Speaker and Moderator Biographies
Dr. Mark Berkson is Associate Professor in the Department of Religion at Hamline University. He teaches courses in the religious traditions of East and South Asia, Islam, and comparative religion. Mark received a B.A. from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs in 1987 with a minor in East Asian Studies; an M.A. from Stanford University in East Asian Studies in 1992; and a Ph.D. from Stanford University in Religious Studies and Humanities in 2000. Mark's published work has addressed topics such as comparative religious thought, Buddhist-Christian dialogue, death and dying, and Chinese religious thought and practice.
Elizabeth Mensch, Distinguished Teaching Professor at State University at New York-Buffalo, joined the SUNY-Buffalo law faculty in 1980 after teaching at the University of Miami Law School. Professor Mensch has co-authored The Politics of Virtue: Is Abortion Debatable? and Property Law as well as numerous other scholarly works. She has authored and co-authored numerous book chapters, articles in legal journals, essays, reviews and commentaries. She teaches courses in legal history, church/state relations, abortion and law, morality and politics, contracts, torts and "American Pluralism." She also has served as chair of the Board of Editors of the Journal of Law and Religion. Professor Mensch received a master of arts in teaching from Cornell University, a J.D. from SUNY-Buffalo and an LL.M. from Harvard University.
David P. Gushee is University Fellow and Graves Professor of Moral Philosophy at Union University. He has served for ten years at Union, a leading Baptist University, after three years on the faculty at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and three years on the staff of Evangelicals for Social Action. A columnist for Christianity Today, author in and editor of the Jossey-Bass "Enduring Questions in Christian Life" series, and widely sought speaker, Gushee is the author or editor of nine books, including the award-winning Kingdom Ethics (Intervarsity Press). He and his family reside in Jackson, Tennessee.
José Roberto (Beto) Juárez, Jr. is Dean of the Sturm College of Law, University of Denver. His scholarly and teaching interests include civil rights, language rights, and Mexican Americans and the law. Previously, Juarez taught at St. Mary’s University School of Law (from 1990-2006, serving as associate dean for academic & student affairs) and at the University of Oregon Law School (2001-2002). He also spent seven years at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) as Regional Counsel, Employment Program Director and staff attorney and served as a staff attorney for the Gulf Coast Legal Foundation in Galveston, Texas. Juarez chairs the Editorial Board of the Journal of Law and Religion, and has been a Board member since 2002. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Society of American Law Teachers, and served as Co-President from 2004-2006. Juárez earned an A.B. degree in history from Stanford University and his J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law in 1981.
James W. Lewis has been the Executive Director of the Louisville Institute since 1991. An American religious historian, his scholarly work is focused on the history of Christian congregations, especially urban congregations, and he is the author of The Protestant Experience in Gary, Indiana, 1906-1975: At Home in the City (University of Tennessee Press, 1992), and American Congregations (University of Chicago Press, 1994) (co-authored with Jim Wind). Lewis’s career has been devoted to educational administration. He served as the Dean of Students at the University of Chicago Divinity School (1980-91) where he taught religious history and co-directed the Congregational History Project. He has also served as adjunct professor in religious history at the Louisville Presbyterian Seminary and has been active in the American Academy of Religion, American Society of Church History, and the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. A native Texan reared in Missouri, Lewis received his B.A. from Baylor University, his M. Div. from Yale Divinity School, and his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago Divinity School.
Thomas W. Porter, Jr. is the Executive Director of JUSTPEACE Center for Mediation and Conflict Transformation which was created by the United Methodist Church. The mission of JUSTPEACE is to engage conflict constructively in ways that strive for justice, reconciliation, resource preservation and restoration of the community in and through the United Methodist Church and with the larger church as well.
Porter is an ordained elder of the New England Conference of the United Methodist Church, a lawyer and a teacher, in addition to being a professional mediator. A member of the American, Massachusetts and Boston bar associations, he has served since 1977 as chancellor, first of the former Southern New England Conference, then the merged New England Conference.
He was a founding partner of the trial firm of Melick & Porter LLP in 1983 and has been a trial lawyer since 1974, representing religious institutions, universities, hospitals, professionals, nonprofit organizations and others. After seminary, he was a pastor in Paterson, NJ. He is a former chair of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Law and Religion.
Shelley Ross Saxer is the Associate Dean, Academics and a Professor of Law at Pepperdine University School of Law. She received her B.S. in business administration, summa cum laude, from Pepperdine University in 1980 and her J.D. from University of California, Los Angeles in 1989. While in law school, Professor Saxer served as the Managing Editor of the UCLA Law Review. Upon graduation, she clerked for the Honorable Wm. Matthew Byrne, Jr. of the Federal District Court for the Central District of California and then worked briefly as a corporate associate for the Century City law offices of O'Melveny & Myers. Professor Saxer enjoys writing articles that address topics where land use issues intersect with constitutional concerns. She has published articles dealing with liquor store overconcentration in urban areas, the use of religious institutions for homeless shelters, conflict between local governmental units over commercial land use decisions that impact surrounding communities, real estate disclosure of the presence of sex offenders, eminent domain, religion and clean water laws, and zoning conflicts with First Amendment rights. Since joining the Pepperdine faculty in 1991, she has taught courses in real property, land use, community property and environmental law. She has integrated technology into her teaching by using presentation software in the classroom and web-based course materials. When not performing her obligations as a faculty member and administrator, Professor Saxer joins her husband and four daughters to perform in local community theater productions and also volunteers as a musical director. Professor Saxer is a member of the Order of the Coif, the American Bar Association, the California State Bar property section, and she has been admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court.
David Skeel is the S. Samuel Arsht Professor of Corporate Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He is the author of Christianity and the (Modest) Rule of Law, U. Pa. J. Const. L. (forthcoming, 2006)(with William Stuntz), as well as many other articles, and is working on a book on the relationship between faith, morals and law with William Stuntz. His other books are Icarus in the Boardroom: The Fundamental Flaws in Corporate America and Where They Came From (Oxford University Press, 2005); and Debt’s Dominion: A Political History of Bankruptcy Law in America (Princeton University Press, 2001). Professor Skeel has also written commentaries on bankruptcy or corporate law issues for the New York Times, Financial Times, Legal Affairs, Los Angeles Times, Philadelphia Inquirer and a variety of other publications.
Dr. Ahmed Souaiaia is a Professor at the University of Iowa where he teaches courses on Islam, comparative Islamic law, human rights, religion and politics, modern religious thought in the Muslim world, ethics and morality in Islamic thought, trends in the Muslim world, and women in the Middle Eastern and Islamic cultures. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Washington (Seattle) where he had also taught Arabic languages and cultures, Islamic studies, and Islam and human rights. He has offered courses on satellite TV and via the Internet to students at Montana State University-Bozeman, University of Montana-Missoula, Idaho State University-Pocatello, North Dakota State University and South Dakota State University. He is the author of a number of books, journal articles, and essays.
Howard Vogel is Professor of Law at Hamline University School of Law where he has taught since 1975. Trained in both law and theology, Professor Vogel's teaching and research is located at the intersection of law, religion and ethics and focuses on the possibilities of law to serve the common good in a diverse social and cultural context. He teaches courses on American constitutional law, restorative justice, international human rights, and a seminar in ethics that explores the lawyer's professional identity and responsibility within the context of the quest for integrity in the practice of law. In 2005, as an extension of this seminar, he created a program of continuing education for lawyers entitled The Courage to Practice Law with Integrity.
Professor Vogel's current research and writing is devoted to a project entitled: Wo-o-hoda in Minisota Makoce: Taking Respect Seriously in the Encounter with the Sacred as an Act of Hope for a Shared Future in the Land where the Waters Reflect the Skies. This project involves a study of collaborative efforts by the Indigenous Peoples and the Descendants of Immigrants in the State of Minnesota to pursue the possibilities of true partnership in recovering the truth of the past on the road to justice and reconciliation in order to transcend the traumatic history of the 19th century, and especially the disastrous legacy of the Dakota-U.S. War of 1862. One aspect of this work involves the study of disputes over the protection of Native American sacred sites on public and private land, and possibilites of developing a reparative response to these disputes through the restorative dialogue processes of restorative justice as a means for securing reconciliation in the American republic. Reports on this work are posted and periodically updated on the internet at Sacred Sites & Human Rights.
For over twenty-five years, Professor Vogel has been an active member of the Society of Christian Ethics and is co-founder of the Restorative Justice Interest Group of the Society. Since 1989 he has served as one of the editors of the Journal of Law and Religion.
Dr. Jace Weaver is Director of the INAS, Professor of Religion, and Adjunct Professor of Law. As director, he serves as advisor for all students in the undergraduate and graduate Native American Studies Programs. He holds two doctorates, a JD from Columbia Law School of Columbia University and a Ph.D. from Union Theological Seminary in New York.
Dr. Weaver’s work in Native American studies is highly interdisciplinary, though focusing primarily on three areas: religious traditions, literature, and law. He is the author or editor of eight books, including That the People Might Live: Native American Literatures and Native American Community, Other Words: American Indian Literature, Law, and Culture, and Turtle Goes to War: Of Military Commissions, the Constitution and American Indian Memory. He is currently completing a book on Native American literary criticism with Robert Warrior, Craig Womack, and Simon Ortiz.
In 2003, Dr. Weaver won the Wordcraft Award for Best Creative Non-Fiction from the Wordcraft Circle of Native American Writers for Other Words. In 1999, he won the Portfolio Award for excellence in teaching resources from the journal Media and Methods for his book on CD-ROM, American Journay: The Native American Experience. He has also been nominated for the Oklahoma and Connecticut Book Awards.
Other Words, Dr. Weaver has written, “Native American Studies is by its nature two things, comparative and interdisciplinary.” It is this emphasis that he hopes to bring to INAS and the Native American studies programs at UGA.
Contact Dr. Weaver at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Howard Zehr joined the Graduate Center for Justice and Peacebuilding (CJP) at Eastern Mennonite University in 1996 as Professor of Restorative Justice. Prior to that he served for 19 years as Director of the Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Office on Crime and Justice. He now serves as Co-Director of CJP.
Dr. Zehr’s book, Changing Lenses: A New Focus for Crime and Justice, has been a foundational work in the growing “restorative justice” movement; in their recent book, Restoring Justice, Dan Van Ness and Karen Heederks Strong cite him as the “grandfather of restorative justice.” He lectures and consults internationally on restorative justice and victim offender conferencing, which he helped pioneer. Other publications include Crime and the Development of Modern Society (1976), Doing Life: Reflections of Men and Women Serving Life Sentences (1996), Transcending: Reflections of Crime Victims (2001), The Little Book of Restorative Justice (2002), Critical Issues in Restorative Justice (2004, co-edited with Barb Toews), The Little Book of Family Group Conferencing, New Zealand Style (2004, co-authored with Allan MacRae) and The Little Book of Contemplative Photography. He has also worked professionally as a photographer and photojournalist, both in the North America and internationally.
Dr. Paula M. Cooey holds the Margaret W. Harmon Chair in Religion at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota. After receiving her Ph.D. in religion from Harvard University (1981), she taught for eighteen years at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, before going to Macalester in 1999. She teaches courses in history of Christianity, Christianity and culture, and theory and method in the study of religion. In addition to numerous articles in academic journals, she has published several books, among them, Religious Imagination and the Body: A Feminist Perspective (Oxford University Press, 1994) and Family, Freedom, & Faith: Building Community Today (Westminster John Knox Press, 1996). Her most recent book is Willing the Good: Jesus, Dissent, and Desire (Ausburg Fortress Press, 2006).
Nancy Carol Miller-Herron was one of the first graduates of Vanderbilt's joint law-divinity program. Following graduation, she clerked for the Honorable Martha Craig Daughtrey and taught law and divinity students as an adjunct faculty member at Vanderbilt University. After her clerkship, she served for seven years as a minister at West End United Methodist Church in Nashville.
Beginning in 1991, Miller-Herron has had a general civil practice in Dresden, Tennessee and is an approved mediator by the Tennessee Supreme Court. For six years beginning in 1994, Miller-Herron chaired the board of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati, a wholesale bank for Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio and has served on its board for nine years.
Miller-Herron was appointed Commissioner of Claims for the Western Division effective March 1, 2003. She hears all of the cases in which the State of Tennessee is the defendant in West Tennessee. Miller-Herron serves on the Board of Governors of the Tennessee Bar Association and as Vice-Chair on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Law and Religion. She also is a founding member of the board of her local Habitat for Humanity affiliate.
Miller-Herron and her husband, Roy Herron, have three sons, John, Rick and Benjamin.
Dr. Mark C. Modak-Truran is the J. Will Young Professor of Law at Mississippi College School of Law. He received both his M.A. and Ph.D. in religious ethics from the University of Chicago Divinity School. He also received his J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law, where he was the Editor-in-Chief of the Northwestern Journal of International Law and Business, and his B.A. (magna cum laude) from Gustavus Adolphus College. He was formerly the Co-Chair of the AALS Section on Law and Religion, and his research and writing focus on law and religion and the philosophy of law. His publications on law and religion include: Reenchanting the Law: The Religious Dimension of Judicial Decision Making, 53 Cath. U. L. Rev. 709 (2004); Reenchanting International Law, 22 Miss. C. L. Rev. 263 (2003); Symposium Introduction, 22 Miss. C. L. Rev. 165 (2003) (Symposium on Law, Religion, and Human Rights in Global Perspective); The Religious Dimension of Judicial Decision Making and The Defacto Disestablishment, 81 Marq. L. Rev. 255 (1998); Habermas's Discourse Theory of Law and the Relationship Between Law and Religion, 26 Cap. U. L. Rev. 461 (1997). He is currently working on a book arguing for the necessary role of religious convictions for fully justifying judicial decision making in hard cases and several articles analyzing the conceptions of law, religion, and religious pluralism presupposed in religion clause analysis and legal theory.
Asifa Quraishi, a specialist in Islamic law and legal theory, joined the University of Wisconsin Law School faculty in Fall 2004. Professor Quraishi's expertise ranges from U.S. law on federal court practice to constitutional legal theory, with a comparative focus in Islamic law.
At the UW Law School, Quraishi is teaching a combination of core law school classes in constitutional law, and electives in Islamic law and jurisprudence.
Quraishi received her B.A. in Legal Studies from the University of California-Berkeley in 1988. In 1992, she received her law degree from the University of California-Davis, where she served as Senior Research Editor for the UC- Davis Law Review. She also earned an LL.M. degree from Columbia Law School, and an S.J.D. from Harvard Law School.
Her professional experience includes serving as a judicial law clerk with Judge Edward Dean Price on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California and as the death penalty law clerk for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Asifa Quraishi made news in 2001 when she drafted a clemency appeal brief in the case of Bariya Ibrahim Magazu, who was sentenced to flogging for fornication in Zamfara, Nigeria. Quraishi is a founding member of the National Association of Muslim Lawyers (NAML) and the California group American Muslims Intent on Learning and Activism (AMILA). She is an associate of the Muslim Women's League, and has served as past president and board member of Karamah: Muslim Women for Lawyers for Human Rights. She also served as an Islamic law and culture consultant for the JAG episode "The Princess and the Petty Officer."
Asifa Quraishi's recent publications (also available under "Publications" on this page) include:
* No Altars: a Survey of Islamic Family Law in the United States, in Women's Rights and Islamic Family Law, Lynn Welchman, editor (Zed Books 2004), with co-author Najeeba Syeed-Miller.
* Her Honor: An Islamic Critique of the Rape Laws of Pakistan from a Woman-Sensitive Perspective, 18 Mich. J. Int'l L. 287 (1997).
* From a Gasp to a Gamble: A Proposed Text for Unconscionability, 25 U. C. Davis L. Rev. 187 (1991).
Dr. Paul Rasor is Director of the Center for the Study of Religious Freedom and Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Virginia Wesleyan College. Paul has a wide-ranging background that includes religion, law and music.
Rasor holds a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) and Ph.D. in the study of religion from Harvard, as well as a law degree (J.D.) and a music degree (B. Mus.) from the University of Michigan. He is an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister.
His professional career includes six years of law practice in New Mexico and three years of church ministry near Boston. His academic career includes fourteen years as a full-time law professor, as well as nine years teaching in theology and religious studies at a range of institutions, including Andover Newton Theological School, Harvard Divinity School, and Pendle Hill Quaker Study Center. He has published widely in both law and theology; his latest book is Faith Without Certainty: Liberal Theology in the 21st Century, published in 2005 by Skinner House Books in Boston. He has also received teaching awards from two universities.
Paul has also been active in various forms of community service. He went to El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua several times during the war years of the 1980s, doing both educational and human rights work. He is a classical and a jazz trombonist, and has played with several symphony orchestras as well as small jazz combos.