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?

Roger Butler

Roger Butler

Assistant Director of Admissions, Operations and Communication

Roger hails from the south Georgia town of Claxton, also known as “the fruitcake capital of the world”—though he admits he’s not a big fan of fruitcake. He joins the Candler team after serving for several years in admissions at Georgia Southern University’s Armstrong campus (formerly Armstrong Atlantic State University) in Savannah. Roger received his BA in Political Science from Albany State University, and went on to earn his Master of Education in Adult Education and Community Leadership with a concentration in Human Resources from Armstrong. He is a member of the international honor society for education, Kappa Delta Pi, and was twice awarded Armstrong’s Above and Beyond Service Award as a staff person. Roger’s cheerful nature is evident as soon as you meet him, and even shines through in cyberspace—don’t be surprised if he ends an e-mail wishing you a “Marvelous Monday” or a “Wonderful Wednesday” (send him a message on Tuesday, Thursday or Friday to find out the rest)! Outside the office, Roger loves to play and watch tennis. If pressed to pick a favorite player—hey, it’s hard—he’ll always cheer for Serena Williams on the women’s side and Novak Djokovic on the men’s.

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 Daniel

Admissions Analyst

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.

Joel LeMon

Joel LeMon

Associate Professor of Old Testament; Chair of Admissions and Scholarship Committee

Joel has been making his mark at Candler ever since he joined the faculty in 2007. An ordained elder in the Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church, he felt called to ministry since he was a teenager and earned his MDiv from Princeton Theological Seminary and his PhD from Emory’s Graduate Division of Religion, where he now serves as Associate Director. But he’s not only a great professor and an able administrator—he’s also an avid musician with a BA in trumpet from the Shenandoah Conservatory of Music. You can often find him lending his musical skills to Candler worship services, and if you go to the popular Oakhurst Porchfest or other venues around town, you might even see him playing banjo and harmonica. His love and study of music have been integral to his work as a biblical scholar and a teacher (how many profs start their intro to OT classes with a rousing ancient Hebrew chorus?). And Joel carries that joy beyond the classroom; word has it that he frequently treats his fellow faculty members to committee reports in the form of poems.

Sarah Pinson

Assistant Director of Admissions

Sarah grew up in Bamberg, South Carolina, and comes to Candler with years of admissions experience under her belt as a staff member at Vanderbilt University and the College of Charleston. She received her BA in religion from Davidson College, went on to earn her MDiv from Vanderbilt—with a focus on food, hospitality, and Christian ethics—and also holds a certificate in sustainable agriculture from the College of Charleston. If it’s not clear from the previous sentence that spirituality and food are passions for Sarah, how about this? She has two (small) tattoos of the symbols for bread and yeast, referencing the Genesis 18 passage when Sarah makes bread for three visitors and the Luke 13 parable of the yeast. She loves cooking, baking, hosting dinner parties, and checking out new restaurants, so be sure to ask about her favorite spots in Atlanta. When she’s not reading applications, on a recruitment visit, or hunting for a new culinary challenge, Sarah can be found writing or running (short distances only—one half marathon was enough!).

Student Workers

Sarah Gresham Barr, MDiv '21

Hometown: Nashville, TN/Jackson, MS

Fun Fact: Coffee is her love language--making, drinking, and sharing it!

Timothy Elofson, MDiv '21

Timothy Eloson

Hometown: Mansfield, MA

Fun Fact: Avid coffee drinker since age 3!


Katelyn Hayes, MDiv '21

Katelyn Hayes

Hometown: Decatur, AL

Fun Fact: Grew up on a small farm with 20 cows.


LaRyssa Herrington, MDiv '20

LaRyssa Herrington

Hometown: Tolono, IL

Fun Fact: Is a certified Open Water Scuba Diver.


Student Ambassadors

Brad Biggerstaff, MDiv '19

Brad Biggerstaff

Denomination: UMC

Hometown: Nashville, TN

Fun Fact: Has been active in six different denominations at various times in his life.

Danielle Campbell, MDiv '20

Danielle Campbell

Denomination: Seventh-day Adventist

Hometown: Williamsburg, VA

Fun Fact: Loves Latin dancing and Caribbean food.

Amy Chatelaine, MDiv '20

Amy Chatelaine


Hometown: Owatonna, MN

Fun Fact: Channels creativity through making mixtapes.

Ben Fletcher, MDiv '21

Ben Fletcher

Denomination: UMC

Hometown: Summerville, SC

Fun Fact: Solo backpacked 52 miles in the European Alps.

Bridget Hall, MDiv '19

Bridget Hall

Denomination: UMC

Hometown: Greensboro, NC

Fun Fact: Almost minored in art

Seul Bin (Sunny) Lee, MDiv '21

Sunny Lee

Denomination: UMC

Hometown: Gwan-ju, South Korea

Fun Fact: Loves dancing and yoga.

Donnell Williamson, Jr., MDiv '19

Donnell Williamson, Jr.

Denomination: Baptist

Hometown: Shelby, NC

Fun Fact: Lived in Germany for a year as a Candler exchange student, and spent Easter at the Vatican while he was there.

Shari Ponder, MDiv '19

Shari Ponder

Denomination: UMC

Hometown: St. Louis, MO (Ferguson)

Fun Fact: A peace promoter, humanity reclaimer, and presence builder. The Edna Mode of Candler. Loves Jesus...but no capes!

Jon-Philippe Ruhumuliza, MTS '20


Denomination: Seventh-day Adventist

Hometown: Berrien Springs, MI

Fun Fact: Loves taking his two sons to the park and digging through historical archives.

Maddie Russo, MDiv '20

Maddie Russo

Denomination: UMC

Hometown: Shreveport, LA

Fun Fact: Loves traveling, Italian food, movies, and pugs.