Each year, a hand-picked set of thoughtful, intelligent Latter-day Saints talk about how they have chosen to interact with Mormonism. This “Why We Stay” session of the Sunstone Symposium is always very popular, and this year’s session has an incredible lineup. 

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Jerri A. Harwell joined the LDS Church in 1977, nine months before Official Declaration #2 was announced in June 1978. She is an Associate Professor in the English Department at Salt Lake Community College where she teaches Composition. She is a former BYU Women’s Conference speaker, teaches a World Religions class at the Taylorsville Institute, and sings in OneVoice International Gospel Choir (formerly the LDS Genesis Gospel Choir) conducted by Debra Bonner. She is married to Donald L. Harwell, President of The Genesis Group, which is the LDS Church’s official auxiliary for Black Latter-day Saints, organized in 1971.

Sydnie Cazier Olsen is a mother of six, grandmother of eleven, wife of one. She is an avid spiritual seeker, meditator, and faithful member of the church.


Bill Reel is the creator and host of Mormon Discussion Podcast.  Bill’s work with the podcast serves to help listeners delve into complex issues within the LDS Church while “Leading With Faith.”   


Eric Samuelsen is a Mormon playwright and emeritus professor of theatre at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. He is considered one of the most important Mormon playwrights, and has been called a Mormon Charles Dickens or Henrik Ibsen. He won the Association for Mormon Letters (AML) drama award in 1994, 1997, and 1999, and was AML president from 2007 to 2009. In 2012 he received the Smith Pettit Award for lifetime work.



MODERATOR: Dan Wotherspoon, Ph.D. is the host of the Mormon Matters podcast and former editor and executive director of the Sunstone Education Foundation. Each year he curates and moderates the Why I Stay panel.


Listen to past Why I Stay sessions here.


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