Alexander Levering Kern is delighted to join the Northeastern community as Executive Director of the new Center for Spirituality, Dialogue and Service.
Alex brings to Northeastern 18 years of experience in higher education, interfaith leadership, and nonprofit work in the US and abroad. Before joining Northeastern in August 2012, Alex served as Executive Director of Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries (CMM), the greater Boston area's oldest interfaith social justice network, and as Protestant Christian Chaplain at Brandeis University, where he directed the US government-funded Brandeis University Interfaith Leadership Development (BUILD) Fellows program. Working at the nexus of campus, community, and congregational life, Alex has offered leadership in interfaith and intercultural dialogue and advocacy around issues of poverty and homelessness, youth and domestic violence, immigrant rights, climate action and genocide prevention. At CMM and Brandeis, he founded the Interfaith Youth Initiative (IFYI), an internationally recognized peacemaking and leadership program for students and younger religious leaders. He is especially concerned to cultivate deeper spiritual practice, ethical reflection, civic engagement, and global citizenship skills among rising generations.
As an educator, Alex has served as adjunct faculty, speaker, or panelist at Harvard, Brandeis, Pendle Hill, Andover Newton Theological School, Hebrew College, the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), and as a consultant at the Harvard Pluralism Project and Merrimack College Center for the Study of Jewish-Christian-Muslim Relations. A widely published writer, he edited the anthology Becoming Fire: Spiritual Writing from Rising Generations. His essays, articles and poems have appeared in Georgetown Review, the Boston Theological Institute Bulletin, The Wick (Harvard Divinity School), Spare Change News, and in books on a wide range of topics, including interfaith relations, African American theology, Quakerism, and contemplative and Franciscan spirituality.
A member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), Alex is the product of Quaker education at Sidwell Friends School and Guilford College (BA in Religious Studies, History, and African-American Studies). Pursuing his interests in ecumenical and interfaith studies, Alex received his Masters of Divinity degree from Andover Newton Theological School and a graduate certificate in Boston Theological Institute, focusing on global issues and restorative justice.
A native of Washington, DC, Alex has traveled, studied, and worked in post-earthquake Haiti, post-apartheid Southern Africa, Cold War Europe, the Middle East, Hiroshima, Japan, Brazil, and the mountains of Honduras. In 2009, he traveled to Nigeria with a US State Department-funded delegation training young civil society leaders to address interethnic and interreligious conflict. His community work has been covered by the Boston Globe, Washington Post, and other media. He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts with his wife Rebecca Grunko, who teaches ESL in the public schools, and their two young children, Elias and Ruthanna.
Program Manager for Service and Engagement
Chong Sun Kim-Wong recently completed her Doctorate of Education at Northeastern University. She received her Master’s of Education from The University of Vermont and continued on to get her Master’s in Business Administration at Northeastern University in 2010. She has worked at Northeastern University for the past six years in various settings in Residential Life. Currently she is a Program Manager for Service and Engagement at the Center for Spirituality, Dialogue, and Service and directs the Social Justice Resource Center. Having immigrated to the United States at 7 and as a first generation college student, her passion for social justice issues developed at a young age. She has engaged in various service work including participating in two Alternative Spring Break trips as a University Representative travelling to New Orleans and Ecuador. She is excited to engage students in dialogue about current social justice issues and to learn from others to further her personal and professional development.
Program Manager for Education and Dialogue
Jason Pollens recently completed a dual masters in Coexistence and Conflict and Sustainable International Development at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. During his time at Brandeis he worked with Local Capacities for Peace International, an organization in Kenya, conducting a conflict assessment. Previously Jason served as a Fellow of AVODAH, the Jewish Service Corps, and worked at New York Jobs with Justice, primarily on a statewide economic development campaign and organizing religious communities around economic justice issues. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University in 2006, with concentrations in Peace Studies and Jewish Studies. He has served on the staff of the Interfaith Youth Initiative (IFYI) of Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries in greater Boston; served as Teaching Assistant for courses in “Poverty, Inequality, and Development” and “Responsible Leadership,” and has conducted workshops on dialogue and religious responses to violence, injustice, and climate change. Jason has worked and conducted research in South Africa, Namibia, Honduras, Jerusalem, and the Balkans, and currently resides in Jamaica Plain. He is an active member of the Moishe Kavod House, a Jewish social justice community in Brookline, MA.