Our Team

Leah Payne

Leah Payne, PhD

Associate Professor of American Religious History

Leah Payne (PhD, Vanderbilt University) is an Associate Professor of American Religious History at George Fox University and Portland Seminary. She is also a senior fellow at the Louisville Institute and a faculty fellow in the George Fox University Honors Program.

Her first book, Gender and Pentecostal Revivalism: Making a Female Ministry in the Early Twentieth Century (Palgrave, 2015) won the 2016 Pneuma: The Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies Book Award. Her second book explores the development of political theology in American Charismatic Christianity. In 2015, she and three other colleagues received a Lilly Endowment, Inc. High School Youth Theology Initiative grant to co-found Theologia: The George Fox University Summer Theology Institute, which began in 2017.

In 2017, she and four additional colleagues received a $1 million grant from the Lilly Endowment to create an Institute for Pastoral Thriving at Portland Seminary, which began in 2018. She currently serves the Foursquare Church as a commissioner on the Foursquare Education Commission. Her work analyzing religion and popular culture has appeared in The Washington Post and Christianity Today.

Trisha Welstad

Trisha Welstad, DLd

Director, Institute for Pastoral & Congregational Thriving

Director, Leadership Center

Trisha has served as the executive director of Leadership Center, coaching women and men on vocation and leadership since 2012. Trisha has her doctorate in Leadership and Global Perspectives from Portland Seminary and is an ordained elder in the Free Methodist Church. Trisha directs The Institute for Pastoral and Congregational Thriving at Portland Seminary, and serves as project faculty for the Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives at Portland Seminary. Trisha’s vision for the world is for all people to activate their unique identity and calling, welcoming one another to play and work together in mutually honorable, hospitable and generous ways that create healthy and sustainable relationships with God, self, others, and the planet.

Hannah Souter

Hannah Souter

Assistant Director, Institute for Pastoral & Congregational Thriving

Hannah Souter is the Assistant Director for the Institute for Pastoral & Congregational Thriving at Portland Seminary, where she also earned a Masters in Ministry Leadership. Hannah served as a pastor in SE Portland and now works at Leadership Center—helping leaders grow in personal and organizational wellness. She partners with Companioning Center as a blog contributor and workshop facilitator. Hannah likes to play outside and have dinner parties with friends.

Ashley Bell

Ashley Bell

Compelling Preaching Program Director

Ashley serves as pastor of outreach and discipleship at Cedar Mill Bible Church. She also serves on the church’s lead and teaching teams. In addition to her pastoral work, Ashley is a facilitator at the Leadership Center. She holds a master’s degree in pastoral studies from Multnomah University, as well as an MEd in educational leadership. She’s also certified through the Cultural Intelligence Center as a CQ facilitator and is part of TogetherPDX, serving as a member of the ServePDX team.

Ashley believes that a vital part of becoming effective teachers and preachers involves being a discerning disciple of Jesus, committed to the integrity of Scripture. She is passionate about communicating truth in compelling ways that help churches and their surrounding communities navigate societal realities in their context. Ashley loves the church, and adores her family and friends.

Melissa  Ramos

Grant Project Lead, Cofounder of Religion For Her, Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible

Melissa Ramos (PhD, UCLA) is an associate professor of Hebrew Bible at Portland Seminary. She is also an ordained pastor (Minister of Word and Sacrament) in the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Her first book, Ritual in Deuteronomy: The Performance of Doom (Routledge, 2021), explores the ritual world of Deuteronomy and its symbolic forms. The book focuses on the dramatic enactment of the covenant in Deuteronomy 27-30 and studies the role that ritual plays in the literary shape of the book. Her second book, New Perspectives on Ritual in the Biblical World (Bloomsbury, 2022), is a coedited volume of collected essays that emphasize materiality and embodiment in the study of religious practices, focusing especially on the intersection of ritual with gender and the body, the boundaries between official and non-official ritual practices, and the textualization of ritual.

Ramos is also the cofounder of the site Religion for Her that explores women's interpretation of Scripture. She’s also a contributor to Working Preacher and TheTorah.com.