Who We Are
Barbara Mutch was appointed to the ATS staff as director of accreditation in September 2015, and was named senior director of accreditation in 2021. She oversees the accrediting staff, who report to her for supervision, goal setting, and development. Her work includes facilitating accrediting reviews, providing education and support to member schools about the process of accreditation, and providing staff support to the work of the Board of Commissioners of the ATS Commission on Accrediting.
Prior to coming to ATS, Mutch completed nearly 20 years of service at Carey Theological College in British Columbia, most recently as chief academic officer. She has taught courses in preaching, spiritual formation, issues in women’s faith and development, supervised ministry, and DMin theological reflection in ministry as well as a doctoral project seminar. She also taught at Regent College from 1996 to 2014, teaching a variety of courses including, most recently, the Seminar in Women’s Faith and Development.
In service to ATS, she contributed a chapter to the book C(H)AOS Theory: Reflections of Chief Academic Officers in Theological Education and an article on “Assessing a Doctor of Ministry Program” in the Theological Education journal. She has also served a full term on the ATS Board of Commissioners as well as on multiple comprehensive accrediting evaluation visits, and on the ATS Faculty Advisory Committee.
A graduate of Briercrest Bible College with both a Bachelor of Religious Education and a Master of Arts in Christian Ministry, Mutch earned her DMin at Princeton Theological Seminary. She is ordained in the Baptist Union of Western Canada and served as associate pastor of First Baptist Church in Regina, Saskatchewan, for 15 years while pursuing her graduate studies. In 2014, she was recognized as one of Canada’s preeminent preachers with the Lester Randall Preaching Fellowship at Yorkminster Park Baptist Church.
Elsie Miranda was named director of accreditation for ATS in July 2018, and added director of diversity to her portfolio in 2022. She is responsible for coordinating evaluation committees, visits, and reports for approximately 20 percent of the member schools accredited by the Commission on Accrediting of ATS. She previously served on the ATS committee for the Revision of Standards from 2012 to 2014, and she has served on many evaluation teams and as a member of a peer group examining programs for Latino/a students for the ATS Educational Models and Practices project. She came to ATS after 22 years at Barry University Department of Theology and Philosophy, serving most recently as associate professor of practical theology and as director of ministerial formation. As a Cuban American and practical theologian, she has focused her research interests on the intersection of faith and how socio-culture and socio-political realities impact both human formation and efforts toward peace and justice at local and global levels. As a Roman Catholic, she has been actively involved in the practice of synodality—“walking together” as an action of the Spirit in the communion of the Body of Christ and in the missionary journey of the People of God—convening groups in English and Spanish.
Miranda is the past president of the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians in the United States (ACHTUS), for which she coordinated the first bilingual colloquium in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in 2016. Currently, she serves on the Formation and Religious Education Committee for the V Encuentro—a national conference on Hispanic Ministry in the United States coordinated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. She is also an active member of the Catholic Theological Society of America and the Association of Practical Theology. Her scholarship includes contributions to the edited volumes Hispanic Ministry in the 21st Century: Urgent Matters (Convivium Press, 2016) and Hispanic Ministry in the 21st Century: Present and Future (Convivium Press, 2010) and as coeditor and contributor to Calling for Justice Throughout the World, Catholic Women Theologians on the HIV AIDS Pandemic (Continuum Press, 2009). In her research and teaching, she continues to explore contemporary theological issues at the intersections of science, culture, and the church in the modern world.
Miranda earned an MA in pastoral ministry with a concentration in religious education from Boston College and a DMin in practical theology from Barry University.
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James R. Moore was named director of accreditation for ATS in 2021. He is responsible for facilitating accrediting reviews, providing education and support to member schools about the process of accreditation, and providing staff support to the work of the Board of Commissioners of the ATS Commission on Accrediting. Moore comes to ATS after 26 years at Trinity International University and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He most recently served as associate professor of educational ministries at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School of Trinity International University. Moore’s other roles have included associate dean of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, assistant dean of Trinity Graduate School, and director of administration for doctoral programs. He has been an active accreditation visitor and provides experience in the Commission’s work with accreditation and with the schools. In 2020, he was elected vice chair of the ATS Board of Commissioners.
Moore also previously served as assistant pastor and director of Christian education at Lifeway Wesleyan Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and he was a public school teacher in Indiana and Illinois. He is an ordained minister in The Wesleyan Church and a member of the Wesleyan Theological Society. His articles appear in the Baker Dictionary of Christian Education, Theological Education, Evangelical Missions Quarterly, Wesleyan Theological Journal, and Trinity Journal. He recently contributed “Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi: Advocate for Child-Centered Education” to A Legacy of Christian Educators, edited by Elmer Towns.
Moore earned his MA from Indiana Wesleyan University and his PhD from Trinity International University.
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Valerie Rempel was named director of accreditation for ATS in 2021. She is responsible for facilitating accrediting reviews, providing education and support to member schools about the process of accreditation, and providing staff support to the work of the Board of Commissioners of the ATS Commission on Accrediting. Prior to accepting her role at ATS, Rempel most recently served as vice president and dean of Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary at Fresno Pacific University. She joined the seminary faculty in 1996, was appointed dean in 2014, and became vice president in 2019.
Rempel also served at Fresno as associate professor and J.B. Toews Chair of History and Theology, and she was a past director of the Center for Anabaptist Studies. She is an experienced accreditation visitor and was a member of the ATS Redevelopment Task Force. Rempel was elected to the ATS Board of Commissioners in 2020. Her scholarship includes contributions to the California Mennonite Historical Society Bulletin, Direction, The Conrad Grebel Review, and the Global Dictionary of Theology.
Rempel earned an MA from Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary (now Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary), and an MA and PhD from Vanderbilt University.
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Chris A. Meinzer, senior director and COO for The Association of Theological Schools (ATS), is a CPA with more than 25 years of experience in the nonprofit sector. Since joining the ATS staff in 1999, he has provided oversight of ATS financial and business affairs as well as the ATS institutional database—a repository of institutional, enrollment, personnel, financial, and development data provided by ATS members. Meinzer has done extensive analysis and research of this data and presented his findings in a variety of settings to administrators and boards of theological schools.
In addition, he has provided counsel to ATS member schools on issues of finances, organizational planning, and strategic thinking. Through discussions with theological schools and their leadership, Meinzer has encouraged reflection on intergenerational stewardship and its impact on both academics and economics within these schools. He has designed and implemented a revision of the ATS Strategic Information Report, a useful strategic tool that provides ATS member schools with peer and industry data on a variety of market fundamentals.
Meinzer holds an accounting degree from The Pennsylvania State University and a Master of Divinity degree from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.
Chris Olsztyn joined the ATS staff in 2004. He is responsible for providing service and production support throughout the Association, managing hardware and software, network services, and data administration. In addition to determining strategies for the use of hardware and software within ATS, he maintains the Association’s computer network and manages the ATS database and website.
Prior to ATS, he was employed by the Pittsburgh CPA firm, Maher Duessel, as its director of information systems. He managed the technology services group, provided network and technology consulting services to clients, and assisted them in strategic technology planning and budgeting, as well as providing day-to-day technical support for the firm.
Olsztyn attended the University of Michigan, received his certificate from Computer Tech in Pittsburgh (majoring in network management/computer maintenance and repair), and has earned a CNE (Certified Novell Engineer) and his MCP (Microsoft Certified Professional).
Alissa Horton joined the staff of The Association of Theological Schools (ATS) in 2010 to support the ATS business office and the information technology department. She was named manager of data and reporting in 2021 to take on new responsibilities that include collaborating on research projects through data scrubbing, manipulation, and visualization. She also oversees the Annual Report Form data collection, vetting, and reporting, and continues to support the information technology department.
Spencer Smouse joined the ATS staff as manager of information and educational technology in 2022. He assists with the information technology infrastructure workload and supports the Association’s use of educational technologies. Previously, Smouse worked as a network administrator at Shiloh Service. He managed small- to medium-sized businesses in the Pittsburgh area, providing server and customer level support that included implementation and management of network security, backup procedures, and best practices of contracted clients.
Smouse earned his his bachelor’s degree in information technology from Franklin University, and his associate’s degree in information technology network administration from Pittsburgh Technical College.
Marissa Dechant serves as the communications coordinator for The Association of Theological Schools. Her work includes producing in-house publications, including Colloquy Online, managing ATS website content and social media, and implementing the Association’s communications and engagement plan. She joined the staff in 2018 as executive assistant.
Before coming to ATS, she worked as a staff writer for The Derrick and The News-Herald in Oil City, Pennsylvania, covering the City of Franklin, crime and courts, and religion beats. Dechant is a graduate of Clarion University of Pennsylvania with a communications major, a concentration in journalism, and a minor in creative writing.
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Deborah H. C. Gin joined the ATS staff in August 2014 as director of research and faculty development. In addition to launching the Association’s new research initiative and directing programs for faculty, she contributes to the ongoing dialogue about educational models that will have future viability and sustainability. Gin came to ATS from Azusa Pacific University, where she served as a senior faculty fellow in the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Assessment and as associate professor of ministry at Azusa Pacific Seminary. She previously served as director of assessment analysis and education and as director of diversity studies at Azusa.
Gin's areas of research include pedagogy, higher education administration, multicultural education engagement, and diversity inclusivity. Prior to coming to ATS, she received a research grant to pursue Asian American faculty perspectives on the pursuit of administration in higher education and presented at an international conference on multicultural education in Seoul, Korea. Her articles have appeared in To Improve the Academy, Theological Education, and Multicultural Education Review. Chapters she has published include “Ruth: Identity and Leadership from Multivocal Spaces,” in Mirrored Reflections: Reframing Biblical Characters; “Loving My Neighbor,” in Strength to Be Holy; and “Asian American Ethnic/Racial Identity Development,” in Asian American Christianity: A Reader.
Gin is a regular blogger on leadership issues related to Asian American women, has been a frequent invited speaker on topics related to race, excellence, and inclusion, and is a member of the Association of American Colleges & Universities’ VALUE initiative Intercultural Competence rubric development team. She earned an MDiv from Haggard Graduate School of Theology, a master’s of music degree in vocal performance from the University of Southern California, and a PhD in higher education from Claremont Graduate University.
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.
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Alyson Barra joined ATS in 2023 as program assistant for diversities. She helps coordinate the planning, presentation, and post-production of resources and programs related to the diversity, Committee on Race and Ethnicity, Women in Leadership, and global engagement missions of the organization.
Prior to ATS, Barra was a patient access lead at the Birmingham Free Clinic in Pittsburgh, where she worked with a diverse team of providers to care for the uninsured of Western Pennsylvania. She holds a bachelor of arts degree from Albion College, completing coursework in international studies, classical piano, and Spanish.
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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 includes the Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative.
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.
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Saren Williams joined the ATS staff in 2022 as program assistant for leadership development. She supports the ongoing and expanding work of the learning opportunities and resources ATS provides to those who serve at ATS member schools.
Williams most recently worked at Hickory Run Campground in Denver, Pennsylvania, and as a family counselor at Sky Ranch Horn Creek in Westcliffe, Colorado, organizing weekly events, family activities, and Bible studies. She received a bachelor of arts degree in biblical and religious studies with a minor in classical studies from Grove City College.
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