Seattle School Connect 2023: Discourse

Seattle School Connect is a new virtual summit designed to engage in challenging discussions in order to enhance our capacity to serve God and neighbor through transforming relationships.

This inaugural event is centered around the art of discourse, focusing on pertinent cultural topics. With a lineup of 6 live conversations, we aim to explore the practice of constructive conversations while embodying values of humility and hospitality. Conversation hosts come from the Allender Center, the Center for Transforming Engagement, our graduate school, and The Other Journal, as well as special guests Lisa Sharon Harper and Shane Claiborne.

By engaging in these discussions, attendees will gain insights into bridging gaps, confronting personal assumptions, and building relationships grounded in empathy and growth.

Join us to enrich our dialogue and create connection.

Conversation Line-Up

Paul Hoard & Jermaine Ma: Live on September 29
Dan Allender & Rachael Clinton Chen: Live on October 6
Shane Claiborne & Rose Madrid Swetman: Live on October 13
Lisa Sharon Harper & Rose Madrid Swetman: Live on October 20
Joel Aguilar & Ron Ruthruff: Live on October 27
J. Derek McNeil & Zac Settle: Live on November 3

How It Works

This is a live, interactive format, and we want to hear from you! One week before each live conversation, you’ll receive a short 20-30 minute pre-recorded video as an introduction to that live conversation. Watch it prior to our live discussion and come ready with your perspectives to go deeper into the topic.

Look for your first pre-recorded video on September 22 to prepare for the first live conversation the following Friday, September 29, at 5:00 pm PT.

The 6 live conversations will air on Fridays at 5:00 pm PT, September 29-November 3.


Registration is FREE and open to all.

If you can’t make it live or would like more time to re-watch the content, you can purchase Extended Access to the videos for $35. Your purchase must be completed before the series ends on November 3 and content will be accessible until March 31, 2024.

If you’re ready to learn to engage in discourse, bridge divides, and foster more meaningful connections, we hope to see you this fall at Seattle School Connect!

Conversation Hosts

Joel Aguilar, PhD, lives in Guatemala City with his wife and two daughters. Joel is the academic dean of the Community of Interdisciplinary Theological Studies. He holds a fellowship with Street Psalms and consults with different NGOs. Joel holds a PhD in Practical Theology from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, an MA in global urban leadership from Bakke Graduate University, and a bachelor in theology from the Central American Theological Seminary. 

Dan Allender, PhD, is a pioneer of a unique and innovative approach to trauma and abuse therapy. For over 30 years, his work through Narrative Focused Trauma Care has brought healing and transformation to hundreds of thousands of lives by bridging the story of the gospel and the stories of trauma and abuse that mark so many. He co-hosts the podcast for the Allender Center with Rachael Clinton Chen and he continues to teach in the classroom and at conferences. Dan is an author, speaker, and co-founder of The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology and also a co-founder of the Allender Center.

Shane Claiborne is a prominent speaker, activist, and best-selling author. Shane worked with Mother Teresa in Calcutta, and founded The Simple Way in Philadelphia. He heads up Red Letter Christians, a movement of folks who are committed to living “as if Jesus meant the things he said.” Shane is a champion for grace which has led him to jail advocating for the homeless, and to places like Iraq and Afghanistan to stand against war. Now grace fuels his passion to end the death penalty and help stop gun violence.

Rachael Clinton Chen is a trauma practitioner, speaker (preacher), and pastoral leader. She serves as the Director of Teaching and Care for The Allender Center at The Seattle School. Rachael is privileged to be the co-host of the Allender Center podcast with Dr. Dan Allender and has been invited to speak at churches, universities, para-church organizations, and conferences nationally and internationally. Since completing a Master of Divinity at The Seattle School in 2010, she has been a core member of the Allender Center teaching team for over a decade. Rachael is devoted to bringing healing, hope, and radical welcome at the prophetic and pastoral intersection of trauma, embodiment, and spiritual formation. 

Lisa Sharon Harper is the founder and president of Freedom Road, a groundbreaking consulting group that crafts experiences that bring common understanding and common commitments that lead to common action toward a more just world. Lisa is a public theologian whose writing, speaking, activism and training has sparked and fed the fires of re-formation in the church from Ferguson and Charlottesville to South Africa, Brazil, Australia and Ireland. Lisa’s book, Fortune: How Race Broke My Family And The World–And How To Repair It All was named one of the “Best Books of 2022” and The Very Good Gospel was named 2016 “Book of the Year” by Englewood Review of Books. The Huffington Post identified Lisa as one of 50 Women Religious Leaders to Celebrate on International Women’s Day. Lisa is host of the Freedom Road Podcast, cohost of The FOUR Podcast and author of her weekly column on Substack, “The Truth Is…”.

Paul Hoard, PhD, holds a doctoral degree in Counselor Education and Supervision from Regent University. He is an Associate Professor of Counseling Psychology at The Seattle School, a professional counselor, and a clinical supervisor. Dr. Hoard has published and spoken internationally on topics related to problematic sexual behavior, adolescent mental health, perpetration-induced traumatic stress, white body supremacy, and sexual trauma. He has taught, lived, and provided mental health counseling in the United States and abroad.

Jermaine Ma, PhD, currently teaches at The Seattle School as Visiting Faculty of Interdisciplinary Studies. She has recently returned to the Seattle area after living, serving and studying overseas for over a decade. Her research interests include interpersonal trust, and the intersection of faith and culture in crosscutural contexts. As a third-generation Chinese American she is currently researching her family’s history and immigration story from China to Hawaii, and the role of intergenerational trauma especially among Asian Americans. She also serves as the Scholar in Residence for Summit Clear, a nonprofit organization that focuses on spiritual formation and leadership development.

J. Derek McNeil, PhD, is President and Provost of The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology. He holds a PhD in Counseling Psychology from Northwestern University and an MDiv from Fuller Theological Seminary. Prior to his tenure at The Seattle School, Derek served as faculty in the PsyD program at Wheaton College Graduate School for over 15 years. He has worked as a clinician in private practice, a diversity advisor, an organizational consultant, and an administrator. His research, writing, and speaking have focused on issues of ethnic and racial socialization, the role of forgiveness in peacemaking, the identity development of African-American males, leadership in living systems, and resilience.

Ron Ruthruff, DMin, is the Associate Professor of Theology and Culture at The Seattle School and a senior fellow with Street Psalms, a global network training incarnational leaders. He is an associate with the Center for Transforming Mission, providing training and support for grassroots urban leaders serving youth and families in hard places around the world.  For three decades, Ron, with his wife Linda, served marginalized communities and street-involved youth. Ron is the author of two books: The Least of These: Lessons Learned from Kids on the Street, and Closer to the Edge: Walking with Jesus for the World’s Sake. Ron and Linda live and raised their two sons in Rainier Valley, a multicultural neighborhood in south Seattle.

Zachary Thomas Settle, PhD, is the editor-in-chief of The Other Journal and the Curate at Grace Episcopal Church in the Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee. He holds a PhD in theological studies from Vanderbilt’s Graduate Department of Religion and has written for publications such as Modern Theology, Augustinian Studies, and the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion. His first book, On the Nature, Limits, Meaning, and End of Work, was published in Bloomsbury Academic’s “Reading Augustine” series in 2023. He is currently drafting a book wherein he develops an Augustinian theology of economy.

Rose Madrid Swetman, DMin, is the Associate Director of the Center for Transforming Engagement. Rose is a pastor who is the founding co-pastor (currently a Teaching Pastor), along with her husband Rich, of the Practicing Church in Shoreline, WA. She is the founder of Canopy Scholars, a nonprofit that partners with local agencies to provide tutoring and STEM programs to a diverse population of Shoreline Elementary School students, prioritizing students participating in the National School Lunch Program, and is the former Regional Leader in the Northwest Region of Vineyard USA. Rose obtained her DMin from Bakke Graduate University, focused on Transformational Leadership for the Global City. Rose and Rich have a blended family of 8 children and more than 20 grandchildren.