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Biographies

The Reverend Allison Read, College Chaplain

“Students show themselves to be their most passionate, vulnerable, and inquisitive selves through the spiritual and religious life programs at Trinity” says Allison Read, Trinity College chaplain.

Read, who oversees all spiritual and religious programs at Trinity, also leads Chapel worship and encourages Christian community life on campus. She is passionate about the spiritual formation of college students, seeking to take them and their religious inquiries seriously while fostering some fun and liveliness in religious life at Trinity.

“My own appreciation for the people who were attentive to my involvement in religious life as an undergraduate motivates me to do what I do now,” adds Read.

Chaplain Read is an Episcopal priest, ordained in the diocese of New York in 2003. She served as a Lilly Fellow at St. James’ Episcopal Church in Manhattan and as Assistant Rector and Priest-in-Charge at Christ Church in Short Hills, New Jersey, before coming to Trinity College in January 2008.

Read earned a master’s of Divinity from Yale Divinity School where she was awarded the John A. Wade Prize for expository preaching. She also holds a diploma in Anglican Studies from the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale, a master’s in Religion from Yale Divinity School, and a bachelor’s from the University of Virginia. She is Trinity’s eighth chaplain and the second woman to serve in that capacity.

Read seeks to honor the legacy and maintain the traditions of the Trinity College Chapel while expanding the breadth of the chaplaincy to include people and programs as diverse as our twenty-first century student body. 
Contact: 860-297-2013, allison.read@trincoll.edu
Chaplain Read’s Office is located in the Chapel, up the main aisle and through the gate on your right.


John P. Campbell, Associate Chaplain for Roman Catholic Life

John P. Campbell is a lay Catholic chaplain in the Office of Campus Ministry for the Archdiocese of Hartford and, since 2007, has served at both Trinity College and Central Connecticut State University in New Britain. As a member of the spiritual and religious life team at Trinity, John works primarily to build Catholic understanding and discipleship on campus. He forms community among students, faculty, staff, and administration; teaches the faith; schedules Roman Catholic Mass and other sacraments; and provides service trips and opportunities to experience the breadth of Catholic life. John also works with the entire spiritual and religious life team to further interfaith dialogue and interreligious cooperation. The ability to work together and to serve each group is what makes the Trinity spiritual and religious experience so unique. As a group, we strive to walk with members of our community and to help them find their true place in this world.

Before coming to the Archdiocese of Hartford, John was the director of youth ministry for the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut, for 12 years. Prior to that, he spent three years at the Capuchin Youth and Family Ministries in Garrison, New York, as the center’s assistant director and director of development, and was a volunteer youth minister at St. Pius X Parish in Middletown, Connecticut, for seven years. John has served the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry (NFCYM) as a member and second vice chair of its Board of Directors, as the chairperson and a member of several committees and task groups, and as an instructor in the NFCYM’s New Diocesan Director Institute. He also co-emceed the 1998 National Conference on Catholic Youth Ministry in Cincinnati, Ohio. John is an experienced keynote speaker, workshop presenter, and retreat director. He earned a bachelor’s in communications from Central Connecticut State University and a master’s in religious studies from Sacred Heart University. John lives in Madison, Connecticut, with his wife, Heidi, and has two stepdaughters who are working and enjoying their young adult lives.
Contact: 860-297-5242,  john.campbell@trincoll.edu
John Campbell’s office is located in the Chapel, in the North Sacristy, accessed through the hallway to the right of the Friendship Chapel.  


Garret Condon, Associate Chaplain for Buddhist Life

Garret Condon, co-coordinates Trinity Zen, which he helped found in 1997. Garret is a longtime member and director of the New Haven Zen Center. He became a dharma teacher in the Kwan Um School of Zen in 1997. He is Director of System Communications at Hartford HealthCare, Connecticut’s leading integrated health care system. Garret holds a bachelor’s degree from Providence College, a master’s in English from Trinity College, and an MPH from University of Connecticut. He lives in West Hartford.
Contact: 860-402-4813, garret.condon@trincoll.edu


Ellen Dickinson, College Carillonneur

Ellen Dickinson is the college’s official carillonneur. The 49-bell Plumb Memorial Carillon, housed in the Trinity College Chapel tower, is one of the finest in the country. Ellen discovered the carillon at Yale University, where she received a bachelor’s in music and a master’s in music from the Yale School of Music and Institute of Sacred Music.
 
Ellen has performed carillon concerts throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. In addition to her role as Trinity’s Carillonneur, she also serves as Yale University’s carillon consultant and adviser, and is director of music at Norfield Congregational Church in Weston, Connecticut. In 2006, Dickinson co-founded the Jubilate Ringers, a community hand bell ensemble.
 
As an undergraduate, Dickinson was co-chair and summer carillonneur of the Yale University Guild of Carillonneurs. She has attended the Summer Academy at the Netherlands Carillon School in Amersfoort, and is a Carillonneur member of the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America (GCNA).
Contact: 860 297-2126, ellen.dickinson@trincoll.edu


John Elias, Trinity Zen

John Elias co-coordinates Trinity Zen, which he helped found in 1997. John is a longtime member of the New Haven Zen Center, and became a dharma teacher in 2004. John, a Vietnam War veteran, is a computer engineer.
Contact: 860-793-0119, johnaelias@gmail.com




John Hayes, Director of the Trinity College Gospel Choir

The Trinity College Gospel Choir (TCGC), which began in 1988, is dedicated to gospel music and the spiritual expression of African-American church traditions. As one of its two part-time directors, John Hayes teaches gospel music to the Choir members, leads weekly rehearsals, and accompanies the Choir on piano. Since taking on this role in 2004, Hayes has seen TCGC expand its presence on campus.

“Each year, we’re seeing that more and more people are embracing what this choir brings to the campus,” says Hayes. “It is gratifying to see how moved people are once they come and experience the music and the emotion beneath it.”

Hayes grew up surrounded by gospel music. He learned it on Sundays at Ebenezer Gospel Assembly in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where his father serves as pastor. Today, the younger Hayes is the church’s assistant minister of music, and has been playing piano for the past 12 years.

John Hayes holds a bachelor of science in Management Information Systems from Central Connecticut State University.


Christopher Houlihan, College Organist and Director of Chapel Music


Lisa Kassow, Director of Trinity Hillel

Lisa Pleskow Kassow became the first full-time Hillel director in 2001. Lisa sees her role as helping students create a warm and welcoming community based on Jewish values, ethics, and culture.
 
“Hillel is open to all students and serves as an educational resource for those who want to share Jewish experiences with our vibrant and accepting community,” says Kassow. “Part of my mission at Hillel is to promote opportunities for students to participate in leadership development as well as educational and community service programs connected to Jewish life – locally, nationally and internationally.”

Lisa oversees events and activities at the Zachs Hillel House, a dramatic 8,000 square foot building at 74 Vernon Street. Under Kassow’s care, the Zachs Hillel House serves as a home-away-from home where students can spend time with others in a comfortable and warm environment. 
 
Lisa, who lived and worked in Jerusalem, Israel, as a photojournalist, received the Simon Rockower Award for Excellence in Photojournalism. She holds a B.F.A. in Art from Carnegie Mellon University. Lisa is the founder of the Hartford Jewish Film Festival and a 2008 recipient of the Jewish Vision Award from the Charter Oak Cultural Center in Hartford, Connecticut.
Contact: 860-297-4195, lisa.kassow@trincoll.edu
Lisa's office is located in the Hillel House at 74 Vernon Street. 


The Reverend Ryan Lerner, Roman Catholic Priest Associate

Father Ryan is a native of Manchester, Connecticut and a Trinity College alumnus. During his time at Trinity, Father Ryan ran cross country, participated in indoor and outdoor track, and dbbled in theater. He graduated in 2003 with a double-major in history and religion, and in 2008 with a master’s in public policy and law. From 2004 to 2006, Father Ryan worked as a graduate assistant coach of Trinity’s cross country and track and field teams. Father Ryan received a license in long-term healthcare administration from the UConn School of Business, and then worked for two years as a nursing home administrator. It was during this time, while working among the elderly, the poor, the sick, the rehabilitating, and the terminally ill, and while interacting with their families and devoted caregivers, that he began to seriously consider God’s calling for him to enter the priesthood, a calling that began, on again and off again, when he was about twelve years old. 

Father Ryan entered the seminary in 2008, which began a six year journey of prayer, study, discernment, and ministry through the seminaries of St. Joseph in Yonkers, New York and The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. In May 2014, after completing a master’s in divinity and a bachelor’s in Sacred Theology at Catholic University, Father Ryan was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Hartford.
 
In addition to his ministry as priest associate here at Trinity, Father Ryan serves full-time as secretary to the Archbishop of Hartford.
Contact: ryan.lerner@trincoll.edu


John Rose, College Organist and Director of Chapel Music

“The Trinity College Chapel offers a splendid opportunity for a variety of music making,” says John Rose, College Organist and Director of Chapel Music. Rose’s role in the musical life of the Chapel is extensive. He directs The Chapel Singers, who sing at the Service of Holy Communion on Sundays and at special services, college convocations and concerts on campus and beyond. Rose, who came to Trinity in 1977, also serves as an Adjunct Professor of Music, ex officio, in the Department of Music where he directs the Trinity College Choir. In addition, he is faculty coordinator of the private music lessons program. “We are fortunate that the Chapel houses two magnificent pipe organs: the main Chapel organ, which contains nearly 5,000 pipes and a mechanical (tracker) organ, which provides students the opportunity to play two distinct types of organs,” he adds. Rose, along with his organ students, plays at Chapel services and at other events. A celebrated concert organist, Rose began his professional career at the age of twenty, when he was appointed organist of the Sacred Heart Cathedral/Basilica in New Jersey. He has since performed across the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe and Australia as a recitalist and orchestral soloist. Rose earned a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University, where he was also an instructor in organ. He was a student of the late Virgil Fox for seven years. Rose is an elected member of the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences and an elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in London and a member of the Association of Anglican Musicians and The American Guild of Organists.
Contact: 860-297-2014, john.rose@trincoll.edu


The Reverend Doctor John Selders, Associate Chaplain

The Right Reverend Doctor John L. Selders, Jr. is an associate chaplain at Trinity College and the organizing pastor of Amistad United Church of Christ, Hartford, Connecticut. Bishop Selders has done his academic and theological reflection attending Life Christian Bible College at Webster University, Eden Theological Seminary and Anglican Divinity School. In addition to being a talented award-winning songwriter, musician and performer with local, national, and international credits, he is also the bishop presider of The Inter-Denominational Conference of Liberation Congregations and Ministries (ICLCM) and is the co-convening bishop of The Sacred College of Progressive Episcopates (SCPE).

Bishop Selders has exhibited extraordinary commitment and dedication to a number of efforts that have afforded him the opportunity to travel across the country speaking, lecturing and conducting workshops in the areas of race, anti-racism and internalized oppression. He is a teacher, lecturer, workshop leader, and HIV/AIDS educator and activist with numerous citations for his work. Bishop Selders worked for twelve years as a lecturer at Yale Divinity School in New Haven, Connecticut, adjunct faculty member in the Field Education Department of Andover Newton Theological School, dean of Urban Ministry Track for The Anglican Divinity School, and has been an adjunct faculty member for The Seminary Consortium for Urban Pastoral Education. He serves on a number of boards and works with several organizations both locally and nationally whose work is ultimately concerned with the healing of humanity.
Contact: 860-402-7884, john.selders@trincoll.edu 


Robert Edward Smith, College Composer in Residence

“For a composer, knowing that your work means something to another person is the greatest satisfaction imaginable,” says Robert Edward Smith, Trinity College composer in residence.
 
Smith, who has written music for vocal and instrumental ensembles ranging in size from unaccompanied viola to symphony orchestras, has been composing music for Trinity since 1979. Students perform his work at special events and services taking place in the Chapel.

Smith says he is deeply gratified that students enjoy performing his music. “I remember a reunion of the Chapel Singers when, after dinner, they all sang a piece I composed on a Latin text about the importance of learning,” recalls Smith. “Many of the singers had not seen each other, or sung my work, for years, yet they sang the piece from memory and with great enthusiasm.”
 
An acclaimed composer and a distinguished harpsichordist, recent works include “Sonata III for Viola and Harpsichord”; “Diana, Queen and Huntress”, a concert overture for orchestra; and “A Place of Beauty”, a one act chamber opera. Smith is also the first person since the eighteenth century to have performed the complete harpsichord literature of François Couperin. His recording, “J.S. Bach: Harpsichord Music in the Grand Manner” was named one of the best recordings of the year by the American Record Guide in 1996.
 
Smith has been director of the renowned Trinity College Summer Chamber Music Series since 1998. He holds a bachelor of science, with a major in Harpsichord from Mannes College of Music in New York.


Omar Tawil, Associate Chaplain for Muslim Life

Omar Tawil serves as an associate chaplain for Muslim life at Trinity College. He spent much of his childhood and early education in Chicago and Jerusalem. While attending college, he took time off to study classical Arabic in Amman, Jordan, where he began to develop a profound connection to the Islamic scholarly tradition. This compelled Omar to begin a lifelong study of the Islamic sciences with scholars and teachers in the Middle East and in the United States. It was when he returned to Chicago that Omar became deeply involved in community service and youth mentorship. He obtained his bachelor’s in Islamic world studies from DePaul University.
 
While continuing his study of the Islamic sciences with local scholars, Omar served as a youth minister at the Mecca Center in Willowbrook, Illinois, and as an Islamic sciences high school teacher at Universal School in Bridgeview, Illinois. He also led several initiatives to grow educational and spiritual development programs for Muslim youth throughout Chicago. He is currently pursuing an master’s in Islamic studies and chaplaincy at the Hartford Seminary, while serving as an imam and youth minister at the Farmington Valley American Muslim Center.
Contact: omar.tawil@trincoll.edu


Molly Jane Thoms, Program Coordinator, Office of Spiritual and Religious Life 

Molly graduated Trinity College in May 2017 as a world literature major with minors in urban studies and writing and rhetoric. As an undergraduate, Molly was president of the Charleston House of Interfaith Cooperation, a member of the Trinity College Dance Company, and involved in the Venture Trinity program, the Women’s Leadership Council, the Cities Program, Trinity-in-Barcelona, the design and implementation of the Bantam Network, and Campaign for Community. Molly also was a first-year seminar mentor and worked as a head tutor at the Writing Center, on the College’s alumni magazine The Trinity Reporter in the Office of Communications, and as a student admissions associate in Trinity’s Office of Admission. She is currently pursuing a master’s in English literature at Trinity College. Originally from Montpelier, Vermont, Molly now lives in West Hartford. She loves contributing to the spiritual and religious life team’s efforts to promote pluralism, community, and social justice on campus as well as individual students’ experiences in the realm of religion, spirituality, and music.
Contact: 860-297-2012, molly.thoms@trincoll.edu


Anthony Williams, Director of the Trinity College Gospel Choir

Anthony Williams was “born and raised in gospel music.” He has been singing and performing with gospel choirs since childhood, and were it not for his mother’s insistence that he go to college, Williams says he might have pursued a professional career as an R&B singer.

Williams serves as one of Trinity’s two part-time Gospel Choir directors. Since 2004, he has been teaching gospel vocals to Trinity’s Gospel Choir, leading rehearsals, and accompanying the choir on drums. He views the Choir as more than “just entertainment.” He says, “Our role is not just to entertain people, but to speak to their hearts and show them there is a God who can help heal whatever broken parts they have,” says Williams. “We understand what students are going through and the Choir is a place for them to come and get spiritual nourishment, build friendships and become better people.”

Williams, who holds a bachelor of science in accounting from Central Connecticut State University and is a senior accountant for a global information content provider.
Contact: 860-297-2126, anthony.williams@trincoll.edu
 

Amy Zylberman, Hillel Program Manager

Amy Zylberman received her bachelor’s in English from Endicott College in Massachusetts. While an undergraduate, Amy founded Endicott’s Hillel program, a branch that now falls under the organization’s Small and Mighty division. Amy helped Endicott’s Hillel visit area synagogues, host a group Pesach Seder, and build a Sukkah on campus. Amy’s love of Judaism and Judaic culture stems from rich family history. She is honored to be the granddaughter of liberated holocaust survivors.

Upon graduating, Amy received the President’s Award for her leadership in student organizations, including collegiate a cappella and Spokenbird, the poetry slam team she founded. As an undergraduate, Amy completed internships in a creative writing classroom, a children’s book author, and a Boston-area improvisation studio. After graduation, she lived and worked in Maine’s Acadia National Park and came back to Connecticut to work for several area museums and theaters.

Amy’s passions include artistic collaboration, reading, golden retrievers, writing, theater, museum trips, good conversation, cooking, and travel. 
Contact: 860-297- 2280, amy.zylberman@trincoll.edu

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