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Auburn Seminary Announces New Staff Appointments
August 15, 2011
Three Major Influencers from the Worlds of Media, Movement Building and Technology
New York, NY, August 15, 2011— What do the former Editor-in-Chief of O, The Oprah Magazine, J Street’s former Vice President of Communications and New Media, and an acclaimed filmmaker, Harvard-educated theologian and Yale Law School J.D. candidate have in common? They’ve all joined the team at Auburn Seminary. Auburn is expanding staff in three key areas: media, technology and movement building.
“These times call for leaders who are committed to healing and repairing the world,” says Auburn’s President, The Rev. Dr. Katharine Henderson. “We are investing our institutional resources to equip leaders who can bridge religious divides, build community, pursue justice, and heal the world. These thrilling new hires, people at the top of their games, represent Auburn’s deep aspiration.”
Auburn Seminary leaders are religious and secular, women and men, adults and teens, professionals and lay leaders. Auburn equips them with the tools and resources they need to be effective in our complex, multifaith world. Auburn envisions faith as a catalyst that can “trouble the waters and heal the world”—a world in which difference is celebrated, abundance is shared, and people are hopeful for a future that is better than today.
Susan K. Reed, former Editor-in-Chief of O, The Oprah Magazine, joins Auburn Media as Director of Strategy and Innovation. Susan is a nationally recognized editor and media consultant whose positions have included Editor-in-Chief of Conde Nast’s Golf for Women Magazine, Senior Literary Agent at IMG, as well as senior positions at at Conde Nast’s Sports for Women, and Time Inc.’s People.
“It’s a thrill to be able to take the skills I’ve accumulated over a career in mainstream media and put that knowledge to work helping equip the faith-based organizations and people working for social justice be more effective in their work,” says Reed.
In 2009, Susan transitioned from commercial magazine work to new media consulting and strategic planning and joined Auburn Media in 2010 as a Senior Research Fellow. She has consulted for clients including Simon & Schuster and the Ford Foundation. Susan also works with authors and publishers on new media strategy and marketing. She serves on the Board of Directors of Union Theological Seminary, New York Theological Seminary, and Friendfactor, a new social media-based LGBT advocacy organization. She is a graduate of Vassar College and The Sidwell Friends School.
Isaac Luria, Senior Director for Engagement, New Media and Technology, is a leader in movement building, online organizing, and new media development. As Vice President of Communications and New Media at J Street, which grew from a staff of 3 to 55 during his tenure, Isaac developed and managed traditional communications, new media, and technology strategies at the national and local levels. He also built a database of 170,000 members through viral advocacy campaigns and raised millions of dollars online from small donors. Previously, Isaac worked with online marketing firm Donordigital in San Francisco, developing and implementing online fundraising and advocacy strategies for major national non-profit organizations such as NARAL Pro-Choice America, Earthjustice, Parents’ Action for Children, and Campaign to Defend the Constitution. Isaac is a graduate of Trinity College and Northfield Mount Hermon School. From 2007 to 2008, Isaac lived in Jerusalem as a Dorot Fellow.
“If I were to dream up a place to build a multifaith social justice movement, Auburn would be it,” says Luria. “I’m so excited to work with my amazing and talented colleagues here as we help grow the groundswell of progressive faith voices.”
Valarie Kaur, award-winning filmmaker, writer and social justice advocate, has joined the staff of Auburn as director of Groundswell, a broad-based initiative to spark and empower the multifaith movement for justice. Valarie directed the critically acclaimed documentary film Divided We Fall (2008), that examines hate violence after September 11, 2001. Melissa Harris-Perry, leading scholar on American politics and MSNBC Commentator has called Valarie “one of the most compelling young voices in America today.”
“Auburn is a rich institutional and spiritual home for Groundswell,” says Kaur. "It's a place where we can build a movement that's not about a single issue or political party, but a shared moral vision for a better world."
Valarie has clerked for the Senate Judiciary Committee, traveled to Guantanamo to report on the military commissions, and helped lead a multi-pronged campaign against racial profiling in East Haven, CT. She has spoken in more than 150 U.S. cities and appeared on media outlets such as CNN, NPR, The New York Times, and BBC. Valarie holds a Bachelor’s in religion and international relations from Stanford University, a Masters in theological studies from Harvard Divinity School, and is pursuing a J.D. from Yale Law School, where she also teaches visual advocacy as director of the Yale Visual Law Project.
Auburn’s new entrepreneurial approach to leadership development, movement building and research—drawing on expertise from a wide variety of fields—grows out of its history of educating, coaching and engaging leaders on the front lines of American religious life.
For more information about Auburn’s new staff and programs, contact Claudia Gunter at (212) 870-3174.
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