CHICAGO – November 13, 2017 – Chicago Theological Seminary is pleased to announce Vanessa Gomez Brake as the winner of the 2018 Rabbi Herman E. Schaalman InterReligious Leadership Award, an initiative of the InterReligious Institute (IRI) at CTS. Over seventeen students submitted proposals identifying a specific issue or gap within a particular context able to be addressed through an interreligious event or initiative. Students included a plan for implementing their event/initiative. Gomez-Brake’s proposal was selected as the winning initiative. She will receive a $500 honorarium plus an additional $500 micro grant to execute her event/initiative.
“We are pleased to honor the legacy of Rabbi Schaalman, whose life championed interfaith work,” affirms Rev. Lisa Seiwert, Project Director of the IRI. “Gomez Brake’s project harkens to Rabbi Schaalman’s commitments to crossing borders, encountering the other, and sharing our stories.”
Gomez Brake describes her initiative as a Movement/Migration and is planning “an evening of multi-dimensional storytelling on the University of Southern California campus. Grounded in the values imparted by religions, cultural traditions, ethical stances and worldviews, student performers will share stories on the theme of movement and migration.” The event will take place in early March and representatives from CTS and the IRI will be in attendance.
Gomez Brake is the Associate Dean of Religious Life at the University of Southern California. She is the first humanist chaplain to serve in this capacity at any American university. In her role, she works to support and promote university religious and spiritual life broadly conceived, and helps oversee more than 90 student religious groups and 50 religious directors on campus. She is currently completing her master of divinity degree at CTS, where she received a transformative leadership merit award in 2016. Gomez Brake received her bachelor of arts degree in religious studies and psychology from Arizona State University. She received her master of science degree in conflict analysis and resolution from George Mason University. She holds a certificate in humanist studies & leadership from the Humanist Institute, and is endorsed as a humanist chaplain by the Humanist Society.