IDEAS Speakers Forum

The IDEAS Speakers Forum is a community of professional practitioners who speak and teach on transformative international development topics and issues. They offer their expertise and experience through speaking engagements, classes, lectures and webinars.

To inquire about a speaker at your church, group, or organization, please contact Barb Larson at

speaking iconUpcoming Online Events:

    • Topic: "The Power of Books" with Libby Bergstrom
    • Date: October 26th, 2021
    • Time: 6:00-7:30pm (MT)
Register for Webinar


Bergstrom, Libby 2021speaking iconLibby Bergstrom (MLS, Library Science; MA, Education – Library Media; BA – Elementary Education) has been with IDEAS since 2002, working in Turkey and Morocco, and now, based out of Jordan, in many other countries in Africa and Asia. She directs the IDEAS Global Reach Libraries project, which provides training, mentoring and professional expertise to librarians and libraries in forgotten and overlooked communities so that library users have access to books and information resources that will help spark transformation. She loves to read and in her current role reads a lot, searching out excellent books to share with readers around the world.


  • The Power of Books
    Join IDEAS Global Librarian, Libby Bergstrom, as we travel the globe and discover the transformative power of books. This webinar will explore how books can be windows and doorways to new cultures and adventures for any age. You'll learn about a variety of international authors who are sharing their stories in ways that let us step into their lives and experience their culture. You'll leave with an understanding of the power of books to bring hope, and an annotated book list to use for gift-buying or to guide you at your next visit to the library.

Merrifield headshot

speaking icon Dr. Bill Merrifield served cross-culturally in Beirut, Lebanon for 17 years. He holds an EdD in Educational Leadership from George Fox University, an MA in Middle Eastern Studies from the American University of Beirut, an MA in Religion from Trinity International University, and a BA in Theology from Wheaton College. His experience includes roles in educational leadership and teaching in higher education, secondary education, and theological education. Dr. Merrifield’s research interests focus on the development of contextual critical thinking and refugee education. His dissertation examined the impact of socio-contextual, cultural, and linguistic variables in the critical thinking processes of multilingual students. His post-doc examined refugee education and employment in contexts of protracted displacement. Dr. Merrifield currently lives in Wheaton, IL and is the Director of Education with IDEAS.


  • Making Sense of Islam
    This webinar examines Islam through a religious, historical, and cultural lens. It investigates Islamic beliefs and practices; addresses common misconceptions; explores the Christian-Muslim divide; and outlines practical steps for how to engage with Muslim neighbors and coworkers. With questions about the Muslim world at center stage politically, religiously, and socially, come discover how to demonstrate the redemptive message of Jesus by showing the world a response to Islam that is worthy of His name.

  • The Art of Critical Thinking
    It seems like everyone touts the importance (or lack) of critical thinking these days. But what is critical thinking? Is it problem-solving, skepticism, self-reflexivity? Is it a set of skills, a disposition, or both? Is it a moral or amoral activity? Does critical thinking mean the same thing in different cultural contexts? This webinar presents different views on the purpose and goals of critical thinking and addresses the complicated question of what it means to promote critical thinking as a Christian in a multi-cultural world.

speaking iconJayson Casper photo Jayson Casper (MA, Islamic Studies; BS, Economics) has received awards and nominations from the International Center for Journalists, the Religion Newswriters Association, and the Evangelical Press Association. Serving as Middle East correspondent for Christianity Today, his position provides the unique opportunity not only to interpret the news to American evangelicals, but also to live a gospel witness as he faithfully represents and honors local actors of all religious persuasions. He and his wife (MA, Music) have lived in the Middle East region for 15 years and have 4 children.


T brown Headshot

speaking icon Tami Brown (MA, Public Health; BS, Human Biology), President/CEO of IDEAS, has been a hands-on practitioner for international, transformational development through small business, health initiatives, and adult education since the early 1980s. Along with her husband, Tami has invested skills and resources in Pakistan, Kenya, and Central Asia. She has been with IDEAS since its inception in 1997 and was appointed President/CEO of IDEAS in March 2018. Tami is currently working on her doctorate in Faith, Work, and Economics.    


  • The Holy Calling of Work

speaking iconBarb headshot 2017 Barb Larson  (BS, Biological Sciences) has served with IDEAS in various capacities for nearly 10 years, after living and working in Bermuda, Cote d’Ivoire and France for 15 years. She is the Director of Community Life where she focuses on helping IDEAS Associates thrive in community throughout the life cycles of their overseas work. She has spoken at conferences and retreats nationally and internationally for the past 17 years.


  • Streams in the Desert (Based on passages in Isaiah)
  • With Christ in the Heavenly Places (Drawn from the book of Ephesians)
  • Draw Near (Tracing the Biblical history of God drawing near to his people in the Tabernacle, the Temple and Jesus Christ)
  • Pursuing Peace (Discussing peace with God and others in the present and future, and becoming a peacemaker)

speaking iconDeirdreHarlow_websize Deirdre Harlow (MA, Biblical Studies; BS, Business Management) is the Executive Support Specialist and Onboarding Mentoring Manager at IDEAS and has served as Associated Faculty at Denver Seminary since 2014 as a Hebrew Professor and Training and Mentoring Professor. She has 15+ years of combined experience in graduate-level teaching, international nonprofits, publishing, and spiritual direction. Deirdre grew up as a military kid and loves traveling, running, and silent retreats.


  • How Ancient Communities Speak Outrage Against Rape (Judges 19; 2 Samuel 13)
  • The Valiant Woman: How Ancient Israelite Women Represent "Life, Wisdom, Sustenance, and Strength"