2016-2018 Chaplain Research Fellows

We are pleased to introduce our first cohort of Chaplain Research Fellows. Selected from a competitive national pool of applicants, this year’s Fellows represent an exciting array of research and research interests.


Marilyn Barnes The Rev Marilyn J D Barnes, MA, BCC, is an ordained minister in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church. She earned her MA in Pastoral Care and Counseling from Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL. Additionally, she holds a BS and an MS in Computer Science. Co-author with Kevin Massey et al. of What do I do? Developing a taxonomy of chaplaincy activities and interventions for spiritual care in intensive care unit palliative care, Rev Barnes’ research contributed to the development of normative language for chaplains to communicate their daily work. Marilyn is pursuing her Fellowship education at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health Division of Epidemiology and Biostatics MPH Program.





John Betz

The Rev John Michael Betz, MDiv, BCC, CT, comes to the Fellowship program with ten-plus years of spiritual care experience with people of all faiths and traditions in diverse settings. For the past five years, he served as Staff Chaplain at Hospice of Hope in Maysville, Kentucky. Chaplain John is also an Airborne Chaplain with the U.S. Army Reserves in the 412th Civil Affairs Battalion where he contributed to research in the area of capability of Religious Leader Engagement. As a Board Certified Chaplain with the Association of Professional Chaplains – with a certificate in Thanatology with the Association for Death Education and Counseling – John is in the MPH program at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Medicine where he is studying coping and resiliency to improve outcomes among healthcare workers in fields with high occurrences of dying and bereavement.




Allison DeLaneyAllison DeLaney, MA, BCC, PT, has over 17 years of healthcare experience as both a physical therapist and Board Certified Chaplain. Most recently, Allison served as a chaplain and bereavement coordinator at Hospice House and Support Care of Williamsburg. While an MPH in Epidemiology student at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Medicine, she plans to pursue her research interests in how evidence-based spiritual care assists not only chaplains with promoting their work as part of an integrated team of healthcare professionals, but also other religious and lay persons to access supportive, customized spiritual support during patient illness when customized care is a crucial part of hospitalizations.




Tim FordTim Ford, MA, MS is a faculty researcher and instructor in professional spiritual care for the Virginia Commonwealth University Health System in Richmond, Virginia. As the first full-time Palliative Care Chaplain in the nation, he spent 10 years with the Thomas Palliative Care team at the Massey Cancer Center. Tim is also a lay-ordained Kagyu Buddhist and is often called upon to be an interfaith voice in community discussions of spirituality, healthcare, and multiculturalism. As part of the Honoring Choices Virginia project, Tim is now trained as an advanced care planning facilitator and instructor. Tim is attending Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Medicine where he will earn an MPH in Epidemiology. He plans to concentrate his research on the public health outcomes of advanced care planning. For more about his interests in patient outcomes, see page 7 of VCU’s The Spirit Newsletter July 2016.





Patricia PalmerRev Patricia K. Palmer, MDiv, BCC, is an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister who came to ministry at mid-life. After a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering and a successful career as an environmental consultant, Rev Palmer earned an MDiv from Emory University. Following clinical pastoral training, she was retained at Emory University Hospital as the Spiritual Health Oncology Fellow to provide spiritual care to patients, families and staff in both outpatient and inpatient oncology settings and to develop research knowledge and experience.  Rev Palmer is earning an MS in Public Health with a focus in epidemiology at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health where she will focus on spiritual care at end-of-life and chaplaincy interventions targeting those who are religiously unaffiliated.




Geila RajaeeRev Geila Rajaee, MDiv, BCC is a Board Certified Chaplain through the Association of Professional Chaplains and Ordained to Word and Sacrament in the Evangelical Covenant Church. After serving as an oncology chaplain she became interested in the needs of adolescent and young adult patients and how their spiritual/existential beliefs impact their coping and overall quality of life. She completed her MDiv at Princeton Theological Seminary and BA in Sociology and Community Development at Spring Arbor University. Geila is working on an MPH in Health Behavior and Education at the University of Michigan. In her free time she enjoys playing board games, reading a good mystery, and tending to her flock of chickens.




Beba TataBeba Tata, MDiv, MS, BCC, achieved a degree in Environmental Management and went on to counsel HIVIAIDS patients in Cameroun before travelling to the United States in 2009. Beba earned her MDiv at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, California and a Master of Patient Counseling at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. Beba completed CPE residencies from St. Elizabeth Psychiatric Hospital in Washington, DC and at VCU. Beba is currently a chaplain at Mayo Clinic Rochester, Minnesota. While earning her MPH in Community Health Promotion at the University of Minnesota, Beba is exploring the role of interdisciplinary teams in providing care to patients in crises and nurses’ coping with distress. For more information about her interests, see this article in the Courier.




Kelsey WhiteRev Kelsey Blankenship White, MDiv, BCC is a chaplain with Norton Healthcare in Louisville, KY. Originally from Lexington, KY, White joined Norton from the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital System where she served as the first outpatient chaplain for the Kirklin Clinic. White earned a BA in Religion from Transylvania University and an MDiv from Union Theological Seminary. Her professional interests include outpatient chaplaincy and the possible relationships between oncology and palliative care. During her MSc in Clinical Investigational Sciences at the University of Louisville’s School of Public Health & Information Services, she plans to study the possibilities of cross-continuum pastoral care and modes to refine pastoral skillsets.  White recently celebrated the birth of her first child, Hayden.  He occupies most of her time, but she also enjoys hiking with her husband, Nolan, and her dog, Macks. She recently took up archery and photography and is an avid University of Kentucky and New York Giants fan.