Earlham School of Religion Board of Advisors


Lavona Bane

Lavona Bane, a birthright Quaker, grew up in Kansas and Nebraska, the daughter of Quaker pastors. She graduated from Olney Boarding School in Barnesville, Ohio in 1948 and entered Earlham College that fall. She took a leave from Earlham to raise her five children. In 1968, Landrum Bolling hired her as Earlham’s Registrar. She served in that role until 1995, when she retired. During six of those years, she also served as Associate Dean of Student Development. While at Earlham, she served on the Curricular Policy Committee, the Academic Advisory Committee, chaired the Commencement Committee and directed or co-directed the New Student Week Committee and Big May Day Committee for several years.

Lavona has been very involved in the Richmond community, serving on several boards: Leadership Wayne County; Townsend Community Center; Green Acres (now Achieva); Adult Day Care; Richmond Friends School; and Earlham College Board of Trustees. She also serves on Earlham’s Community Partnership Council and has been a Hospice volunteer for over 30 years caring for the terminally ill.

Lavona has been a long-time member of Richmond First Friends and has served as Presiding Clerk, Co-Clerk of Ministry and Oversight and currently serves as Clerk of Stewardship & Finance, Co-Clerk of Hospitality Committee and one of the coordinators for the Care Team.

She and her husband, Duane, have a combined family of nine children and fifteen grandchildren. Lavona’s five children all graduated from Earlham College.


Ellie Bewley

Ellie Bewley EC ’69 attended the University of Southern California and received an MA in Physical Education. She taught high school physical education and U.S. government for 5 years, and then was employed by Rio Hondo Community College in Whittier, Ca. for 35 years. She taught physical education courses in health and fitness and coached the women’s tennis team. For the last twenty years at Rio Hondo, she served as the Dean of Physical Education and Health Science, and was the Athletic Director for men’s and women’s programs.

Ellie served on the California State Athletic Governing Board, The Commission on Athletics, for 20 years, and served as chair for three years and chaired the Gender Equity Committee, the Constitution Committee, and represented the sports of women’s basketball and volleyball. She also served on the executive committee of the State Athletic Director’s Association, and served as President of that organization. In addition, she served twice as President of the Foothill Athletic Conference, on the Whittier YMCA Board of Directors, the Rio Hondo College Foundation Board, and as President of Delta Sigma chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma.

Ellie has been a member of First Friends, Whittier for 60 years, currently serves as Clerk, clerked the Personnel and Nominating committees, and served on the Finance and Trustees committees. While serving on the Earlham Board previously, she chaired the Education and Nominating committees. Ellie has given 24 years of service to the Earlham Board of Trustees.


Jessica Easter

Jessica was born on the island of Guam to two members of the U.S. Navy. While she originally intended to become a broadcast journalist or media critic, she fell in love with chaplaincy during her studies at Earlham School of Religion. She currently works as a staff chaplain for the Intermediate Care Unit and the pulmonary/cystic fibrosis floor at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in downtown Chicago. Jessica enjoys working out, listening to music, exploring cities, and eating Ethiopian food. She is the older sister of Danielle who is a senior airman in the U.S. Air Force.


Dale Dorell

Much of my childhood was spent in Kenya where my parents served with the Friends Mission at Kaimosi. I did my undergraduate work at William Penn University and graduated from ESR in 1977 with an M.Min. I have served in various ministries for over 50 years, much of that time in at least part time pastoral ministry. We served with Friends in Uganda in the mid ’80s and for the last quarter-century I have worked as a hospital chaplain in Des Moines, IA. My wife and I have been married for over 45 years and we have three children and 6 grandchildren.



Travis Etling

Hello! I am Travis. I am a 2017 graduate of ESR and live in Durango Colorado with my partner, ESR grad Tracy Davis. I am currently working with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities as a case manager. In my free time, I am quite involved with my monthly meeting (Durango Friends Meeting). I am currently clerk of the meeting and enjoy a ministry of spiritual nurture alongside my Friends in Durango. Currently that ministry includes a weekly Bible study. I am also becoming more involved in the yearly meeting (Intermountain Yearly Meeting). I will be working on the Program Working Group for IMYM for the next three years. In addition to Quaker stuff, I enjoy spending time in creation: biking, hiking, kayaking and cross country skiing here in beautiful Southwestern Colorado. Tracy says it is a “heavenly realm.”


Carol Alpern

Carol Alpern holds a BA in Art History and an MA in 19th-Century British Literature from the University of Pennsylvania, and has completed all but her dissertation toward a PhD from the State University of New York at Buffalo, having finished research for a variorum edition of Norman Mailer’s The Deer Park—but never writing up what she found. Life in New York City became more interesting than scholarship.

Part of that life was rejoining the Quakerism she’d been raised in outside Philadelphia, becoming active in New York Yearly Meeting and serving as clerk of Ministry & Counsel in 1989 and 1990. During that time she attended two consultations at Quaker Hill sponsored by ESR. She followed M&C service with a year in the School of the Spirit and returned to an old passion, studying acting at HB Studios.

In 1995 she earned Screen Actors Guild and Actors Equity memberships with a small part in a movie titled Milk & Money. On stage, she played a series of large roles in tiny venues in the off-off-off Broadway scene—Raneveskaya in The Cherry Orchard, Mrs. Alving in Ghosts, Mrs. Solness in The Master Builder, and Mrs. Sorby in The Wild Duck. Wallace Shawn gave Holmes permission to do his monologue The Fever as vocal ministry, rising out of the silence, in Quaker venues.

On September 11, 2001, she was six miles from Ground Zero. That day made theater work irrelevant. She enrolled as an ESR Access student and also began nine years on the FUM General Board, the last three as recording clerk.

She is currently on the board of the Norman Mailer Society, is an editorial adviser to The Mailer Review, and contributed to the authorized biography, Norman Mailer: A Double Life.

She is a member of Scarsdale Meeting and, in 2017, was married under its care to Bowen Alpern, a computer scientist, retired from his research career, and now serving as an adjunct at Lehman College/CUNY. Carol has been a freelance editor and proofreader since the 1970s. She is currently the copy editor for the Pendle Hill pamphlets.


James F. Lawrence

Dean of the Swedenborgian House of Studies at Pacific School of Religion, Assistant Professor of Spirituality and Historical Studies

BA, University of Texas, 1978; Diploma (MDiv equiv.), Swedenborg School of Religion, 1984; DMin, Graduate Theological Foundation, 1991; PhD, Graduate Theological Union, 2011

During 17 years in parish ministry in rural, suburban and urban settings, Dr. Jim Lawrence helped three congregations re-energize, and he continues to have a special interest in the renewal of traditional ministries. In addition to Swedenborgian Studies, he teaches in the field of spirituality and has special interest in the varieties of Protestant religious experience, the radical margins of Protestant history, the dialogue between science and religion, and biblical spirituality. He has contributed as publisher, editor and author to more than 30 works.


Susan Kaul

Susan Kaul was born in Jeffersonville, Indiana right across the river from Louisville, the youngest of five. Her mother was an active member of the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and until Susan began first grade she was often there with her as she fulfilled various support roles. No doubt this is where she first learned about a call to service.

Kaul’s mother was killed in an automobile accident when she was nearly eleven. She went to live with her father, step-mother and three younger siblings in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Subsequently they were posted (her father worked for USAID) to Managua, Nicaragua and Lima, Peru. No doubt this is where she first unknowingly encountered the truth that there is God in every person.

Kaul was introduced to the Religious Society of Friends through her son’s elementary school, where she served on their Board of Trustees. She became a member of Bethesda Friends Meeting in 1997. The call she early understood—one of service—combined with the understanding she knew about the divinity present in all humanity, resonated fully with her understanding of Quakerism.

Kaul and her husband, Pradeep, have one son, Vijay. While Pradeep is actively looking at retirement, Kaul feels she is just getting started; finally following the path God has been nudging her toward her entire life! She provides a “friendly ear” to the residents at Friends House Retirement Community in Sandy Spring, Maryland, and it is a blessing to her to be among the residents there.p>

She is an avid reader of non-fiction and mysteries.

Kaul graduated cum laude from American University in Washington DC with a BA in philosophy (1997), and from ESR Access (the Pioneer Class!) with an M.Div (2007). She served on the Boards of Friends Elementary School (1989-1993); Sandy Spring Friends School (1993-1994); Friends Meeting School (1996-1999).


Patricia C. Thomas

Patricia Thomas grew up in the Religious Society of Friends in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She was the first Junior Clerk for Green Pastures Quarterly meeting and remained active in LEYM until she and her husband, Kirby, moved to Colorado in l968.

Patricia and Kirby have two sons, Kevin and Aaron both of whom are married and have produced 7 grandsons. Kirby died of cancer in January 1995, while Patricia was working as Campus Minister at Wilmington College (WYM). In October 1998, she and Doug Woodmansee were married under the care of Campus Friends and Highland Friends Meetings. Doug is a professor of biology at Wilmington College. They live on his family farm, where he is the seventh generation on this land.

Patricia has served FWCC as representative and as Associate Secretary in London. She is currently presiding Clerk of her Yearly Meeting Ministry & Counsel, where she clerks the Task Force to update Faith & Practice, is Clerk of Campus Friends Meeting, and is presiding Clerk of the ESR Board of Advisors.

She has a B.A. from the University of Michigan ’64, and a M. Min. degree from ESR ’90.



Julie-Ann Silberman-Bunn

Biography to come.