Religious Institute Board of Directors

Rev. Dr. Larry Greenfield, Chair

Larry Greenfield currently serves as the Executive Director of the Parliament of the World’s Religion. He is the executive minister of the American Baptist Churches of Metro Chicago, a regional judicatory of the American Baptist Churches U.S.A, and the theologian-in-residence for the Community Renewal Society, a progressive, faith-based organization in Chicago that works to eliminate race and class barriers and advocates for social and economic justice. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago Divinity School, where he subsequently taught and served as dean of students. Later he served as president of Colgate Rochester Divinity School in Rochester, New York. He is also a co-founder of the Religious Institute.

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.

Rev. Dr. BK Hipsher, Secretary

Rev. Dr. BK Hipsher enjoys a unique ministry in Metropolitan Community Churches as virtual chaplain of Sunshine Cathedral in Second Life. BK has a passion for inter-religious and ecumenical dialogue born of her journey from Southern Baptist, Roman Catholic, Episcopal, and Anglican Church of Canada to MCC.  In her studies at Episcopal Divinity School and in dialogue with her Jewish partner, she is sensitive to the way we read sacred texts as Christians. She is a member of Central Reform Temple in Boston where she has been privileged to read the English version of the blessing before and after the Torah reading on Yom Kippur for the past three years and participates fully in the life of the congregation.  BK lives in the Boston area with her partner Rabbi Devon Lerner.

Rabbi Sue Levi Elwell, PhD.

The founding Director of the Los Angeles Jewish Feminist Center and first Rabbinic Director of Ma’yan, Elwell has spent 30 years working towards creating and sustaining healthy, inclusive, vibrant and open-hearted communities and congregations. She served as a congregational rabbi in California, New Jersey and Virginia, and has taught at the University of Cincinnati, UCLA, LaSalle University and the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. She served as editor of and contributor to Lesbian Rabbis: The First Generation (2001),  The Open Door, the CCAR Haggadah (2002), and Chapters of the Heart: Jewish Women Sharing the Torah of Our Lives  (2013).  A founding member of the Religious Leaders Council of the Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia, Elwell currently serves as Spiritual Director at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York.

Rabbi Emily Langowitz

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.

Ms. Carol McDonald

Carol McDonald is a social justice activist with 20 years of experience in political organizing, issue campaign management, constituency engagement, and volunteer management, all with an emphasis on communities of color. She is currently the Senior Strategist at 76 Words, a political strategy and media firm. She is also the CEO of Meridian Solutions LLC, a consulting practice specializing in organizing for social justice and racial equity. For 11 years, Carol served in numerous capacities at Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA). Carol is often asked to share her knowledge of issue advocacy, electoral campaigns and strategic planning. She has been a guest lecturer on organizing and social media at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Carol received a B.A. in political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a M.A. in teaching from Emory University.

Calvin Mew, M.Div

Calvin Mew is an independent management consultant for non-profit and charitable organizations. Previously he spent 20 years at Bozell Worldwide (Advertising), Inc. where he held various senior management positions including Executive Vice President and Regional Director of Latin America, Managing Director for all Chrysler Corporation advertising outside the United States and Geschäftsführer, Bozell Austria.  Calvin was educated at Yale University, Union Theological Seminary (Trustee for 29 years), Columbia University (Ph.D. program drop-out) and Harvard Business School. He is a congregant of The Riverside Church, New York, Norfield Congregational Church (Trustee), Weston, CT and the Sound Cyclists Bicycle Club of Fairfield County. Calvin is President of James Lenox House, Inc. (senior residences in Manhattan) and a member of the Board of Community Partners Consulting, Harvard Business School Club of New York. Calvin and his wife Mary Crawford live on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and in Weston, CT.  

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