Lucinda Huffaker is director of supervised ministries at Yale Divinity School and Executive Secretary of the Religious Education Association. After twenty years as an accountant in the corporate world, she obtained a MAR from Iliff School of Theology and a PhD in religious and psychological studies from the University of Denver and Iliff School of Theology (1995).
Huffaker spent ten years at the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion — first as Associate Director and then as Director — and later worked for the Council of Colleges of Arts and Sciences at the University of Northern Colorado before moving to Yale Divinity School in August 2011. Along with her role as founding managing editor and later co-editor and editor of Teaching Theology and Religion, Huffaker has pursued research and publication in feminist and process theology and spiritual formation. At Yale Divinity School, she continues to focus on academic and professional formation by working with students in mentoring relationships with clergy, community organizers, nonprofit administrators, college chaplains, and bivocational scholars. Her current work also exercises the skills she has developed in cultivating spaces where diverse perspectives are expressed, appreciated, and mutually engaged.
Statement on the AAR
AAR has been my principal professional home since I drove with a carload of other graduate students across the plains of eastern Colorado and Kansas to attend the Annual Meeting in Kansas City (1990). In the years since then, my relationship to AAR has evolved as AAR and my own career have undergone changes. I’m sure most of our members could say the same. I have voted regularly, collaborated when possible, served if asked — but mostly the benefits have been unidirectional through the relationships, resources, and platforms that AAR makes possible for me.
Hence I would be pleased to have the opportunity to give back to this organization through the position of Treasurer. In my view, the important thing to know about the Treasurer of your organization is that he or she can both oversee the financial details and interpret the bigger picture to organizational leaders. You also need someone who will provide leadership for financial decisions that will align the budget with our mission and provide financial stability for long-term goals. And, of course, you want a person who is trustworthy, dependable, communicative, amiable, and listens well. It is not an insignificant role!
Fortunately, AAR has an outstanding professional staff that supports those we elect to leadership. It is because of their excellence, attested to by so many former Board members, that I am willing and, yes, eager to serve the Academy through this elected position. I have some skills and experience that seem applicable. I have produced, managed, and interpreted budgets and expenses in large and small organizations, including the Wabash Center and the Religious Education Association. I have audited financial records, set up electronic accounting systems, and trained financial administrators. But I know my limits! And just as I am willing to contribute, I am also eager to learn from the experts that provide support to this position.
As a member of the Board of Directors, my commitments would be to the financial health of our organization, to collaboration among our constituencies in a manner that honors our diverse perspectives and interests, and to increased public awareness and understanding of religion as it influences our lives and cultures.
It would be an honor to serve as Treasurer in order to pay tribute to the Academy that has played an essential role in my professional life.
Linda A. Moody serves as graduate dean at Mount Saint Mary’s College, Los Angeles. She came to Mount Saint Mary’s in 2005 after serving for four years as dean of academic affairs and professor of humanities at Antioch University’s Los Angeles campus. Moody earned her PhD from the Graduate Theological Union (1993), where she did work in theology, philosophy, and women’s studies. She has published on feminist theory and theologies, modern religious history in the United States and Latin America, and nineteenth century women’s contributions to religious thought. Her book Women Encounter God, which focused on feminist, womanist, and mujerista theologies, was published in 1993 by Orbis Books. Moody has contributed articles to Janus Head: Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature, Continental Philosophy, Phenomenological Psychology, and the Arts; The Journal of Women and Religion; The Journal of Religion and Abuse; and contributed a chapter to Women and Theology, (edited by Mary Ann Hinsdale and Phyllis Kaminski, Orbis Books, 1995). Her current interests include trends in higher education administration, new pedagogies, and the use of technology in consortial curricular initiatives.
Previously Moody served on the AAR Board of Directors (1999–2006), on the AAR Finance Committee (2006–2007), and the Executive Director Search Committee (2005–2006). She also held positions as President of the AAR’s Western Region and President of the Western Commission on the Study of Religion. Moody has taught at Mills College, Santa Clara University, the Graduate Theological Union, and Pacific School of Religion.
Statement on the AAR
AAR’s new governance structures have placed increasing responsibility on the collaboration between the AAR Board of Directors, AAR executive leadership, AAR staff, and AAR membership in developing the organizational, structural, and relational capacity to adequately address the necessary long-range planning and strategic thinking required to guide the stewardship of time, energy, and resources of our membership over the next decade. Within this structure, the position of Treasurer of the AAR has taken on new significance as the responsibilities for this position have been defined as working alongside the Executive Office to ensure the financial capacity of AAR to achieve our mission to advance the academic study of religion.
Through a period of difficult economic times for all professional and learned societies, AAR has remained a strong financial organization, due to the commitment of volunteers who display remarkable service to AAR at every level of the organization and due to the committed leadership in the Executive Office. Struggling religious studies academic units of universities, sections needing help with the next Annual Meeting program, caucuses and committees reaching out to their memberships, individuals seeking grants, new Program Unit Chairs and directors needing help with assessment and accreditation — all can find assistance within the AAR community at large, due to the expertise and experience of thousands of members. Aside from our organizational structure, AAR is a large, diverse, and multidisciplinary community of scholars whose professional “hats,” identities, interests, and affiliations change over the years. These broader experiences and affiliations are also important resources. This recollection of our collective human resources is as important an assessment of our organizational assets as those listed on the balance sheet required by our nonprofit status.
In AAR’s next strategic planning cycle, we will need to take into account not only these current resources (including both fiscal and human resources, such as our collaborative work with SBL and other professional and learned societies), but also the resources that the academic study of religion will need in these dynamically changing times in higher education. Here we must think into the next decade and beyond familiar terrain — of the disciplinary and interdisciplinary contributions of religious studies to higher education, the role of the study of religion in the public intellectual arena, and how to build an interactive online course — to newer virtual models of higher education that have developed in the past decade, including open course software, consortial programming via technology, and new joint ventures forming every day. A few questions come to mind. How will we lend our voice to the ethics, the curricula, the financial models, and the human resources that inform some of the new choices in higher education? What if we do not? How will discussions of ethics, comparative religious studies, philosophy of religion, and theology be framed in the new models where curriculum “content writers” and curriculum deliverers meet only in virtual space, if at all? How will students of the future learn the nuances of our disciplines? In the accounting of the treasure of our resources — just as important as following generally accepted accounting principles — minding our fiduciary responsibility, balancing budgets, and paying taxes will be the accounting of what is needed to support the academic study of religion in the next decade and show how well we prepared ourselves to provide leadership during these changing contexts in higher education.