Poverty and Homelessness Week is planned and overseen by a committee comprised of students, faculty, staff, and non-Centre Community organizers. Members for 2019-2020 are as follows:

Dr. Rick Axtell, Poverty and Homelessness Week Faculty Director

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Rick Axtell is Stodghill Professor or Religion and College Chaplain since 1995.  Concerned about issues of hunger and homelessness, he has served as director of Louisville United Against Hunger and also was a case manager working with homeless men through the St. Vincent DePaul Society.

Axtell’s travels in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Colombia, Cuba, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Mexico, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Serbia, and Thailand have informed his teaching on issues of hunger, human trafficking, sustainable development, and peacemaking. In 2006, he taught in the UNESCO International M.A. Program in Peace and Development Studies at Universitat Jaume I in Castellon, Spain.

Recent research includes employment trends for day laborers in Louisville’s homeless population and interviews with public housing residents who were relocated in Louisville’s HOPE VI housing redevelopment. He is the co-author ofThe Other Side of HOPE: Squandering Social Capital in Louisville’s HOPE VI, published in Journal of Poverty in 2015. Axtell is also the co-editor of Ethics as if Jesus Mattered: Essays in Honor of Glen H. Stassen (Smyth & Helwys, 2015). Axtell has also studied liberation theology and religion and violence in Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Nicaragua. His articles on the topic of religion and violence have appeared in the Encyclopedia of Religion and War and The Merton Annual.

Pai Masavisut, Poverty and Homelessness Week Student Chair

Pai Masavisut

My name is Pai Masavisut. I’m a senior religion and behavioral neuroscience major. I’ve joined Poverty and Homelessness Initiative Committee because I am passionate about social justice, and I want to be able to do something about it. Outside of this committee, I am currently working on a senior thesis about mass incarceration and biblical images of justice. I am asking “What is the underlying images of justice when we lock people up?” and “What biblical images shed light on this issue; do they confirm or negate today’s societal images of justice?” The issue of mass incarceration is close to my heart, so I am privilege to be in this committee. I love this group. I would love for the Centre community to learn more about this issue, and come to know the faces and stories of those who bear the injustices being done and the hope of the future.

Anna Bushong, Student Committee Member

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I am a Centre sophomore with an intended major of biology and anthropology/sociology. I am also Bonner Scholar that has been primarily focusing on food security and poverty this past year through my bonner service site, Grace Cafe. Poverty and Homelessness Week is a great opportunity for students and community members to grapple with the complex web of issues that encroach daily into the lives of individuals experiencing poverty. Understanding is the first step towards motivated action and this week can act as a launching pad for those that choose to connect. That is why I wanted to be involved in this week and hope others dive in with us.

Lorna Closeil, Student Committee Member


Lorna Closeil is a third year Bonner and Posse Scholar, where she majors in Anthropology/Sociology with a minor in Social Justice and Gender Studies. Currently, she is a resident assistant and a program director of a program she created called MAGIC Leadership and Mentoring Program that mentors young black girls in the Danville-Boyle County area. Lorna became interested in issues of poverty and homelessness surrounding Eastern Kentucky and Appalachia while conducting research for her Anthropology of Human Right’s class, where she discovered how these regions have been relegated invisible because of society’s urban bias. She went on to aid in the facilitation of the first ever Affrilachian Poetry Event at Centre College, where she learned about the rich diversity and the untold stories of the region. Lorna hopes to serve on the Poverty and Homelessness Committee as a way to render the invisible visible, as well as engaging, educating, and doing her part to help alleviate people and communities of their suffering.

Joshua Cole, Student Committee Member

Joshua Cole

I am a sophomore from Barbourville, Kentucky. I intend to major in Biology with a psychology and classics minor. On campus, I am a member of the membership committee for Alpha Phi Omega, the secretary of the Baptist Campus Ministries and I am also a resident assistant on the third floor of Cheek. Coming from eastern Kentucky poverty and homelessness have always been present factors in my community and life. This has instilled in me a desire to act and to work towards solving these massive issues and it is for this very reason I decided to join the committee. Through the committee, I hope to broaden my knowledge of these topics to better serve my own as well as other communities.

Dr. Amy Frederick, Faculty Committee Member

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Dr. Amy Frederick is an assistant professor of Art History who has been on Centre’s campus for the last four years, teaching a variety of Art History and Humanities courses and serving as a research adviser for a variety of initiatives at Centre, from Centre’s prestigious John C. Young Fellowship to summer research on Rembrandt van Rijn. Dr. Frederick was a mentor for the the first year of Centre’s Creative Thinking Immersion Program (CTIP), where she served as primary adviser for three students on a project of their own design looking into the cultural, economic, and environmental development and changes of Eastern Kentucky in the face of the decline of the traditional coal economy. Additionally, she teaches a course at Centre on the history and methods of Art, Craft, and Design, with Appalachian art and its role in the development of Berea College playing a significant role in the curriculum. A native of Kentucky, she is passionate about how new economic models (art, tourism, sustainable small farms) might benefit her beloved state.

Laura Hancock, Student Committee Member

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Laura Hancock is currently a senior biology major at Centre. She serves as the Recruitment and Marketing Vice President for Alpha Delta Pi Eta Omega and enjoys singing in Centre Singers, playing piano, and volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House of the Bluegrass. She also spends time volunteering at The Nest Center for Women and Children, which piqued her interest in serving on the Poverty and Homelessness Week Committee at Centre.  When she is not at school, she enjoys hanging out with the 200 sheep on her family’s sheep farm and her border collie named Bonnie.

Alli Koehler, Student Committee Member

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I am a senior Religion major with Spanish and Education minors. I am from Franklin, TN. I plan to go to Divinity School after graduation, and I hope to be a faith-informed advocate for solutions to various social issues, including poverty and homelessness. I think story-telling is extremely important, so I look forward to empowering voices wherever I go. I have a great love of learning, and I am excited to be a part of this committee to learn more about the realities of our world outside of the classroom and the campus.

Landy Lin, Student Committee Member

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I am a sophomore from Louisville, Kentucky with a possible major in behavioral neuroscience. I have always been passionate about the topic of poverty and am very excited to be able to join this committee  to explore it further, and right at home. I wanted to become involved because this is a great opportunity for first years at Centre College, and allows me to connect more with the rest of Kentucky.

Rebecca Markham, Student Committee Member

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I am a senior Spanish major from Abington, Pennsylvania. On campus, I am involved in Partners in Health, Centre Peace and the After-School Program. I got involved in Poverty and Homelessness week last year after going to the ‘Voices Inside’ convocation. I am excited for the opportunity that this year’s Poverty and Homelessness week gives me to get outside of the Centre bubble and learn about an issue that is very close to home (yet rarely talked about).

Hanna Montalvo, Poverty and Homelessness Week Committee Member

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Hanna Montalvo is a sophomore from Louisville, KY. Her intended major is Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, on a pre-med track. Hanna is a Bonner Leader who is interested in accessible healthcare and early childhood education. She is looking forward to learning and cultivating knowledge about this year’s topic and helping to spread awareness on Centre’s campus.

Andrew Patrick, Faculty/Staff Committee Member

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Dr. Andrew Patrick earned his MA and PhD from the University of Kentucky in American History after completing a BA in History and Philosophy at Centre College in 2009. Now back at his alma mater, Andrew provides pedagogical and administrative support for experiential learning initiatives and practices across campus, including community-based learning, academic internships, and undergraduate research. He is also a member of the History faculty and teaches courses that emphasize experiential learning within the discipline such as Public History and Landscape History.

A Texan by birth, Andrew fell in love with the Bluegrass landscape during his undergraduate years at Centre. This eventually led to his doctoral research on the historical roots of the modern agricultural landscape of Central Kentucky. In his spare time, Andrew enjoys traveling, running, and spending time with his young son.

Laney Taylor, Poverty and Homelessness Week Committee Member

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Laney is a senior politics major at Centre College. She currently serves as a Bonner Leader, Chair of the Student Judiciary, and as President of CentreFirsts. She is deeply excited to continue her work on the Poverty & Homelessness Initiative because it gives our campus the opportunity to cultivate community, develop expertise, and see the local impact of mass incarceration with new eyes.

Bailey Tock, Student Committee Member

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Bailey Tock is a sophomre from Paris, KY.  She does not currently have an intended major, but finds the field of Classics fascinating.  Bailey loves learning, as well as facilitating others’ educational experiences.  Through her involvement with the Poverty and Homelessness Committee, Bailey hopes to spread awareness of these social issues as well as broaden her own horizons.

Jessica Weasner, Staff Committee Member

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Jessie joined the student life staff at Centre College in October of 2018.  She oversees community service programming and the Bonner program.  Jessie earned her undergraduate degrees in religious studies and sociology from Bowling Green State University and her master of theological studies from Vanderbilt Divinity School.  She is currently a doctoral candidate in Miami University’s Student Affairs in Higher Education program.  Her dissertation focuses on civic education and explores how colleges and universities prepare students to be active and informed citizens in our democracy. Jessie is an AmeriCorps VISTA alum and is passionate about social justice, civic engagement and animal welfare.

Mindy Wilson, Staff Committee Member

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Mindy Wilson is the Associate Director for the Center for Career & Professional Development. She coordinates Centre’s internship programs as well as provides comprehensive career counseling to humanities students and alumni. She is the co-chair of the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty and a member of the Social Justice minor committee at Centre. Prior to working at Centre, Mindy worked in social work with foster care teenagers and has served on several local non-profit boards.  She currently serves as a member of the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty’s governing board.

Interested in joining next year’s committee? Email Pai Masavisut at pai.masavisut@centre.edu