Biography


I am proud to have retired as the Ayşe I. Carden Distinguished Professor Emerita of Psychology at Agnes Scott College, Decatur, GA.  Currently, I serve as a spiritual companion/director, writer, retreat leader, and speaker.  Born and raised in Pasadena, California, I have lived and worked in every part of the US with the exception of the great North West.  I majored in psychology as an undergraduate at the University of California, Santa Cruz and received my Ph.D. in social psychology from Harvard University.  My early research centered on nonverbal communication although I published over 30 articles and one edited volume on topics ranging from women, work and aging to stigma, identity, and self-concept.   Prior to working at Agnes Scott College, I taught at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and the University of Colorado, Boulder.  I was selected as a Fellow at the Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, Stanford, CA for the 1984-85 academic year.

Promoting contemplative spirituality in everyday life, the life and work of Howard Thurman and uncovering the peace in one’s heart on my website  (peaceforhearts.com), facebook.com/peaceforhearts, Twitter (@peace4hearts) and other social media platforms brings me joy.  My most relevant publications include, “Praying without Ceasing: Basking in the Loving Presence of God,” published in the edited book, Embodied Spirits: Spiritual Directors of Color Tell their Stories, and “Dissecting Racism: Healing Minds, Cultivating Spirits,” published in the edited volume, Living into God’s Dream: Dismantling Racism in America.  My first full length book, When the Heart Speaks, Listen—Discovering Inner Wisdom was released in January, 2019.

In addition to my academic work, I am a strong advocate of organ and tissue donation and contemplative practices (e.g., solitude, silence, stillness, and living in the present moment).  I was drawn to this way of life because I encountered and survived a number of medical challenges including a heart transplant in 1995, a kidney transplant in 2005 and a valve replacement on my transplanted heart and had a pacemaker implanted in 2006.  I consider each day to be a walk of faith and hope.  I am a strong advocate of forgiveness as a healing force in the world and as an essential tool for experiencing the Peace of God.  Further, my ministry of spiritual direction focuses on leading silent retreats, creating contemplative prayer groups and helping individuals establish regular spiritual practices. 

In 2008, I completed the Spiritual Guidance Program at the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation.  It was the perfect spiritual direction training program for me because along this spiritual journey I discovered that, like Howard Thurman, I was born a contemplative.  I love and cherish solitude and silence.  Observing the stillness in nature or feeling the rhythms of a gospel song or watching a hawk in flight offers me deep peace.  I cherish my calling to the ministry of spiritual direction/companioning (a ministry devoted to talking and walking with people through their spiritual lives).  I love leading retreats on Howard Thurman and conducting Heart Talk Workshops (based on When the Heart Speaks, Listen—Discovering Inner Wisdom) around the country.  I facilitate a monthly “Sistas in Silence” contemplative prayer/support group because everyone needs a safe space to share their pain and cultivate their spiritual selves.   I find professional support through Spiritual Directors International and my monthly meetings with other spiritual directors in the Atlanta Metro area. 

If I could select five other lives they would include being; a fashion designer, jazz pianist, conductor of an orchestra, vegetable gardener and pastry chef.  I am a blossoming essayist and closet playwright and I am determined to get back to my two manuscripts (plays) “on the floor.” 

I live in Stone Mountain with my husband, Columbus Brown and our family includes two grown children, and one grandchild who reside in Dallas, Texas and Baltimore, Maryland.  I truly enjoy reading, sitting in nature, sewing, watching college football, gardening, writing, visual and performing arts, telling stories and laughing a lot.


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