Leaders Like Us Global Summit
Renewal: Strengthening our Capacity to nurture flourishing in Christian education
“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.” 1 Peter 5:10
This conference is tailored specifically for educators of color who are passionate about seeing all students flourish in Christian Education and beyond. Our goal is to bring together educators, administrators, and supporters of Christian education from around the world for a rich and meaningful experience of learning, global networking, and collaboration.
In doing so, we hope to create a supportive community where educators can feel valued and affirmed while also providing the space for vital dialogue to discuss our unique experiences, collaborate on strategies, and focus on overall well-being.
Dr. Benjamin P. Thomas
Ben and his wife Susie live in Kigali, Rwanda, with their four children. Rwanda has been home since 2014, and they are so grateful for all they’ve learned about community, rebuilding, and healing in the land of a thousand hills.
Ben and Susie co-founded B2THEWORLD a few years ago to help develop schools in countries recovering from war. To date, B2THEWORLD serves over 1,000 students in 4 schools across Pakistan and Rwanda. Their hearts desire that every child in every country recovering from war would experience the fullness of life that Jesus describes in John 10:10 and Isaiah 61.
In addition to leading B2THEWORLD, Ben & Susie serve at the Kigali International Community School as Director and Middle School Language Arts teacher, respectively. They’ve loved this community, and the opportunity to shepherd, steward, and strengthen it has been one of their greatest joys.
Ben & Susie are also active at their church, Christian Life Assembly. Ben serves on the preaching faculty and as an elder in this vibrant body of over 1,500 worshippers.
His parents have been his role models of faith, hard work, and trusting Jesus in new places. There are not enough words to describe his parents’ impact on his life and leadership.
Ben & Susie have been married for 22 years, and they’ve seen God do amazing things – most notably, the gift of their children and the healing of Susie from a baseball-sized brain tumor. Ben is an ordained minister who holds a doctor of ministry in Global Christianity and Development from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.
Dr. Michael Chen
Dr. Michael Chen has been an educator for over 25 years in the San Francisco and Boston areas with experiences in urban education, international development, and organizational change.
His experience includes serving as dean of faculty at Boston Trinity Academy, and the founding director of Trinity Institute for Leadership and Social Justice, which trained over 400 leadership interns and engaged with over 2,000 high school students in social justice work.
Currently, he serves as the founding head of school at Pacific Bay Christian School, after leading an effort to close down the predecessor school named after a white supremist.
For his doctoral work, Michael developed a system-theory of resilience to further understand human development in the context of war-affected widows in Nepal. In addition, he also provided leadership and program evaluation consultative services to schools and organizations in South Korea, Nepal, and India.
His writing includes Cracking the Code: Building Christian Leaders in a Turbulent World, a World Vision eBook about service, learning, and faith; “From White to Mosaic,” a chapter that he co-authored in Mindshift in Christian Education. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A licensed professional counselor for over 25 years, Mia is a certified parent educator and a trained facilitator for the Anti-Defamation League. Mia facilitates healthy conversations regarding the topics of relational health, mental and emotional wellness, diversity, faith, awareness, and self-improvement.
Mia holds a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology and a Bachelor of Science in Family Psychology with a minor in Education and Communication.
Mia is a published author, her most recent book is A Sticky Story – a children’s book about navigating emotions and feelings when hard things happen. In response to a world that has brought anxiety and grief to the forefront, this book was created as a tool to evoke life-giving conversations with a young audience.
Rev. Dr. Charles L. Howard
The Rev. Charles Lattimore Howard, PhD serves as The University Chaplain and Vice President for Social Equity & Community at the University of Pennsylvania, his alma mater.
Over his more than quarter-century at Penn, he and his team in the chaplaincy have worked to curate a dynamic and nationally recognized spiritual and religious community on campus. Through his work as Vice President, he has provided leadership to a range of university initiatives that have sought to make Penn and the surrounding community more equitable, more accessible, and more welcoming.
Over the course of his career, he has taught college and seminary courses on Church History, Faith and Politics, Preaching, African-American History, Social Activism, Cross-Cultural Education, Black Theology, and Hip Hop. Chaz has preached, lectured, and led retreats in congregations and universities around the country, Europe, and Africa.
His writing has been featured in such publications as Sojourners Magazine, The Christian Century, Chronicle of Higher Education, The Huffington Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Forward, Democratic Left, Slate, and Daily Good.
He is the author or editor of four books, including, most recently, Pond River Ocean Rain (2017) and The Bottom: A Theopoetic of the Streets (2020).
He is an Episcopal Priest and shares life with his beloved wife, Dr. Lia C. Howard and their three daughters.
John is an Atlanta-based entrepreneur, author, speaker, and lover of all things (insert niche subculture reference).
He is currently the Director of Resources at Christianity Today, where he seeks to create evergreen content and experiences (like this one) to help people hold on to hope.
He’s the author of We Go On, co-founder of Portrait Coffee, co-founder of the Crete Collective, and former pastor of Cornerstone Church in Atlanta.
He lives in Atlanta’s West End neighborhood with his wife, Shawndra, and daughter Ava.
Ruth Naomi Floyd
A vocalist and composer, Ruth Naomi Floyd has created a discography dedicated to a sacred jazz expression. She has been at the forefront of creating vocal jazz settings that express theology, history, and justice for over 25 years, leading her multi-faceted ensemble in performances and recordings that consist primarily of original compositions. Ruth has been a presence and worker in areas of the arts and justice throughout her career. She has performed and lectured on the intersection of beauty, theology, justice, history, and the arts in performance centers, academic settings, and conferences worldwide. A committed music educator, Ruth is the first African-American woman to serve as the Founding Director of a University Jazz Studies Program in the United States. For thirty years, Ruth has researched, lectured, and performed on the history and celebration of the African American Spirituals.
The conference will be held at the prestigious University of Pennsylvania. The University of Pennsylvania is a private Ivy League research university in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Penn’s 299-acre urban campus is located in the West Philadelphia neighborhood known as University City, just across the Schuylkill River from Center City.
Both hotels are within walking distance (5-10 min) from Penn’s campus to provide ease of transportation for conference attendees.
Where to Stay
We have reserved a block of rooms at discounted rates for your convenience, at each of the venues listed below. To access a unique registration page for the conference attendees, click on the buttons below. If you need any assistance booking your stay, feel free to contact the venue directly and mention the conference for special consideration.