Alumni Profiles

Check out these brief profiles from some of our alumni to see the wide range of career possibilities one can enjoy with a Religious Studies degree.

Jeff Alworth, Class of 1990

I studied religion at Lewis and Clark from 1986-90, did an overseas trip to India, and then went to do a PhD program in Buddhist Studies at the University of Wisconsin. That led me to conclude that I was more interested in practicing Buddhism than studying it, so I returned to Portland and spent 14 years doing research on child abuse and neglect at Portland State. In 2010 I left my job to write full time and have published The Beer Bible (Workman, 2015), Cider Made Simple (Chronicle, 2015), and The Secrets of Master Brewers (Storey 2017).

Religion has remained the center of my life, and I have been a part of Kagyu Changchub Chuling, a center in the Tibetan tradition, for 20 years. In 2012, we completed a long-retreat facility near Goldendale, Washington and hosted a a one-year cloistered retreat there. In 2015, twelve members of our community began a traditional three-year cloistered retreat in that same facility. My wife and I hope to do the next extended retreat following the current one. One of the reasons I began writing professionally was to create space in my life to practice more.

John Aney, Class of 1988

After graduating from LC with a Religious Studies minor in 1988, John Aney pursued a career in theatre as an actor and director. He received a Masters’ Degree in Theatre History and Dramatic Literature from Indiana University in 1997, and for many years he and his wife Mary Dakin (LC ’88) lived in the Bay Area, where John performed and directed productions with a number of semi-professional theaters. In 2010, John took a hiatus from the theatre and felt called to pursue a Masters of Divinity at Pacific School of Religion. John graduated from PSR in 2015, and was ordained into ministry in the United Church of Christ in November of 2015. In the summer of 2016, John, Mary, and their two children, Will (age 14) and Sasha (age 9) returned to the Portland area to be closer to family. John and Mary will soon be members of Lake Oswego United Church of Christ. Currently, John preaches occasionally in the area and is considering a Chaplaincy residency in the fall of 2017.

Jessica Jobanek, Class of 2007 

II graduated in 2007 with a double major in Religious Studies and Hispanic Studies. After teaching for several years in the Portland area, I moved to Israel in 2013 to study at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, where I spent two years studying the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) along with traditional medieval commentaries, as well as the Talmud and Jewish law, in the original Hebrew and Aramaic. While I was in Jerusalem, I was fortunate to be able to join Pardes in an educational delegation to the Jewish community of Istanbul, Turkey. In Turkey, I was able to use both of my LC degrees in translating between our group and the older Turkish Jewish adults we met, who spoke Ladino, a mix of Hebrew and Spanish.

In 2015 I moved back to the United States to pursue MAs in Jewish Education and Jewish Gender and Women’s Studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City. I’m currently completing my practicum at SAR, a highly-regarded Modern Orthodox Jewish day school in the Bronx, where I am student teaching sixth grade Tanakh and Talmud. I also teach first grade and sixth grade afternoon Hebrew School at several different synagogues across Manhattan and the Bronx.

Alanna Kleinman, Class of 2013

Alanna (Lonnie) Kleinman is originally from Tucson, Arizona and graduated from LC in 2013. My thesis investigated the use of ritual, collective memory, and pilgrimage in constructing identity for Jewish youth on trips to explore sites of the Holocaust Poland and and nation building in Israel. After college, I spent a year studying in Jerusalem at the Pardes Institute of Jewish studies and organizing against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands. I subsequently moved to Jackson, Mississippi and worked to bring a peer mediation program to Jackson Public Schools. For the past three years, I’ve been living in the South and working with young adults to build meaningful Jewish communities with Moishe House. The Southern Jewish experience continues to inspire, complicate, frustrate, and motivate me. I recently began my first of five years studying at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia. In my spare time I volunteer at crisis lines, propagate succulents, go rock climbing, and strive (lovingly) to maintain a daily meditation practice.

Derek Larson, Class of 1990

I’m a 1990 grad with a double major in RELS and HIST. I earned graduate degrees from Yale Divinity School and Indiana University, along the way shifting my academic interest from religious history to environmental history. I have been on the faculty of two Catholic liberal arts colleges in Minnesota, the College of St. Benedict (a women’s college) and St. John’s University (a men’s college) since 1998, and have served as chair of their Environmental Studies Department since 2001. I am also a tenured professor of history and my most recent academic work is a book from Oregon State University Press titled “Keeping Oregon Green” Livability, Stewardship, and the Challenges of Growth, 1960–1980, published in late 2016. ( While I am not working directly in the field of religion I do find teaching at a Catholic college/university offers me frequent opportunities to apply my undergraduate and graduate training in theology to my work inside the classroom and out, especially in the wake of Pope Francis’s encyclical on climate. Ultimately there’s a very clear thread running from my undergraduate education through my professional training to the work I do with students every day.

I also do a fair amount of writing for public audiences, including now over 200 opinions columns for the local St. Cloud Times newspaper and regular posts on environmental issues for a collaborative blog called the “Avon Hills Salon,” named for the hills bordering the prairie immediately west of our campus in Collegeville, Minnesota.

Holly Reinhart-Marean, Class of 1976

I was a Religious Studies major at Lewis & Clark, but I ended up with more credits in Overseas Study than in RS. I graduated in 1976 and went on to seminary for graduate school, and was ordained as a United Methodist pastor in 1979. I have served as pastor in a number of churches in southern California since then. I have found that my background in world religions (and Overseas Study in Iran and Austria), has served me well in dealing with the diversities in So. Cal, and in working with ecumenical and Interfaith colleagues, and persons of other faith groups.

I am currently moving towards retirement and I am eager to see what that will hold for a whole new future!