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School of Theology and Ministry

Center Advisory Board

Hamdi Abdulle

Hamdi Abdulle is the Executive Director of Somali Youth and Family Club of SeaTac, Skyway, and south Seattle, Washington. Born and raised in Galkacyo, in the semi desert savanna regions of Somalia, Hamdi now works closely with East African communities in King County.

Hamdi has implemented such innovative projects as the Shah-Shah early learning program for mothers and children and the highly successful Community Café model as a platform for parent engagement in the refugee community. A tireless advocate for social justice and equity, she calls for inclusive economic development and safe affordable housing for vulnerable refugee families, and fights to end homelessness and the dis-proportionality in our county and state child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

Hamdi serves on the Executive Committee of the Race to the Top project, is a member of All Home Coordinating Board, and is a happily married mother of five.

Dr. Wael Bahaa-El-Din

Dr. Wael Bahaa-El-Din currently serves as a member of the Board of Trustees for the Muslim Association of Puget Sound (MAPS). A computer scientist by training, Dr. Bahaa-El-Din worked for several years in academia before moving to the software/hardware industry. He worked for Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) for several years and then Microsoft for 15 years, and has worked on the design, architecture, and performance analysis of operating systems, database systems, networking, server applications, client applications, compilers, tools, and hardware. He is considered one of the top software industry experts in software performance, reliability, scalability and quality. In 2010, Dr. Bahaa-El-Din retired from Microsoft as a Corporate Vice President and a Microsoft Fellow for 10 years.

During 2010-2011, Dr. Bahaa-El-Din was instrumental in building the new MAPS community center in Redmond. MAPS is now the largest community center in the Northwest of the U.S.  Between 2011 and 2014, he was President of MAPS’ Interfaith and Outreach Committee (IOC), which is responsible for relations between MAPS and the Interfaith community at large.  

Haley Ballast

Haley Ballast is pursuing a Masters of Divinity degree at Seattle University School of Theology & Ministry and is a candidate for ordination in the Presbyterian Church (USA). Haley has a BA in Psychology and Linguistics from the University of Southern California, and her areas of interest include racial justice, intersectional feminism, and inter-religious dialogue. She and her spouse have four children through birth and international adoption, and reside in South Seattle.

Rev. Margaret Breen

Rev. Margaret “Maggie” Breen is Associate Pastor at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church and Executive Director of Renton Ecumenical Association of Churches (REACH).

Maggie completed her M.Div. at Seattle University's School of Theology and Ministry in 2013, and was ordained as Teaching Elder (Minister of Word and Sacrament) in the Presbyterian Church USA in February 2015. Maggie’s leadership is focused on helping the church live and serve out of its unity and call to partnership with those who are marginalized. Maggie was awarded the Dr. Leo Stanford leadership award by Seattle University in 2013. She was named one of Renton’s Outstanding Citizens in 2013 for her work in opening a family shelter and day services for homeless families in Renton.

Rev. Jason Davison

Rev. Jason Davison is blessed to serve as co-pastor at Sanctuary Church in the Central District, and as a Church Engagement Specialist with Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission. 

Part of the calling on Jason’s life has been to see the kingdom of God translate to empowerment within communities of color in urban communities. Over the years, the need became apparent for a church in the heart of Seattle to reach out to existing congregations and community leaders as a reconciling agent between Black and White, new and old residents, rich and poor. He and his wife Foxy have both served as mentors and teachers within Seattle Public Schools, and since 2009, they have leveraged their experience as educators, small business owners and advocates to serve marginalized communities in Seattle’s increasingly gentrified Central District.

Currently, Rev. Davison convenes local pastors in the heart of Seattle for monthly prayer and collaboration.

Talya Gillman

Committed to ideals of human dignity and interdependence, Talya Gillman works with organizations to help them engage their constituents in meaningful efforts to address social needs - in ways reflective of and accountable to those values. With a background in Jewish and secular service-learning program design, curriculum development, and increasingly, anti-racist organizing with Jews, Talya strives to operate at the intersection of "character development," social equity, and liberation work. She is a recipient of the Covenant Foundation’s Pomegranate Prize for emerging Jewish educators, a member of the ROI and StartingBloc communities, and a former American Jewish World Service World Partners Fellow in Mumbai.

Talya works as Education Coordinator at Jewish Family Service, Seattle, and is nearing completion of a Masters in Transformational Leadership at Seattle University.

Rev. Taijo Imanaka

After undertaking both scholastic education and monastic ascetic training, Rev. Taijo Imanaka was ordained in 1994 in the Shingon sect of Japanese Vajrayana Buddhism, on Koyasan. Koyasan is one of the most ancient Buddhist mountains in Japan. The community celebrated the 1200-year anniversary of its founding in 2015. Descending from the monastic mountain, Rev. Imanaka served at several temples in Nara and Osaka.

In 2006, he was assigned as Head Priest of Seattle Koyasan Buddhist Temple, located near Seattle’s International District. Since then he has focused on how to localize Buddhism and connect synergistically with Christian churches and Buddhist temples originating from other countries.

Rev. Rich Lang

Rev. Rich Lang is currently the District Superintendent of the Seattle/King County United Methodist Church. He has been a pastor for 28 years serving congregations in LaConner, Bay View, Spokane, Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood and at Seattle’s University Temple.

He writes a column for Real Change called Faith, Politics and Culture, and his ministry has been highlighted in the books Natural Saints and Fixing America. He has received the Gertrude Apel Pioneering Spirit Award from the Church Council of Greater Seattle, Taking the Bull by the Horns from Sustainable Ballard, and the Rauschenbusch Center’s Spirit and Justice award. He has been arrested for homeless advocacy, and was intentionally pepper sprayed by Seattle police during the Occupy marches.

He is married to Cathy for 33 years, and has two adult sons who carry on the family values of solidarity with the poor, with unions, and with all who work for peace with justice.

Dr. Prem Pahlajrai

Prem Pahlajrai is a Hindu of the Advaita Vedānta tradition. He is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Washington, Seattle, where he teaches the Hindi language and Indian philosophy.

Michael Ramos

Michael Ramos serves as the Executive Director of the Church Council of Greater Seattle, connecting congregations toward God’s shalom in King and South Snohomish Counties.  He has worked on ecumenical community building for two decades and enjoys connecting spirituality with social justice. At the Church Council, confronting homelessness, immigration accompaniment and reform and building a living wage future have been central commitments with faith communities throughout the region.

He was the Director of Latino Ministries for the Catholic Diocese in Oakland in the mid-1990s before moving back to Seattle with his wife, Donna, and their two (now-grown) daughters.  He holds a Master of Divinity degree from Seattle University.  After growing up and going to college in New York City, Michael came to the Pacific Northwest over thirty years ago.

Rev. David Rodes

David Rodes is the Lead Pastor at the Puyallup Church of the Nazarene (known as PNC).  He has pastored this congregation for almost 17 years, serving in the Puyallup, WA community.  As an advocate of unity among the churches, he is actively involved in leadership of The John 17 Fellowship of Pastors and Christian Leaders.  He has a strong interest in 'glocal' mission (local and global) which has resulted in engagement in the Faith & Family Homelessness Project at Seattle University School of Theology and Ministry as well as partnerships in Malawi, Africa with both the government, village communities and churches.  (The dairy project, clean water wells and orphan care through Child Develop Centers.) 

David and his wife, Lynette, enjoy their four children and their families.

Lenin Torres

Lenin Torres is a Bilingual Counselor at King County Veterans Outreach Program. He has been working in the substance abuse field, serving economically and educationally disadvantaged individuals, including homeless veterans, for thirteen years.

A native of Caracas, Venezuela, Lenin’s international experience, bilingual background, and multicultural competence have served him well in engaging diverse communities. In addition to his work with veterans, Lenin is a real estate broker and is currently a first-year student in the School of Theology and Ministry’s Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies program.

Rabbi Ruth Zlotnick

Rabbi Ruth A. Zlotnick has been described by her community as a teacher of Torah and of Jewish values, and is beloved for her gifts of knowledge, leadership and counsel, inspirational worship services, and creative programming.

Rabbi Zlotnick previously served as Rabbi at Temple Beth Or in the Township of Washington, New Jersey, and as Associate Rabbi and Director of Lifelong Learning at New York's Central Synagogue. She also worked as Associate Director of Programs at Synagogue 2000, a national project aimed at revitalizing synagogues from all streams of American Judaism. She taught in the New York area, at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), and Fairfield University. She currently sits on the Board of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, and the Advisory Board for the Center for Religious Wisdom and World Affairs at Seattle University.

Rabbi Zlotnick is a graduate of HUC-JIR, where she was ordained in 2001. She earned a Master of Hebrew Letters from HUC-JIR; she also holds a Master's in the Philosophy of Religion from Yale University and a Bachelor's degree in religious studies from Wesleyan University.