Feb 112021

Jeff/Lisa Simpson Awarded the 2021 Rabbi Herman E. Schaalman InterReligious Leadership Award

Contact: Lisa Zook, Chief Strategic Officer and Director of the Interreligious Institute

Email: [email protected]


CHICAGO–February 10, 2021 – Chicago Theological Seminary has awarded Jeff/Lisa Simpson the 2021 Rabbi Herman E. Schaalman InterReligious Leadership Award. The award is an initiative of the InterReligious Institute (IRI) at CTS, where Simpson is a Master of Divinity student, and honors the passionate commitment to interreligious engagement modeled by the late Rabbi Herman E. Schaalman.

Students submitted proposals for interreligious initiatives, both contextually-centered and issue-specific. Simpson’s winning proposal will develop a summit for religious leaders in the Quad-City Metropolitan Area of Iowa and Illinois, where Simpson resides. The summit will address transgender issues and empower religious leaders of multiple faiths to advocate and respond to the needs of the transgender community. Simpson received a $500 honorarium and an additional $500 micro-grant to execute the project. The Summit is being planned for July or August, 2021 in partnership with the non-profit interfaith group One Human Family QCA. Simpson’s summit will serve to inspire churches, synagogues, and other houses of faith to recognize the realities of transgender members in their communities who need voices of support and compassion.

“I am excited that we can support this important initiative that expands visions of justice and mercy in the world. Rabbi Schaalman understood the importance of working hand in hand with interfaith partners in order to disrupt hate and call forth love,” Lisa Zook, director for the IRI said. “I look forward to supporting Jeff/Lisa in this important work.”

Simpson hopes to complete their Master of Divinity degree at CTS in 2021. They hold a bachelor’s in Psychology and an MBA in Marketing, both from St. Ambrose University, Davenport, Iowa. Simpson has a long history of engagement and advocacy in the Quad Cities area, including in several interfaith organizations, and is uniquely equipped to lead this initiative.


ABOUT JEFF/LISA SIMPSON:  Simpson has spent most of their career in the fields of Retail Operations and Mental Health/Social Services. Currently, Simpson is in in-care status seeking ordination in the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches following graduation. In 2020, Simpson was named as a CTS Gilberto Castaneda Scholar. Simpson lives in Davenport, IA, where they founded QC Price, Inc., a local LGBTQ advocacy organization in 2008 and served as its president from 2008-2014. Additionally, Simpson served as the first HIV+ Board of Directors member of the Quad-Cities AIDS Coalition from 1992-1994 and continues to be active in that area sharing their experience as a 29-year survivor of the disease. When not busy with ministerial work, Simpson loves spending time with friends and family, participating in local advocacy groups, politics, and is a lifelong avid “die-hard” Chicago Cubs fan.



The InterReligious Institute at Chicago Theological Seminary is dedicated to interfaith engagement in our community through academia, theology, and public dialogue for a more just and pluralistic society.