Breakout Seminar Leaders
Robert Benson is the author of 20 books, including Between the Dreaming and the Coming True, Living Prayer, Venite, The Echo Within, The Game and Dancing on the Head of a Pen — books about the search for the Holy in the midst of our ordinary lives. As a retreat leader and workshop teacher, he speaks on the life of prayer and contemplation, the disciplines and rituals of Christian spiritual practice, and the art and craft of writing. He is an adjunct faculty member for the Academy for Spiritual Formation, was named a Living Spiritual Teacher by Spirituality and Practice, and is a member of The Friends of Silence & of the Poor, an ecumenical prayer community. Robert’s roots are in Nashville, Tennessee, though these days he spends his time traveling, writing, and speaking. He does dance on the head of a fountain pen every day no matter where he happens to be.
Amazon: Dancing on the Head of a Pen
Jeff Chu is a Brooklyn-based reporter and writer. He’s now a contributing writer at Fast Company, where he was previously on staff for almost eight years. His reporting and writing have also appeared in many other places, including the New York Times Magazine, Travel+Leisure, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post. He also spent seven years at TIME magazine.
Jeff’s first book, Does Jesus Really Love Me? A Gay Christian’s Pilgrimage in Search of God in America, explores the explosive and confusing intersection of faith, politics, and sexuality in Christian America.
Lil Copan serves as senior acquisitions editor for general trade books at Eerdmans Publishing. Having previously worked in acquisitions for several religious publishing houses—Abingdon Press, Ave Maria Press, and Paraclete Press, among others—Copan brings two decades of experience to Eerdmans. Among her areas of expertise are trade line development, project management, author and platform cultivation, substantive editing, and cross-platform content development.
Lil has worked with an array of bestselling authors, including Madeleine L’Engle, Scot McKnight, Debbie Blue, Amy Frykholm, Thomas Lynch, and Lauren Winner. She acquired Frederick Buechner’s Faces of Jesus for Paraclete in 2004 and was credited by Jana Riess in a 2011 Publishers Weekly interview for having “brilliantly suggested” the concept for her book Flunking Sainthood.
Roger Freet represents a wide variety of narrative and idea-driven nonfiction clients and select fiction writers in the areas of religion, spirituality, memoir, and cultural issues. His clients include leading scholars, pastors, historians, activists and musicians. Prior to joining Foundry Literary + Media in New York as a literary agent, Roger served as an executive editor at HarperOne, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, where he published multiple New York Times bestselling authors. In advance of joining the editorial team at Harper in 2004, Roger was the associate director of marketing and publicity, running promotional campaigns across the full spectrum of the HarperOne list. Roger holds a Master of Divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary and began his publishing career as an envelope-stuffing intern in the publicity department at Princeton University Press.
Leslie Leyland Fields
Leslie Leyland Fields is the author/editor of ten books. Her latest, Crossing the Waters, won Christianity Today’s 2017 Book of the Year for Christian Living. Previous books include Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers: Finding Freedom from Hate and Hurt, The Spirit of Food: 34 Writers on Feasting and Fasting Toward God, Hooked! True Stories of Obsession, Death and Love from Alaska’s Commercial Fishing Men and Women, and others. Her books have been translated into seven languages. She has won a number of Evangelical Press awards for her articles, which have appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, Orion, Beliefnet, Books and Culture, and many other publications.
Leslie loves to share her passion for all things related to art and faith. She speaks and teaches around the country and internationally in universities, churches, conferences, and writing workshops, and taught creative nonfiction in Seattle Pacific University’s Master of Fine Arts program for six years. She is the founder of the Harvester Island Wilderness Workshop, set on her island in Alaska, attracting writers nationally and internationally that have included Bret Lott, Luci Shaw, Philip Yancey, Jeanne Murray Walker, and others.
Marilyn McEntyre is a writer and professor of medical humanities at the UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program. She is the author of 14 books, including the recently released A Faithful Farewell. She has won several outstanding teaching awards and was recently awarded a Christianity Today 2015 book award. Her writing has appeared in the Christian Century, Weavings, Sojourners, Prism, Conversations, Christianity Today, Academic Medicine, Medical Humanities, Literature and Medicine, and a variety of other academic and trade publications.
Marilyn leads both retreats and writing workshops. She cares about connecting spirituality, politics, food, healthcare, care for the earth and its creatures, care for language and public discourse, and finding new ways to live together on a planet that needs healing.
David Morris is vice president and publisher for Zondervan, responsible for acquiring, developing, shaping, and marketing all trade book products. He leads editors, marketers, and support staff in working with authors and agents for the acquisitions, editorial development, and marketing of trade books. David was formerly vice president and editorial director of Guideposts Books, overseeing acquisitions for the Christian trade as well as direct-to-consumer distribution. During his 17-year tenure at Guideposts, he held various editorial positions, working with marketing, design, sales, and finance. Before Guideposts, Morris worked with Chatham House Publishers in New Jersey.
Zondervan, as part of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., delivers transformational Christian experiences through its bestselling Bibles, books, curriculum, academic resources, and digital products. The company’s products are sold worldwide and translated into nearly 200 languages.
Sophfronia Scott lives with her husband and son in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, where she continues to fight a losing battle against the weeds in her flower beds. She holds a BA in English from Harvard and an MFA in writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She’s author of the novel All I Need to Get By; her work has appeared in Killens Review of Arts & Letters, Saranac Review, Numéro Cinq, Ruminate, Barnstorm Literary Journal, Sleet Magazine, NewYorkTimes.com and O, The Oprah Magazine. Sophfronia is also on the faculty of Regis University’s Mile-High MFA. Her forthcoming novel, The Light Lives Here, will be published by William Morrow/HarperCollins in September 2017. She blogs at www.Sophfronia.com.
Frank A. Thomas
Frank A. Thomas currently serves as the Nettie Sweeney and Hugh Th. Miller Professor of Homiletics and director of the Academy of Preaching and Celebration at Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis, Indiana. His most recent book, The Choice: Living Your Passion Inside Out, explains and explores the spiritual and coaching process to live your passion from the inside out. Indicative of his great love of preaching, an updated and revised version of They Like to Never Quit Praisin’ God: The Role of Celebration In Preaching, considered by many to be a homiletic classic, has also been released. For many years, he has also taught preaching to doctoral and master’s-level students at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois, and at Memphis Theological Seminary in Memphis, Tennessee. He is CEO of Hope For Life International, Inc., which formerly published The African American Pulpit. With a long history of excellence in preaching and preaching method, Thomas was inducted into the prestigious Martin Luther King Jr. Board of Preachers of Morehouse College in 2003. Thomas also serves as a member of the international board of Societas Homiletica, an international society of teachers of preaching.
Marly Youmans is the maker of novels, poetry collections, and stories, as well as the occasional fantasy for younger readers. John Wilson, editor of Books and Culture Magazine, says, “Youmans is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers. She writes like an angel—an angel who has learned what it is to be human." Among her awards are ForeWord Book of the Year Award Finalist for Maze of Blood, Book of the Year Award Finalist for Glimmerglass, and Silver Prize in the General Fiction category for A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage. Marly is a Carolinian astray in snowy upstate New York. She and her husband have two sons and a daughter.