About Us

The Rev. Valerie Bailey Fischer, Chaplain to the College and Protestant Chaplain

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As Chaplain to the College, I am here with the Chaplain’s Office team for all students of all faith traditions, or no faith tradition or practitioners and thinkers who focus on the essence of being, without the use of religion. My interfaith experiences in previous positions have always been rich opportunities to grow as a person and a world citizen. These interfaith experiences have led to opportunities to respond with others to the needs of the marginalized or those in crisis.

A special concern about the rights of marginalized persons is also part of my religious experience and practice. This concern and practices related to social engagement have been balanced with an appreciation of how power and privilege can be redirected toward creating positive change in our society.

My own religious experience includes three strains of the U.S. Protestant experience: African American Pentecostal, Evangelical, and Episcopal. After college, I worked as a newspaper reporter, a campus minister and returned to journalism. Later I attended seminary and became ordained in The Episcopal Church.

How about you? I want to hear your stories and how about your experiences (or lack of experiences) with faith and spirituality or even traditions that focus on being without the use of religion. Feel free to contact me with questions or concerns or just to talk.

Imam Sharif Rosen, Muslim Chaplain and Assistant Director, CLiA

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Here at Williams, I aspire to accompany students faithfully in their personal discovery (or rediscovery) of higher meaning in their lives.  While much of my interaction will be in service to the campus’ Muslim community, all students and colleagues are welcome to consider me a helping resource, and friend.

Rabbi Seth Wax, Jewish Chaplain

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Rabbi Seth grew up in the Boston area and has been on a search that has brought him through synagogues and Buddhist monasteries to divinity school and rabbinical school before coming to Williams College in the summer of 2017. He has a special interest in exploring how to live a meaningful, engaged life that is infused with learning, contemplation, community, and deep interfaith engagement. Before coming to Williams, he was the rabbi at Congregation Mount Sinai in Brooklyn Heights, NY. Say hi when you see him on campus, shoot him an email to meet for coffee, or just stop by his office to see if his super-friendly dog Ruby is in!

Tracy Finnegan, Catholic Program Coordinator

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Tracy’s studies in philosophy and theology as an undergraduate at Boston College grounded her passion for education and commitment to social justice. Together these threads have continued to inform her personal spiritual journey. After graduating, Tracy joined the Jesuit Volunteer Corps and moved to the Ft. Belknap Indian Reservation in Hays, MT to teach. She then taught at The Children’s Storefront on 129th street in NYC while earning her M.A.T. from Manhattanville College and later earned an M.A. in Philosophy and Education from Columbia University. She joined the Williams College community as Assistant Director for the College’s Center for Learning in Action, where she continues her work in social justice, leading an urban education program and coordinating poverty and food insecurity initiatives. As a new member of the Chaplains’ Office team, she is grateful for the opportunity and privilege to work alongside students as they navigate their spiritual and intellectual journeys, while cultivating a sense of meaningful belonging in the world. For Tracy, “Listening and being present to their needs and stories helps deepen and illuminate my understanding of  how God’s Holy presence continues to reveal Itself through these relationships and our daily encounter with one another.”

TBA: Temporary Administrative Assistant to the Chaplains

Temporary Administrative Assistant to the Chaplains
39 Chapin Hall Drive, Paresky Center
Williamstown, MA 01267

Religious advisers at Williams include Imam Sharif Rosen, Muslim Chaplain, Rabbi Seth Wax, Jewish Chaplain, and The Reverend Valerie Bailey Fischer, Chaplain to the College and Protestant Chaplain, and  Tracy Finnegan, Catholic Program Coordinator. The chaplains provide spiritual direction and counseling and seek to support and facilitate the growth and development of all students. See our Staff Directory for more contact information.
Regular worship services are conducted by many religious communities, including Protestant, Roman Catholic, Jewish, and Muslim. The Williams Meditation Society organizes daily meditation sessions, while Buddhists, Hindus, Baha’i, and others gather for occasional religious devotion. All student religious groups sponsor speakers, discussions, and workshops which are open to the College community. There is a considerable interfaith fellowship among the religious associations.

The Chaplains work closely with the Center for Learning in Action to support student efforts in community service and other needs in the surrounding community. The Chaplains’ Office handles requests for the use of the Jewish Religious Center and Thompson Memorial Chapel, including the Interfaith Common Room.