Moral Injury Speakers

Rita Nakashima Brock, Rel. M., M.A., and Ph.D., is Senior Vice President for Moral Injury Programs at Volunteers of America and a Commissioned Minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). A native of Fukuoka, Japan, Brock was six years old when she and her mother were brought to the U.S. by her stepfather from Amory, Mississippi. She was raised in a military family and was the first Asian American woman to earn a doctorate in theology. Dr. Brock was Director of the Radcliffe Fellowship Program at Harvard University from 1997-2001, a fellow at the Harvard Divinity School Center for Values in Public Life, 2001-2002, and a Visiting Scholar at the Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley from 2002-2012. Her 2008 book with Rebecca Parker, Saving Paradise, was a finalist for the American Academy of Religion Award for Reflective/Constructive Theological Studies, and it was selected as a best book in religion by Publisher’s Weekly. An internationally distinguished lecturer and award-winning author, she is a pioneer in the study of moral injury. In 2012, she co-founded the Soul Repair Center, Brite Divinity School at TCU, with Col. (Chaplain) Herman Keizer Jr., U.S. Army veteran, and directed it until May 2017. Her most recent book is Soul Repair: Recovering from Moral Injury After War, co-authored with Gabriella Lettini, the first book written on moral injury. 

Dr. Rev. Rebecca Parker, Noted author, educator, and minister, The Rev. Dr. Rebecca Ann Parker is Professor of Theology and President Emerita of Starr King School for the Ministry, and Director of Ministry Programs for The Braxton Institute ( The first woman to lead a theological school, Parker served for 25 years at Starr King at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA educating future Unitarian Universalist ministers and spiritual activists to counter oppressions, create just and sustainable communities, and cultivate multi-religious life and learning. Parker is an ordained United Methodist minister who holds dual ministerial fellowship with the Unitarian Universalist Association. Her publications include A House for Hope: The Promise of Progressive Religion for the 21st Century, co-authored with John Buehrens (Beacon, 2010); Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded Love of This World for Crucifixion and Empire, and Proverbs of Ashes: Violence, Redemptive Suffering and the Search for What Saves Us, co-authored with Rita Nakashima Brock (Beacon, 2008 and 2001).

Parker has been a featured presenter on moral injury and spirituality at conferences sponsored by Volunteers of America and The Braxton Institute and served on the founding Advisory Board of the Soul Repair Center at Brite Divinity School. On her work as a theologian and minister, Parker says "Legacies of violence, terror and trauma continue to bring anguish into the world. Now more than ever, people of conscience and love need to do the hard work of theological thinking that deconstructs religion that sanctions violence. We need to re-dedicate ourselves to the creation of life-giving theologies, justice-making religious communities, and joy-infusing spiritual practices. This is the calling to which my life is devoted."

Linda Mercadante, PhD. The Rev. Dr. Linda Mercadante is Distinguished Research Professor at Methodist Theological School in Ohio, and ordained in the PC(USA). Her work focuses on the intersection of theology and culture, especially in the areas of addiction recovery, victimization, trauma, moral injury, and the emerging "spiritual but not religious" movement. Her work is interdisciplinary, using resources from sociology, psychology, and media studies, as well as theology, to look at how belief is synergistic with behavior, and how recovery needs to involve spiritual healing. She is the author of 5 books and scores of articles on these topics. Of special interest is her work on the theology inherent in the addiction recovery method, Victims & Sinners: Spiritual Roots of Addiction and Recovery. She has published many articles on this topic, as well as a spiritual autobiography, Bloomfield Avenue: A Jewish-Catholic Jersey Girl's Spiritual Journey. Her most recent work, for which she was named Henry Luce III Fellow in Theology, is qualitative research on the beliefs and practices of the “spiritual but not religious,” Belief without Borders: Inside the Minds of the Spiritual but not Religious (Oxford Univ. Pr). She has been featured on NBCs The Today Show, The New York Times, NPR, and in many other media outlets. Winner of the 2014 prize for most influential books by Spirituality&Practice, this book suggests the SBNR movement was given much impetus from the addiction recovery movement. Her husband, Jose Luis Mas, a Cuban refugee, is a criminal defense attorney in Central Ohio. They have three adult children.

Jesse Estrin, MA in Depth Psych., is a lead facilitator for Insight-Out's GRIP program in San Quentin, and brings his skills as a therapist and group facilitator to the classroom to create a safe environment for healing and transformation. He is continually inspired and amazed by the courage and power of individuals transforming themselves from violent offenders into change agents and Peace Makers. He is also working as a therapist in a community mental health clinic in San Francisco, accruing hours towards his MFT license. On a larger scale he is passionate about reclaiming meaning and interiority in a post-modern culture and fostering conversations between emerging leaders in social justice, depth psychology, religion, and spirituality. Jesse has a Masters in Philosophy and Religion from the California Institute of Integral Studies and as well as a Masters in Depth Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute.

Miguel Quezada Incarcerated in an adult institution at the of 16, he would serve a total of 20 years in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). A former gang member that grew up as a child amidst violence and drugs, he transformed his life through healing the trauma in the Guiding Rage Into Power (GRIP) program while in San Quentin State Prison. Shedding the beliefs ingrained in him as a child that violence was an acceptable form of communicating one’s feelings and that it’s what made a man today he understands his emotions and considers himself a change agent for others. While incarcerated he served as a certified GRIP facilitator including Spanish language curriculum, helped train new incarcerated facilitators, and in under a year of his release in 2018 has been facilitating GRIP classes in Soledad State Prison in California.