Director of the Zollikon Institute—Norita Yoder
Norita grew up in Holmes County, Ohio, in a conservative Mennonite family. The joy of learning and the desire to empower others on their faith journey has been a theme throughout her life.
Childhood memories include happy summers filled with the exploits of herself and her neighborhood Amish playmates. At nine years old, her parents started The Ashery Country Store. Growing up, the family business made up the fabric of her daily life. At twenty-five years old, she and her husband, Marcus Yoder, left Holmes County, Ohio, to pursue a life of service and ministry.
Upon their return to Ohio, she entered The Ohio State University as a nontraditional student where she earned her bachelor’s degree in History. She then had the opportunity to earn her master’s degree in the History of Christianity from Yale University in 2015. Her formal research and study focused on the history of Amish and Mennonite women. She is currently working on a narrative history of Amish and Mennonites during World War II.
While navigating the places outside her culture, she gained an increasing awareness of the value of her faith and heritage, particularly the unique perspective of a historic Anabaptist position of Christianity that holds to a peace tradition.
The collegiate experience allowed Norita to feel both the joy of learning and the difficulty of crossing cultural barriers to access that learning. Her desire has been to make learning available to her community and people; to find ways of crossing the cultural boundaries that she herself faced, in order to better facilitate education and career training among the Amish and Amish-Mennonite groups. She’s excited that the mission of Zollikon Institute aims to fill this need.
Her recent work at the Amish and Mennonite Heritage Center includes guest lectures for universities, giving tours of the Behalt Mural, and acting as the liaison for Amish groups in a variety of situations. She enjoys reading, writing, researching, biking, her puppy Theo, spending time with her church family, and traveling with her husband Marcus, who is an ordained minister in the Mennonite church.