The Rev. Jennifer Bailey to deliver Elon’s 2019 Baccalaureate address

Bailey is an ordained minister, theologian and founder and executive director of the Faith Matters Network, an organization designed to equip community organizers, faith leaders and activists with resources for connection, spiritual sustainability and support.

The Rev. Jennifer Bailey, founder and executive director of the Faith Matters Network and an emerging leader in the multifaith movement for social justice, will deliver Elon University’s Baccalaureate remarks on Thursday, May 23, 2019.

Baccalaureate takes place in Alumni Gym at 3 p.m. The program is open to the public, with all graduates and their families invited to attend.

An ordained minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church and a theologian, Bailey founded the Faith Matters Network in 2014 to better equip leaders within and across social movements with resources for connection, spiritual sustainability and support. Before founding the Faith Matters Network, she spent nearly a decade working with nonprofit organizations targeting intergenerational poverty.

Bailey began her career as a Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellow at the National Conference of State Legislatures and as a fellow focused on child nutrition policy and healthy food access in low-income communities. Later she served on the staff of Community Food Advocates and Interfaith Youth Core in Nashville, Tennessee.

This work served as a catalyst for The People’s Supper, an initiative she co-founded that since January 2017 has hosted more than 1,400 suppers in 121 communities nationwide. The focus of these suppers is to bring people together to engage with each other in a constructive way over issues that impact their own communities.

An Ashoka Fellow, Aspen Ideas Scholar, On Being Fellow and Truman Scholar, Bailey earned degrees from Tufts University and Vanderbilt University Divinity School, where she was awarded the Wilbur F. Tillett Prize for accomplishments in the study of theology. A commentator and public speaker on the intersection of religion and public life, Bailey has spoken on the national and international stage at the inaugural Obama Foundation Summit, Makers, TEDxSkoll, and the White House. Her writing has appeared in Salon, the Huffington Post, Sojourners, On Being and the Washington Post’s Lily Blog, among other outlets.

Commencement 2019

Elon Commencement 2019 will feature changes to the program to better accommodate students and their families. Baccalaureate has been shifted to Thursday afternoon from its traditional time on Friday, and the undergraduate commencement ceremonies, which were traditionally held on Saturday, have been moved to Friday. The outdoor undergraduate commencement ceremony will begin at 8:45 a.m. on Scott Plaza in front of Alamance Building. The ceremony will also include a processional of students, the student speaker, a commencement address by Elon alumnus and award-winning photojournalist Al Drago ’15 and the president’s charge to graduates.

Following this outdoor ceremony, there will be two separate diploma-awarding ceremonies for the Class of 2019 held in Schar Center. Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the School of Education will award diplomas at the 11:30 a.m. ceremony. The Martha and Spencer Love School of Business and the School of Communications will award diplomas at the 3:30 p.m. ceremony. Each ceremony will last about two hours.

For more information about Elon’s Commencement week activities, visit, which will be updated throughout the spring as events and programs are finalized.