Professor Wright’s research focuses on African American religion, adolescent spiritual development, and the intersections of religion and public life. Prior to her arrival at Yale, she served for four years as assistant professor of religion and youth ministry at Pfeiffer University and, before that, from 2004 to 2009, was an adjunct faculty member and teaching assistant at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University. At Candler, she also served as program director of the Wisdom of Youth Project for one year and in various positions over four years with the Youth Theological Initiative. She has served as a consultant to the Women’s Theological Center in Boston and has taught at several schools in the Greater Boston area, including Shady Hill School, the Young Achievers Science and Math Academy, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Open School. Professor Wright’s publications include a book she coedited with Mary Elizabeth Moore, Children, Youth, and Spirituality in a Troubling World, and an issue of Practical Matters Journal that she edited. She has given presentations at a number of conferences, including the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion, and delivered the keynote address at the Children, Youth, and a New Kind of Christianity conference in Washington, D.C., in May 2012. Professor Wright is an ordained minister of the American Baptist Churches and has been on the ministerial staff of several churches, including Union Baptist Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Victory for the World United Church of Christ in Stone Mountain, Georgia.
Yolanda Smith was educated at three different institutions. She remained in her home state for her undergraduate training and earned her bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University. She then headed east and earned an M.Div. from Virginia Theological Seminary (1990) before returning to the West where she completed her education by earning a M.A. and Ph.D. in theology at Claremont (1997).
She joined the YDS faculty as a visiting assistant professor in Christian education in 2000. She became member of the core faculty as an assistant professor in 2002, serving in this capacity until 2008 when a bout with cancer forced her to change directions. On disability, she continued to serve YDS part-time as a research scholar and a lecturer. She was able to teach at least one course each year through the 2014-2015 academic year. She was recognized by her peers in the profession when she was elected president of the Religious Education Association (2012-2013).