Religious Institute Board of Directors

Rev. Dr. Marvin M. Ellison, Treasurer

Marvin Ellison, Willard S. Bass Professor Emeritus of Christian Ethics at Bangor Theological Seminary, is a scholar-activist and ordained Presbyterian minister.  He founded the Religious Coalition Against Discrimination in Maine, the Maine Interfaith Council for Reproductive Choices, and more recently a volunteer chaplaincy service for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.  He is the author of Erotic Justice: A Liberating Ethic of Sexuality, Same-Sex Marriage? A Christian Ethical Analysis, and Making Love Just: Sexual Ethics for Perplexing Times.  He lives in Portland, Maine with his partner Frank Brooks.

Rabbi Emily Langowitz, Secretary

Rabbi Emily Langowitz is the Assistant Rabbi at Temple Solel in Paradise Valley, AZ. A native of Wellesley, MA, she completed her bachelor’s degree in Modern Hebrew at Yale University. Emily served in a variety of roles during her rabbinical schooling: camp unit head, Hebrew teacher, rabbinic intern, hospital chaplain, and intern at the Religious Institute (2015-16). Emily began her work at the Religious Institute through a desire to have her feminism and Judaism be in harmony with one another. Her time there inspired the topic of her senior rabbinic thesis– a Jewish feminist theology of abortion. In her free time, Emily enjoys cooking delicious vegetarian meals, crossword puzzles, and the Boston Red Sox.

Avery Belyeu

Avery Belyeu is a trans-femme and queer educator, student pastor, and theologian who works at the intersections of LGBTQ justice, public health, and faith and religion. Avery’s professional work spans higher education, non-profit management, and government affairs. From 2011-2014 she worked at the New York City office of The Trevor Project where she held several different positions including serving as the Education Director. She currently works as the National Partnership Associate for the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention where she works at the intersections of the public and private sectors to advance the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention. In addition to these roles, she has served as an advisor to several non-profits, including serving on the Advisory Board for the Runaway and Homeless Youth Training and Technical Assistance Center, and the Advisory Board of Trans Lifeline. Avery lives in Fort Worth, Texas with her partner Nathaniel, and their two mischievous cats Lilo and Percy.

Rev. Deneen Robinson

Rev. Deneen Robinson is the Program Director at the Afiya Center in Dallas, Texas. The Afiya Center is the only Reproductive Justice organization in North Texas founded and directed by Black women. Its mission is to serve Black women and girls by transforming their relationship with their sexual and reproductive health through addressing the consequences of reproductive oppression. Deneen has been a leader in HIV and addiction activism for over 20 years. After receiving a degree in social work from the University of Texas in Austin, followed closely by her own diagnosis with HIV, Deneen found her calling ministering to those on the margins. She began her work at the Margaret Wright Clinic at South Dallas Health Access, now the Peabody Clinic, and the Legacy Founders Cottage. She founded At the Kitchen Table, a resource group for women in Dallas in 1999.  Deneen has been featured in The Dallas Examiner Supplement on HIV, The Black AIDS Institute, Newsweek, HIV Plus, the Dallas Voice,, and has consulted for the CDC, The Well Project, The Black AIDS Institute, and The International AIDS Society. Deneen is the recipient of the Civil Rights Award from Lambda Legal. She is the mother of two daughters, and a member of the Living Faith Covenant Church.

Ms. Sally Steenland

Sally Steenland is a writer and consultant whose work focuses on women, work and family; reproductive justice; religious liberty; and the influence of religion on politics and culture. For 11 years she directed the Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative at the Center for American Policy, where she created the Faith and Reproductive Justice Leadership Institute, wrote a weekly column, Faith in Values, and served as a national spokesperson on issues of faith, values, and culture. Before working at CAP, Sally was a frequent op-ed columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer, where she wrote a syndicated column on critical social issues. She spent a decade at the National Commission on Working Women and Wider Opportunities for Women, where her work focused on women in nonprofessional jobs and the image and employment of women in the media. She has also taught English and filmmaking in high school. Sally has written two best-selling books, The Magnetic Poetry Book of Poetry and the award-winning Kids’ Magnetic Book of Poetry. Her short stories have appeared in a variety of literary journals and have been anthologized.  She was raised in a Dutch Calvinist community in northern New Jersey and received a BA from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan and a Master’s in Education from Howard University in Washington, DC.  


Rev. Dr. Debra W. Haffner and Rev. Dr. Larry Greenfield