News & Insights

The chief executives of voting-eligible member schools of the In Trust Center recently elected four new members and re-elected two continuing members to serve on its board of directors. The heads of 103 institutions cast ballots, representing 59 percent of eligible voting members of the In Trust Center.

Newly elected to a three-year term

Mr. René Espinosa

Vice president of administration and finance, Oblate School of Theology

René Espinosa has been a member of the administrative team at Oblate School of Theology since 2005. He was vice president of finance for 13 years before being named vice president of administration and finance in 2019. In his current role, he oversees finance, accounting, human resources, information systems, and plant operations.

Espinosa is a certified public accountant with more than 26 years of experience in public accounting, manufacturing, and nonprofit organizations. He is a member of the board of commissioners of the Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) and participates in at least one accreditation visit per year. Recently he was a member of the ATS task force responsible for the redevelopment of the Standards of Accreditation.

Espinosa is a member of the Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICIPA), the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO), and the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR).


The Rev. Dr. Doris García Rivera

Interim director, Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America (BPFNA), and past president, Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico

In 2019, Doris Garci´a Rivera, Ph.D., was named interim director of Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America (Bautistas por la Paz), a network of peacemakers in Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the United States, which supports national and international peacemaking initiatives.

Born in Puerto Rico, she spent 23 years as an American Baptist missionary in Costa Rica and Mexico. From 2014 until 2019, she was the first female president of the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico, where she oversaw multiple relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Maria, which required collaboration with relief organization, partner denominations, seminaries, and volunteers.

Garci´a Rivera is a frequent conference speaker, teacher, and workshop leader throughout the United States and Central America. She holds a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s degree in microbiology. She also earned a master’s degree in cross-cultural evangelism from Andover Newton Theological School and a doctorate in biblical studies from Boston University.


Dr. Karen L. Sawyer

Assistant professor of physical therapy, Arcadia University, and member of the board of trustees (and past chair), Missio Seminary

Karen L. Sawyer, DPT, has been a member of the physical therapy faculty at Arcadia University since 1994. As the director of national and international experiential learning, she develops and oversees student two-week experiences primarily in the Caribbean and Central America. Since the international program’s inception in 1996, more than 400 students have participated in global health experiences.

In addition to leading teams of student physical therapists to middle-income countries, she has co-taught courses and co-led trips to Israel-Palestine and Istanbul that have incorporated a multinarrative approach to understanding people with divergent opinions or opposing worldviews. Her conviction is that the appreciation of backgrounds, fears, and aspirations of others is a key to relationship development.

She has served on the board of trustees at Missio Seminary since 1994, most recently completing two three-year terms as board chair. She is vice chair of Friends of the Redeemer United, a nonprofit organization that provides physical therapy and other services in rural Jamaica.

Sawyer is a member of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Maple Glen, Pennsylvania. She holds an undergraduate degree in classical archaeology from Dartmouth College, master’s degrees from Duke University (physical therapy) and Missio Seminary (counseling), and a clinical doctorate degree from Arcadia University.


The Rev. Dr. Richard R. Topping

Principal, Vancouver School of Theology

Richard R. Topping, Ph.D., is principal of the Vancouver School of Theology, an ecumenical seminary on the campus of the University of British Columbia, where he holds the St Andrew’s Hall chair in studies in the Reformed tradition. He teaches in the areas of Reformed and systematic theology, Reformation history, and theological interpretation of scripture.

From 2000 to 2009, Topping was lead minister at the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul in Montreal. He also taught at Presbyterian College, part of the Montreal School of Theology, for eight years.

During Topping’s leadership, the Vancouver School of Theology has set new thresholds in enrollment, donor commitment, innovative programming, and strategic partnerships. It has also expanded its partnerships around the world, including with Durham University in the United Kingdom and with a number of theological schools in Asia.

Topping is a graduate of the University of Waterloo and of St. Michael’s University and Wycliffe College, both of which are part of the Toronto School of Theology. He is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in Canada and is currently minister-in-association at Richmond Presbyterian Church in Richmond, British Columbia.


Re-elected to a three-year term

Dr. Charisse L. Gillett

President, Lexington Theological Seminary

Charisse L. Gillett became the 17th president of Lexington Theological Seminary in 2011, the first woman and first African American to lead the seminary in its 154-year history. She was previously vice president of administration and special projects at the seminary, and she is also a former trustee and officer of the board of trustees.

Gillett has more than 25 years of administrative experience in higher education, including service at Transylvania University, Midway College, Robert Morris College, and the University of Northern Iowa. She holds a doctorate in education from Northern Illinois University.

A former moderator of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Gillett serves as associate minister at East Second Street Christian Church, where her husband, Donald K. Gillett II, is senior pastor.

Gillett has guided Lexington Theological Seminary to a season of institutional stability in finances, enrollment, and development. In 2018, under her leadership, the seminary received a $1 million Thriving In Ministry grant, and in 2019 the seminary received a $1 million Thriving Congregations grant, both from Lilly Endowment Inc. She is also the recipient of a $15,000 Reflective Leadership grant from Leadership Education at Duke Divinity.


Ms. Kathryn Glover

Former Vice President for Administration and Institutional Effectiveness and Secretary of the Corporation, Virginia Theological Seminary

Kathryn Glover is a certified senior human resources professional. Glover is a consultant in governance, leadership, and organizational development and she serves on the Episcopal Church's national Task Force to Develop Churchwide Family Leave Policies. In her capacity as vice president at Virginia Theological Seminary, she oversaw multiple departments including human resources, communications, hospitality, and the seminary's early learning center.

Glover is a graduate of Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, and George Mason University, where she earned a master’s degree in public administration with a concentration in nonprofit management. She is a certified senior professional by the Society for Human Resources Management, is certified in organization consulting and change leadership from Georgetown University, and is co-author of the book Community Rules.

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Closing the Trust Gap


The current and very troubling condition of trust is a clarion call to action. But despite the dismal data showing pervasive organizational distrust, every organization can assess their current level of trust, learn and adopt a proven trust building framework, and then develop a meaningful and long-lasting plan of action. This webinar details the knowledge and practical next steps to strengthen workplace culture as a result of closing the trust gap.

In Trust Center Resource Grants


An In Trust Center Resource Grant offers member schools a chance to explore innovation at their institutions through a matching grant opportunity of up to $15,000. Listen to this 30-minute information session, including Q&A, as we provide details on eligibility requirements, funding priorities, application process. Previous grantees are eligible to apply as long as they are not within our current funding cycle.

Conflict + Crisis: Navigating the Shoals, Part 2 – A Deeper Dive


Presenter Donna Alexander, President & CEO of Advoxum Global Strategies, offers best practices for navigating conflict and crisis. She examines the crucial elements of defining conflict and crisis, identifying, and prioritizing affected stakeholders, utilizing effective communication strategies, and ultimately, executing a plan of action. Click here to view.

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