Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry is excited to welcome Jean Adler Stean, the newest addition to our community, as the Assistant Director of Admissions and Student Services. A graduate from Duke Divinity School and an ordained deacon in the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, Jean brings a wealth of experience in various church roles, as a hospital chaplain, and in the non-profit sector. We caught up with Jean during her first month at the school to learn more about her, read more below!
Jean was initially attracted to Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry for its rootedness in a larger Jesuit Catholic Institution, its commitment to social justice and the opportunity her position provides to journey with students during an important formational period in their lives. Speaking of this journey, she remembers her own formation as a Divinity student, calling to mind feeling excited, overwhelmed and at times lonely. Jean hopes to draw from her experience as she accompanies students throughout their journey with the School of Theology and Ministry.
Although she has lived in many different places, Jean considers herself from the south and admits to saying “y’all” often. New to the area, she found herself in Seattle when her husband was assigned to Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. Just prior to coming to the school, Jean worked at the Community Empowerment Fund in Durham, North Carolina. A grassroots organization founded and staffed mostly by students, the Community Empowerment Fund advocates for individuals experiencing poverty and/or homelessness to receive adequate support in the areas of housing, employment, and financial capacity. Jean has also worked as a chaplain with Veteran Affairs providing support for patients and families in the medical center as well as at an outpatient mental health clinic. She says of her time as a chaplain: “I learned how to listen well,” and hopes her deep listening skills will benefit her in her interactions with students. She adds, “A lot of my previous work has been about bridging people and resources and finding the thing that really speaks to [them]… I want to bring some of that energy to this job so that I can work with every person to make that connection and support them in finding what they’re looking for.”
She is passionate about integrating spirituality with social justice and is excited to be surrounded by justice-oriented people who care about creating change and fostering leaders. Her own spiritual journey has been one of exploration. After early experiences in the Methodist and Catholic traditions, then different evangelical churches, she found a home in the African Methodist Episcopal Zion church, a community rooted in civil rights and referred to as “The Freedom Church.” AME Zion is committed to justice and freedom for all people and is historically connected to the abolitionist movement through leaders like Sojourner Truth. As an ordained deacon in the AME Zion denomination, Jean really connects with the historic roots of the church, explaining that her passion and goal for ministry is for people to be free from injustices and free to be who they are. She also believes that her spiritual journey will be helpful experience in relating with a variety of different people and navigating a new religious landscape. She says: “My story is indicative of where my generation and the generation that comes after us are leaning as far as religion goes…people seem less anchored to one denomination.” She is curious about human commonalities and how people connect with something outside of themselves.
As an extrovert, Jean loves people and is energized by meeting new individuals and finding ways of connecting with them. She is excited about the opportunities that the School of Theology and Ministry community presents, observing, “there is a lot of uniqueness in this community and one thing that draws people [here] is the interesting intersection of types of people that come to study here.” Noting that people come to the school from all different faith traditions and religious backgrounds, she sees an opportunity to facilitate sharing about the diversity of students’ experiences as well as the commonalities. Jean is excited to learn more about student life here at the school and participate in the continued development of the student community.
As Assistant Director of Academics and Student Services Jean acts as a friendly point of contact for prospective students during their discernment, application, and admittance processes. Additionally, she will continue to support current students in whatever they need as they navigate the demands of their degree programs. She says: “It feels like a very unique and exciting time in the life of the school, the wider culture of Seattle, and our country…I’m excited to be here!”
Be sure to take a moment to introduce yourself to Jean and welcome her as you see her around the school. New students, attend the New Student Community lunch on Wednesday, October 19 to spend time with Jean and your fellow classmates as this new academic year begins!