The Office of Vocation and Leadership

Vocation is one’s response to a call from beyond oneself to use one’s strengths and gifts to make the world a better place through service, creativity and leadership. The concept of vocation rests on the belief that life is more than me.

-Roger Ebertz

The work of Vocation and Leadership at YDS is to encourage, support and empower every student to connect their theological study with their sense of vocation and the work of their lives. We offer a wide range of opportunities and contexts for connecting belief with action within a supportive and challenging community, as students test out what their theology leads them to do and to be in the world. We focus particularly on contextual experiences that offer exposure to a wide range of economic, racial and social realities, in traditional congregational and chaplaincy settings, and in the midst of innovative new models for service and action. Grounded in their academic work, students explore their calling and aspirations, and have the space to develop a vision for a vocation that has meaning in their lives.

Throughout the course of study, we encourage every student to expand their community of support. Students benefit from a strong circle of mentors. This is a unique feature of the YDS Vocational Formation Program, in which every student is asked to draw together a team including a YDS faculty advisor, and several other trusted mentors, such as pastors, college chaplains, or supervisors. These mentors stay in conversation with students throughout their time at YDS and use the e-portfolio to stay connected to the student’s work.

The Office of Vocation and Leadership trains a team of effective and well-prepared site supervisors in Supervised Ministry, CPE, and Non-Profit Internship and Immersion Experience sites, as well as experienced practicum class leaders. Additionally, YDS welcomes a wide range of visionary leaders through a range of workshops and the Transformational Leadership Program.

In all of these things, students are encouraged to set goals for their own professional futures, acquiring the necessary educational and professional tools needed to be prepared for the steps they will take after YDS.

Finally, the Office of Vocation and Leadership seeks to maintain relationship with recent alums, expecially during the first five years after graduation, through the building of cohorts, focused on areas of vocational interest and employment. The goal will be to build the kinds of professional and personal resilience that are essential in the development of courageous ministry and service.

Discovering the Work of our Lives

Academic and professional degree programs at Yale Divinity School prepare students for a wide range of careers and vocational directions, from the many fields of ministry to non-profit and service careers, from work within the academic realm to preparation for further degree study.

Vocational direction and focus seldom comes without significant effort. One’s time at YDS should, in addition to academic study and practical experience, include time for reflecting on one’s hopes and dreams for the future, and conversation with trusted mentors and companions along the way. This is not work for the final semester, but rather needs to be a purposeful process that begins early in the degree program, and continues throughout one’s time at Yale.

Every degree student is asked to build and maintain an online portfolio throughout their time at YDS, posting both a selection of academic work and some personal reflection on that work, as well as a professional resume. Additionally, each student should build a small group of trusted advisors, mentors really, who can serve as resource people and support system. Sharing the e-portfolio with these mentors is an important way to seek their input and encouragement, and to find focus for one’s own vocational discernment process.

Additionally YDS staff in the offices supporting professional formation and leadership are glad to serve as resource people, as students seek to make sense of their vocational yearnings, and to learn about the possibilities for meaningful work after they complete their Yale degree.

You may be in touch with the staff listed below:

William Goettler

William Goettler

Associate Dean for Ministerial and Professional Leadership, Lecturer in Parish Leadership and Church Administration
(203) 432-9896

Jennifer Davis

Director of Supervised Ministries, Divinity School

Alison Cunningham

Director of Professional Formation, Title IX Coordinator
(203) 432-5330


Office of Vocation and Leadership