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Jessica Anschutz 07 M.Div., new chairperson of class agents

By Lisa Levy ’11 M.Div.

AnschutzJessica Anschutz ’07 M.Div., the new chairperson of class agents for Yale Divinity School, sees her role as part cheerleader, part coach.  As chairperson, she will seek to motivate current agents as they work to cultivate classmates in supporting the YDS Annual Fund, and she will also build the Annual Fund team by recruiting new class agents in cases where an agent might not be assigned.

Anschutz notes that meeting or exceeding the Annual Fund’s financial goals “is necessary to the day-to-day functioning of the school,” but she is most strongly motivated when she thinks about the Annual Fund at its most tangible level:  financial aid for students.  It is something that strikes close to home for Anschutz, who was interviewed during Convocation and Reunions 2008.  “I was only able to come to YDS because of the financial aid I received,” she explained, “so it’s an issue that’s very significant to me, to encourage alumni to continue to contribute so that other students can receive the benefits we had.”

Increasing student financial aid is a top priority for Dean Harold Attridge and his administrative team, and all donations to the Annual Fund are used directly in support of financial aid.

Anschutz is also motivated by the feeling that her ministry at Manhattan’s Park Avenue United Methodist Church, where she serves as associate pastor, is richly informed by the diversity and ecumenism she experienced at YDS. The congregation at Park Avenue UMC, Anschutz explains, has “over forty different nations represented in our membership, and many people who come from a variety of different faith backgrounds and traditions. And I think that’s something Yale really helped prepare me for.”

While her parish responsibilities keep her busy, she makes time to return to YDS whenever she can. Anschutz particularly misses daily worship at Marquand Chapel, which she called  “one of the things I miss the most.”

Beyond the financial goals, Anschutz hopes to build upon and deepen the sense of community among YDS alumni. She envisions helping alums maintain their sense of connectedness as the years and geography take them farther from YDS, and reconnecting those who have grown distant.

“It’s amazing to have so many incredible people doing so many truly incredible things in ministry,” Anschutz said, and invaluable “to have each other as colleagues and resources.” A higher percentage of participation in the Annual Fund, she observed, signals that “more people are engaged and involved, feeling connected to the community, so that we can share each other’s resources and gifts and make a difference in people’s lives.”

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