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Presenters and Friends

We are so grateful for the time and expertise of these fine people. Please see below for biographical information on the presenters for our Day with Thomas Merton and Friends.


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Josh Daum

Josh is an alum of the Baldwin Wallace English and Religion departments. He currently works as the Office Administrator for the Presbytery of the Western Reserve. Josh also assistant directs the Padua Franciscan High School marching band, and is an avid church musician. He lives in Cleveland Heights with his wife and their cat. You can find Josh on Twitter @joshy216

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Laura Dunson, Licensed Professional Counselor

Laura is a mental health therapist working in Cleveland, Ohio. Her areas of focus include women's trauma and gender issues, creative arts therapies, and using myths and pop culture in counseling. She graduated from Baldwin Wallace University in 2013 with dual majors of Psychology and Religion. You can find her on Twitter at @lauragdunson.

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Dr. Alan Kolp

Dr. Alan Kolp is holder of the Baldwin Wallace chair in faith and life and professor of religion. He earned degrees from Guilford College and Harvard Divinity School and a doctorate from Harvard University. Kolp is a co-author, with his business colleagues Peter Rea and Pierre Everaert, on a recent book, 'Igniting Innovation With Integrity: Following the B.R.I.C. Road.' Kolp also co-authored with Rea the 2006 book 'Integrity is a Growth Market: Character-Based Leadership.' This book has been translated into Portuguese. In addition, he has numerous publications in contemporary spirituality, including two popular books 'Fresh Winds of the Spirit' and 'Canopy of Light & Love.' In June 2017 Kolp and Rea published their third book together, 'Exception to the Rule.' He writes a daily inspirational blog.

Before coming to Baldwin Wallace University in 2000, Kolp taught at Earlham College and Earlham School of Religion in Richmond, Indiana. For six years he served as head of the graduate school as dean of Earlham School of Religion. Kolp also served eight years as pastoral leader at First Friends Meeting in Richmond. Currently, Kolp serves on the board of directors of The International Thomas Merton Society.

Kolp teaches classes in contemporary spirituality. Kolp was the co-founder with Rea of the Center for Innovation & Growth (CIG), a campus-wide, co-curricular effort to infuse an entrepreneurial and innovative mindset in all students. He is also the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) faculty representative and is teaching a leadership colloquium for student athletes.

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Sister Donna Kristoff

Sister Donna is a member of the Ursuline Sisters of Cleveland. An artist, she has formally taught art at all levels of education. Currently she is the coordinator of the Cleveland Chapter of the International Merton Society in which she has served as an officer and board member. Merton and art is an area that she has researched. Her interests in religious icons and Eastern Orthodox theology led her to Merton. She is happy to see young people discovering the many treasures of Thomas Merton.

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The Rev. Rachel McDonald

Rachel is the pastor of South Haven United Church of Christ, graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, and Baldwin Wallace Alum. She lives in Cleveland Heights with her husband and their cat.

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The Rev. Tom Snyder

The Rev. Tom Snyder is a recycled United Methodist parish pastor, now serving as adjunct instructor at two Ohio seminaries. His fields are spiritual formation, United Methodist studies and church leadership. He has had several book reviews published The Merton Seasonal. Tom has presented two programs at the Cleveland Chapter of ITMS where he and his wife, Kitty, are affiliated. They had a reading from Merton's No Man Is an Island as part of their marriage service forty-eight years ago.

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Pastor Jim Thornton

Pastor Jim Thornton and His wife Jessica have been married for 12 years and have two children. Jim is a 2012 Graduate of BW with a degree in religion. Jim has been the pastor of Grace Community Church in Grafton since 2015. You can find Jim on Twitter @PastorJimThorn