Spiritual Advisors

Spiritual Advisors


TaymullahImam Taymullah Abdur-Rahman

Imam Taymullah Abdur-Rahman has been a pastoral care provider for the past decade. He received certification in Islamic Studies from the Saudi Arabian Council of Senior Scholars in 2006. In addition, he has studied Arabic and Islamic theology with several traditional scholars over the past ten years with concentration on cultivating the heart. Taymullah served as Muslim chaplain for the Massachusetts Department of Corrections for seven years.  He is passionate about utilizing the dispensations of Islamic jurisprudence to develop a distinctly American Muslim cultural identity. For his efforts to foster what he likes to call “fearless fellowship,” Taymullah received the St. Elizabeth Episcopal Church's award for Promoting Interfaith Understanding in 2010. In 2013, he launched GreaterThanHate.com, a website which aims to highlight individual stories of interfaith tolerance by clergy and laypeople alike. He is currently finishing his studies in Islamic Law from Mishkah University. He has recently signed his first book contract with International Islamic Publishing House in Riyadh to publish his essay on Islamic character titled, 44 Ways to Manhood.  In addition to his Spiritual Advisor position at Northeastern, he is head of the Islamic Studies Department at The Islamic Academy for Peace. Imam Taymullah is a regular lecturer, family counselor and educator in and around New England.

Harrison Blum, Buddhist Spiritual Advisor

HarrisonHarrison Blum recently completed a Master of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School with a focus on Buddhist ministry, and earlier received a Master of Education from Lesley University in their Creative Arts in Learning Program.  He is a Community Dharma Leader in the Insight Meditation tradition, and is passionate about deepening and enriching everyday life through Buddhist study and mindfulness practice.  Through his work with Moving Dharma, Harrison offers workshops and performances that wed improvisational movement with mindfulness practice and Buddhist teachings.  In the summer of 2012 he launched the Mindfulness Allies Project, which creates partnerships to bring mindfulness training to underserved and less-resourced populations, especially as caused by racism and classism.  Harrison currently works as a staff chaplain at Franciscan Hospital for Children, and previously completed a chaplain residency at Brigham and Women's Hospital as well as an internship the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Additionally, he has co-directed study abroad trips through northern India, where he filmed and edited the documentary short Cutting a Rug, Turning the Wheel: Beats and Buddhism in Northern India, which played in film festivals in the summer of 2008.  Amidst these and other pursuits, Harrison nurtures a sense of wonder and gratitude through daily meditation and prayer, and is honored to assist in fostering this internal landscape at Northeastern.

Joyce DeGreeff, Lutheran Spiritual Advisor

JoyceJoyce DeGreeff has served at Northeastern since the fall of 1997, as Lutheran Campus Minister and University Spiritual Advisor. A 1999 graduate of Harvard Divinity School, Joyce has a particular interest in helping students link faith and spirituality with community service and social justice.  She is also the youth coordinator at West Concord Union Church in Concord, MA.  Joyce's previous work includes five years of teaching and coaching in Connecticut and Maine and a chaplain internship at Tufts University.  In her spare time, Joyce enjoys jazz and gospel music, coaching basketball, hiking, cross-country skiing and spending time with her husband and children.

Dustin Gardner, Sojourn Collegiate Ministry Spiritual Advisor

DustinBorn and raised on a small farm in Missouri, Dustin is now fully submerged in an urban life and ministry.  Although he was raised in a Christian home, it wasn't until his sophomore year in an engineering college that he fully surrendered his life to Jesus and realized that he was calling me to ministry in his name.  Dustin transferred to Central Christian College of the Bible in Missouri where he graduated with a Bachelor's in Religious Studies in 2011.  During his time at Bible college he led a youth ministry at an independent Christian church near Kansas City, MO and was eventually ordained by the elders there to a life of ministry.  Despite Dustin's passion for youth, his heart truly broke for the high-pressure, purpose-seeking, identity-defining life stage of college students.  After a trip to Boston, he fell in love with the city and mission of Sojourn Collegiate Ministry in New England: to help college and university students on their journey back to God through asking questions, pursuing Jesus, and living justly.  Dustin moved to the Boston area and began serving in the fall of 2010.  He now serves as the lead campus minister for Sojourn at Northeastern University and UMass Boston.  Dustin resides in Dorchester where he partners with his wife, Rachele, in social entrepreneurship and urban youth ministry. 


Br. Sam Gunn, Catholic Spiritual Advisor and Director of the Catholic Center at Northeastern  

Br. SamIn 1990 Brother Sam Gunn left behind a promising career as a graphic designer and cartoonist in New York City to pursue a vocation to religious life.   Inspired by the vision to live “single for the Lord,” he joined the Brotherhood of Hope, a new aspiring religious community in the Catholic Church, and underwent formation as a brother making private vows to the Lord of consecrated chastity, poverty and obedience.  This surprised his many colleagues and friends in the commercial art industry, but was especially difficult for his family.  Br. Sam's father was a Baptist minister, Rev. Allen R. Gunn.  The decision caused distress at first, but in time his father and the rest of his family came to accept and even support Br. Sam's calling.  Br. Sam remains deeply grateful for the Baptist faith that led him to a love for scripture and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.   From the completion of his training in the Brotherhood, Br. Sam served in various campus ministry positions.  At Rutgers University he underwent two years of supervised ministry training.  In 1994, at the invitation of (then) Bishop John M. Smith, Br. Sam joined a group of brothers assigned to Florida State University to expand the work of the Catholic Student Union on campus.  Under the brothers’ influence, and in cooperation with priests of the Diocese of Pensacola/Tallahassee, CSU grew into a thriving, dynamic student community that continues to this day.   In 2004, Br. Sam returned to school and in 2007 graduated from St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, MA with a Masters of Arts in Ministry. Upon reception of his degree, Br. Sam went to work on the pastoral staff of Boston University’s Catholic Center.  Joining this vibrant ministry in the heart of Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood, Br. Sam provided evangelization and leadership formation training for the undergrad community and enjoyed many hours in one-on-one pastoral meetings with student leaders.   In fall of 2011, Br. Sam was reassigned to the Catholic Center here at Northeastern University under the direction of Br. Joe Donovan.  The experience of serving the high caliber of students at Northeastern has been a delight.  Br. Sam has assisted in reaching out to include students from other area campuses in the programs of the Catholic Center through an initiative of the Archdiocese of Boston called the HUB.  With the departure of Br. Joe, Br. Sam received an appointment from Cardinal O'Malley through the Office of Campus Ministry to succeed to the position of Director of the Catholic Center.  Northeastern's Center for Spirituality, Dialogue and Service has recognized Br. Sam as a Catholic Spiritual Advisor on campus this year.  Br. Sam is also a popular speaker at retreats and conferences, but his greatest pleasure in work is found in the evangelization and formation of youth.   He still uses his design and artistic gifts in creating striking visuals for flyers, posters and websites, as well as portraying unsuspecting friends in cartoon form.      
Rev. MaryHelen Gunn, Unitarian Universalist Spiritual Advisor
 Rev. MaryHelen Gunn is an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister with a passion for the magic that happens when human understanding and interrelatedness deepen. Her first love professionally was for ecological education, and in her early career she found ways to earn a meager living teaching learners of all ages and abilities inside and outside traditional classrooms – think farms, tall ships, and community settings. After a few more years of earning livable wages and “practical skills” in the world of small business (publishing, software, and consulting), she at last followed her deep calling to the ministry, where she delights in deepening her roles as educator, activist, and spiritual leader. Rev. MaryHelen has ministered throughout her formation to people of varied ages and stages, in congregational, hospital, and campus settings. Having experienced both good mentoring and at times a lack of mentoring, she finds particular joy in mentoring and ministering to young people engaged in educational formation. For five years she was an active founding co-leader of Journeys on the Hill, co-leading inter-religious study dialogues and co-creating inter-religious all-campus programs at Andover Newton Theological School and Hebrew College. Following her ordination at First Parish Unitarian Universalist in Brookline (MA), she served as Alumni/ae Outreach Coordinator for Andover Newton Theological School. She lives with her family in Jamaica Plain and enjoys outdoor time hiking in the Blue Hills and gardening organically with habitat-minded plantings. 

Rabbi Eli Herb

Rabbi Eli Herb

Now in his fourth year of rabbinical school at Hebrew College, Eli has a BFA in Contemporary Music from the Santa Fe University of Art and Design and a Master of Theological Studies from the Iliff School of Theology. Eli is also a maggid or Jewish spiritual storyteller. Her serves two communities as rabbinic intern, one in Colorado and the other in New Hampshire. Introduced to interfaith work through the environmental justice movement in 1998, Eli comes with a longstanding commitment to mobilizing faith communities around sustainability, interfaith dialogue, public health, and holistic and integrated spiritual practice. Eli also comes with several years of experience in interfaith work around climate change, related social justice issues, and spiritual resilience, including as Program Director of the Wisconsin Interfaith Climate and Energy Campaign (WICEC) and Fellow with the Center for Inter-Religious & Communal Leadership Education (CIRCLE). Before coming to CSDS, Eli managed the Canyon Country Youth Corps in Monticello, Utah. Working primarily with Native Americans from the Navajo, Zuni, Acoma, Hopi and Ute tribes, Eli mentored, and supervised work crews that completed large conservation projects on public lands. Born and raised in central Colorado, Eli has a life-long zeal for wilderness experience, particularly on wild rivers, and place-based environmental education. He is currently a board member of the Four Corners School of Outdoor Education, which is busy with the construction of the Canyon Country Discovery Center, educating locals and visitors about the communities, history, and ecology of the Colorado Plateau. Since moving to New England to attend rabbinical school, he has developed an affection for the Charles River and its history; in his free time, he can often be found in one of the many Reserves along the Charles trying to learn the flora and fauna of this new bioregion.   

Kaitlin Ho, Intervarsity Multi-Ethnic Christian Fellowship Spiritual Advisor
KaitlynKaitlin studied English Literature and French Language at Boston University, and is currently studying for her Master of Divinity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.  She has been working for InterVarsity Multi-Ethnic Christian Fellowship at Northeastern for five years.  She loves leading diverse (both culturally and spiritually) groups of students in service and conversations about faith.  Having had a life-changing experience growing in her faith during college, Kaitlin values making sacred space for students as they ask their questions, to belong to an on-campus family, to consider Jesus and look at his story and character with their own eyes, and to be transformed.


Fr. Cleopas Strongylis, Orthodox Christian  Spiritual Advisor 

Fr. CleopasRev. Dr. Cleopas Strongylis studied at the Theological School of Athens, under the academic supervision of the current archbishop of Albania, His Beatitude Anastasios Giannoulatos.  As a licentiate in Theology, he attended the university’s two-year graduate program in the field of canon law. In 1989, he was ordained a Deacon and was sent on scholarship to Durham University in England the following year by the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece.  Having received a Master of Arts degree in Patristic Theology, he returned to Athens where he was ordained a presbyter in August 1992, while also being bestowed the office of Archimandrite.  In September 1992, he went to the United States to continue his studies at the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, MA, with a full scholarship granted to him by the late Archbishop Iakovos of North and South America.  Together with his studies, Fr. Cleopas worked at the above referenced School of Theology as the personal theological secretary of Metropolitan Methodios of Boston, who was serving as President of the school at the time.  He graduated summa cum laude, with a Master of Sacred Theology. Immediately afterwards, he was appointed Director of the Department of Registry and Adjunct Professor of Patristics, teaching at the Seminary’s graduate school for three years, including courses on patristic interpretation of the Bible, the Book of Psalms, Saint Nectarios of Pentapolis, etc.  In 1994, completing ten-year research and study, he received his doctorate from the Theological School of the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki, following examinations, with highest honors.  Fr. Cleopas began doctoral studies at Boston University in the field of interpretation of the Old Testament, and at Harvard Divinity School, in the field of patristic and modern interpretation of the New Testament.  In December 1996, he was appointed as the Presiding Priest of the parish of Transfiguration in Corona, N.Y., concurrently assuming the duty of spiritual advisor at the Day and Afternoon Schools of the community, where he taught religion, as well as at Queens College, where he has taught a course in Byzantine History.  From August 2004 through February 2009, Fr. Cleopas served as the Presiding Priest at the Greek Orthodox Community of Holy Trinity, in Lowell, Mass, assuming the duty of spiritual advisor at the Hellenic American Academy of Lowell, where he taught religion, and contributed to the establishment of the 7th and 8th grades.  As of September 2007, he serves as an adjunct Faculty member of the University of Massachusetts in Lowell, teaching a course on the Greek language and culture.  Since March 2009, Dr. Cleopas Strongylis has been serving as Dean of the Annunciation Cathedral in Boston, MA, and has also served as Director of Greek Education for the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston.  Fr. Cleopas was honored by the Academy of Athens in 2009 for his book Saint Nectarios of Pentapolis and the Rizareios Seminary (1894-1908), and has published eight books and many papers.

The Rev. Judith L. Stuart, Episcopal Spiritual Advisor 
JudithRev. Judith Stuart is an Episcopal priest appointed by the Diocese of Massachusetts to serve as Episcopal University Spiritual Advisor at Northeastern University and Chaplain at Boston College.  Judith holds dual Master degrees with a Master of Education from Boston College and a Master of Divinity from Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she was awarded the Alison B. Cheek Prize in Feminist Liberation Theology in 2001.  While living in Seattle, she completed a Certificate of Advanced Study in Old Testament at Seattle University.  She also graduated from Northeastern University with a Bachelor of Science degree and was inducted into the Alpha Nu Chapter of Phi Beta Delta Honor Society for International Scholars in 2008.  A lifelong pastor and healer, Judith has worked as an adjunct professor educating abused women working to re-enter the work force, as a counselor for battered women and children living in a domestic violence shelter, while also serving on the Florida Governor’s Task Force on Domestic Violence, as a Registered Nurse specialist in burn-trauma and open-heart surgery, and in hospital administration in marketing.  For many years, Judith served the national church as an anti-racism and anti-oppression educator, co-leading trainings and presentations at three consecutive General Conventions and at dioceses throughout the United States.  For the last 7 years, she has been the program director for the annual diocesan college pilgrimage.  Her ministry and other interests have led her to travel extensively throughout the world including leading trips to post-hurricane damaged Cuba, the Middle East, post-genocide Rwanda, and rural Kenya to support orphan feeding and education programs for over 15,000 orphans.  She lives on Cape Cod with her husband and has two adult children.

Todd Williams, Sarah Godwin, Jeremiah Noordhoek, and Malisa Ellis,  Agape (CRU) Spiritual Advisors

TodTodd Williams studied Commun-ication, Religious Studies and Physics at Western Kentucky University.  He is currently working on a Master of Divinity in Urban Ministry at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Boston.  Todd has served with Cru/Agape in the Fenway area of Boston for the past 14 yea was exposed to faith for much of his life, his college experience provided a transformative encounter with God, through Jesus, in the context of community.  He loves helping students from every background find a safe place to belong, dialogue, serve, and engage others on their spiritual journey.

SarahSarah Godwin  graduated from Auburn University with a BS in Computer Science. Upon graduation, she spent two years in East Asia studying the language and culture while engaging and journeying spiritually with the students around her.  God worked through her time overseas to deepen her relationship with Him through Jesus while opening her eyes to the world, giving her a better understanding of different faith backgrounds and cultural contexts.  Since 2009, Sarah has served in Boston with Bridges International, a ministry of Cru/Agape that aims to specifically serve international students studying in the U.S.  She has a heart to welcome and befriend international students, hoping to serve them as they experience cultural adjustments, connect them to community that cares for them, and dialogue with them about their faith journeys.  Sarah loves cities, watching college football, cooking, reading, running, traveling, and laughing. MalisaMalisa Ellis is on staff with CRU and has worked with the organization for the last 13 years in various places including Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and the Northwest part of the United States.  Six years ago Brian Ellis (her now husband) proposed and she moved to Boston to work alongside him in CRU.  Currently she is on the leadership team for the CRU Boston City team, giving leadership to the CRU movements at Northeastern, BU, and the Colleges of the Fenway.  Brian and Malisa have a two year old daughter and another daughter born September 2013. 

CSDS Affiliates

Partha Biswas, teacher for the Hindu Vision Vedic Society (HVVS) Student Group

Arinne Braverman, Executive Director, Hillel at Northeastern, and Michelle Goldberg, Program Director at Hillel

Brothers of Hope, serving with Catholic Center as campus ministers.

Professor Qinghong (Ann) Cai, leader of the Bilingual (Chinese-English) Guided Stress Reduction Meditation Practice Group, and researcher

Ruthann Stiles, Staff Advisor to InterVarsity Multi-Ethnic Christian Fellowship Spiritual Advisor

Father John Unni, Pastor of St. Cecelia Parish in Boston and former Catholic Chaplain at Northeastern

Professor Kai-tak Wan, Faculty Advisor to the Chinese Christian Fellowship

Professor Mark Watanabe, Faculty Advisor to the Unitarian Universalist Student Group


Community affiliates for Jain and Sikh communities


Yoga and Additional Meditation Instructors

Jason Jedrusiak

Jacqueline Rossi

Carmen Thurston

Jackie Myers

To reach the Center Staff and Spiritual Advisors, visit www.neu.edu/spirituallife, call 617.373.2728, email csds@neu.edu or stop by 200-203 Ell Hall.