Overview of the Initiative In January 2021, Lilly Endowment Inc. launched a three-phase initiative, “Pathways for
Tomorrow,” designed to "help theological schools strengthen and sustain their capacities to prepare and support pastoral leaders for Christian churches." Phase One
consisted of nine month planning grants of up to $50,000 to 234 ATS member schools to help them explore challenges and opportunities they wished to pursue. Phase Two was launched in January 2022 and consisted of five year grants of up to $1
million awarded to 84 ATS member schools to help them prioritize and respond to their most pressing challenges as they work to prepare pastoral leaders for Christian congregations both now
and into the future. In the competitive third and final phase of the Pathways initiative, the Endowment will fund large-scale, collaborative projects. Theological schools will
collaborate to strengthen their capacities to prepare and support pastors and lay ministers, and work toward offering sustainable models or strategies that—if effective—could be
adopted by other schools. The Endowment anticipates announcing these grants in July 2022.
The ATS Coordination Program
In December 2021, ATS received a five-year grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to oversee the coordination program for its Pathways for Tomorrow initiative. The coordination program currently
focuses on Phase Two of the initiative. The Coordination Program
will provide resources, research, support, and a learning community for the grantees focused on innovation, collaboration, and adaptive learning. Activities will include:
• webinars and team gatherings aimed at strengthening grantees’ projects,
• peer learning communities centered on various challenges and opportunities being
addressed by the grantees,
• annual research projects to support the work of the grantees,
• mentors and coaches for cohorts of senior leaders as they lead their organizations through
• support for project leaders—including the onboarding of new personnel,
• an advisory committee to aid in the design of peer groups and research projects, and
• a virtual resource center to make learning and research available among ATS, its member
schools, collaborating organizations, and theological education researchers.
Jo Ann Deasy joined the ATS staff in June 2014 as director of institutional initiatives and student research. Her responsibilities include managing the Pathways for Tomorrow Coordination Program and the Economic Challenges Facing Future Ministers initiative as well as overseeing the management, collection, and interpretation of data for the Entering Student, Graduating Student, and Alumni/ae Questionnaires. She also serves on the research team at ATS, and has contributed to research projects related to assessing spiritual and personal formation, women in leadership in theological education, and mapping the graduate workforce of ATS.
Deasy served for seven years as the dean of students and community life at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago. An ordained pastor in the Evangelical Covenant Church, she has also served on staff at congregations in Duluth, Minnesota, and Mercer Island, Washington, and came to ATS from Sojourner Covenant Church in Evanston, Illinois, where she served as lead pastor for four years.
Deasy graduated from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary with a PhD in congregational studies with an emphasis in congregational leadership and contextual theologies.
Christopher M. The (pronounced ‘tay’) equips ATS member schools to improve and enhance their educational missions by means of gathering, analyzing, and disseminating insights from student data. As director of student research and initiative management, he also oversees the virtual infrastructure for ATS grant-funded initiatives and liaises with coordination program personnel for the Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative of the Lilly Endowment Inc. Prior to 2022, The served the ATS Commission on Accrediting for five years as director of commission information services.
A former “EM” (English Ministry) pastor at two Asian American churches in Southern California, The was raised in a Chinese-Indonesian immigrant congregation in the Reformed tradition and later ordained to ministry by a Chinese/Taiwanese church in the Pentecostal tradition. He came to ATS in 2017 having served multivocational roles in student services (Fuller Theological Seminary, Azusa Pacific University) and student/young adult ministry at an Indonesian American congregation in the American Baptist tradition. A selected participant in the 2014 Summit for Future Theological Educators of Color and Summit on Christian Leadership (Forum for Theological Exploration), The was named a 2016 fellow of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty (BJC) and since 2021 represents the Religious Liberty Council on the BJC board of directors. He has published refereed articles and contributed to book chapters on resourcing immigrant churches for civic engagement (2015), leveraging evaluative principles for character formation in theological education (2018), understanding the unique mentorship needs of doctoral students of color (2021), and surveying the placement of diasporic Indonesian communities among world Christianities (2021). His dissertation involved qualitative research on the congregational formation of Indonesian American emerging adults at two Los Angeles-area churches.
A co-editor and contributing author for the anthology Kristianitas-Kristianitas di Asia Tenggara (Christianities in Southeast Asia) published in 2022, The also serves on the editorial board for the SINTA-accredited Indonesian Journal of Theology and holds BA (Music) and MA (Religion) degrees from Azusa Pacific University and MDiv and PhD (Theology) degrees from Fuller Theological Seminary.
Amanda Leavitt joined the ATS staff in 2022 as program assistant for initiatives. She supports the work of the institutional initiatives ATS administers on behalf of the membership, which include the Pathways for Tomorrow project.
A certified coach through the National Association for Youth Ministry, Leavitt most recently served as director of next generation ministry at Venice Presbyterian Church in McDonald, Pennsylvania, and as director of youth ministry at Bethany Presbyterian Church in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania. She earned a bachelor of science degree in biblical studies with a concentration in youth ministry from Cairn University.