The Ormond Center serves students, faculty, and alumni across Duke Divinity School and the wider university. Enhancing the capabilities of Duke Divinity School, the Ormond Center acts as a vehicle for teaching, scholarship, field placement, additional learning opportunities, and engagement with the broader university, the state of North Carolina, and the world.

Team Member Listing

Thad AustinThad Austin
Strategic Initiatives and Congregational Engagement

Rev. Dr. Thad Austin leads Strategic Initiatives and Congregational Engagement at the Ormond Center. A graduate of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy’s Ph.D. program, Austin is a speaker at national and international conferences and is an expert on faith-based fundraising, congregational social entrepreneurship, and the theology of charitable religious giving. He is the recipient of the Indiana University William M. Plater Civic Engagement Medallion and the Association for Research in Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action’s (ARNOVA) national Emerging Scholar Award. An ordained elder in the United Methodist Church, Austin has served parishes in Kentucky and in Tennessee. His last pastoral appointment was as executive pastor at First United Methodist Church in Murfreesboro, Tenn., a 3,200-member congregation.

Claire CusickClaire Cusick
Director of Communications, Duke Clergy Health Initiative

Claire Cusick is a content strategist with 18 years of experience in communications and marketing at universities. She specializes in human-centered messaging and storytelling across many platforms – from social media to documentary-style videos to longform magazine pieces – and brings the writing, editing and strategic deployment skills necessary for each. A trained journalist, Cusick earned a B.S. from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications, and worked as a newspaper reporter, editor, and columnist. She also holds an M.A. from Duke University; her thesis project was a collection of nonfiction narrative profiles highlighting professionals who work with HIV-infected individuals in North Carolina. She is currently finishing a second M.A. – this one from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her thesis focuses on storytelling in journalism.

Kashmiri SchmooklerKashmiri Schmookler
Communications and Community Engagement

Kashmiri Schmookler coordinates communications, programs, and engaged community research at the Ormond Center. She holds a Master of Social Science in International Development Practice from the University of St Andrews. Her dissertation research concentrated on participatory approaches to development, culminating in a combined desk-based and field-based research project in Mumbai, India. Additionally, she has worked for various social enterprises and nonprofits focusing on the advocacy side of development projects—communicating, strategizing, and advocating international and local community programs to various stakeholders. Her role at the Ormond Center combines her interests in community development and local capacity building with her skills in communications and engaged research.

Josh Yates headshotJoshua Yates
Executive Director

Dr. Josh Yates is executive director of the newly relaunched Ormond Center for Thriving Congregations and Communities at Duke Divinity School and founder and CEO of Thriving Cities Group, a national nonprofit that builds "community intelligence" to solve local challenges through data, technology, and advisory services. Trained as a cultural sociologist and urbanist, Yates weaves together two decades of academic research and socially-based practice in an ongoing quest to ask and answer the question: What does it mean and take to thrive in the contemporary world? He has pursued this work in over a dozen communities around the country and has written and spoken widely on related themes. Prior to coming to Duke, he served on the faculties of both the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, in Banff, Canada, and the University of Virginia's Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture.