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?

Tammy Lane

Associate Director of Financial Aid and Admissions

Tammy comes to Candler’s Office of Admissions and Financial Aid team from Prairie View, Texas, where she served in Prairie View A&M University’s admissions office for over 10 years. She holds an MS degree in higher education/student affairs and a BS in early childhood education, and is currently pursuing her PhD in educational leadership. Tammy describes her scholarship as “devoted to advocating for the marginalized,” and her research explores DEI issues around women and men of color in academia, LGBTQ+ students, and financial aid access at HBCUs.  

When she’s not working or studying, Tammy enjoys reading (two of her favorites are Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk and Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina), spending time with her loveable pups Foxie Brown and Kawala Bear, traveling, and eating cake (especially buttery yellow cake with chocolate frosting). And if you want to improve your crossword skills, let her know! She’s a self-proclaimed fanatic of the game Word Crossy, and has a nightly ritual of solving no fewer than five puzzles before she goes to sleep.

Tayler Johnson

Tayler Johnson

Admissions Advisor

Tayler is a native Texan, though he likes to claim that he is a Georgia boy now. Having spent his life bouncing between a farm and the beach, he thinks this has given him the perfect balance of diligent work and living in the moment. He earned his BS in communication studies from the University of Texas at Austin (Hook ’em Horns!) and his MDiv from Candler. Tayler has served in variety of ministry settings including nonprofits, youth ministry, campus ministry, and in the local church as a pastor-in-charge. Currently, Tayler is a provisional elder in The United Methodist Church. Outside of the office, Tayler loves going to baseball games, watching college football, playing trivia, hiking, making the perfect cup of coffee, and just being with people (or dogs). His Enneagram 2 personality is especially evident in his work here at Candler, as he is genuinely invested in helping others.

Emily Miles

Admissions Advisor

Hailing from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Emily graduated from Appalachian State University in 2016 with a BA in Religious Studies and a minor in Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies. In 2020, she graduated from Candler with a Master of Divinity and a certificate in Faith and Health. Emily is now a Provisional Deacon in The United Methodist Church, and she is excited to use her gifts within the Candler community. Emily also leads fitness and yoga classes, and is an experienced health and wellness advocate. Her leadership and experiences in the academy, the church, and the fitness industry connect her with people from a wide range of backgrounds, interests, and goals. When Emily is not in the office, you will find her reading, crushing another Peloton workout, soaking up some sun, and hanging out with her husband (and fellow Candler grad), Josh.

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.

Admissions Interns

Brandon Brown

Brandon Brown, MDiv '24

Candler Housing Coordinator

Hometown: Charleston, South Carolina

Alma mater: Claflin University, Orangeburg, South Carolina, where I majored in political science and religion and philosophy with a minor in African studies.

Fun fact:  I'm a foodie at heart and love to create new dishes mixed with my southern roots.

What do you love about Candler? If I had to pick one thing, it would be the mentorship provided by professors and senior students.

Activities at Candler: Black Student Caucus

What do you love about Atlanta? The diversity—there is something for everyone regardless of interest.

Inyoung Cho

Inyoung Cho, MDiv '24

Hometown: Seoul, Korea

Alma mater:Methodist Theological University

Fun fact: One very memorable winter, I went to Mongolia and rode a horse the entire day.

What do you love about Candler? I love the people in Candler, how they are warm in personality and passionate about their studies.

Activities at Candler: The Candler Singers

What do you love about Atlanta? I cannot choose only one. Every class that I have taken and am currently taking broadens my horizon in theological studies not only academically, but also faith wise.

What do you love about Atlanta? I love that I can always see the blue skies and stay warm in the wintertime compared to back home in Korea.

Cameron Cunningham

Cameron Cunningham, MDiv '22

Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio

Alma mater: Morehouse College (Religion)

Fun fact: I have a deep love for cooking and grilling.

What do you love about Candler? I love having the opportunity to study and learn from the world-class faculty and theologians.

Areas of study at Candler? Black Liberation Theology

Activities at Candler: Baptist Studies Program 

Impactful class and professor: The most impactful class I took at Candler is Systematic Theology. The most impactful professor has been Dr. Noel Erskine

Emily Elder

Emily Elder, MDiv '22

Hometown: Vienna, Austria, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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

Fun fact: Lived in Vienna, where my 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

Alley Masocco

Alley Masocco, MTS '23

Hometown: Miami, Florida

Alma mater:The University of Miami, where I studied biology and religious studies.

Fun fact: My favorite music group is the Black Eyed Peas (with Fergie). I went to their last concert as a group in 2011.

Areas of study at Candler: Master of Theological Studies focused in Modern Religious Thought and Experience and Master of Public Health focused in Health Policy and Management.

What do you love about Candler? I love the freedom of the MTS degree, which allows me to take various classes in different departments and schools at Emory! For example, I take classes in the Department of Sociology, at Emory University School of Law, and at Rollins School of Public Health.

What do you love about Atlanta? I love the Ponce City Market food hall and shops!

Aaron Miller

Aaron Miller, MDiv '24

Hometown: Rogers, Arkansas

Alma mater: Pittsburg State University, Kansas (Finance and Economics with a minor in Graphic Design)

Fun fact: I am a big racing fan, especially of NASCAR!

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

Why did you choose Candler? I chose Candler because the community stood out to me more than anywhere else and because of Atlanta, too, which I love for the immense amount of opportunity and diversity present here!

Jared Ramos

Jared Ramos, MDiv '22

Hometown: Rosenberg, Texas (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

Anna Clark

Anna Clark, MDiv/MSW '25

Hometown: Wise, Virginia

Alma maters: Baylor University (studied English Literature, Poverty Studies, Social Justice) and Christian Brothers University (Masters in Education)

Fun fact: When I’m not studying or in class, I am most likely walking my dog in the area surrounding Emory, reading a novel for book club, or cross stitching.

Favorite things: Freshly-baked oatmeal chocolate chip cookies; pour over coffee; and biking as public transportation (though the Atlanta hills have me rethinking that passion).

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!

Theneshia Dixon

Theneshia Dixon, MDiv '22

Denomination: UMC

Hometown: Glen Cove, New York

Alma maters: Stony Brook University (Bachelors in Psychology) and Georgia State University (Masters in Early Childhood Eduation)

Why do you love Candler? I love Candler's multicultural and multi-religious student population. I love how often I am encouraged and supported by my classmates.

Taylor Gaskins

Taylor Gaskins, MDiv '24

Hometown: Washington, D.C.

Alma mater: Grinnell College (studied English, Spanish, and Education)

Fun fact: When I’m not in class, you'll find me watching movies or binge-watching tv shows. One might also find me singing karaoke, taking a walk, reading a book or writing for fun! 

Favorite things: "A Walk to Remember" (yes, I’m a Nicholas Sparks fan); Jonathan Ogden and his band, Rivers and Robots; Twix; the color pink; Saturday mornings

William Smith

William Smith, MDiv '24

Hometown: I have lived in different parts of Georgia, but I consider Clayton County to be my home. I love the nature trails and boba tea places here!

Alma maters: I attended Gordon State College, Clayton State University, and the University of Georgia. I have an AB in religion from UGA.

Fun fact: My favorite thing to do is spend time with friends and family, but I also love taking walks, creating art, and playing video games. 

Favorite quote: "May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears." - Nelson Mandela

Noah Ward

Noah Ward, MDiv '22

Denomination: Presbyterian Church (USA)

Hometown: Springfield, Missouri

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

Fun fact: When I'm not studying, you'll find me running or working on my Dungeons and Dragons campaign.

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 dual focus I think I have not just become a better student, but also a better caregiver.

Gabrielle Wilkinson

Gabrielle Wilkinson, MDiv '24

Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia

Alma mater: Texas Christian University (Speech-Language Pathology)

Fun fact: When I'm not studying or in class, you'll find me hanging with people (I'm a mega-extrovert) or reading in a coffee shop.

Favorite things: "Law & Order SVU;" Sour Punch strawsl Flume; "Perks of Being a Wallflower" (the movie); "Transformers" (1-3); Coffee; VW buses; the color green