Alumni Awards

2014 Annual Alumni/ae Awards Banquet

Iliff will host the Annual Alumni/ae Awards Banquet, Feb. 8, 2014, where alumni/ae will be honored for their contributions to Iliff and the greater community.

2014 Alumni Awards Winners

2014 Honorees

  • Rev. Jerry Herships – Innovation in Ministry
  • Dr. Kelly Arora – Outstanding Contribution to the Academy by a Recent Graduate
  • Rev. Brad Laurvick – Outstanding Contribution to Ministry by a Recent Graduate
  • Rev. Jay Rundell – Distinguished Alumnus

Innovation in Ministry

Rev. Jerry Herships, MDIV ’07

Jerry’s story is a “familiar one.” A former bartender/stand-up comic/mall Santa, who hears God’s call to leave the bright lights of show biz to dedicate his life to doing the Lord’s work… You’ve heard it a million times.

Jerry got his Bachelor of Science in Broadcast Communications from Western Michigan University in 1986, and moved to Los Angeles in 1987 with the intention of hosting The Tonight Show only to discover Jay Leno already had the gig pretty much locked up. After bartending for a few years, Jerry began doing stand-up, performing all over the United States and Canada.

It was while hosting a corporate game show at a Hyatt Ballroom in Baltimore that Jerry realized he was built for a higher call and he moved to Denver to attend Iliff School of Theology at the age of 40 where he received his Masters of Divinity in 2007. He joined the St. Andrew clergy-staff full time later that same year. In addition to his work at St. Andrew, Jerry has served on the Board of Directors for the Wesley Foundation at University of Denver, the District Committee of Ordained Ministry and the New Church Catalyst team for the Rocky Mountain Conference.

Jerry now “does church for people who don’t like church” at AfterHours. Jerry and his wife, Laura, have been married since 1992 and they have a teenaged son. Jerry has a passion for reaching out to those who were told “there is only one way to do God” and loves to be in dialogue with people who either don’t trust organized religion or feel funny singing hymns they don’t know.

In his free time, Jerry likes learning about wine (he became a certified sommelier in 2008), men’s fashion and the future of religion.

Outstanding Contribution to the Academy by a Recent Alumna

Kelly Arora, PhD ’11

When Kelly Arora met Professor Carrie Doehring to learn more about the Joint PhD Program, she knew Iliff was a good fit. “One morning during my first quarter of coursework, I vividly recall walking into the main building with the clear and strong sense that I was where I was supposed to be. My Iliff education has challenged me, energized me, and prepared me for a future I could not have imagined,” Arora said.

Since graduating with her PhD in 2011, Kelly has followed the advice of Larry Graham, and cast a wide net professionally, teaching and contributing in diverse ways at Iliff, Regis University, the University of Colorado at Denver medical campus, and the Samaritan Institute. At UC-Denver, Kelly facilitated interdisciplinary bioethics courses for students in the health care professions. At Regis University, she taught Religious Studies courses for undergraduate students, and at the Regis School of Pharmacy, her course Faith, Spirituality & Culture in Health Care is required for all third-year doctoral students.

At Iliff, she has taught a number of Pastoral and Spiritual Care courses, served on the Authentic Engagement™ development and presentation team, is a member of the Iliff Alumni/ae Association Board, and co-conducted research on the ways veterans use Buddhist beliefs and practices to cope with war trauma. In 2013, through a new partnership between Iliff and the Samaritan Institute, she began development of a spiritually-integrated psychotherapy curriculum for Samaritan counseling centers nationwide. In January 2014, Kelly took on a new role at Iliff as Director of the Spiritually-Integrated Financial Resiliency Initiative, a program funded by Lilly Endowment to reduce graduate student debt, stemming from a grant which she helped secure. Kelly states, “As promised, Iliff prepared me to make a difference in the world, and I strive to live into that mission every day as an alumna, as faculty, and as a staff member at this wonderful institution.”

Outstanding Contribution to Parish Ministry by a Recent Alumnus

Brad Laurvick, MDiv ’07

Brad Laurvick attended Iliff while also directing Adult and Youth Ministries at Trinity United Methodist Church (UMC), here in Denver. Upon his graduation in 2007, he was ordained in the UMC, and served his first appointment as the associate minister at St. Luke’s UMC in Highlands Ranch. While at St. Luke’s, Brad served as a community chaplain to Windcrest Retirement Community, the police chaplain to Littleton Police Department, and led the Feeding of the 5000 food drive which collected more than 80,000 pounds of food in one weekend for Denver Urban Ministries.

In July of 2012, he was appointed pastor of Highlands United Methodist Church. Since arriving in Northwest Denver, Brad has led the church to a 50 percent worship attendance growth, and launched three major neighborhood events, reaching thousands of neighborhood families in partnership with the Highlands Merchant Association, which he co-chairs. He recently instituted “Pride Month” as part of the liturgical calendar, bringing inclusivity to the forefront of conversation and preaching. He has coordinated neighborhood flood response relief with over $7,000 in donated supplies in one week to provide flood buckets and emergency supplies to Estes Park, and recently created the United In Orange food drive with over 150 churches participating in Denver and Seattle.

Brad continues to be involved with the UMC on a national level as he was the head of the Clergy Delegation at the General Conference 2012 (and the youngest clergy delegation head of RMC history), chaired the sub-committee on Human Sexuality Legislation, and presented legislation to the floor of General Conference supporting “ministry to families in all their various configurations.”

Distinguished Alumnus of the Year

Rev. Jay Rundell, MDiv ’88

Jay Rundell became an ordained elder in the Rocky Mountain Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church upon his graduation from Iliff in 1988. He has also served as both a former trustee and former member of the staff at Iliff. He is currently in his eighth year as President of Methodist Theological School in Ohio, a seminary of the United Methodist Church with students from more than twenty religious traditions and deep commitments to academic excellence and social justice.

Beyond campus, Rev. Rundell serves in numerous capacities with various agencies and interests of the United Methodist Church including the Association of United Methodist Theological Schools, the Commission on theological Education of the University Senate of the United Methodist Church and the National Association of Colleges and Universities of the United Methodist Church. He is a Director of Educational and Institutional Insurance Administrators Inc. He is President of the Theological Consortium of Greater Columbus. He is a member of the American Academy of Religion and the Academy of Homiletics.

Jay is an avid cyclist. He is married to Dr. Kristen Rundell, a physician and medical educator. They are the parents of one child in college.

Nominate Now for the 2015 Alumni/ae Awards

Annual Alumni/ae Award Guidelines and Nomination forms are available on the Alumni and Friends page on my.iliff Alumni pages.

For reference, a list of award winners from 1980-2012 is also available for review. Previous Award Recipients

Please contact Tim Zeckser, Development and Alumni Engagement Officer at 303-765-3111, or tzeckser@iliff.edu, if you have questions or need assistance.