MEET OUR

STAFF

Building Community
Beyond the Classroom

The Enrollment & Student Affairs staff creates experiences, programs, and initiatives designed to connect with, empower, and prepare students for life and ministry beyond the seminary.

From our passionate and engaging admissions team to our imaginative and pastoral student life programs to our outstanding Center for Academic Literacy, Columbia believes transformative academic learning takes place in, but is not limited to, the classroom.

Here, we take seriously the task of creating a broad web of support that ensures students’ success. And we like to have some fun while doing it! We are eager to partner with you on your journey to and through Columbia Theological Seminary. Get to know our staff below.

Meet Our Team!
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PHONE

404-687-4517

OFFICE

CH210 / Box 6F

Rev. Matthew B. Rich

Interim Director, Admissions Operations & International Student Advisor

A love for the transformational possibilities in theological education and his own seminary experience led Matt from congregational ministry to Columbia in 2011. As a do-it-all admissions professional, Matt enjoys both the technical side of day-to-day operations and being a pastoral presence for colleagues and prospective students. With roots in the Baptist churches of North Alabama and South Tennessee, Matt studied Religion, Congregational Studies, and Classics at Samford University before completing his MDiv at Emory University's Candler School of Theology. Matt loves nature photography, gadgets, and is an armchair meteorologist. His days at home are full of outside play, reading, and making music with his wife Deedra and their two young daughters.

PHONE

404-687-4517

OFFICE

CH210 / Box 6F

Rev. Matthew B. Rich

Interim Director, Admissions Operations & International Student Advisor

A love for the transformational possibilities in theological education and his own seminary experience led Matt from congregational ministry to Columbia in 2011. As a do-it-all admissions professional, Matt enjoys both the technical side of day-to-day operations and being a pastoral presence for colleagues and prospective students. With roots in the Baptist churches of North Alabama and South Tennessee, Matt studied Religion, Congregational Studies, and Classics at Samford University before completing his MDiv at Emory University's Candler School of Theology. Matt loves nature photography, gadgets, and is an armchair meteorologist. His days at home are full of outside play, reading, and making music with his wife Deedra and their two young daughters.

PHONE

404-687-4517

OFFICE

CH210 / Box 6F

Min. Natarsha P. Sanders

Connector

Natarsha joined the Columbia Admissions team in September 2020. She is absolutely delighted to serve as a Connector, helping prospective students discern their path to Seminary. The process of discernment is one she knows firsthand; Natasha is an alum of both Hollins University and North Carolina Central University. After firmly declaring that she was done with school forever, she decided to enroll in Columbia’s DEdMin program in 2018 - see how the Lord got the final say? When not doing “Columbia things,” you can find Natarsha all over her community seeking to live God’s call in Isaiah 1:17 - learning to do good, seeking justice, rescuing the oppressed, defending the orphan, and pleading for the widow. By her side through it all is Lorenzo, her husband of 17 years, whom Natarsha says is “the only one who could ever reach me!” Cue the queen, Aretha Franklin!

Min. Natarsha P. Sanders

Connector

Natarsha joined the Columbia admissions team in September 2020 and is absolutely delighted to serve as a Connector, helping prospective students discern their path to Seminary. That process of discernment is one she knows firsthand: Natarsha is an alum of both Hollins University and NC Central University, and after firmly declaring she was done with school forever, decided to enroll in Columbia's DEdMin program in 2018. "See how the Lord got the final say?!?" When not doing Columbia things, you can find Natarsha all over her community seeking to live God's call in Isaiah 1:17 - learning to do good, seeking justice, rescuing the oppressed, defending the orphan, and pleading for the widow. By her side through it all is her husband of 17 years, Lorenzo, who Natarsha says is "the only one who could ever reach me!" Cue the queen, Aretha Franklin!

Min. Ruben Jimenez-Abrams

Connector

Ruben currently serves as a Connector at Columbia Theological Seminary, collaborating with the admissions team in building relationships with prospective students. Additionally, he serves as a Staff Chaplain at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston, a level-1 trauma center, where he provides spiritual and emotional care for patients, families, and staff. Ruben received his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor where he double majored in Christian Studies and History. He went on to receive a Master of Divinity from McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University. Ruben is affiliated with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. His wife Linda and he reside just west of Atlanta in Austell, GA along with their two cats, Ramses and Apollo.

Min. Ruben Jimenez-Abrams

Connector

Ruben currently serves as a Connector at Columbia Theological Seminary, collaborating with the admissions team in building relationships with prospective students. Additionally, he serves as a Staff Chaplain at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston, a level-1 trauma center, where he provides spiritual and emotional care for patients, families, and staff. Ruben received his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor where he double majored in Christian Studies and History. He went on to receive a Master of Divinity from McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University. Ruben is affiliated with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. His wife Linda and he reside just west of Atlanta in Austell, GA along with their two cats, Ramses and Apollo.

Mrs. Sarah Kate Bumgarner

Connector

Sarah Kate is a lifelong Presbyterian, growing up as a PK (preacher’s kid) in churches throughout North Carolina and Southwest Florida. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Religion and Christian Education from Presbyterian College in 2012 and a Master of Arts in Practical Theology from Columbia in 2018. After a decade serving Atlanta-area churches in children’s ministry, Sarah Kate recently returned to Columbia as a Connector. She relishes the opportunity to continue serving in ministry and connecting with others while also devoting more time to her family as a full-time mom. Sarah Kate adores her husband Robert, whom she met while at Presbyterian College, and their two little girls. As a former student at Columbia, Sarah Kate experienced first-hand this warm, engaging, and diverse place and hopes to use that to support new students in their own seminary journey.

Mrs. Sarah Kate Bumgarner

Connector

Sarah Kate is a lifelong Presbyterian, growing up as a PK (preacher’s kid) in churches throughout North Carolina and Southwest Florida. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Religion and Christian Education from Presbyterian College in 2012 and a Master of Arts in Practical Theology from Columbia in 2018. After a decade serving Atlanta-area churches in children’s ministry, Sarah Kate recently returned to Columbia as a Connector. She relishes the opportunity to continue serving in ministry and connecting with others while also devoting more time to her family as a full-time mom. Sarah Kate adores her husband Robert, whom she met while at Presbyterian College, and their two little girls. As a former student at Columbia, Sarah Kate experienced first-hand this warm, engaging, and diverse place and hopes to use that to support new students in their own seminary journey.

Rev. Andy Casto-Waters

Connector

Andy has served in numerous pastoral capacities throughout South Carolina and Florida. Recently relocating to Augusta, Georgia, Andy is excited by the opportunity to connect with future Columbia students and help in their discernment. In addition to degrees from Wofford College and Union Presbyterian Seminary, Andy earned his Master of Divinity from Columbia in 2001. When not participating in Lifelong Learning events at CTS, you can most likely find him outdoors or watching some random athletic event. Andy’s wife Brandi is also a proud graduate of Columbia, and they have two adult daughters currently attending colleges in South Carolina.

Rev. Andy Casto-Waters

Connector

Andy has served in numerous pastoral capacities throughout South Carolina and Florida. Recently relocating to Augusta, Georgia, Andy is excited by the opportunity to connect with future Columbia students and help in their discernment. In addition to degrees from Wofford College and Union Presbyterian Seminary, Andy earned his Master of Divinity from Columbia in 2001. When not participating in Lifelong Learning events at CTS, you can most likely find him outdoors or watching some random athletic event. Andy’s wife Brandi is also a proud graduate of Columbia, and they have two adult daughters currently attending colleges in South Carolina.

PHONE

404-687-4522 

OFFICE

CH216 / Box 18F

Mr. David E. Buckingham

Vice President for Enrollment and Student Affairs

David hails from the Commonwealth of Virginia, the birthplace of eight United States Presidents. With a lengthy career in higher education, David’s life has been enriched by the many students, faculty and staff with whom he has worked. His first and most influential mentor was his late father, a theologian, humanitarian and Methodist minister who served churches throughout Virginia. That family legacy continues to animate and shape all that David does, including his work at Columbia to ensure students’ overall wellbeing. David is an avid runner and invites others to join in his daily five-mile run from his home on Columbia’s campus through the surrounding community. But be sure to set your alarm – his exercise routine typically begins at 5 AM!

PHONE

404-687-4522 

OFFICE

CH216 / Box 18F

Mr. David E. Buckingham

Vice President for Enrollment and Student Affairs

David hails from the Commonwealth of Virginia, the birthplace of eight United States Presidents. With a lengthy career in higher education, David’s life has been enriched by the many students, faculty and staff with whom he has worked. His first and most influential mentor was his late father, a theologian, humanitarian and Methodist minister who served churches throughout Virginia. That family legacy continues to animate and shape all that David does, including his work at Columbia to ensure students’ overall wellbeing. David is an avid runner and invites others to join in his daily five-mile run from his home on Columbia’s campus through the surrounding community. But be sure to set your alarm – his exercise routine typically begins at 5 AM!

PHONE

404-687-4522 

OFFICE

CH216 / Box 18F

PHONE

404-687-4664

OFFICE

CH214 / Box 18F

Rev. Karen Teresa Ricks

Interim Dean of Students

Katie Ricks is a 2002 Masters of Divinity (MDiv) graduate from our very own Columbia Seminary. She returned in the fall of 2016 after serving for several years in parish ministry. As Assistant Dean, she enjoys getting to journey with students as they discern their vocation, listen to God’s call, and seek out places to serve after graduating. Over the years, she has joined with colleagues to create Columbia’s robust Student Affairs & Community Life program. The program seeks to remind students of their humanity and of the God who called them to Columbia and who will strengthen, sustain, challenge and comfort them on this journey. Katie finds life in swimming, eating dark chocolate, and living in community with her mother and teenage daughter.

PHONE

404-687-4664

OFFICE

CH214 / Box 18F

Rev. Karen Teresa Ricks

Interim Dean of Students

Katie Ricks is a 2002 Masters of Divinity (MDiv) graduate from our very own Columbia Seminary. She returned in the fall of 2016 after serving for several years in parish ministry. As Assistant Dean, she enjoys getting to journey with students as they discern their vocation, listen to God’s call, and seek out places to serve after graduating. Over the years, she has joined with colleagues to create Columbia’s robust Student Affairs & Community Life program. The program seeks to remind students of their humanity and of the God who called them to Columbia and who will strengthen, sustain, challenge and comfort them on this journey. Katie finds life in swimming, eating dark chocolate, and living in community with her mother and teenage daughter.

PHONE

404-687-4664

OFFICE

CH214 / Box 18F

PHONE

404-687-4562

OFFICE

CH214 / Box 18F

Mrs. Felicia R. Thimas

Office Coordinator, Enrollment & Student Affairs

Felicia came to Columbia in June of 2018 from the world of Corporate America. She graduated from California State University, Long Beach with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. Felicia served in the U.S. Army Reserve for six years and spent nine months serving in Operation Joint Forge – a peacekeeping mission in Tuzla Main, Bosnia. She lives in Douglasville with her husband, daughter, and son. As the Office Coordinator, she works closely with the Dean of Students and assists the Enrollment of Student Affairs team and Columbia students with administrative needs. Off campus, she spends most of her time as a dance mom and football mom. She loves hosting family gatherings and weekly cookouts. She also loves exercising to Leslie Sansone’s walking videos and taking hikes in the woods.

PHONE

404-687-4562

OFFICE

CH214 / Box 18F

Mrs. Felicia R. Thimas

Office Coordinator, Enrollment & Student Affairs

Felicia came to Columbia in June of 2018 from the world of Corporate America. She graduated from California State University, Long Beach with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. Felicia served in the U.S. Army Reserve for six years and spent nine months serving in Operation Joint Forge – a peacekeeping mission in Tuzla Main, Bosnia. She lives in Douglasville with her husband, daughter, and son. As the Office Coordinator, she works closely with the Dean of Students and assists the Enrollment of Student Affairs team and Columbia students with administrative needs. Off campus, she spends most of her time as a dance mom and football mom. She loves hosting family gatherings and weekly cookouts. She also loves exercising to Leslie Sansone’s walking videos and taking hikes in the woods.

PHONE

404-687-4562

OFFICE

CH214 / Box 18F

PHONE

404-687-4673

OFFICE

CH212 / Box 18F

Mr. Khalfani A. Lawson

Associate Director, Student Life and International Student & Scholar Service

Khalfani is an Atlanta native and graduate of Kennesaw State University, where he studied political science, global affairs, and the African diaspora. After his time at KSU, Khalfani enrolled at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology and focused on religion and race. As a part of Columbia’s Student Affairs staff, Khalfani is responsible for fostering community and supporting international students and scholars. An avid cyclist, Khalfani enjoys spending time with his wife Whitney exploring Atlanta and finding reasons to be outside.

PHONE

404-687-4673

OFFICE

CH212 / Box 18F

Mr. Khalfani A. Lawson

Associate Director, Student Life and International Student & Scholar Service

Khalfani is an Atlanta native and graduate of Kennesaw State University, where he studied political science, global affairs, and the African diaspora. After his time at KSU, Khalfani enrolled at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology and focused on religion and race. As a part of Columbia’s Student Affairs staff, Khalfani is responsible for fostering community and supporting international students and scholars. An avid cyclist, Khalfani enjoys spending time with his wife Whitney exploring Atlanta and finding reasons to be outside.

PHONE

404-687-4673

OFFICE

CH212 / Box 18F

PHONE

404-687-4569

OFFICE

Box 9F

Rev. Alina C. Bowie

Director, Residence Life

Alina was born and raised in Long Island, New York and relocated to Georgia to attend Oglethorpe University. Her connections to Columbia run deep: Alina earned an MDiv here in 2021 and currently serves as the Director of Residence Life, providing supportive structures and systems which create a healthy, safe, welcoming, and deeply intentional community for all those who live on campus. She also serves as an Associate Minister at Providence Missionary Baptist Church, a congregation she was initially introduced to while fulfilling her Supervised Ministry requirement in Columbia's MDiv program. Alina finds joy in exploring the Atlanta restaurant scene and has been dubbed the restaurant recommendation aficionado by her friends and family.

PHONE

404-687-4569

OFFICE

Box 9F

Rev. Alina C. Bowie

Director, Residence Life

Alina was born and raised in Long Island, New York and relocated to Georgia to attend Oglethorpe University. Her connections to Columbia run deep: Alina earned an MDiv here in 2021 and currently serves as the Director of Residence Life, providing supportive structures and systems which create a healthy, safe, welcoming, and deeply intentional community for all those who live on campus. She also serves as an Associate Minister at Providence Missionary Baptist Church, a congregation she was initially introduced to while fulfilling her Supervised Ministry requirement in Columbia's MDiv program. Alina finds joy in exploring the Atlanta restaurant scene and has been dubbed the restaurant recommendation aficionado by her friends and family.

PHONE

404-687-4569

OFFICE

Box 9F

PHONE

404-687-4582

OFFICE

CH204 / Box 36F

Ms. Carlene A. Knights

Director, Student Financial Services

Affectionately known around campus as “Bishop Free Money,” Carlene uses her 20 years of experience working in financial aid to help students find creative ways to afford their education. As the daughter of a Bishop, Carlene saw firsthand how the careful management of financial resources could have a major affect on a ministry’s vitality and impact. Assisting students with their personal finances and helping them build skills to manage money effectively is a passion that brings Carlene joy. Her door is almost always open, so be sure to stop by when you have a chance. If the door is closed, she may be watching a ballgame (“sports are my second love, behind Christ,” she says) or off using her beautiful voice to sing with Columbia’s gospel choir.

PHONE

404-687-4582

OFFICE

CH204 / Box 36F

Ms. Carlene A. Knights

Director, Student Financial Services

Affectionately known around campus as “Bishop Free Money,” Carlene uses her 20 years of experience working in financial aid to help students find creative ways to afford their education. As the daughter of a Bishop, Carlene saw firsthand how the careful management of financial resources could have a major affect on a ministry’s vitality and impact. Assisting students with their personal finances and helping them build skills to manage money effectively is a passion that brings Carlene joy. Her door is almost always open, so be sure to stop by when you have a chance. If the door is closed, she may be watching a ballgame (“sports are my second love, behind Christ,” she says) or off using her beautiful voice to sing with Columbia’s gospel choir.

PHONE

404-687-4582

OFFICE

CH204 / Box 36F

PHONE

404-687-4633

OFFICE

CH201 / Box 29F

Mr. Isaiah Lewis

Director, Center for Academic Literacy

Isaiah arrived at Columbia in August 2021 as the Director of the Center for Academic Literacy, where he helps students reach their goals inside and beyond the classroom. He is from Chester, West Virginia, home of the world’s largest teapot, and graduated from Agnes Scott College and Candler School of Theology. In addition to coaching seminarians, he has worked with middle schoolers, incarcerated students, and folks in transitional housing. He is a big fan of big questions and is equally enthused about attempts to answer them. In his free time, Isaiah enjoys baking, listening to and making podcasts, and writing fiction.

PHONE

404-687-4633

OFFICE

CH201 / Box 29F

Mr. Isaiah Lewis

Director, Center for Academic Literacy

Isaiah arrived at Columbia in August 2021 as the Director of the Center for Academic Literacy, where he helps students reach their goals inside and beyond the classroom. He is from Chester, West Virginia, home of the world’s largest teapot, and graduated from Agnes Scott College and Candler School of Theology. In addition to coaching seminarians, he has worked with middle schoolers, incarcerated students, and folks in transitional housing. He is a big fan of big questions and is equally enthused about attempts to answer them. In his free time, Isaiah enjoys baking, listening to and making podcasts, and writing fiction.

PHONE

404-687-4633

OFFICE

CH201 / Box 29F

PHONE

404-687-4632

OFFICE

CH201 / Box 29F

Dr. Tuli Ghosh

Academic Coach/Multilingual Specialist

Tuli Ghosh joined the Center for Academic Literacy (CAL) in 2019 after an almost 30-year career as a university professor. She loves her current job, which entails helping students write better, think more critically and speak more effectively in a judgement-free space. Tuli was born in India’s Himalayan region and came to the United States as an international student. She cleverly studied for a Master’s Degree and a Ph.D. in Media Studies so she could watch TV all day and still claim to be studying. Today, she is CAL’s Multilingual Specialist and a Coach. Outside of her CAL duties, Tuli loves hiking and being a caretaker to her two rescue puppies.

PHONE

404-687-4632

OFFICE

CH201 / Box 29F

Dr. Tuli Ghosh

Academic Coach, Multilingual Specialist

Tuli Ghosh joined the Center for Academic Literacy (CAL) in 2019 after an almost 30-year career as a university professor. She loves her current job, which entails helping students write better, think more critically and speak more effectively in a judgement-free space. Tuli was born in India’s Himalayan region and came to the United States as an international student. She cleverly studied for a Master’s Degree and a Ph.D. in Media Studies so she could watch TV all day and still claim to be studying. Today, she is CAL’s Multilingual Specialist and a Coach. Outside of her CAL duties, Tuli loves hiking and being a caretaker to her two rescue puppies.

PHONE

404-687-4632

OFFICE

CH201 / Box 29F

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