SLI Past Guest Speakers

The Spirituality and Leadership Institute for Young Leaders


Matt LoweSpeaker: Matt Lowe was born in the mountains of East Tennessee to a family of dairy farmers.  He grew up in the town of Jonesborough, which held the National Storytellers festival every year.  This, along with a family of passionate storytellers, started him on his journey of being an actor.  After many school plays and forensic competitions in high school, he trained at the prestigious Theatre School conservatory at DePaul University in Chicago.  After graduation, he moved to Los Angeles where the weather was much better.  He worked in a factory making milk carton caps, sold printers at OfficeMax, and…you guessed it…waited tables.  After being basically homeless and relying on friends to let him sleep on their couches, he began to gain some small commercial success, which allowed him to afford an actual apartment.  His film and television credits include Hart of Dixie, The Walking Dead, A.N.T. Farm, Rectify, Bones, The Night Shift, Captive, Nashville, and Modern Family.  He has also lent his voice to video games including Call of Duty, Mafia 3, and Tom Clancy’s Endwar.  He has been in many commercials, most recently as the spokesperson for Milkbone, and the voice of Century Link.  He lives in Pasadena, CA with his wife and three children, and can be found on Twitter and Instagram @lattmowe


Alissa WilkinsonSpeaker: Matt Lowe is assistant professor of English and humanities at The King’s College in New York City, and the chief film critic at Christianity Today Movies. Her book How to Survive the Apocalypse: Zombies, Cylons, and Politics at the End of the World, co-written with Robert Joustra, is due out from Eerdmans in spring 2016. She is currently at work on Orphaned Believers: Reframing Religion in the Age of Faith-Based Film, which will be published by The Critical Press. Her essays and criticism have appeared in Vulture, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Pacific Standard, Paste, Books & Culture, Christianity Today, Bright Wall / Dark Room, Movie Mezzanine, The Marginalia Review of Books, Litro NY, Art House America, and Christ & Pop Culture. She was co-editor of Comment Magazine, founding editor of both The Curator and Fieldnotes, programming and events manager at International Arts Movement, a technical writer, a Wall Street business analyst, a technology columnist, a coder, and half a dozen other things. She earned her M.F.A. in creative nonfiction at Seattle Pacific University and her M.A. in humanities and social thought at New York University. She and her husband Tom live in Brooklyn.


Drew DernavichSpeaker: Drew Dernavich gets that his first name is the past tense of “draw,” so please don’t bring it up. He has been a regular cartoonist for the New Yorker magazine since 2002, and has won a National Cartoonists Society award for being the top magazine cartoonist in the country. His cartoons have also appeared in TIME, The Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, the Boston Globe, Narrative, Longshot Magazine, and the comics anthology Flight. His first children’s book, It’s Not Easy Being the Number Three, was just published by Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt.