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Per our mission statement, WCU develops graduates to contribute to the common good, in part by helping students effectively and participate in civic discourse and engage inclusively in a diverse society.

Per our values statement, we affirm the worth and dignity of each member and the shared responsibility of all to treat each other as individuals, with respect and courtesy.

To further enact our mission and values, this project aims to develop a sustainable network of faculty, staff, students, and community members who support the diverse ways students orient around religious and philosophical worldviews in order to make meaning of their lives and connect to the world around them. Though interfaith efforts have been happening organically in various sectors of campus, a new project aims to bring these efforts together collaboratively under an increasingly formalized structure to support, equip, and celebrate interfaith leadership efforts. This new project is called the Interfaith, Meaning-Making, and Spirituality Project.

The project is directed by

Dr. Zachary C. Wooten, Assistant Professor of Leadership Studies and
Dr. Matthew Pierlott, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Chair of the Philosophy Department
with support from The Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.


Goal of the Interfaith, Meaning-Making, and Spirituality Project

This project aims to build a sustainable structure of support for efforts related to interfaith, meaning-making, and spirituality through three primary initiatives:

The Student Interfaith Action Committee

  • (a co-curricular committee)
  • Led by Sophomore Cell and Molecular Biology and Philosophy Double Major Gabrielle Steffy
  • The Student Interfaith Action Committee exists to connect people of all worldviews, religions, and life philosophies by partnering with campus and community organizations to facilitate dialogue and collective action.
  • Click here to contact Gabi and join the committee!

Gabby Steffy Headshot

The Faculty and Staff Interfaith Advisory Board

  • The WCU Faculty & Staff Advisory Board exists to advocate for and holistically support West Chester University students, faculty, and staff as a means of building cultural competence and working for the common good. We do this by fostering religious pluralism as part of our understanding of diversity and inclusion while addressing xenophobia as well as both reducing and preventing harm.

The Interfaith Leadership Fellows

  • (a paid campus peer educator program housed in partnership with philosophy)
  • The mission of the Interfaith Leadership Fellowship program is to equip undergraduate students with the needed skills to bridge religious and spiritual divisions within West Chester University by having a Pluralistic vision, acquiring knowledge, and developing the skill set to foster an understanding of different faiths, cultures, philosophies, and worldviews for the common good.


Interfaith Fellows

Placeholder headshot

Nasha Yisrael

Nasha is an undergraduate student at West Chester University studying Finance with a minor in Studio Art. Coming from a religious background, Nasha was drawn to the Interfaith, Meaning-Making, and Spirituality project because she wants to gain a deeper understanding of how people of various religions and spiritualities can build meaningful connections regardless of their differences. Being an Interfaith fellow has given her the opportunity to meet new people from different communities and work with them to contribute to the common good. In her free time, she enjoys reading, being a part of the Art Club as the treasurer, and dancing with the University Dance Company. Nasha manages the Interfaith social media and is working to build campus and community partnerships focused on spirituality and the arts.
Fun fact: I used to be in a band and perform at gigs.

Liam McDonnell headshot

Liam McDonnell (He/Him)

Liam is an undergraduate majoring in business management. As an Interfaith Leadership Fellow,, Liam is responsible for the social media outreach to the West Chester community. Liam attended Catholic school and the opportunity to think about the impact of religion on identity sparked his interest to join the Interfaith Leadership Fellowship. Liam is looking forward to work with community partners and different religious leaders to improve his communication skills. Becoming an interfaith fellow has allowed Liam to gain the knowledge working with people of all different religious, spiritual, and philosophical backgrounds. Liam spends most of his time hanging out with his friends and takes part in a fundraising group called the Ancient Order of The Hibernians. This Irish group of men work in the Doylestown community and put together events for those in need.
Fun Fact: Liam started all four years on his high school basketball team.


            The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:            Regina Jonas: a life of aspiration and inspiration            Zachary Wooten, Matthew Pierlott and Elizabeth Gittleson Honors College, West Chester University of Pennsylvania, West Chester, Pennsylvania, USA            Regina Jonas            Abstract            Purpose - Leadership educators have the responsibility to help students hear the stories of those who may otherwise be forgotten. There is great value to unearthing the stories of those who have been cast aside due to neglect or malice, both historically and in contemporary society. Given the interdisciplinary nature of leadership education, we benefit from a historical lens which helps us to understand who we are and where we come from. One transformative leader whose story impacts us immensely and whose story we believe would benefit leadership educators to learn about is the story of Rabbi Regina Jonas, the first woman to be ordained as a Rabbi.            Design/methodology/approach - The article offers a rich narrative account of experiences, people and lessons learned when considering an impactful leader.            Findings - The often untold story of the first known woman rabbi shifts the male dominated narrative of leadership, particularly leadership in religious communities.            Originality/value - Though we have never met Regina Jonas, her story has shaped our study and practice of leadership and her triumphs live on in the spirits of women who lead with resilience, tenacity and fortitude today.            Keywords Leadership education, Women in leadership, Feminism, Teaching and learning of leadership, Judaism/Rabbi            Paper type Conceptual paper            Received 21 January 2024 Revised 21 January 2024 Accepted 21 January 2024

Faculty Highlight

Dr. Zachary Wooten, Dr. Matthew Pierlott, and WCU Alumna Lizzie Gittleson published an article in the Journal of Leadership Education about the first woman to be ordained as a Rabbi.

View the article


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