PhD Candidate at Rutgers University
Who is she: A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Kim Copeland received her BA from Spelman College and her Master of Divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary, where she received the John Alan Swink Prize for Excellence in Preaching in 2008. Kim is a licensed and ordained minister who is passionate about improving the lives of others through spiritual, social and economic empowerment. She provides specialized workshops and small groups on holistic health, job coaching, anger management and one-on-one support counseling. Kim is passionate about issues of social justice and community engagement on the challenges confronting urban families in the areas of health care, wellness, domestic violence, incarceration, education and chronic unemployment. In furtherance of her mission to serve as an advocate for critical community issues, she currently serves as a Ralph Bunche Fellow and a Pre-Doctoral Leadership Fellow at Rutgers University in pursuit of her Doctorate in Criminal Justice. She is also the 2011 recipient of the School of Criminal Justices’ Dean’s Research Award.
Prior to Rutgers, Kim served as the Director of Ujima Urban Women Center in Trenton New Jersey until July 2010. Ujima Urban Women Center was a community outreach program that targeted at-risk women, including ex-offenders, for counseling, mentoring and job skills training. The programming was aimed at promoting personal independence and community efficacy. In this role, Kim used her skills as a minister and former corporate professional to encourage women to regain confidence in their ability to change their lives and break cycles of abuse and negative self- perception. By leading the Center’s hallmark initiatives for re-entry support, adult literacy, support group counseling and domestic violence prevention, Kim witnessed first-hand the crises in faith that African-American women can experience due to personal challenges which stem from difficult social circumstances.
The Women Center closed in 2010, due to state-wide funding cuts; but among her ongoing commitments to women is “The Vagina Project.” Kim is the founder of “The Vagina Project”: an arts and crafts workshop meant to promote healthy attitudes towards the body, and reinvigorate the relationship that women have with this veiled part of their anatomy. The workshop, which has grown by word-of-mouth, was developed to reconcile faith and sexuality – towards the goal of promoting physical and emotional health; particularly amongst women of color. Kim has facilitated this workshop in churches, on college campuses, in community centers, halfway houses, domestic violence shelters, and with ladies social clubs around the country. In 2012 Kim was invited to be a panelist at Yale University’s Black Solidarity Conference, speaking on the topic of “Reconciling Black Faith and Black Sexuality.” Kim fully believes that it is time to broach these subjects without shame; the psycho-emotional, spiritual, relational and physical health of the Black community is at stake if we do not.
Kim’s community contributions have been highlighted in Diversity Inc. Magazine, Rutgers Today, the African American Pulpit Journal and Brown Eyes Magazine; and Kim blogs weekly, about her personal experience with grief, at http://www.ThankYouVerySweet.com. She also advanced her commitment to empowering women by serving as the immediate past National Chair of the “Taking Care of Mind, Body and Spirit” committee for The Links, Incorporated. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and the Olivet Institutional Baptist Church, where she is fondly known as “Reverend Kim.” She is also an associate pastor and teacher at Montgomery-Ministries (Princeton, NJ). Kim’s faith, and her pursuit of spiritual growth, justice, authenticity, excellence, truth and LOVE are the defining qualities that have shaped her life and are the qualities which will undoubtedly influence her work in years to come.