The Rev. Elyse Berry Named CHHSM Associate for Advocacy and Leadership Development

The Rev. Elyse Berry

The United Church of Christ’s Council for Health and Human Service Ministries has announced that the Rev. Elyse Berry, D. Min., has been hired to serve as associate for advocacy and leadership development. She begins her new role with CHHSM today (Sept. 3).

Berry, who comes to CHHSM with more than 11 years of experience and training in ministry, ethics, and spiritual care, just completed a bioethics postdoctoral fellowship at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. At Case, she worked in academics, in a hospital rotation as an ethicist, and in training as part of the Cleveland Fellowship in Advanced Bioethics, one of the most established clinical ethics training programs in the United States.

“We are thrilled to welcome Elyse to CHHSM,” says Michael J. Readinger CHHSM president and CEO. “Her unique gifts and skills in ministry, leadership and teaching — along with her ability to communicate effectively with health care professionals on all levels — make her the perfect addition to our staff. I look forward to working with Elyse on new and existing CHHSM programs that will benefit all of our member agencies and organizations.”

In her new role, Berry will work closely with CHHSM’s Nollau Leadership Institute training program and its graduates, who are consecrated as Diakonal Ministers at the completion of their training. She will administer the Institute, serve as member of the faculty and design curriculum and retreats, and recruit participants. Berry also will develop continuing education programs for Diakonal Ministers and others within the CHHSM community, schedule and administer Nollau-To-You one-day leadership training seminars and other programs, and help select and work with CHHSM’s Rev. Jerry Paul Scholar, a seminarian who interns with a CHHSM member in order to explore healthcare ministry options.

Berry will be staff liaison with CHHSM’s international, interfaith, and ecumenical ministry partners and will work closely with the UCC’s Washington, D.C., office of justice ministries. She will guide the advocacy efforts of CHHSM and its members and work with CHHSM’s Advocacy Task Force. The Task Force’s work includes such core issues as access to healthcare; food insecurity; affordable housing; services to older adults and persons with disabilities; and services to children, youth, and families.

During her postdoctoral fellowship, Berry delved into work advocating for the ethical concerns that disproportionally affect marginalized and underserved communities in health care. She sees her work with CHHSM as a logical continuation of her continued ministry of advocacy.

“After spending nearly a decade in healthcare, I feel I will be able to relate well to the Diakonal Ministers, the CHHSM members, and the Nollau-To-You participants, as well as advocating for the issues important to the Council for Health and Human Service Ministries,” Berry says.

Prior to beginning her postdoctoral fellowship, Berry was a hospital chaplain for several years at Cleveland Clinic, Fairview Hospital and Main Campus in Cleveland, and with St. John Medical Center in Westlake, Ohio. She also has served as an intern chaplain at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Pittsburgh and as Youth Minister while part of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps for a Catholic Church in Bethel, Alaska.

Berry earned a B.A. degree in political science (2008) from John Carroll University in Cleveland, M.A. degree in pastoral ministry (2011) from Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, certificate in spiritual direction(2014) from John Carroll University Ignatian Spirituality Institute, and D. Min. degree in spirituality (2018) from Fordham University Graduate School of Religion in New York City.

As an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Berry says that she is thrilled to be joining the CHHSM team and looks forward to contributing to its mission. She adds that she finds the work of CHHSM, and particularly its Nollau Leadership Institute, particularly relevant in today’s society.

“The mission of [CHHSM’s] Nollau Institute [is] a vital ministry for the contemporary church, as it cultivates a unique Christian community beyond church walls and takes seriously the need for and the intersection of spirituality and leadership development,” Berry says. “Moreover, studying various leadership theories in my doctoral program sparked a passion for this area of work, and supporting those along their paths to flourishing is when I feel the most alive, and that I am living into my call.”

Berry is married to the Rev. Mark Berry, administrative staff chaplain at the Cleveland Clinic. They have two rambunctious dogs, Sherlock and Watson, and are happy to call Cleveland home.

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