Diane M. Millis, Ph.D., Founder
A champion of conversation, Diane Millis is the author of Deepening Engagement: Essential Wisdom for Listening and Leading with Purpose, Meaning, and Joy and Conversation–The Sacred Art: Practicing Presence in an Age of Distraction.
“I developed Journey Conversations in order to share my gifts as an educator. As a child, I felt most alive when I was asking others questions. As an adult, I have studied and taught in the fields of communication studies, human development, and theology in a quest to learn the most effective ways to cultivate relationships with self, others, God (or that which one holds to be sacred), and the world in which we live. My hope is that my current work in teaching, facilitating, spiritual companioning and peacebuilding reflect the awe, wonder, and reverence that motivated me as a child.”
Diane holds a B.A. and M.A. in Communication Studies and a Ph.D. in Family Studies and Human Development from the University of Minnesota. Since completing her doctorate, Diane has studied theology and trained in spiritual direction, retreat direction, and the practice of interfaith dialogue. Diane has taught an array of courses in Communication Studies and Family Studies at the University of Minnesota (Twin Cities) and Normandale Community College (MN), as well as courses in Spirituality for the Theology Department at University of St. Catherine (MN) and the College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University (MN).
Diane served as author and founding director of Companions on a Journey, a spiritual formation program for the students, faculty and staff at the College of Saint Benedict (St. Joseph, MN), funded by the Lilly Endowment, Inc. She also served as an associate and coach for the Evaluation Project of the Religion Division at the Lilly Endowment. In this role, she worked with program leadership at colleges, universities, theological schools and non-profits throughout the country to facilitate evaluative learning conversations designed to improve programming, evaluate impact, and disseminate learning.
In 2009, Diane launched the Journey Conversations Project in order to create occasions for seekers and believers of all ages and faiths to learn more about one another as they explore what gives their life purpose, meaning, and value.
In 2012, she was invited to host and produce the Lives Explored video narrative series featuring persons from all walks of life reflecting on their faith journey and their life’s callings. Lives Explored is a production of the Collegeville Institute Seminars on Vocation and is funded by the Lilly Endowment.
To learn more about Diane’s work, visit dianemillis.com.
Author photo credit Jeannie Roberts at jrcreative.biz.
Amy Zalk Larson is the activator who brought the Journey Conversations Project to Luther College in Decorah, Iowa during her tenure as campus pastor and as a part of Luther’s Interfaith Initiative. Amy holds a Bachelor of Arts in Religion from Luther College and a Master of Divinity from Luther Seminary. She has studied in Egypt, Zimbabwe and Tanzania. Before coming to Luther in 2005, she served as an associate pastor at First Lutheran Church in Fergus Falls, MN. Pastor Amy was named a 2013 “New Contemplative” by Spiritual Directors International.
I feel strongly that faith is more than belief. Faith is a way of being that we live out and practice in community for the sake of the world. My own Christian faith has been strengthened by spiritual formation practices and by honest relationships with people of other faith traditions.
The story in the media today is that people of diverse faith backgrounds are destined for conflict with one another, conflict that can lead to hatred and violence. This saddens me deeply. I have seen the power of the great faith traditions to bring us together to nurture deeper understanding and a shared commitment to our life together in a diverse world.
Through Journey Conversations we are learning to quiet ourselves through centering practice and lectio divina. We are reflecting on our own stories and speaking the truth of them. We are discovering how to listen deeply to wisdom literature and to one another. We are finding ways to walk with others and respond compassionately. We are being shaped to engage people of all backgrounds with deeper understanding and compassion for the sake of the world.
Sheila Radford-Hill partnered with the Project as a facilitator and animator during her tenure as the Executive Director of the Luther College Diversity Center. She holds Bachelor of Arts from DePaul University, a Master of Arts in American Studies from the University of Pennsylvania, a graduate certificate in Community Development from the University of Illinois, and a Ph.D. in Humanities with a specialization in education. She served as a faculty associate in the Education Department and taught courses in Africana Studies during her time at Luther. Sheila has written extensively on topics related to education, community development, and woman and gender studies. She is the author of Further to Fly: Black Women and the Politics of Empowerment.
My Christian faith has nurtured me throughout my life. I think it is the source of my resilience and the well-spring of wisdom that I draw on in good and bad times. Journey Conversations is a way that I can continue my commitment to fostering justice in our world. Talking and listening to each other is an inclusive act. It shows how we can love our neighbor even when we cannot share their beliefs.
Sandhya Purohit Caton is an experienced and gifted facilitator of the Journey Conversations process. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale University, where she designed her own course of study focusing on the interplay among the various religions and cultures of South Asia. She continued these studies with a focus on the sacred and courtly literatures of both Sanskrit and Persian while at the University of Pennsylvania. More recently, she has volunteered locally in Decorah, Iowa, visiting classrooms and church groups. She served as youth educator for the Northeast Iowa Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, is affiliated with the Northeast Iowa Peace and Justice Center, and currently works to support interfaith initiatives both on and off Luther College’s campus.
Sarah Cledwyn runs Grow Soul LLC, a private Spiritual Direction practice in St. Paul, MN where she provides Spiritual Direction to individuals and groups. Sarah works within congregations, organizations and educational institutions to deepen spiritual exploration and development. She offers Journey Conversations at Unity Church Unitarian, Lutheran Volunteer Corps, Luther Seminary, Macalester College, and the Center for Congregational Spirituality. Sarah was named a 2014 “New Contemplative” by Spiritual Directors International.
My own faith life and my work as a Spiritual Director is happily interfaith, drawing on wisdom coming from many sources. I love the structure of a Journey Conversation. It works especially well for groups to honor and recognize difference within a safe and contemplative setting. This group style is an excellent introduction to contemplative community practice, teaching us to listen to each other in deepening and life giving ways. It has been a powerful method for group spiritual exploration.
Sarah holds a Bachelor of Arts in Religion from St. Olaf College, and a Master of Arts in Theology with a Certificate in Spiritual Direction from St. Catherine University.
JoEllen Windau Cattapan
My passion for interfaith dialogue began at the age of 12 when my older sister introduced her boyfriend, a Muslim from Saudi Arabia, to my traditional Catholic family. Over time we as a family grew in knowledge about different cultures and religions and became more self-aware of how our assumptions and prejudices impact others. Personally the experience led me to explore my own Catholic Christian faith more deeply. I strongly believe in the transformational power that comes from sharing our stories and learning to listen to one another.
JoEllen holds a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations from Ohio Dominican University and a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies, with a concentration in Islam/Muslim-Christian Relations, from Georgetown University.
Prior to her work with Journey Conversations, JoEllen consulted with faith-based organizations and parishes on retreat and conference planning and volunteer management. JoEllen has also served as Associate Director of Catholics On Call, a young adult vocations-discovery initiative at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. In addition she was a resident campus minister at Georgetown University and worked at the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) as research coordinator.
JoEllen lives in Atlanta and is active participant in Muslim-Christian and Jewish-Christian dialogues.