The Reverend Dr. Leah Gaskin Fitchue is the first woman to serve as president of Payne Theological Seminary, a 166 year-old institution sponsored by the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church. She is the first African American woman president of the 254 Association of Theological Schools (ATS) and the first woman to serve as president of any historically black theological seminary. Prior to her historical election, Dr. Fitchue was Professor of Religious Studies at Hampton University, Hampton, Virginia, and served as Executive Vice President and Academic Dean of the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) in Atlanta, Georgia. In addition, she was president of the Gaskin Fitchue Group, a consulting firm specializing in leadership development, organizational and community transformation for church and faith-based organizations.
Dr. Fitchue holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Speech Pathology from Douglass College of Rutgers University, a Masters of Science degree in Speech Pathology from the University of Michigan, a Masters of Divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary, and an Ed.D. in Administration, Planning & Social Policy from Harvard University. She has also completed post-graduate training at the Institute for Educational Management, Harvard University. In addition, Dr. Fitchue completed post-graduate training and certification in Marriage, Family and Relationship Counseling and Sex Therapy at Penn Council for Relationships, Division of Family Study, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania.
She has published articles and essays in the AME Review, Sojourners, In Trust, and the AME Anvil. She serves as Professor of Practical Studies and teaches courses in transformational leadership and community development. During her tenure at Hampton University, Dr. Fitchue collaborated with Drs. Henry and Ella Mitchell, noted Homiletics scholars, in the design and implementation of a homiletics course for the Department of Religious Studies of Hampton University and the Hampton’s Ministry Conference.
In June 2012, Dr. Fitchue presented “The Collision of Racism and the Truth of the Cross” at the Transatlantic Roundtable on Religion and Race. The paper was co-authored by Dr. Fitchue and her daughter, Ms. Ebony Joy Fitchue. In addition, Dr. Fitchue led a delegation representing the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO) to Dakar, Senegal June 13-27, 2011 at the invitation of His Excellency Abdoulaye Wade, President of Senegal, for the historic signing of partnership agreements between Senegal Universities and Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs). Dr. Fitchue was appointed by the U.S. State Department to be one of twenty American delegates to participate in an interfaith dialogue jointly sponsored by the U.S. Government and the Republic of Indonesia in Jakarta in January 2010. Other international presentations include: “Urban Ministry,” at the International Urban Associates, Urban Consultation in South Africa; “Religion and the African American,” at Soung Sil University in South Korea; “Urban Ministry Transformation,” at Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire in West Africa.
Dr. Fitchue is an ordained Itinerant Elder in the A.M.E. Church and serves as Associate Minister of Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and has served in this capacity at Jones Tabernacle A.M.E. Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Mt. Zion A.M.E. Church, Trenton, New Jersey.
Dr. Fitchue’s civic, community, professional and social affiliations include the Board of Regents of Bakke Graduate University, the Advisory Board of the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA), the Society for the Study of Black Religion, Delta Sigma Theta, The Links, Inc., and the NAACP. She also served as a member of the Theological Schools and Church Project of the ATS.
Dr. Fitchue began her early Christian education in St. Paul AME Church in West Palm Beach, Florida. She is the daughter of Joseph Matchett, Valdosta, Georgia (deceased) and Rosie Lee Jones, Newark, New Jersey. She is the mother of Ebony Joy Fitchue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a doctoral student at Howard University. Dr. Fitchue and her daughter are poets.