The trustees of Andover Newton are guardians of Andover Newton’s mission. They oversee, in close partnership with the Dean of Yale Divinity School, the financial, educational, and programmatic life of the school.
The trustees are a diverse group that reflects the wide variety of communities Andover Newton serves and seeks to serve.
(Listed in Alphabetical Order)
Willard Walden Christopher Ashley, Sr., is the Vice President of Community Relations, Director of the Center for Clergy Care, and Tenured Associate Professor of Practical Theology at New Brunswick Theological Seminary (NBTS). He is the CEO of Dr. Willard Ashley, Sr., LLC, Montclair, New Jersey, and the founder and senior pastor of the Abundant Joy Community Church, Jersey City, New Jersey. Ashley, Sr., is the Vice Chair of Bergen County Human Relations Commission, and is a New Jersey State Certified and Nationally Certified Psychoanalyst. Additionally, he is the co-chair of the Interfaith Anti-Racism Coalition in the Greater New York City Metropolitan area under the umbrella of the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond. He has published many books and chapters and teaches numerous graduate and certificate courses.
Ashley, Sr., was a staff psychotherapist at The Riverside Church, New York City. He has also hosted a weekly program on Black Entertainment Television (BET) and was a regular on the radio in New York City. Ashley, Sr. continues to work with senior level executives as an executive coach. His memberships include: National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis, American Association of Marriage Family Therapists, and the American Group Psychotherapy Association.
David J. Blair has been happily married to his wife, Marianne Bokan-Blair, since 1983. They have three terrific daughters, Alex, Sarajane, and Jamie, and a terrific son-in-law, Nikunj. David and Marianne met at the University of Virginia’s Darden School in 1980, where they were both pursuing their Master’s in Business Administration. After getting married, they settled in Columbus, IN, and had their first child. He launched his career in private equity with a start-up venture capital firm and became an active community volunteer and member of the First Presbyterian Church. A small city located between Indianapolis, IN, Louisville, KY, and Cincinnati, OH, Columbus was both a regional hub for manufacturing and an agricultural community, which was very different from Blair’s New York metropolitan area upbringing and a long way from both their familial homes. This experience opened Blair’s eyes to the quality of the people and the quality of life “west of the Hudson,” and created a strong foundation for David and Marianne’s relationship without immediate access to extended family and long-time friends.
David and Marianne have lived in the Pittsburgh, PA suburb of Mt. Lebanon since 1987, and raised their daughters in the Mt. Lebanon public school system and Southminster Presbyterian Church. During those years Blair volunteered for sports teams, youth groups, and community organizations. He has held leadership positions and support positions across those organizations and in informal school, church, and community activities. Since 1987, he has held positions with increasing responsibilities within the private equity practice of PNC Financial Services Group. After 30 years with the company, he made a two-year transition from full-time to part-time, and finally full retirement, effectively downsizing his work life to allow for more time to pursue his person interests. When he’s not working, Blair focuses on his family. He is also a community volunteer, contemporary music enthusiast, downhill skier, gardener, hiker, stand-up paddle boarder, and traveler.
Kaji Spellman Douša is Senior Pastor of “The Park,” The Park Avenue Christian Church in Manhattan, New York City. In the congregation’s 207 years, she is the first woman called to this role. Douša is one of very few young women senior leaders of important historic pulpits in the country. The Park is known as a congregation of fearless activism in NYC.
A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and of Yale University, Douša is a prolific writer and a celebrated and awarded public speaker. She preaches nearly every Sunday at The Park and is invited as a keynote speaker across the country. Her often fiery media appearances reflect her deep thinking, faithful perspective, and quick wit. She is on the editorial board for the United Church of Christ’s Stillspeaking Writer’s Group and the Alumni/ae Board of Yale Divinity School. Other fellowships include the Beatitudes Society, the UCC Pension Board’s Next Generation Leadership Initiative, the UCC Presidential Fellowship, and Chair of The New Sanctuary Coalition.
Gregory G. Groover, Sr., is pastor of the Historic Charles Street A.M.E. Church in Roxbury, MA, where he has served in that capacity since 1994. During his tenure, over forty persons have entered the ministry and are presently serving as pastors, chaplains, seminary professors, and deans across the country. In addition to under-shepherding a growing urban congregation, Groover, Sr., serves as the chairperson of his denomination’s First Episcopal District and the New England Annual Conference Boards of Examiners.
His pastorate at Charles Street has involved him also serving on numerous boards, including: chairperson of the Boston School Committee, chairperson of Hamilton Garrett Music & Arts Academy, president of the Black Ministerial Alliance of Greater Boston, and as a board member for the Boston Foundation, YMCA of Greater Boston, Gordon College, and Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.
Groover, Sr., obtained his B.A. from Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA, his M.Div. and M.S.W. jointly from Union Theological Seminary and Columbia University School of Social Work, and his D.Min. from New York Theological Seminary. Groover, Sr., is married to The Reverend Barbara Groover, an Andover Newton Theological School graduate, and they are proud parents to two adult children.
William MacKay Heckles is Senior Vice President and Chief Reinsurance Officer responsible for HSB’s global risk and reinsurance operations and serves as Munich Re Regional Head of Reinsurance and corporate insurance risk management. He also serves as President of HSB Associates, Inc. Heckles holds a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Science from the University of Hartford.
Heckles has held several positions outside HBS, including as a member of the Board of Directors of American Nuclear Insurers (ANI) and serving on their Property Underwriting Committee, a member of the Board of Directors of the IRM Pool, and a former director of the Capitol Housing Finance Corporation. Heckles has also served on the IRI Underwriting Committee, the NAII Marketing Committee, AIA Underwriting Committee, and is an Executive Deputy of RIMS.
Heckles has been a member of the Board of Visitors of the University of Hartford, A.D. Barney Schools of Business, a member of the Board of Directors of the United Church of Christ Insurance Board and United Church Insurance Company, and currently serves on the Board of Trustees of Andover Newton Seminary at Yale Divinity School.
Charles (Chaz) Lattimore Howard is an Episcopal Priest and University Chaplain at the University of Pennsylvania. He shares life with his beloved wife, Dr. Lia C. Howard, and their three daughters. Howard has served in both hospital and hospice chaplaincies, and as a street outreach worker to individuals experiencing homelessness in Philadelphia. His writing has been featured in such publications as Black Theology: An International Journal, Daily Good, Sojourners Magazine, Christianity Today’s Leadership Journal, Chronical of Higher Education, The Huffington Post, The Christian Century, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Forward, and Slate. He is the author of five books, including most recently Pond River Ocean Rain, a collection of brief essays about going deeper with God, and the forthcoming The Bottom: A Theopoetic of the Streets.
Brent Newberry serves as the Lead Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Worcester, MA, a historic ABC church founded in 1812. Before serving in Worcester, Newberry was on staff as a Pastoral Resident in Dallas, TX. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Mississippi College, a Master of Divinity from Baylor University’s Truett Seminary in Waco and is currently pursuing a Doctor of Ministry at Boston University School of Theology. Newberry enjoys writing, preaching, binge-watching Netflix, ramen, baseball (fantasy and real), photography, and exploring New England with his dog, Zooey Deschanel. He serves on several local and national boards.
Donald Ng was the Senior Pastor of the historic First Chinese Baptist Church in San Francisco for 17 years, a church started by the American Baptist Home Missionary Society in 1880. He served as President of the American Baptist Churches, USA in 2014-2015, and retired from full-time ministry in June 2015.
Ng is currently the Chair of the Friends of the Northeast Christian University, India, co-coordinator of the ABC Asian Colloquium, Chair of the Pacific Coast Baptist Association (PCBA), member of the ABC Creation Justice Network, and Advisor to the ABC Young Adult Caucus. He has previous served as Vice President of the American Baptist Churches, USA, on the Board of the American Home Mission Societies, Trustee of the American Baptist Seminary of the West (Berkeley), President of the Asian Alliance of the American Baptist Churches, USA, and other ecumenical and denominational groups. Denominationally, Ng served as staff in ABC Educational Ministries in Valley Forge from 1978-1998 in the areas of youth ministry, Christian education, and leader development.
Ng is a graduate of Gordon College and received his MDiv. from Andover Newton Theological School. He completed doctoral course work in education at Temple University. In May 2013, he received an honorary Doctor of Divinity from ABSW, and in May 2014 he received the Spirit of the Hill Award from Andover Newton Theological School. His publications include Asian Pacific American Youth Ministry (Judson, 1988) and numerous articles on Christian education, ministry, and life.
Ng has been married to Joy Shih Ng for 47 years and lives in Sausalito, California. They have two married children, Greg and Heather of North Carolina, and Lauren and Daniel of California, and six grandchildren.
Nancy Nienhuis has a doctorate in Religion, Gender, and Culture from Harvard Divinity School. Neinhuis’ career in student life and teaching spans decades, including serving as the Dean of Campus Life, Vice President of Operations, and Professor of Theology and Social Justice at Andover Newton Theological School for many years, where she taught courses on social justice and intimate partner violence. She has an interest in issues of domestic violence and sexual assault, particularly as those issues are addressed in the training of clergy. She has written widely on the subject and in 2018 her book entitled Saintly Women: Medieval Saints, Modern Women, and Intimate Partner Violence was published by Routledge Press, co-authored with colleague Dr. Beverly Mayne Kienzle.
Nienhuis is an Adjunct Professor at Boston University’s School of Theology where she teaches future faith leaders about domestic violence and sexual assault. She also works with the U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence against Women and other partners to provide national trainings on elder abuse and abuse and faith in GLBTQ communities. In her spare time, she kayaks, cooks, and relaxes with spouse of 33 years, Tammy Zambo.
David Smith is a member of the First Congregational Church of Shrewsbury and is currently serving as Past-Moderator. He served previously on the Andover Newton Board from 1999-2015 in various positions that included Treasurer, Vice Chair, and Chair. Smith is Managing Director of Newagen Group, LLC, a professional services firm delivering strategic advisory services and assisting with large scale transformation programs and restructuring. He earned a B.S. from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, an M.B.A. from Babson College, and completed Ernst & Young’s Partner Development Program at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School. Smith is active on the boards of several community organizations, serves on the WPI Foisie Business School Tech Advisors Network, and as an NSF I-Corps mentor, providing guidance and access to networks for early stage entrepreneurs and innovators. Dave and his wife Diane reside in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts.
Linda E. Harper Smith is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire, University of Southern Maine, and Andover Newton Theological School, and was ordained in her home church, South Congregational Church, UCC, in Kennebunkport, Maine in 2004. First called to be a public educator, Smith worked in the Kennebunks for 25 years teaching elementary, college undergraduate, and graduate students.
Since ordination, Smith has served as parish associate, associate pastor, and leader of Christian Education for young children in two churches in Delray Beach, Florida, where she and her husband, Noel Smith, spend their winters. Linda and Noel are members of South Congregational Church in Kennebunkport, Maine, and associate members in Church of the Palms, Delray Beach, Florida.
In addition to providing as-needed pastoral care to congregations in both churches where she and her husband reside, Smith and her son, Jason Egginton, who resides in Rochester, Minnesota, established the Harper-Egginton Charitable Foundation in 2010. Smith serves as the President of the Foundation, CFO, and chief correspondent.
Swahnberg’s ministry connects her both to the larger church and to advocating for compassionate health care. She serves on the Board of Ministerial Aid, the Philanthropic Council of the Developmental Medicine Center at Children’s Hospital, Boston, as a Life Trustee of Andover Newton Seminary at Yale Divinity School, and is an honorary board member of the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Care. She and her husband, Carl Novotny, have four grown children, eight grandchildren, and a dog, Gracie.
Susan Townsley is the Associate Conference Minister for Innovation, Leadership and Change with the Southern New England Conference, United Church of Christ. In this role, Townsley supports leadership development, creates “Blue Sky” spaces for creative, fun, and innovative thinking, and works to enhance the church’s capacity for change. Making imaginative and lively connections between people, ideas, organizations, patterns, play, art, and the everyday divine is integral to her approach.
In 2018, Townsley received a post-masters certificate in Leadership and Change from the New School in New York, where she studied how the Transformational Leadership model helps to bridge the gap between creative ideas and innovation implementation. Understanding the diversity and subtlety of responses to the uncertainty of change was central to this research.
A graduate of Smith College and Harvard Divinity School, Townsley has been ordained for 27 years and served in a variety of settings, including as co-pastor of the West Tokyo Union Church while her husband worked internationally with General Electric, and churches in Connecticut, New York, and Maine.
Bernard Wilson is the 35th Senior Minister of Norfield Congregational Church in Weston, CT. A retired Navy Chaplain, Wilson has received numerous awards, medals, and citations for his stellar military career of 22 years. He has served as the Executive Minister of The Riverside Church in the City of New York, and as the Interim Minister of the Briarcliff Manor Congregational Church in New York.
Wilson has served as an Adjunct Preaching Professor at The New Brunswick Theological Seminary and at the Howard University School of Divinity for Continuing Education. He serves on the Board of Directors of the David and Dovetta Wilson Scholarship Fund (DDWSF), a non-profit organization with his eight brothers and sisters. Wilson served as the first Chair of the United Church of Christ Board, the first unified governing body of the United Church of Christ. He also serves as the Police Chaplain for the Town of Weston.
Wilson and his wife, Nereida, have two sons and five grandchildren.