Meet the Team

Meet the Team

Partners in planning your next step.

The staff of Candler’s Office of Admissions and Financial Aid aren’t just emissaries for Candler; they are servant leaders committed to supporting you in your theological journey. Part Sherpa, part counselor, part career coach, they partner with you to discover where your interests and passions and Candler’s unique brand of theological education intersect. Sure, they love to talk about Candler, but they equally love to listen to the stories and context each prospective student brings with them. Through that listening, they can help you discern your call, consider the range of academic options available, and determine how a theological degree will help prepare you for your next step. Email Candler’s Office of Admissions and Financial Aid.


Samuel Martinez

Samuel Martinez

Assistant Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid

Sam is a native of “Scratch Out,” Arkansas—more officially known as New Edinburg, population 127—and comes to Candler with experience serving in both the church and the academy. He earned his MTS from Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology, and is currently finishing up his PhD in Christian theology at Yale, with a focus on the work of the Holy Spirit. He’s served churches in Texas as an associate pastor and as a director of music and media. Outside the office, Sam enjoys, well, being outside, including cycling and snow skiing. And if you’re looking for some good background music while you complete your application, just get him on speaker phone—he moonlighted as a professional pianist in college and can play most anything by ear, with a sweet spot in his soul for jazz, gospel and Johnny Cash. But you may want to come visit in person: Sam always (“ALWAYS,” he stresses) has candy in his office. Jelly beans, anyone?


Gabrielle “Gabby” Booth

Gabby Booth

Admissions Advisor

Originally from Snellville, Georgia, Gabby earned her BA in history with a minor in music from Georgia State University. At Candler, she earned her MDiv with a concentration in Baptist Studies. Gabby is a minister at Atlanta’s historic Providence Missionary Baptist Church, where she serves in Women’s Ministry. She’s also a self-published author who loves blogging on the weekends, hiking, and cooking. Gabby has a passion for singing, studying six (!) languages so that she could sing classical music in German, French, Spanish, Italian, English, and Latin. For many years, she competed in the Miss America Pageant system, winning multiple scholarships, and uses the experience as a driving force for her continued passion for women’s ministry and womanist studies.


Ashly Cargle-Thompson

Associate Director of Financial Aid & Admissions

Hailing from the Midwest, Ashly began her career at Candler as the program coordinator for the Doctor of Ministry, International Initiatives, and Theological Education Between the Times programs. She earned her BA from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, majoring in comparative religion with an emphasis in Islam and triple-minoring in anthropology, psychology, and English. Before pursuing graduate studies, Ashly realized a longtime dream by playing professional basketball for the Stirling Senators in Perth, Western Australia. Upon returning to the U.S., she completed her MA at the University of Chicago Divinity School with an emphasis in Islamic studies and anthropology of religion. Her research focused on the formation of identity and selfhood among conservative Muslim women through their evolving interpretations of Qur’anic passages about menstruation and purity. In her spare time, Ashly enjoys reading, cooking, swimming, and hiking.


Katy MacDonald

Assistant Director of Operations and Communications

A native of Cartersville, Georgia, Katy graduated from Auburn University with a BS in apparel design and production management and a minor in human development and family studies. She comes to Candler from John Marshall Law School, where she served as an admissions clerk. Katy is a mentor for the Auburn Alumni Network and serves as a Kid Ministry Volunteer at Trinity Anglican Church in Atlanta. In her free time, you can find her cooking, hiking, camping, or doing yoga. Katy also enjoys crafting of all sorts—she spent time at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, North Carolina, where she took classes in pottery, basketry, natural dying, and millinery (hat-making!), and also learned to contra dance.


Callie Hill

Callie Hill

Admissions Analyst

Callie comes to Candler from University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, where she worked as an international recruitment officer. She holds a BA from Mount Allison University in New Brunswick, Canada. When asked about her hobbies, she replies, “Oh no… there are too many!” So if you can’t find Callie in the office, you may find her cooking or baking, singing and playing guitar, hiking in the summer, or snowboarding in the winter (can we come along?). She also loves DIY home projects and volunteering at the local animal shelter. Callie, her husband, and their rescue cat Meadow are excited to be here in Atlanta! 


Rachel Williams

Rachel Williams

Admissions Advisor

Rachel has the special distinction of being a "Key West Conch," a nickname given only to those born in Key West, Florida. A United Methodist pastor’s kid, she earned her BA in international affairs from Florida State University and her MDiv from Candler, the second generation in her family to do so—both of her parents are also Candler alumni! Between degrees, Rachel served as assistant director of ministry for the FSU/Tallahassee Community College Wesley Foundation, and as volunteer coordinator for Side by Side Kids Inc., a free, faith-based after school program in Austin, Texas. During her time at Candler, she was a pastoral resident at Eastside Church, where she directed justice and outreach ministries, launched the middle school youth program, and led initiatives to build community partnerships.

Rachel and her husband Nick root hard for Florida State football and have a dog named Hooch (part beagle/part monster). She loves books and rereads the Harry Potter series annually—she’s even led classes at Eastside on the boy wizard and the gospel. In her spare time, Rachel also enjoys hiking, traveling, and photography.


Allison Burnette

Allison Burnette

Social Media Manager, MDiv '23

Hometown: Tallahassee, FL

Alma mater: Florida State University (BS in Advertising and International Affairs)

Fun fact: I lived in London for 9 months during and after college but have been told my attempts at a British accent are terrible.

Why did you choose Candler? I was really drawn to the contextual education element. I loved knowing I could make an impact and get hands on experience from day one.

What do you love about Candler? My classmates are all so interesting. We come from different cities, countries, backgrounds, careers, and experiences, each of which give us a unique lens with which we are approaching the content. What seems obvious to them is groundbreaking to me and vice versa.

What do you love about Atlanta? I love that Atlanta is a city of neighborhoods. Each one is so unique and has a great deal of local pride, which really appeals to me. Each time I've moved to a different part of the city, I've enjoyed discovering the nearby coffee shops and pocket parks that make it feel like home.


Julia Falgout

Housing Coordinator, MDiv '23

Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia

Alma mater: Young Harris College (BS in Psychology with a Religious Studies minor)

Fun fact: During college, she studied abroad in Italy, which gave her a deep passion and appreciation for different cultures. The experience also led her to serve as a young adult missionary in Warsaw, Poland through The UMC’s General Board of Global Ministries Young Adult Service Program.

What do you bring to the housing coordinator position? At Candler, Julia lives with fellow students in the Park Avenue Baptist Church formation community. As an Atlanta native, her love and knowledge of her home city makes Julia a perfect resource to help incoming students find housing that meets their needs.


Deanna Ferree Womack

Deanna Womack

Associate Professor of History of Religions and Interfaith Studies; Chair of Admissions and Scholarship Committee

Raised in the small farming town of Nevada, Missouri, Deanna cultivated a passion for studying world Christianity and multifaith relations through her church. With a Presbyterian pastor for a father, she met people from all over and found religion as a way to connect with the wider world. She earned her BA at Macalester College with a degree in international studies and religious studies and then deepened her understanding of Christian-Muslim relations at Princeton Theological Seminary. Ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA), Deanna taught in Lebanon for two years—where she fostered a lifelong love of Middle Eastern food—before returning to PTS to complete her doctoral work. In her spare time, she tinkers in her herb garden and enjoys watching the Marvel movies with her family (they once dressed up as Avengers for their church Trunk-or-Treat!). And if you take her class on Islam in America, you’ll find the latest Ms. Marvel graphic novel on the syllabus, featuring a Pakistani-American Muslim as the titular superhero—Deanna’s read all 10!


Admissions Interns

Emily Elder

Emily Elder, MDiv '22

Hometown: Vienna, Austria, and Philadelphia, PA

Alma mater: University of Virginia (religious studies and German studies)

Fun fact: Lived in Vienna, where her parents were missionaries, until 3rd grade

What do you love about Candler? "So far, I love how different the students and professors are from each other, but how they remain united in their passion for the church and theological studies!"

What do you love about Atlanta? "I love how green Atlanta is, and how many parks there are to explore. I like walking the Beltline and grabbing a snack at Ponce City Market, or biking the Silver Comet Trail with a picnic packed. It feels like there’s always something fun going on in this city."


David Fitzer

David Fitzer, MDiv '23

Hometown: Long Island, New York

Alma mater: Bethune-Cookman University (music major with a minor in business administration)

Fun fact: Classically trained vocalist; loves travel and trying different cuisines.

Areas of study at Candler: Dual Master's degree in Business Administration and Divinity

Why did you choose Candler? Finding a place that shared in my morals and values was very important to me. Candler proves daily to be a place that accepts everyone as they enter the program; being surrounded by faculty and staff that push each student to be greater in their ministerial journey truly inspires me to be greater. 

Activities at Candler: The Candler Singers


Trelenny Joiner

Trelenny Joiner, MDiv '23

Hometown: Pensacola, FL

Alma mater: Spelman College

Fun fact: I spent two weeks in Ghana on vacation.

What do you love about Candler? I love the professors.

Why did you choose Candler? I was interested in the Contextual Education program.


Jared Ramos

Jared Ramos, MDiv '22

Hometown: Rosenberg, TX (in the Houston area)

Alma mater: Texas A&M University! Whoop! (Leadership Studies)

Fun fact: I only drink iced lattes, even in the dead of winter.

Areas of study: religious education and spiritual formation

What do you love about Candler? I love the diversity of students and the way that Candler makes space for everyone! I have found such a deep community here and have discovered so much about myself!

What do you love about Atlanta? The city is so much bigger than anywhere else that I have lived! I love the fast paced nature and the energy of all the different people and art that the city holds! 


Student Ambassadors

Trey Davis

Trey Davis, MDiv '23

Hometown: Shreveport, Louisiana

Alma mater: Centenary College of Louisiana (history and music)

Activities at Candler: Sacred Worth; Black Student Caucus; Candler Coordinating Council; Episcopal and Anglican Studies Program; Candler Sings; Worship Planning

Why do you love Candler? "Its commitment to intentional community, the personal nature of our school experience, the academic rigor and the fact Emory is an all-around incredible educational institution. Knowing that I’m doing something bigger than myself keeps me committed to my studies!"

What do you love about Atlanta? "Metro-Atlanta is so sprawling and so diverse in terms of its culture. My favorite places to visit are coffee shops, art museums, restaurants, and music shops!"


Margaret Kuester

Margaret Kuester, MDiv '22

Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia

Alma mater: Samford University (international relations and French double major)

Why do you love Candler? “Candler introduced me to some of my favorite people. I’ve never felt more welcomed or loved for who I am than by those I met at Candler. The community I have built at Candler has been academic support as well as emotional and spiritual support throughout my time, and I look forward to being friends for life.”

What do you love about Atlanta? “I really enjoy museums and dining out, and Atlanta is a great city for that.”

Impactful class and professor: Womanist Feminist Spirituality and Worship with Dr. Khalia J. Williams


Justala Simpson

Justala Simpson, MDiv '23

Hometown: Montgomery, Alabama

Alma mater: Huntingdon College (religion major with minors in history and political science)

Activities at Candler: Office of Worship; Voices of Imani

Why do you love Candler? “Candler is a community that truly lends itself to the people in and around it. This, by all accounts, is the driving force behind my dedication to seeking truth and caring for my neighbor. Ministry mandates that and I am eager about what this journey will unfold in my life.”

ConEd Site: Lee Arrendale State Prison


Noah Ward

Noah Ward, MDiv '22

Denomination: Presbyterian Church (USA)

Hometown: Springfield, MO

Alma mater: Baylor University (studied political science and philosophy)

Fun fact: When he's not studying, you'll find him running or working on his Dungeons and Dragons campaign.

Con Ed I site: Gwinnett Medical Center

What do you love about Candler? "Candler has provided me a terrific chance to balance both academics and hands on experience. It constantly challenges us to integrate these two vital parts of seminary education. Through this duel focus I think I have not just become a better student, but also a better caregiver."