Reimagining the Common Good

Our Perspective

A New Moment | We believe that we live together in a time of world-historic cultural change, marked by fundamental disagreements over the nature of human identity, the meaning of the common good, and the possibilities of civic life.  

A New Paradigm | We believe that in response to these complex changes many institutional leaders are seeking a new paradigm for the common good; a paradigm in which we, rather than denying our differences or seeking to dominate those around us, seek creatively to serve one another and the cities we share.

A New City Commons | We believe that the work of caring for our neighbors will require us to understand the complexity of our time, re-imagine the nature of civic life, and re-dedicate ourselves to nurturing strong civic institutions—economic, educational, political, artistic, and religious—for the sake of the common good.

Our Process

We believe that cultural wisdom develops most effectively at the intersection of knowledge and relationships.

Knowledge | Over the last twenty years, we have labored with some of the world’s best scholars to develop a deep knowledge of culture and cultural change. Our research and educational projects compile, translate, and distribute this knowledge to help institutional leaders more faithfully pursue the common good within their vocations.

Relationships | Today, we labor with men and women around the world by bringing knowledge and relationships together to form a generation of faithful, wise, imaginative, and culturally aware leaders. Our consulting and gathering projects focus on educating and encouraging existing networks of institutional leaders across a variety of vocational sectors. Our goal is that over time, these networks will become true communities, working together to address common concerns by developing common language and imagining a common future—a new city commons.

  • Emily Gum

    Emily Gum

    Managing Director and Interim Executive Director

    Emily brings twelve years of experience in the public humanities to her leadership at New City Commons. She is also a doctoral candidate at the University of Oxford, where her research focuses on the civic purposes of education. Her dissertation is tentatively titled, "Neighbors, Virtues, and Schools as Civic Spaces." Emily holds and MPhil from Oxford in Theology and an MA from the University of St. Andrews in International Relations and Theological Studies. 

    Clay Cooke

    Clay Cooke

    Director of Education and Formation

    Clay received a Ph.D. in Theology and Ethics from Fuller Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. in Theology from the Free University of Amsterdam. He also holds a Master of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary. His research, writing, and teaching focus on the intersection of faith and culture, especially as it relates to the challenges of Christian discipleship in our time. Clay lives in Winston-Salem, North Carolina with his wife and their three children. 

    Julie Jarrett

    Julie Jarrett

    Director of Operations

    Julie is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma, where she studied Public Relations and Nonprofit Management. She has spent the last ten years working for nonprofits around the country and in Africa, and now runs the back-end operations at NCC headquarters, working to keep our programs running smoothly.

    Philip Lorish

    Philip Lorish

    Director of Research

    Philip received his Ph.D. in Religious Studies at the University of Virginia.  His research interests include the role of religious institutions in American public life, emerging trends in technology and medicine, and the future of work. Philip holds a B.A. in Philosophy from Furman University, an M.A. and Ph.D. in Religious Studies from the University of Virginia, and an M.Phil in Theology from Oxford.

    Travis Pickell

    Travis Pickell

    Director of Vocation and the Common Good

    Travis received his Ph.D. in Religious Studies from the University of Virginia. His research interests include health care ethics, political theology (ancient and modern), religion and public life, and environmental ethics. He holds a B.A. in Public Policy from The College of William & Mary and an M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary.

    Sam Speers

    Sam Speers

    Managing Editor

    Sam is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where he studied Religious Studies and Economics. He is the coauthor of the book Kingdom Politics (Cascade 2015), a study of the role of political language and activity in American churches. Sam completed the Trinity Fellows Program in 2015, and has held a number of roles at New City Commons since 2014. He lives in Durham with his wife.


We are not currently hiring, but resumes to be kept on file may be submitted here.

Thank you for your interest in New City Commons.

117 4th St NE
Charlottesville, VA 22902
(434) 533-0622

Request more information:

Please complete the highlighted fields.