Meet Our Staff
The Rev. Dr. Christopher Ross Donald
The Rev. Dr. Christopher Ross Donald, an experienced college chaplain, was named University Chaplain and Director of the Office of Religious Life in June 2019.
Chris served as college chaplain and director of religious life at Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi, where he was instrumental in increasing interfaith activities and dialogue on campus. During his tenure at Millsaps, Chris led several social justice initiatives, such as the Millsaps Challenge, which focused on racial reconciliation within the city of Jackson. He also sponsored Millsaps Pride, an LGBTQ+ student group, and advised the campus Black Student Union. Throughout his career, Donald has proved to be a versatile leader, using his chaplaincy skills in a variety of arenas. He served as project director of the Initiative for Compassionate Care and Empathic Leadership at the University of Virginia School of Nursing; as pastor of several congregations of The United Methodist Church; and in other church and higher education leadership roles.
Chris received his bachelor’s degree in history and government from the College of William and Mary. He graduated from Duke University with a Master of Divinity, and earned his Doctor of Education in Higher Education Leadership and Policy from Vanderbilt’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development. He also completed Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), including training in multicultural and multifaith pastoral counseling and care, at the University of Virginia Medical Center.
Chris, his wife Rebecca, a physician at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and their young daughter Wesley Grace live in Nashville. Chris is a avid fan of Star Trek, science fiction, and pop culture; enjoys cooking, hiking, and camping; loves to watch almost any sport but is generally a bad athlete; and is a passable singer and an enthusiastic but poor dancer.
The Rev. Gretchen Person
Associate University Chaplain, Associate of Director Religious Life
Gretchen Person, Associate University Chaplain and Associate Director of Religious Life, previously served as Director of Spiritual Life at DePauw University. She graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree from St. Olaf College, studied music in Copenhagen, Denmark, and worked at the International Church of Copenhagen. She began her M.Div. studies at Harvard University, graduated from Luther Seminary, and received the Master of Sacred Theology degree from Yale University. She has also studied at the Goethe Institute in Murnau, Germany, and at Valparaiso University. She completed internships in both the San Diego and San Francisco areas of California, and has served as a pastor of congregations in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Tennessee. An ordained pastor in the Lutheran (ELCA) church, she has also served as a hospice and hospital chaplain and as Associate Campus Pastor of a private liberal arts college. Gretchen and her family enjoy sharing time with family and friends, travel, reading and biking.
Ms. Lisa Tanksley
Lisa joined the Office of the University Chaplain & Religious Life team as Administrative Assistant II in January, 2019. She previously worked in Vanderbilt University Medical Center for the past seven years. Lisa has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She is a native Nashvillian. And she loves spending time with her husband and three children.
Raven Alade is currently a second-year graduate student at the Peabody School of Education at Vanderbilt. Raven’s program is entitled Community Development and Action. She graduated from the University of Central Missouri in 2018 with a B.S. in Psychology with a minor in Africana Studies. Raven has a passion for the mental and overall well-being of racially marginalized people and is interested in dismantling the taboos, stigmas, and shame associated with suicidality within the context of the church, family, and community at large. Raven is a St. Louis native, who loves to travel, bake, and encourage people to become the best version of themselves. “The only reason I am here today is because of God and the strategic steps He allowed me to walk down.”
Caitlin J. Stout
Graduate Student Worker
Caitlin Stout is a Michigan native and an alumna of Spring Arbor University, where she earned a B.A. in sociology with a minor in urban studies. She is currently a first-year graduate student at Vanderbilt Divinity School, where she is pursuing a Master of Divinity degree. Caitlin has spent the past two years working as an advocate and organizer on behalf of the LGBTQ community, specifically in the context of Christian higher education and other religious institutions. She is a graduate of the Reformation Project’s 2018 Leadership Development Cohort, a member of the Alpha Kappa Delta Honor Society of Sociology, and a contributor for various online publications, writing at the intersection of sexuality and Christianity. Caitlin’s academic interests include Queer theology, sexual ethics, liturgy, and campus ministry. Her personal interests include coffee, bicycles, haircuts, and breakfast food. Above all, Caitlin cares deeply about creating spaces where young adults are free to embrace every aspect of their identities and work together towards spiritual health and wholeness.
Graduate Student Worker
Keerthana Velappan is a second-year Doctoral Candidate in Audiology at the School of Medicine. She grew up in New Hampshire, and has now lived in North Carolina with her family for over a decade. She graduated from East Carolina University in eastern NC last May (go Pirates!) and has tried to invest in the Nashville community over the past year, volunteering with nonprofits such as Girl Scouts of Middle TN and The Little Pantry that Could. She has enjoyed attending Project Dialogue and The Shop events here at OUCRL and credits this building as being her main campus refuge, so she looks forward to working more closely with everyone. In her free time, she enjoys baking/cooking, reading, brunching, and catching flights (& feelings).
Graduate Student Worker
Who’s who among our Affiliated Chaplains and Directors.