well as intervene in the daily lives of children and families in their particular contexts.​

Steven Timmermans, PhD (University of Michigan), is President of Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, a suburb of Chicago, Illinois. Previously he served in a variety of administrative and teaching roles at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Common themes throughout all of his higher education experiences are community engagement and creating college access for students. Prior to entering higher education 20 years ago, Timmermans served as a pediatric psychologist.

Nikki Toyama-Szeto serves as Program Director for InterVarsity’s triennial missions conference, Urbana. Before joining InterVarsity, she worked as an engineer in Silicon Valley. While on staff, Nikki served at Stanford, U of San Francisco, and UC Berkeley and helped develop and direct the Global Urban Trek, an urban immersion program designed to challenge students to use their majors on behalf of the world’s poor people. She is co-editor of the book More than Serving Tea, a collection of essays, stories, and poems looking at the intersection of race, gender, and faith for Asian American women. Nikki resides in Madison, Wisconsin, with her family.

Bob Trube is Senior Area Director for InterVarsity's Graduate & Faculty Ministry team in the Ohio Valley (Ohio, West Virginia, and Western Pennsylvania) and leads the ministry to graduate students and faculty at The Ohio State University. He resides in Columbus, Ohio, with Marilyn and enjoys reading, gardening, choral singing, and plein air painting. 

Kathy Tuan-MacLean serves as Associate Director for InterVarsity’s Graduate & Faculty Ministries (GFM), supports the Boston Faculty Fellowship as its campus staff, and just celebrated her 25th year with InterVarsity. Kathy has a PhD in Human Development & Social Policy from Northwestern University. Her dissertation was on “The Interracial Friendships of White & Asian College Students,” a topic that capitalized on her passion for racial reconciliation. She’s married to Scott and has three children — one in college, the other two in high school. Her latest adventure in the blogosphere can be found at kmactuan.wordpress.com.