Staff


Executive Director
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Christopher F. Fisher

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Christopher Fisher is the Executive Director of the Portsmouth Institute for Faith and Culture and a teacher in the Humanities department at Portsmouth Abbey School.

Chris received his B.A. summa cum laude in Politics from Salve Regina University. At Salve, Chris studied the great works of Western Civilization from the Pre-Socratics to the giants of American literature. His thesis focused on the influence of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel on post-Civil War American political thought, for which he was awarded Salve’s Bower Award in Politics. He is a member of Pi Sigma Alpha, the National Political Science Honor Society, and Sigma Phi Sigma, the National Mercy Honor Society.

Prior to coming to Portsmouth, Chris was previously a program director for the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, where he also served as associate editor for the Intercollegiate Review and managed the publication’s web-journal, the IntercollegiateReview.com. At the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, Chris’s work centered on providing top college students with an education in the Western intellectual tradition through colloquia, lectures, and publications, connecting promising students with leading scholars from America and Europe.

His articles have been published in outlets including Ethika Politika and the Intercollegiate Review. He has spoken at colleges including the University of Notre Dame, Yale University and the University of Virginia on topics including the politics of Edmund Burke and the social thought of Emile Durkheim.

Chris lives on Portsmouth Abbey’s campus with his wife, Lauren, who is a houseparent in Saint Brigid’s House. Together they have one son, Frederick Augustine.

Program Assistant

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Elizabeth Soldi

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Elizabeth Soldi serves as the Program Assistant at the Portsmouth Institute and also as a houseparent in Saint Mary’s House at the Portsmouth Abbey School.

Elizabeth is originally from North Texas, where she was involved with the Catholic Pro-Life Committee of Dallas, as well the Youth for Life Program, which is sponsored by the University of Dallas. Before moving to Rhode Island, she was an accountant for an Oil and Gas Company in Dallas for 7 years. She is excited to be utilizing both her love for Catholicism and her accounting background while working with the Portsmouth Institute.

Elizabeth lives on Portsmouth Abbey’s campus with her husband Steve, who is a Humanities teacher at the Portsmouth Abbey School.


Steering Committee

The Portsmouth Institute Steering Committee is comprised of leading Catholics dedicated to the the mission of the Institute. Members include:

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Timothy P. Flanigan, M.D.

Dr. Flanigan is a member of the Division of Infectious Diseases at The Miriam Hospital, Rhode Island Hospital and Professor of Medicine at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University. He developed the HIV Core Program at the State Prison to provide care for HIV infected individuals and link them to community based resources upon release. He is also associate director of The Miriam/Brown Fogarty Program which trains and mentors overseas investigators in HIV/AIDS. Dr. Flanigan is a permanent deacon in the Diocese of Providence, and serves at both St. Theresa’s and St. Christopher’s Churches in Tiverton, Rhode Island.

Dr. Flanigan was the recipient of a community health leadership award from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for the development of outstanding primary care for underserved HIV infected individuals. In 2005, he received an honorary doctorate from Salve Regina University for his support of educational opportunities for children of incarcerated parents.

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Mary Beth Klee, Ph.D.

A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, Mary Beth Klee holds her Ed.M. from Boston University and a Ph.D. in the History of American Civilization from Brandeis University.  She is the founder of Crossroads Academy, a K-8 independent school in Lyme, New Hampshire, where she served as Head of School from 1991-1997.  She has since devoted herself to history education for the young, designing online programs for kindergartners to fifth graders ( for K-12 Inc.), co-editing three middle school world history texts (The Human Odyssey, Vols 1-3, 2004-2007) and one high school U.S. history text (The American Odyssey, 2009).  Dr. Klee is the author of Core Virtues, A Literature-Based Program in Character Education (2000, 2007, 2012) with supplementary material found on her website www.corevirtues.net.  She currently serves as on the PAS Board of Regents as Chair of School Life.

 

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Father Gregory Mohrman, O.S.B.

Father Gregory Mohrman is a solemnly professed Benedictine monk and ordained Roman Catholic priest of the Abbey of Saint Mary and Saint Louis, where he currently serves as Headmaster of the Saint Louis Priory School. Father Gregory holds a B.A. in English from the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a Benjamin Franklin Scholar, a Master of Divinity and M.A. in Theology from Saint John’s University in Minnesota, and an M.A. in English from the Breadloaf School of English at Middlebury College.

He is a member of the Abbey of Saint Mary and St. Louis Monastic Council, and remains on the faculty of the Saint Louis Priory School Theology and English Departments. In the greater community, he is a member of the Board of Directors of the Academy of the Sacred Heart in St. Charles, MO, and serves on the Board of Regents of Portsmouth Abbey School (Portsmouth, RI).  He served for seven years on the Board of Visitation Academy, six years on the Board of Maryville University, and six years on the Board of Villa Duchesne/Oak Hill.

 

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Daniel McDonough

Daniel McDonough has served at Portsmouth Abbey School for 31 years and is in his fifth year as Headmaster. He started his career at IBM and came to Portsmouth Abbey as a math teacher in 1984.

With a S.B. from M.I.T. and a M.S.T. in mathematics from the University of New Hampshire, Mr. McDonough began his teaching career at Portsmouth in 1984. Except for a three-year stint at Kiski School in Saltsburg, PA, he has been at Portsmouth ever since, serving in numerous capacities: associate headmaster, dean of faculty, academic dean, director of the Summer Program, and director of admission. In 2011 he was honored with the Dom Andrew Jenks Chair in Mathematics, the first endowed chair in any discipline at Portsmouth Abbey. Mr. McDonough and his wife, Mary Jean, have lived on campus since coming to Portsmouth, where they have raised their six children, Joseph ‘02, Gretchen ‘04, Mary ‘07, Felicity ‘11, Sean ‘14, and Diane ’19.

 

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Abbot Matthew Stark

Abbot Matthew Stark was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1937. He attended Catholic and public schools and received a bachelor’s degree from Towson State University. In 1956, he entered Portsmouth Priory, took simple vows a year later and finished college at St. Louis University.  While living at St. Louis Priory, he took final vows at Portsmouth and was ordained priest in 1963.

Until 1967, Abbot Matthew taught Latin in the school. He was then elected Prior of Portsmouth Priory and not long afterward became the first Abbot of the newly erected Portsmouth Abbey.  From 1970 to 1990 he taught Christian Doctrine. Since retiring as Abbot in 1991, he has held a variety of positions in the monastery and the school.

 

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James Switzer

James Switzer is a member and Founding Chairman of the Saint Louis Priory School Advisory Board, and serves as the Co-Chair of the Development Committee and as a member of the Finance and Nominating Committees. Mr. Switzer also serves as Vice-Chairman of the Maryville University Board of Trustees, as Chair of the Board’s Finance and Audit Committee and as a Member of the Executive Committee. He is the retired Senior Vice President – Development of Emerson Electric Co. in Ferguson, MO. Mr. Switzer is a graduate of Saint Louis Priory School (’64) and the University of Missouri (’72) and a Veteran of the U.S. Army, having served as an Explosives Ordnance Disposal Specialist. He also serves on the board of the Missouri Friends of Injured Marines, which supports the Semper Fi Fund.

 

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Kale Zelden

Kale Zelden is Academic Dean and teacher in the Humanities department at Portsmouth Abbey School.

Mr. Zelden earned his BA from Thomas More College and his MA from Lousiana State University. After graduate school, Mr. Zelden wrote for a regional golf magazine in the Gulf Coast region and spent two years working in student life at Thomas More College in New Hampshire. After a stint in teaching, Kale went to Los Angeles to work in the entertainment industry, where worked with other writers in story development as a creative producer and was a programmer for the top student film festival The Angelus Awards.


Academic Advisory Council

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Blake Billings, Ph.D.

Blake Billings is the Director of Spiritual Life and head of the department of Christian Doctrine at Portsmouth Abbey School, serving in those roles since 2010. After Dartmouth College, Blake participated in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, working in an inner-city parish in Oakland, CA. He then attended graduate school in theology, earning master’s degrees in religious studies and philosophy from the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium. He earned his doctorate in philosophy, magna cum laude, from Louvain, focusing on Emmanuel Levinas, a 20th - Century philosopher whose ethical philosophy was highly praised by John Paul II. Blake first joined the Abbey faculty in the fall of 1987, teaching Christian Doctrine. After teaching philosophy at St. John’s University in New York City, Fairfield University and Sacred Heart University in Connecticut, Blake decided to return to the more holistic educational environment at the secondary school level. He returned to Portsmouth in 1996 and was named the director of Christian community service; he helped to create the School’s Humanities Program, teaching in that interdisciplinary program for ten years.

 

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Daniel Cheely, Ph.D.

Daniel Cheely, Ph.D., is co-founder and executive director of the Collegium Institute, which is the scholarly foundation  devoted to fostering the Catholic intellectual tradition, and the liberal tradition of humane studies more broadly, within the University of Pennsylvania community.  Dr. Cheely received his M.A. and Ph.D. in History from the University of Pennsylvania, and his A.B., summa cum laude, from Princeton University. He currently serves as a Lecturer in the Department of History and as a Resident Senior Fellow of the Fox Leadership Program and the Program for Research on Religion & Urban Civil Society at the University of Pennsylvania.

 

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Father Cajetan Cuddy, O.P.

Fr. Cajetan Cuddy, O.P., is a priest of the Dominican Province of St. Joseph. He received the Bachelor of Sacred Theology (S.T.B.), Master of Divinity (M.Div.), and Licentiate of Sacred Theology (S.T.L.) degrees from the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, DC. He currently serves as parochial vicar at St. Joseph’s Church in New York City (Greenwich Village), and he oversees the programs of The Thomistic Institute (www.thomisticinstitute.org) in New York City.

Fr. Cuddy has written for a variety of Catholic and theological publications, and he recently served as the editor for Fr. Romanus Cessario’s collection of essays: Theology and Sanctity (Ave Maria, FL: Sapientia Press, 2014).

 

Anthony Esolen, Ph.D.

Professor Anthony Esolen is a teaching fellow and writer in residence at Thomas More College of the Liberal Arts, in Merrimack, New Hampshire. Dr. Esolen is a regular contributor to Crisis Magazine and the author of many books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization (Regnery Press, 2008); Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child (ISI Books, 2010) and Reflections on the Christian Life (Sophia Institute Press, 2013). His most recent books are Reclaiming Catholic Social Teaching (Sophia Institute Press, 2014); Defending Marriage (Tan Books, 2014); Life Under Compulsion(ISI Books, 2015); and Out of the Ashes (Regnery, 2017).

 

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Khalil Habib, Ph.D.

Dr. Kahlil Habib teaches philosophy at Salve Regina University, Newport Rhode Island. He specializes in classical and early modern political philosophy and Islamic thought. In addition to his work on classical philosophy and Islam, his research and teaching focuses on the origins of liberalism, the philosophical foundations of modernity, and the divided between ancient and modern political philosophy. Prior to coming to Salve Regina University, Professor Habib taught at Brandeis and Boston University, where he also received his Ph.D. in philosophy. His work has appeared in such prestigious philosophical journals such as the Review of Metaphysics, Ancient Philosophy, The Polish Journal of Philosophy, and REALIA, a philosophical journal published by the Institute For Advanced Philosophical Research in affiliation with the University of Maine.

 

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Father Roger Landry

Father Roger J. Landry is pastor of St. Bernadette Parish in Fall River, Massachusetts. After undergraduate studies at Harvard College, he prepared for the priesthood at the North American College in Rome where he did his graduate work in Moral Theology and Bioethics at the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family. He writes regularly for many Catholic publications, including a weekly column for The Anchor, the weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Fall River, for which he was the executive editor and editorial writer from 2005-2012, and the National Catholic Register and regularly preaches retreats for priests, religious, deacons and lay people. He was an on-site commentator for EWTN’s coverage of the 2013 papal conclave that elected Pope Francis, appears often on various Catholic radio programs, and is national chaplain for Catholic Voices USA.

 

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Daniel J. Mahoney, Ph.D. 

Daniel J. Mahoney holds the Augustine Chair in Distinguished Scholarship at Assumption College. He received his B.A. from the College of Holy Cross and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Catholic University of America in political science. In 1999, Professor Mahoney was the recipient of the prestigious Prix Raymond Aron. He is associate editor of Perspectives on Political Science and book review editor for Society magazine. A renowned expert on French political philosophy, his books also include the critically acclaimed Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: The Ascent from Ideology.

 

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Gladden J. Pappin, Ph.D.

Gladden J. Pappin is a visiting assistant professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame, a fellow of the Potenziani Program in Constitutional Studies, and a fellow of the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture. He took his A.B. in history and Ph.D. in government, both from Harvard. He has held fellowships at the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study and Harvard’s Program on Constitutional Government, and has taught at the College of the Holy Cross. His work appears in History of Political Thought, the Review of Metaphysics, Perspectives on Political Science, Modern Age, the Claremont Review of Books, the Intercollegiate Review, the University Bookman and First Things.

 

R. R. Reno, Ph.D.

R. R. Reno is Editor of First Things and Executive Director of The Institute on Religion and Public Life. He has been published in many academic journals; his essays and opinion pieces on religion, public life, contemporary culture, and current events have appeared in Commentary and the Washington Post, among other popular outlets. His most recent books include Sanctified Vision: An Introduction to Early Christian Interpretation of the Bible and Fighting the Noonday Devil, published in December 2010. Reno has appeared as a guest on CNN’s Crossfire, EWTN’s Faith & Culture, and numerous radio shows.


Emeritus Director

James MacGuire ’70

James MacGuire ’70 is emeritus and founding director and of the Portsmouth Institute. MacGuire conceived and founded the Institute in 2008, and from 2009 to 2013 directed the activities of Institute, which included overseeing five successful conferences. He also conceived and edited the Portsmouth Review, which is now published by the Sheed & Ward imprint of Rowman & Littlefield.  His efforts received widespread acclaim from conference attendees and praise in publications including First Things, National Catholic Register, and National Review. It is with deep gratitude to and admiration for MacGuire that the Portsmouth Institute continues its apostolic work.