THE ONLY GRACE THEY COULD HAVE WAS THE GRACE THEY COULD IMAGINE.

– Toni Morrison

Launched in 2013, the Sojourner Truth Leadership Circle is a fellowship program whose mission is to make the ordinary care of the bodies, minds and spirits of black women a priority in their own lives—and within the social justice spaces where black women leaders disproportionately serve.

All of our work is steeped in the lived experience and intellectual expression of women of color.

WHAT WE DO


The Sojourner Truth Leadership Circle equips Black women leaders, seeking to advance movements for justice within Black and Brown communities. Through a methodology that incorporates a spiritually grounded practice, fellows cultivate a greater sense of personal and communal wholeness and wellness.

OUR VISION


We exist to disrupt the narrative that has reduced self-care – especially for Black, female, poor, and queer bodies – as narcissism and indulgence. Our vision is a new story that declares self and other-loving with the potential to change individuals, communities, and the world.

SELF-CARE FOR PROPHETIC LEADERSHIP


We are rooted in Audre Lorde’s ground-breaking idea that caring for ourselves is a revolutionary act, and organized around the guiding mantra that “self-care is a mandate for prophetic leadership.” The STLC converts these core values into a practical program for Black women leaders of faith and moral courage to use in their own lives and with the vulnerable communities they serve.

STLC ALUMNI

Cohort

1

Rev. Jennifer Bailey
Faith Matters Network

Rev. Dr. Emma Jordan Simpson
Fellowship of Reconciliation

Rev. Melinda Weekes-Laidlow
Weekes in Advance Enterprises

Yavilah McCoy
Dimensions Educational Consulting

Lisa C. Williams
Front Porch Conversations

JeShawna Wholley
Brown University LGBTQ Center

 

Farah Tanis
Black Women’s Blueprint

Tina Frundt
Courtney’s House

Dr. Brenita Mitchell
Mitchell School of Business

Dr. Denise Kumani Gannt
playwright & educator

Rev. Janyce Jackson Jones
retired co-pastor Unity Fellowship Church of Newark

Cohort

2

Raquel Willis
activist, author, speaker 

Aria Sa’id
Compton Transgender Cultural District

Ms. Dee Dee Chamblee
pioneer activist, spiritual leader & founder of LaGender Inc.

Rev. Valerie Spencer, MSW
Interfaith Minister. Healer.

Micky Bradford
Transgender Law Center

Toni Michelle Williams
Solutions Not Punishment 

Elle Hearns
Marsha P. Johnson Institute

Rev. Monica J. Cross
Theologian, Pastor

Auburn Staff

Lisa Anderson is Vice President, Embodied Justice Leadership at Auburn Seminary and founding director of the Sojourner Truth Leadership Circle, which aligns the creation of vibrant and sustainable models of activist leadership with an emphasis on self and community care as a defining and galvanizing mandate for social justice in the 21st century. In addition, Anderson works with Auburn’s program team on issues of intersectional organizing, bridging the divide between theology and activism, and on deepening the spiritually grounding of leaders in a multifaith movement for justice.

Before coming to Auburn, Anderson designed seminars on national and international affairs at the Church Center of the United Nations for the Women’s Division of the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church. There she helped lay leaders connect their professions of Christian faith to concrete and spiritually grounded activism for social change and transformation. Anderson was also a leader and facilitator at Marble Collegiate Church, working specifically on behalf of the Women’s Ministry, Young Adult Ministry and the Senior Fellowship. Anderson has worked on issues of food justice and as an advocate for poor women and children through the United Way-sponsored Dutchess Outreach in Upstate New York where she supervised a volunteer staff of over one hundred.

Anderson is a graduate of Vassar College where she majored in religion and philosophy. A trained theologian, Anderson holds a Master of Divinity and Master of Philosophy degree from Union Theological Seminary. Anderson has taught courses in black, womanist, feminist and LGBTQ theologies, Christian ethics and liturgy. She is a contributor to the recent book, “Women, Spirituality and Transformative Leadership” (Skylight Press, 2010) and blogs regularly on issues of embodiment, wellness and prophetic leadership for The Huffington Post.

Courtney Weber Hoover schedules and supports the various trainings and programs provided by the Program Team at Auburn. She holds a B.A. degree in Theater Arts from Portland State University. Courtney joined Auburn after nearly a decade in higher education administration. A Wiccan Priestess, she is committed to faith and action in the public sphere, particularly issues of LGBTQ rights, environmental sustainability, and #blacklivesmatter. Courtney is the author of “Brigid: History, Mystery, and Magick of the Celtic Goddess” and “Tarot for One: The Art of Reading For Yourself” ( both through Weiser Books). She is a religion blogger for the Huffington Post and the author of numerous articles on Wicca and Paganism.

Fellowship Consultants

Renée L. Hill is an independent scholar, teacher, spiritual and community leader. Her scholarship focuses on world religions, feminist theory, African American history and LGBTQI studies. Renée has a B.A. in Political Science, and an M.Div. and Ph.D. from Union Theological Seminary in New York. She has taught in both community settings and in academic institutions including the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, MA, Drew University Theological School (N.J.) and the New School University. She is currently beginning a three-year term as a Columbia University Community Scholar where she is pursuing a project entitled, “The Spiritual Landscapes of Harlem.”

Renée has worked in several non-profit and social change organizations including Lambda Legal, the Center for Anti-Violence Education and the Temple of Understanding (a multi-faith education NGO)

Renée is a serious multiple spiritual “belong-er” and practitioner at home in Orisa/Lucumi, Jewish and Buddhist traditions. She was ordained an Episcopal priest and served churches in New York City and in Los Angeles.

As someone committed to the healthy embodiment of personal and spiritual power, Renée is an anti-violence activist and trainer who has taught self-defense, self-empowerment and trauma recovery to people of all ages. In this work, Renee strives to be holistic and comprehensive in her approach, addressing body, mind and spirit. In addition to self-defense training, she has trained in Tae Kwon Do, Hap Ki Do, Tai Chi and Qiqong.

Carla Gaskins-Nathan is a self-care consultant and the owner of Zelah LLC, which includes her private massage practice, Rooted Bodywork. She believes that “through caring for ourselves we are able to fully engage with our life, work and communities.” Using her years of experience working with non-profits and paring it with her skills as a practitioner Carla facilitates workshops and speaks to the mandate of self-care to a variety of audiences. Her work is focused on the LGBTQ communities of color, yet it is open to all that see the importance of holistic wellness.

Before devoting her work to massage and holistic health Carla acquired an extensive background in community organizing, education, program development, program implementation and facilitation with organizations including the American Red Cross, Minneapolis YWCA, and University of Minnesota. Areas of focus were LGBTQ communities, youth, health education, and sexual violence prevention and awareness education.

Carla brings her experience in non-profit organizing and healing together to help clients explore how to both be woke and stay whole. Carla approaches wellness work through an integrative lens, meeting clients where they are to embark on a wellness journey. She believes that true healing addresses mind, body and spirit. She works with clients to activate their “inner healer” so each person can sustainably walk in their truth.

Certified in Prenatal Massage, trained in Western and Eastern modalities including Shiatsu and Abhyanga. Carla is a professional facilitator, trained in Mindful Facilitation, Unlearning Racism and as a Circle Keeper. She also works with the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine providing academic support and career counseling and as a teaching assistant.

Carla serves on the New York State Society of Medical Massage Therapists Board and is a certified member of Associated Massage and Bodywork Professionals. A graduate of Queensborough Community College, The City University of New York with an Associates of Applied Science in Massage Therapy.