Rev. Patricia FarrisI am honored to Chair the Claremont School of Theology (CST) Board of Trustees. Election to the Board is a privilege and responsibility not taken lightly. Each board member has achieved a high level of success in his or her chosen field, has made significant contributions to his or her community, and is capable of making equally important contributions to CST and to higher education.

Throughout our history, CST has remained steadfastly a Methodist-founded, ecumenical, interfaith place of higher learning. In the 21st century, we are not only changing the way theological education happens, we are leading the way. It’s a special time to be involved with the history of religion in the world and at CST.

Working together with administrators, staff, faculty, students, and supporters, we, as trustees, help Create a Difference for the World We Live In.

The Rev. Patricia Farris
Chair, CST Board of Trustees
July 2014 to present

Board of Trustees

The Rev. Patricia Farris is the Senior Minister of the 1,100 member First United Methodist Church of Santa Monica.  Recognized for her leadership in “Excellent Protestant Churches,” Rev. Farris has served as a director of the General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns and is a member of the UMC Committee on Faith and Order and the Episcopal/UMC Dialogue.  She has been elected to eight General and Jurisdictional Conference delegations.  She has participated in three Assemblies of the World Council of Churches, the WCC Team Visit to Madagascar, and a Women’s Division study trip to Mozambique. 

Rev. Farris has mentored many ministerial candidates and taught Methodist History as an Adjunct Professor at CST.  She serves on the boards of CST, Upward Bound House, and on the Advisory Board of the Everychild Foundation. She is the author of SHINE! Light for All Pe0ple (an Advent Study Guide) and Five Faces of Ministry:  Pastor, Parson, Healer, Prophet, Pilgrim.  She is a contributor to Breaking Through the Stained Glass Ceiling: Women Pastoring Large Churches. 

She received her Bachelor of Arts magna cum laude from Carleton College and her Master of Divinity degree cum laude from the Harvard Divinity School.  She is married to David Bremer, Associate Professor of Literature and Ombudsman at the Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles.

Marian Brown has been a CST trustee since 2004. She has served as secretary of the Board of Trustees, chair of the Audit Committee, and a member of the Finance Committee. She graduated from Pomona College in Claremont, served a two-year term in the Peace Corps in Ghana, and then received her Ph.D. in economics from Stanford University. She taught economics at Pomona College from 1977 to 1986, with a year’s sabbatical to serve as a Visiting Scholar to the Social Security Administration in Washington, D.C.

From then until retirement in 2012, she worked for Southern California Edison, nearly all of that time as manager of Measurement & Evaluation in the Customer Programs & Services Division. Her work involved: oversight of staff, consultants, budgets, and research that guided the company’s decision-making on energy conservation and other programs for its customers; frequent interaction with staff of state commissions; speaking at conferences, and teaching national seminars on market assessment and evaluation of energy programs.   She served as treasurer and president of the Association of Energy Services Professionals, as Edison’s representative and president of the California Measurement Advisory Council, and as co-chair of the Evaluation Committee of the Consortium for Energy Efficiency. In 2011, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award for her work from the International Energy Program Evaluation Conference.

As a member of Claremont United Methodist Church, she served nineteen years as the congregation’s lay leader, as well as serving during various periods as chair of the Administrative Council, Finance Committee, Missions Commission, and Vision Team. Now retired and doing volunteer work and occasional consulting, she and her physician husband Kenneth Brown live in Claremont.

Michael Brown, a partner at Musick Peeler in the firm’s Orange county office, has a general litigation practice, with expertise in the field of labor and employment matters, including litigation and preventative counseling with management clients. Mr. Brown sits on the board of a publicly traded company, and assists in the formulation of human resources policies and procedures for a number of publicly traded companies in the western United States. Mr. Brown’s past experience includes the position of Vice President of Legal Affairs for Thrifty/Payless Corporation.


University of California, Los Angeles, B.A., 1975

University of San Diego School of Law, J.D., 1978

Bar Admissions: State Bar of California

Practice Areas: Labor & Employment Litigation

Larry R. DeJarnett, of Palm Desert, CA, is retired from full-time work, but continues his “fifth career” on a part-time basis, as founder and Managing Director of The LAMAR Group, which provides executive coaching and Board advisory services to both for-profit and non-profit organizations.  He is Vice Chair and Chair-elect of the Board of Directors of Goodwill Industries International, Inc. (GII), a member of the GII Executive Committee and Chair of its Strategic Issues Planning Committee.  He also is: Past Chair of the Board of Trustees of Goodwill of Southern Los Angeles County and continues as an active member of their Finance Committee; Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Claremont School of Theology, serving on its Executive Committees and as Chair of its Committee on Trustees; Past-Chair of the Board of Directors of the Southern Illinois University (SIU) Foundation, and now a life-time Emeritus Director and member of its Development Committee; and a member of the Finance Committee of Ironwood Country Club.

Until his early retirement in July 1999, Mr. DeJarnett was CEO of Enterprise Solutions, a global joint venture of EDS and A.T. Kearney Management Consultants; he also was a senior Vice President of A.T. Kearney, responsibile for major consulting engagements in the Americas, Europe and Asia.   Previously, he was a Managing Partner of The JIA Management Group (a specialty turn-around firm) and was Corporate Vice President of Lear Siegler, Inc., with responsibility for technology and administration.  Earlier, he held financial, logistics and systems management positions with Ford Motor Company.  Following completion of  bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Southern Illinois University (SIU), Mr. DeJarnett helped establish the University’s first systems and computer services organization, and taught management and technology courses as part of the College of Business faculty.

Larry and his wife Mary are members of St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Palm Desert.  They have two adult children and four grandchildren.

Rev. Dr. Dottie Escobedo Frank is a pastor and District Superintendent with the United Methodist Church. In her ministry Dottie is on the leading edge of church transformation and reStarts. She is a speaker, writer, and community leader.

Rev. Dottie grew as a daughter of Lutheran missionaries, living on the border of Arizona and Mexico. As a social worker, Dottie specialized in foster care and medical pediatric crisis management. She earned a Masters of Social Work from Arizona State University. Later, Dottie completed a Masters of Divinity from Claremont School of Theology and has earned a Doctorate of Ministry from George Fox Evangelical Seminary. Rev. Dottie has pastored four churches: Liberty UMC, Mission Bell UMC, Community Church of Joy (ELCA), and CrossRoads UMC in Phoenix, Arizona. Dottie has authored several books:Advent & Christmas, Sermon Seeds, 40 Creative Sermons, Jesus Insurgency, the Church Revolution from the Edge (co-authored by Rudy Rasmus), ReStart Your Church, Our Common Sins, Give It Up!

With over 25 years of professional experience in both large corporate and high tech start-up companies, in 2011 Ms. Gong co-founded HIr, Inc. as CEO & President. HIr conceptualizes and develops technology products for non-disclosure customers.

Additionally, Ms. Gong is a City of Cupertino (California) Planning Commissioner.

Prior, Ms. Gong joined a la Mobile, Inc. at its founding in 2005 as Vice President of Worldwide Operations. Together with its co-founders, Ms. Gong created the company’s strategy, vision, and corporate infrastructure. Launched with tier one venture capital funding, a la Mobile became the industry’s premier and only independent Linux systems platform company for mobile phones. Its Convergent Linux Platform, the first complete, open and configurable operating system for mobile phones, was a full software stack (from device drivers and Linux kernel to middleware and applications): integrated; tested; certified; supported; and maintained, giving handset OEMs/ODMs for the first time “one stop” continuity and confidence to roll-out new Linux-based phones rapidly to market.   Until the company’s exit to its Korean partner in 2010, Ms. Gong ran the company’s worldwide operations, from human resources to corporate communications, and managed its development teams in Nanjing, China and Minsk, Belarus.

Preceding a la Mobile, Ms. Gong joined the, Inc. founding team as Manager of Business Administration subsequently integrating the position of Director of Corporate Communications. With over $26M in venture capital funding raised, became a provider of solutions to ensure business continuity over broadband networks to maintain resiliency and secure access with predictable traffic flow.’s patented technology and product rights were acquired by its Japanese partner, Takechiho Koheki Corporation, in 2004. Today the products continue to be deployed successfully to all the major telecommunication carriers in Japan. During her tenure, Ms. Gong formulated and implemented corporate policies and procedures, directed all business operations and human resources including technical recruitment, while managing and liaising among its worldwide sales and marketing teams.

From 1987 to 1998, Ms. Gong held several progressing positions at GTE Government Systems. In her position as Contracts Administrator she proposed, negotiated, and managed multiple Government Prime contracts, national and foreign, ensuring delivery of contractual obligations and full compliance with U.S. Federal regulations. She was a key team member that delivered system requirements on a major $40M subsurface multi-year contract on time and 28% under budget

Ms. Gong earned a Bachelor degree in Psychology with emphasis in Organizational Behavior from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

A lifelong Methodist, Ms. Gong is a member in good standing and chairman of the Church Council at Los Altos UMC in Los Altos, CA of the CAL/NEV Conference.

Grant Hagiya is the Resident bishop of the California-Pacific Annual Conference, which geographically extends to all of Southern California, Hawaii, and Guam. He chairs the Leadership Focus Area of the 4 Areas of Focus for the United Methodist Church, and is a member of the Council of Bishop’s Executive Committee. He is the current chair of the Council of Bishop’s Task Force that plans the new Learning Retreats for all active Bishops. He is currently serving as President of the College of Bishops for the Western Jurisdiction. He is a Board member of the General Board of Church and Society. He graduated with an Educational Doctorate in Organizational Leadership from Pepperdine University in 2012. His book, Leadership Kaizen, based on his dissertation on the Traits, Qualities and Characteristics of Highly Effective UMC Clergy was published by Abingdon in 2013. He is a professional certified coach as an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) from the International Coach Federation. He is also a Gallup StrengthFinder Certified Coach.

He is a graduate of the Claremont School of Theology, and currently serves as an Adjunct Professor in United Methodist studies and Leadership. A former full faculty member of the Claremont School of Theology and District Superintendent of the Los Angeles District, he was elected to the Episcopacy in the midst of starting a Center of Leadership Excellence for both the Cal-Pac Annual Conference and the Claremont School of Theology. His vision for this Center has been fulfilled recently in the creation of the Bishop Jack and Marjorie Tuell Center for Leadership Excellence for the Western Jurisdiction.

Is presently Senior Pastor of Prescott UMC in Prescott, AZ.  He has been Pastor of 3 local UMC churches (both urban and suburban), Director of the Wesley Foundation at U of AZ and Associate in churches in both Southern California and in Arizona.  He is a graduate of CST and ASU; has been active in a wide variety of community activities, including Teenage Pregnancy Prevention, Critical Incident Stress Debriefing Team, Coalition for the Homeless and participation in Interfaith Councils and programs.  He was featured speaker at ecumenical campus unity events, as well as interfaith events hosted by both Islamic and Jewish organizations.  Dan’s deceased spouse, Rev. Susan C. Root, was also a graduate of CST and was ordained in the Disciples of Christ.

Interim President of Disciples Seminary Foundation in Claremont and serves as Associate Professor of the Practice of Ministry at Claremont School of Theology. Rev. Jordan began her ministerial career as a denominational executive for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) with the Division of Homeland Ministry (Indianapolis, IN) as the director of racial/ethnic ministry.

Jordan’s first faculty appointment was with Lancaster Theological Seminary (Lancaster, PA). After eight years at Lancaster, having earned tenure and served as dean of the faculty for one year, she moved on to Harvard University Divinity School (Cambridge, MA). For seven years Rev. Jordan served as the assistant dean for student life at Harvard Divinity. When the opportunity presented itself to serve in a Disciples of Christ affiliated seminary, Rev. Jordan became the associate dean for admissions and student services at Phillips Theological Seminary (Tulsa, OK).

Kah-Jin Jeffrey Kuan became President of Claremont School of Theology effective July 1, 2013. Prior to that he served as Dean of Drew Theological School and Professor of Hebrew Bible from January 2011 to June 2013. A scholar of ancient Israelite and Near Eastern history, Dr. Kuan’s current research addresses Asian and Asian American hermeneutics, as well as approaches to biblical instruction for the churches. He is currently completing a commentary on the biblical book of Joshua.

Kuan began his career serving as an associate pastor from 1980 to 1983 in Malaysia. In 2002, he became an ordained elder and full member of the California-Nevada Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church. Since 2008, he has served as the Vice President of the Board of Directors of the UMC’s General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. In 2004, the Reconciling Ministries of the California-Nevada Annual Conference named him the winner of the Turtle Award for “sticking his neck out” for the LGBTQ community.

President Kuan previously served on the faculties of the Pacific School of Religion and the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, and the South East Asia Graduate School’s Regional Faculty. He also served as Old Testament Editor for the multi-volume New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible from 2006 to 2009. He currently serves on the Council of the Society of Biblical Literature.

Kuan received his B.Th. from Trinity Theological College (Singapore), M.T.S. from Southern Methodist University, and his Ph.D. from Emory University.

Sharon received the M.Div. in 1978 from CST (recipient of the Witman Pastoral Care Award), and the D.Min. in 1981. Before and during seminary, she worked at Sage UMC and Placentia UMC in youth ministry. She was ordained a deacon in 1975 and an elder in 1980 in the Cal Pac conference. Sharon’s appointment history includes Northridge UMC, Santa Clarita UMC, District Superintendent of the Long Beach District, Westwood UMC and Claremont UMC. She retired in 2014 after 39 years under appointment. In each community she served on the local Interfaith Council. Also PATH: People Assisting the Homeless, Los Angeles; Alzheimer’s Association for LA, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, Middle East Peace Group, Claremont.

Sharon has served on district and conference boards through her ministry. Currently she serves on the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry where she is Conference Relations Chair and chaired the Proclamation Section. She has also represented the denomination in ecumenical endeavors, including Consultation on Church Union (1982-1988) and the National Council of Churches in Christ (1996-2000). Sharon was elected by the Cal-Pac Conference as a delegate to the Western Jurisdiction Conferences from 1988 to 2004 and to General Conference in 1992 and 1996. She was a delegate to the World Methodist Conferences in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Brighton, England. In addition, Sharon has served as adjunct faculty member at CST in Field Education, Preaching, and Worship for over 15 years.

Sharon was given the Distinguished Alumni Award from CST in 2014. At Conference she was given (along with her late husband, Al) the Mel and Lucile Wheatley Lifetime of Justice Award (2009), and the Bert All Award (for working for an inclusive church for all LGBTQ persons). She and her husband also received the Care Partner Award by the Alzheimer’s Association.

In retirement Sharon continues to be a part of Interfaith Witnesses, Clergy and Laity for Economic Justice, Reconciling Ministries and other justice ministries. She has two young adult children: Ben who is a mechanical engineering student at USC who, along with his wife Phoebe, works at JPL; and Rachel (trained as a social worker) – she and Elliot have made Sharon a happy grandma of three beautiful pre-school grandsons, the primary reason for retiring.

The Reverend Dr. David L. Richardson graduated from CST in 1969 with a Doctorate in Religion. Subsequently for CST, he served on the CST Alumni Board and a Presidential Search Committee, and assisted with various fund raising campaigns. Dr. Richardson served 40 years as a UMC pastor, including terms as District Superintendent for the Santa Ana District and the Santa Barbara District of Cal-Pac. He retired as Senior Pastor of Pasadena First UMC in 2005. Earlier, he served as an Adjunct Professor at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and at Cuestra College, as well as at the University of California, Santa Barbara extension and at CST. He is the author of numerous publications in both national press and church materials, assisted in the founding of a SLO head start program; launched self-help, low-income housing programs in SLO, Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties, a Sr. Citizen’s program in Los Osos, multiple refugee resettlement programs and a Community House working with immigrants and low income people of Pierce County, WA. Beyond the local church, he currently serves as Special Assistant to two Bishops,  Bishop Grant Hagiya and Bishop Elaine Stanovsky in the Western Jurisdiction of the UMC; he served on the Cal-Pac Board of Ordained Ministry for 21 years, served on the Cal-Pac Board of Pensions, and assisted the Board of Global Ministries in developing mission initiative programs for Southeast Asia.

Ali Sahabi is president of the land-planning and entitlement firm, SE Corporation, winner of the California Governor’s Economic and Environmental Leadership Award for Sustainable Communities. He has directed a number of development projects across Southern California, including industrial, multi-family residential and commercial retail projects. Previously, he served as Executive Vice President of Vahdani Construction, with responsibility for negotiating and managing construction projects statewide. He has a Master of Real Estate Development from the School of Urban Planning and Development at USC and a Bachelor of Science degree in management from Pepperdine University.

Ali has been widely honored for his work and contributions to the arts, Chamber of Commerce and many other human betterment endeavors. He was raised and is still involved in the Muslim tradition but attends and works with a number of Protestant Churches. He has assisted in preparation of the DVD to tell the CST Story and the University Project, and has expressed strong interest in the new direction of CST and is eager to assist in this direction as a new Trustee.

Nitin Shah, M.D. is Professor of Anesthesiology at Loma Linda University and Assistant Chief of Anesthesiology and Chief of the Surgical ICU of Long Beach Veterans Healthcare System.  His medical practice has included work in India; Zambia and Zimbabwe, Africa; and New York and California in the US. He has held numerous board and Officer positions in various Jain organizations, including President of the Jain Center of Southern California.  He is presently a member and Chair of the Board of Directors of Shanti Charities and a Director of the American Chamber of Commerce.  He has extensive fund raising experience for social and health needs around the world and has worked closely with President Kuan in sponsoring or assisting with multi-faith educational programs and conferences.

Tom Wallace was born, raised and continues to live in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, California. He graduated from Notre Dame H.S., Claremont Men’s College, and the University of Southern California earning a B.A. in Business Economics and a M.S. in Systems Management. He was a decorated combat Army rotary wing aviator in Southeast Asia and attained the rank of Captain. Tom spent twenty years with the Lockheed California Company retiring as Director of the Product Assurance branch. He was the President and CEO of CC Industries where he served for ten years, and was the President and CEO of the Granada Hills Community Hospital for four years. Tom is now retired and serves on the Board of Directors of the San Fernando Valley Interfaith Council, the North Valley Family YMCA, the Ventura/LA North chapter of Legatus, and as a Trustee of the Claremont School of Theology. He is a member of the Lockheed Martin retiree organization and several community social service groups. Tom has been recognized for his accomplishments in the aerospace and health care industries, and for his community service and enrichment. Tom and his wife Catherine of 51 years are members of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Northridge, CA.  They have four children and four grandchildren who live throughout California.

Mr. Wernett is one of the principals of MissionInsite and an ordained United Methodist minister. He joined Mike Regele and Chuck Salter in 2007 to create MissionInsite. He was also a principal with Percept, Inc. for 16 years, leading its client development department and serving as its president for three years.

His ministry has included:

Eight years as a pastor of local churches in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference. Churches included a two point charge and 600 member congregation.

Two years as a staff member of the General Board of Global Ministries

Four years as a consultant to the General Board of Global Ministries with responsibility of leading United Methodist Conferences through a three year strategic congregational development process.

Four years as a staff member of Christian Laity of Chicago, a small group ministry network of bible study/relational support to professionals working in downtown Chicago.

Four years as a staff member of Faith at Work, an early developer of local church small group and lay ministry in the United States

Mr. Wernett currently participates in the following national ministry development networks:

  • New Ministry Developers and Route 122 Transformational Conference Staff, United Methodist Church
  • Ecumenical Partners Network of national denominational ministry development officers
  • Roman Catholic, Council of Pastoral Planning and Council Development (CPPCD) network

His passion is to provide the best community based ministry and mission decision support information possible for church leaders.

Education includes Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration, Norwich University; Moravian Theological Seminary, Master of Divinity degree, Princeton Theological Seminary.

Peter and his wife Suzanne reside in Mission Viejo, California.

Rev. Ginny Wheeler is currently the pastor in charge of Community United Methodist Church, Huntington Beach. Ginny has been ordained pastor serving in the California Pacific Annual Conference for the past twenty five years. Ginny spent twenty years at the Laguna Beach UMC and four years serving as an associate minister in San Diego at St. Marks UMC. Ginny has a Master of Divinity from Wesley Theological Seminary, a Masters in Education from the Monterey Institute of International Studies, and a Bachelor of Religion from Southern Methodist University. Ginny currently serves as the Chair of the Santa Ana District Leadership Team, a member of the Garden Grove Interfaith Council, and Board of Trustee Member of the Claremont School of Theology.

*Representing Disciples Seminary Foundation, without vote.