The Office of Student Affairs & Community Life (OSACL) is the heart of community life at Columbia. We attempt to create a web of support for students through community programs, spiritual formation, and vocational services. We also attempt to create opportunities for all members of the community - staff, faculty, and students - to gather beyond the classroom. OSACL is responsible for new student orientation, oversight of approved student organizations, and assists with providing support for international students at Columbia.

Meet the Team


rev. brandon t. maxwell
Dean of Students,
vice president for student affairs & community life

Brandon hails from Nashville, Tennessee - the music capital of the southeastern United States and home to a recent insurgence of hipsters. He is a graduate of Belmont University where he was a dual-degree student in Business Administration and Religion. Brandon moved to Atlanta to study at Emory University's Candler School of Theology. At Candler, Brandon focused on race, ethnicity, and gender studies and received a certificate in Religious Education. He also spent a year abroad at the University of Göttingen (Germany) where he studied intercultural theology and communication.

At Columbia, Brandon wears a few hats. Most days, you can find him casting a vision for student affairs and enrollment management. In this role, Brandon works to create a robust web of support for all students to ensure students are fully empowered within the seminary and beyond. Brandon also serves as an equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) leader on campus and works to ensure Columbia is living up to its EDI commitments. When he's not at Columbia you may find Brandon building up his foodie chops by trying out a new restaurant. Banshee (East Atlanta) is one of his favorites at the moment. Brandon also loves Broadway show tunes. If you're ever in the mood for a sing-a-long, just stop him in the hallway. He'll certainly join in - especially if you're singing something from The Color Purple, a musical inspired by the work of Alice Walker.  But be prepared to have a (lengthy) discussion after you sing, because musicals are one of his favorite resources for theological reflection.


REv. Katie Ricks

Katie is a military brat who most often claims the Midwest as home because it is where she was born and where her family’s values were formed. She is a proud alumna of Columbia Theological Seminary and ordained to the ministry of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (USA). Katie enrolled at Columbia as an openly lesbian woman in 1998 – the year after the PC(USA) officially banned the ordination of LGBTQ persons. Katie came back to Columbia because she believes it is, in its very best moments, a community that seeks the Spirit’s guidance about who God is calling us to be at this point in time. At times, that is challenging, but always faithful.

This time around at Columbia, Katie is responsible for creating space for others to discern, claim, and live into the person God has created them to be. Specifically, she journeys with students as they discern their skills, gifts, and passions; she also assists students with the placement process upon graduation. When she isn’t at Columbia, you might find Katie swimming around the block at Agnes Scott where she recently began practicing with the Masters swim team. Outside of swimming, most of her time is spent living in a three-generation household with her mother, Janet, and daughter, Jordan, navigating the joys and challenges of living in community. If you ever find yourself in need of a dark chocolate fix, you might ask Katie for a recommendation. Her favorites are the darkest Swiss, German, or Belgian chocolates you can find. All gifts of dark chocolate are welcome!


MR. Khalfani A. Lawson
ASsistant Director of Community Life
International Student Advisor

Khalfani is a unicorn – read, a native of Atlanta, Georgia. He is a graduate of Kennesaw State University where he studied political science, global affairs, and the African diaspora. After his time at KSU, Khalfani attended Candler School of Theology, Emory University where he focused on religion and race. One of Khalfani’s most influential theological influences is Michael Eugene Archer – better known as, D’Angelo. D’Angelo’s album entitled “Voodoo” is a favorite. Khalfani thinks it is a great representation of the multifarious ways Christianities are lived throughout the African Diaspora.

At Columbia, Khalfani is responsible for creating and overseeing programs, events, and initiatives related to community life and student engagement. He also serves as the primary point of contact for student organizations, international students, and residence life. Traffic aside, Khalfani loves Decatur and Atlanta. His favorite places to visit are Sevananda (Little Five Points), Soul Vegetarian (West End), and Café Alsace (Decatur). When he is not working to foster a vibrant community at Columbia, you can find him spending time with his fiancé, Whitney, reading, and writing. You may also find Khalfani in the crawl space of his house or under the hood of his car working on home and vehicle improvements. Whether reading, writing, or being a handyperson, Khalfani does it all while drinking his favorite beverage, water. He encourages you to drink a glass now!


Ms. FeliciA R. Thimas
Office Coordinator, Student Affairs

Felicia grew up in the inner-city of Los Angles and the westside (Crenshaw District).  Before moving to Atlanta she lived in East Anaheim, CA – just 10 minutes from Disneyland! Felicia is a graduate of California State University Long Beach where she studied Business Administration. Even though her roots are on the West Coast, she’s lived in Atlanta since 2005, and has come to love the entrepreneurial spirit of the people in the city.

Felicia is the Office Coordinator in the Office of Student Affairs and Community Life. In this role, she works to maintain a hospitable and welcoming environment for all guests who visit the office. Felicia also coordinates logistics for OSACL-sponsored program and events. She also supervises seminary service students and makes sure that Brandon, Katie, and Khalfani don’t goof off too much. When she’s not at Columbia, you can find her uber-ing for two clients, exclusively: her 11-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son. She also enjoys grilling in the backyard with her extended family – many of whom live in Atlanta. If you visit her in OSACL, don’t be surprised if you catch her snacking on sunflower seeds (her favorite!), playing the latest Hillsong album, or jamming out to neo-soul.