Kate Ott, Director

Preferred Name: Kate (or Dr. Kate) and Pronouns: She/Her/Hers 

Dr. Kate Ott is the Jerre and Mary Joy Stead Professor of Christian Social Ethics, and Director of the Jerre L. and Mary Joy Center for Ethics and Values at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois. She is the author of Sex, Tech, and Faith: Christian Ethics for a Digital Age; Christian Ethics for a Digital Society; Sex + Faith: Talking to Your Child from Birth to Adolescence; and editor of Teaching Sexuality and Religion in Higher Education with Darryl Stephens; and Faith, Feminism, and Scholarship: The Next Generation with Melanie Harris.  She has also written numerous articles and book chapters, as well as lecturing and presenting at academic conferences, activist gatherings, and congregational events. Ott’s primary research interests are in the areas of Christian social ethics, digital technology, sexuality and gender, race and racism, professional ethics, and the moral agency of children and youth.

Ott is the co-editor of the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion and a lecturer at Yale Divinity School. She served previously as a Professor of Christian Social Ethics at Drew Theological School and Deputy Director at the Religious Institute. Ott is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison (BA), Yale Divinity School (MAR), and Union Theological Seminary in New York City (DPhil).

Amelia Abernathy, Digital Assistant

Preferred Name: Amelia and Pronouns: She/Her/Hers 

Amelia Abernathy is a Digital Assistant and is responsible for social media and marketing for the Stead Center. She is a first-year seminary student working towards an MA in the clinical program of Pastoral Care and Counseling.  

She received a bachelor’s degree in Educational Psychology with a concentration in Counseling from Mississippi State University (MSU) in May of 2022.  

Originally from Hoover, AL, Amelia found several different outlets to help serve her local community through her home church Riverchase UMC. It was there she found her love of digital marketing and felt her call to ministry. Throughout her time at MSU, she joined several groups and organizations to help curate a sense of community while in her college years. She was an intern for the Wesley Foundation as well as a team member for a group that paired college student preachers with local churches that couldn’t afford full-time pastors. During her senior year she began raising awareness for Mental Health and the initiative “Talk Saves Lives” through the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. She was also able to pass legislation through the Student Association Senate to create a better education system in sexual assault prevention programs. She has always loved creating platforms for people to tell their stories and share their hearts. 

Amelia has a heart for others and is hoping to cultivate that passion in a counseling setting. Her hope with the Stead Center is to bring awareness to different ethical issues using digital media. As well as, to tell a story of what the Stead Center is and how it can be fundamental in educating others on ethics and values.   

Sanjog Patro, Program Assistant

Preferred Name: Joe or Sanjog and Pronouns: He/Him/His 

Sanjog Patro or Joe is the Program Assistant for the Stead Center for Values and Ethics. He is a first year in the MA Pastoral Care and Counseling – Clinical Track. 

He carries with him a BE in Electronics and Communication Engineering from India and a BA in Intercultural Theology, Migration & Church leadership from Germany.  

Joe has recently moved to the United States after living for the most part of the last decade in Germany and the middle east. He has 6 years of work experience in the fields of engineering, marketing, social justice, and management. The United States is his 4th country of residence. Thus, he brings a varied skill set to different work and cultural environments.  

His last assignment was in Hannover, Germany, at the headquarters of the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC). It is the largest communion of protestant churches with over 230 members churches across 110 countries. At WCRC, he served under the desks of the General Secretary and the program executives as the main point of contact for the organization, handling the logistics of conferences, meetings, and other events, as well as managing the human resources of the office. 

Joe calls himself a “people person,” with a passion for bringing people and their resources together to expand the conversation of ethics and values under multiple disciplines of academia. 

Samantha Eyster, Digital Assistant

Preferred Name: Samantha and Pronouns: She/They 

Samantha is a Digital Assistant and is responsible for editing and developing content for the Stead Center. She is a first-year seminary student working towards an MA in Faith, Culture, & Educational Leadership. 

She received a bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Journalism from Michigan Technological University in 2011 and a master’s degree in Educational Technology from Western Michigan University in 2014. 

Outside of academics, she self-published two novels and does freelance editing. Most recently, she writes, publishes, and edits devotionals for Willow Creek Community Church.  

Samantha also serves her community and family in several ways. 

She recently completed a cohort for Ampersands Restorative Justice, where she learned how to facilitate restorative conversations between those who’ve authored sexual harm and those who’ve experienced it. At church, she led a series called “Justice Talks” and helped plan and facilitate a joint all-ages faith formation between Grace United Methodist Church of Logan Square and St. Luke’s Lutheran Church of Logan Square. Outside of church, she serves on her local school district’s Equity Committee and on the PTO. 

Her hope is to translate this into creating a ministry focused on engaging and equitable sex education. 

Jerre and Mary Joy Stead, Founders

Jerre and Mary Joy Stead were raised in Maquoketa, Iowa, where they met in 1957. They were married in 1961 and have raised two children. Their life together has been one of remarkable achievement and commitment to church, family, and effective philanthropy. Garrett-Evangelical has been fortunate to have the benefit of the Steads’ vision and generosity.

Jerre Stead earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Iowa in 1965. In 1987, after 21 years of management experience at Honeywell, Inc., he joined Square D Company of Palatine, Illinois, as president and chief operating officer and chairman of the board. In 1991, Jerre became president and chief executive officer of AT&T’s business products division, where he engineered a dramatic turnaround of the division. He was named chairman and chief executive officer of AT&T/NCR in 1993. In 1995, Jerre became chairman and chief executive officer of Legent Corporation in Herndon, Virginia, where he was instrumental in completing a successful merger with Computer Associates. In 1996, he joined Ingram Micro, the world’s largest distributor of technology products, as the chief executive officer with a proven track record, great vision, and global expertise. In 2000, after retiring from Ingram Micro, he became executive chairman of IHS Inc., a global information company offering expertise in the areas of energy, economics, geopolitical risk, sustainability and supply-chain management. Jerre assumed the additional role of CEO for IHS Inc. on September 20, 2006, which he maintained until June of 2013. He now serves as Executive Chairman of the company.

Throughout his business life, Jerre Stead has been admired and respected for his transformational leadership style and a deep commitment to a strong code of values. He is co-author with James A. Belasco of Soaring with the Phoenix: Renewing the Vision, Reviving the Spirit, and Re-creating the Success of Your Company. He has served as a trustee at Garrett-Evangelical since 1991 and currently serves as chair of the board of trustees and co-chair of the seminary’s Forging Our Future: Phase Three capital campaign.

Mary Joy has been up to the challenges dictated by Jerre’s high profile and demanding career. Although she has not sought the limelight, she has been a full and indispensable partner in the couple’s life decisions and philanthropic endeavors. She is active in church affairs, an avid golfer (along with Jerre), and a licensed airplane pilot. Family has always been at the center of the Stead’s life and a primary goal for both Steads is to fulfill their roles as parents and grandparents. Jerre and Mary Joy have lived their lives as a shared commitment to helping others.

In 1996, Jerre and Mary Joy set the pace for the Bold Leaders for a New World campaign through a major lead gift. Then in 1997, they doubled that commitment. Their gifts have endowed the Jerre L. and Mary Joy Stead Center for Ethics and Values and the Jerre L. and Mary Joy Stead Chair of Christian Social Ethics, a position which ensures that Garrett-Evangelical will always have a faculty person who teaches Christian Social Ethics and directs the work of the Stead Center. In addition, it was announced at the seminary’s board of trustees meeting on May 12, 2011, that Jerre and Mary Joy had made a commitment of $5 million to Garrett-Evangelical’s unrestricted endowment. In announcing this most recent commitment, Mr. Stead challenged the other trustees to match his gift and help lead the way in reaching the $100 million Forging our Future Phase Three campaign goal by addressing the largest component of the campaign—building the seminary’s unrestricted endowment. In response to this generous gift from the Steads, the board of trustees voted unanimously to rename Lesemann Hall as the Jerre and Mary Joy Stead Hall. The Steads also had made an earlier campaign commitment to endow three full-tuition plus stipend scholarships for students at the seminary.

Jerre and Mary Joy Stead

Brent Waters, Former Director

The Reverend Dr. Brent P. Waters retired on July 1, 2022. In May 2022, the Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary Board of Trustees unanimously granted Waters the status of faculty emeritus upon the recommendation of the faculty.

As director of the Jerre L. and Mary Joy Center for Ethics and Values from 2001 to June 2022, Waters worked collaboratively with colleagues and organizations locally, nationally, and internationally to bring theological perspective to ethical issues facing contemporary society. Through numerous conferences, guest lectures, and articles, the Stead Center under Waters’ direction addressed a wide variety of topics, including technological interventions at the beginning and ending of life, war and religion, the theology and economics, the environment, and human experimentation.

Dr. Brent Waters