Advisory Board

The following are members of our advisory board - a brief description is provided.



James A. Donahue is Saint Mary's College's new president as of July 1, 2013. He has been committed to the public role of ethics and theology throughout his career, and has served as an ethics consultant to various organizations, including the Levi Strauss Corporation, the Department of Defense, and the Catholic Health Association. He is author of Ethics across the Curriculum: A Practice-based Approach, and co-editor of Religion, Ethics and the Common Good.  Just prior to joining Saint Mary's, President Donahue was President and Professor of Ethics at the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) for thirteen years. As President of the GTU, Dr. Donahue witnessed an evolution from an ecumenical model for theological education to an interfaith model in a religiously diverse world. Under his leadership, and with a growing media presence and recognition for the breadth and excellence of its scholarship, the GTU, as a community of scholars, embraced its role as a public voice in an interreligious world. Prior to his work at the GTU, Dr. Donahue served as professor of theology and ethics, dean of students and vice president of student affairs at Georgetown University for fifteen years. He also held faculty and administrative positions at Boston College and Santa Clara University. Dr. Donahue holds a B.A. degree from the College of the Holy Cross, a M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. from the Graduate Theological Union.


Diana L. Eck is Director of The Pluralism Project and Professor of Comparative Religion and Indian Studies and Frederic Wertham Professor of Law and Psychiatry in Society at Harvard University. She serves on the Committee on the Study of Religion in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. She is also a member of the Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies and a member of the Faculty of Divinity. She received her B.A from Smith College (1967) in Religion, her M.A. from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London (1968) in South Asian History, and her Ph.D. from Harvard University (1976) in the Comparative Study of Religion. In 1996, Diana L. Eck was appointed to a State Department Advisory Committee on Religious Freedom Abroad, a twenty-member commission charged with advising the Secretary of State on enhancing and protecting religious freedom in the overall context of human rights. In 1998, Eck received the National Humanities Medal from President Clinton and the National Endowment for the Humanities for her work on American religious pluralism. In 2002, she received the American Academy of Religion Martin Marty Award for the Public Understanding of Religion. In 2003, she received the Governor's Humanities Award from the Montana Council for the Humanities in her home state of Montana. Diana Eck was President of the American Academy of Religion, 2005-2006. (Source:


Eboo Patel is the founder and Executive Director of the Interfaith Youth Core, a Chicago- based institution building the global interfaith youth movement. He was recently appointed by President Obama to the Advisory Council of the White House Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Initiatives, where he is working to realize the President’s priority of interfaith cooperation. He is the author of Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation. Eboo holds a doctorate in the sociology of religion from Oxford University, where he studied on a Rhodes scholarship. He writes "The Faith Divide", a featured blog on religion for The Washington Post and has also written for the Harvard Divinity School Bulletin, the Chicago Tribune, The Clinton Journal, The Review of Faith and International Affairs, The Sunday Times of India and National Public Radio. Eboo serves on the Religious Advisory Committee of the Council on Foreign Relations, the National Committee of the Aga Khan Foundation USA, and the National Board of the YMCA. He has spoken at the TED Conference, the Clinton Global Initiative, the Nobel Peace Prize Forum and at universities around the world. Eboo is an Ashoka Fellow, part of a select group of social entrepreneurs whose ideas are changing the world; was named by Islamica Magazine as one of ten young Muslim visionaries shaping Islam in America; was chosen by Harvard’s Kennedy School Review as one of five future policy leaders to watch; and was most recently selected to join the Young Global Leaders network of the World Economic Forum. (Source:


Brother Gerard is an Australian member of the De La Salle Christian Brothers. Following his years as a high school teacher of English and History, he completed post-graduate studies first at London University and then doctoral studies at Lancaster University, specializing in the study of world religions. His doctoral thesis, directed by the late Ninian Smart, looked at the development of catechetical and religious education in Europe following the Second World war. In his years of residence at Lancaster University, he developed a deep interest in the major world religions. Fluent in French, Spanish, Italian and German, he served two periods on the staff of the International Lasallian Center in Rome which he directed from 1983-1986. Twice elected to the General Council of the De La Salle Christian Brothers (1986-1993 and 1993-2000), he has worked with displaced members of his congregation in Czech, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania prior to 1989, and subsequently in many others of the 80+ countries in which the Christian Brothers have established themselves. In the United States, he is a foundation presenter of the Buttimer Institute and of the Lasallian Leadership Institute. Since 2000, he works mainly with educators as a presenter for Lasallian Education Services in Australia and as an Adjunct-Professor at the Australian Catholic University.

Susan Brooks Thistlehwaite


The Reverend Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, Ph.D., is Professor of Theology at the Chicago Theological Seminary. From June of 1998 until June of 2008, she served as the 11th President of CTS. Prior to the Presidency, she had been a Professor of Theology at CTS for 20 years and director of the Ph.D. Center for five years. She has a Ph.D., from Duke University, a Masters of Divinity (Summa Cum Laude) from Duke Divinity School and a B.A. from Smith College. Thislethwaite is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. She also serves on the board of the Center for American Progress and the board of the Interfaith Youth Core. An ordained minister of the United Church of Christ since 1974, she is the author or editor of thirteen books and has been a translator for two different translations of the Bible. Thistlethwaite is currently working in a new area she calls “Public Theology.” She writes a weekly column for the Washington Post online edition in the “On Faith” section. Her most recent publication, Interfaith Just Peacemaking: Alternatives to War, edited with Glen Stassen, was published Oct. 15, 2008 by the United States Institute of Peace. She is currently working on a book called Between the Devil and Politics: Reinventing Religion in American Public Life. In addition to her online column, Thistlethwaite is a frequent media commentator on religion and public events, appearing on television and radio venues in the U.S. and abroad. She currently serves as Co-Chair of the Religion and Politics Section of the American Academy of Religion.


Kenneth D. Wald is Distinguished Professor of Political Science and a former director of the Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Florida. He writes about religion and politics in the United States, Great Britain, and Israel. His most recent books include Religion and Politics in the United States (Rowman & Littlefield, 2007, 5th ed.) and The Politics of Cultural Differences: Social Change and Voter Mobilization Strategies in the Post-New Deal Period (Princeton University Press, 2002, co-authored). As part of a book in progress on the American Jewish voter, his current scholarship examines the importance of citizenship in forging the political identity of Jews in the United States. Wald, who co-edits the Cambridge Studies in Social Theory, Religion and Politics for Cambridge University Press, has been a Fulbright Professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a visiting scholar at the University of Strathyclyde (Glasgow), Haifa University (Israel), Harvard University, and the Centennial Center for Political Science & Public Affairs in Washington, DC. He has lectured widely at academic institutions in the United States and abroad.