"Shonda R. Jones" Archive

$5 million grant brings Gilead COMPASS Faith Coordinating Center to WFU School of Divinity to combat HIV/AIDS in the South

With a $5 million grant from Gilead Sciences, Wake Forest University School of Divinity will establish a new center to fight HIV/AIDS throughout the South.

The COMPASS Initiative® Faith Coordinating Center will focus on preparing ministry and nonprofit leaders to address the needs of vulnerable populations such as rural communities in Appalachia, African Americans and LGBTQ individuals. These groups, particularly in the South, often experience a higher number of cases of HIV/AIDS with access to fewer support and prevention resources.

Wake Forest University School of Divinity is uniquely positioned to unite and strengthen faith communities to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic. A focus on social justice and equity will guide the mission and vision of the center.

“At Wake Forest University School of Divinity, we shape agents of justice, reconciliation and compassion,” said Jonathan Lee Walton, dean of the School. “Our origins are rooted in preparing a place for those often marginalized and left out of not only conversations, but congregations. This new center will help us put that mission into needed action in communities across our region.”

The Faith Coordination Center is part of Gilead’s 10-year, $100 million COMPASS Initiative®. In its fourth year, the initiative includes coordinating centers at Emory University Rollins School of Public Health, University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work and the Southern AIDS Coalition.

“Expanding the Gilead COMPASS Initiative to include faith-based communities will help advance our collective efforts to end the HIV epidemic in the Southern United States,” said Brett Pletcher, executive vice president, corporate affairs and general counsel. “We are convinced that the leaders at Wake Forest School of Divinity have the academic rigor, implementation expertise and passion required to advance this important work.”

The center will use a social justice framework, interfaith engagement and advocacy for LGBTQ communities as tools to equip faith communities to respond to the needs of those impacted by HIV/AIDS. The center intends to cultivate change in and through faith communities with strategic implementation of collaborative learning, grant-making and training. One planned program is a cohort-based educational path for clergy and faith leaders that intends to build collaborative knowledge, capacity and expertise related to faith and HIV/AIDS.

WFU School of Divinity was selected through a national, competitive grant application process. Read more

School of Divinity administrator named assistant teaching professor

Shonda R. Jones

This is a guest post from the School of Divinity:

Shonda R. Jones has been named assistant teaching professor in intercultural theological education at the School of Divinity. Jones will continue serving in her role as associate dean of admissions and student services. As assistant teaching professor, she will link the intercultural competency work she has long been doing with students, faculty and staff as associate dean with classroom teaching.

“The realities of contemporary life and ministry demand that religious leaders develop intercultural competency and cultivate a wide range of cross-cultural skills, “ said Jill Y. Crainshaw, acting dean and Blackburn Professor of worship and liturgical theology at the School of Divinity. “Shonda has provided vital leadership in recent years as the school has expanded our co-curricular offerings in these areas.”

Jones will guide the school’s work to integrate theory and practice in this important dimension of ministry by providing related course offerings. She is uniquely equipped to teach courses in intercultural theological education not only because of her doctoral studies emphasis but also because of her ongoing training in and experience in intercultural competency. Read more

Batten named assistant dean at School of Divinity

C. Mark Batten

This is a guest post of the School of Divinity:

C. Mark Batten has been named assistant dean of admissions and strategic communications at the School of Divinity.

“This appointment acknowledges Mark’s creative leadership at the school,” said Shonda R. Jones, associate dean of admissions and student services at the School of Divinity. “He has helped us in every way possible to expand the prominence of our programs and collaborate with faculty, staff, and students so that all aspects of our communications and marketing, across departments, tells a genuine story about our innovative and evolving theological education environment.”

Since 2011, Batten has led the communications and positioning strategy for the School of Divinity, leveraging social, print, and digital technologies to connect a variety of populations to the school in creative, new, and compelling ways. He has also streamlined the school’s admissions processes to enhance how prospective students move through the school’s recruitment funnel while also strengthening the application and admissions technology the office uses.

“Having the opportunity to enhance the reputation, promotion, and visibility of the School of Divinity has been one of the highlights of my career in higher education,” Batten said. “Not many have the privilege to be a part of a professional community that is as forward-thinking and responsive to the needs of people today, or one that intentionally creates an educational structure that supports the many ways the next generation of leaders desire to make an impact in our communities.”

Batten’s involvement at Wake Forest extends to other areas of the university. He was a member of the latest cohort of the Leadership Development Program, sponsored by the Professional Development Center (PDC) supporting senior leaders and faculty members through personal coaching and group dialogue on critical leadership and management topics. He is also active with Information Systems, aiding the implementation of Workday as a Change Management Partner and is participating in conversations about the evolving nature of student technology and digital experiences at the university. Batten works closely with members of the university news team to broaden the school’s reach by tapping into specific media channels and resources. He also works with the digital and print creative services teams to ensure the School of Divinity remains brand consistent with the larger University initiatives.

Prior to Wake Forest, Batten served as the admissions analyst and manager of admissions programming at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology. Before his work in theological education, he served in congregational ministry in North Carolina and Georgia, as a prison chaplain, and with human resources and finance for NSTAR Global Services, a semiconductor service company. He also teaches introductory religion courses at Campbell University and regularly preaches at congregations across North Carolina.

Batten earned a bachelor’s degree in religion from Campbell University and a master’s of divinity degree from Emory University’s Candler School of Theology.