Lisa Sharon Harper is Sojourners’ senior director of mobilizing, and she was the founding executive director of New York Faith & Justice—an organization at the hub of a new ecumenical movement to end poverty in New York City. She has written extensively on tax reform, comprehensive immigration reform, health-care reform, poverty, racial justice, and transformational civic engagement for publications and blogs including The National Civic Review, God’s Politics blog, The Huffington Post, Urban Faith, Prism, and Slant33. Her faith-rooted approach to advocacy and organizing has activated people across the U.S. and around the world to address structural and political injustice as an outward demonstration of their personal faith.
Dr. Joseph W. Daniels, Jr. is the Lead Pastor of the Emory Fellowship (UMC) in Washington, D.C. The church has been awarded the “Kim Jefferson Northeast Jurisdictional Award” for effective urban ministry. Pastor Joe is very active in community affairs, serving as one of the founders and co-chairs of the Washington Interfaith Network (WIN) and of the non-profit founded under his leadership, The Emory Beacon of Light, Inc.
Rev. Alexia Salvatierra is the co-author, with Dr. Peter Heltzel, of Faith-Rooted Organizing: Mobilizing the Church in Service to the World and the founder of the Faith-Rooted Organizing Un-Network. She is a Lutheran pastor with over 35 years of experience in community ministry, including church-based service and community development programs, congregational and community organizing, and legislative advocacy. She has been a national leader in the areas of working poverty and immigration for over 20 years, including the co-founding of the national Evangelical Immigration Table (a very broad coalition of evangelical leaders and institutions advocating for immigration reform).
Liz Butler has nearly 20 years of experience organizing and campaigning on critical issues, with a focus on both corporate and legislative campaigns. She currently works with the Movement Strategy Center as the Network Organizing Project Director, and was previously the Campaign Director (Executive Director/CEO equivalent) of 1Sky, a large-scale collaborative climate campaign with over 600 allies, 4,500 local leaders, and 200,000 citizen advocates. Prior to 1Sky, Liz was a co-founder of ForestEthics, where she spent 10 years as the Organizing Director.
Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II is the president of the North Carolina Conference of the NAACP – the largest state conference in the South – and the architect of the Forward Together Moral Movement. He serves a pastor at Greenleaf Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Goldsboro, NC, as well as a National NAACP Board Member. Upwards of 80,000 people participated in the eighth Historic Thousands on Jones Street (HKonJ) Moral March on Raleigh in February 2014, making it the largest civil rights march in the South since Selma. He’s the author of the new book Forward Together: A Moral Message for the Nation (Chalice Press).
Shane Claiborne is a founder and board member of The Simple Way, a faith community in inner city Philadelphia that has helped birth and connect radical faith communities around the world. He is married to Katie Jo, a North Carolina girl who also fell in love with the city (and with Shane). They were wed in St. Edwards church, the formerly abandoned cathedral into which homeless families relocated in 1995, launching the beginning of the Simple Way community and a new phase of faith-based justice making.
Adam Bucko is an activist and spiritual director to many of New York City’s homeless youth, and co-author of Occupy Spirituality: A Radical Vision for a New Generation and the new book The New Monasticism: An Interspiritual Manifesto for Contemplative Living. In addition to his work with homeless youth, Adam established HAB, an ecumenical and inter-spiritual “new monastic” fellowship for young people which offers formation in radical spirituality and sacred activism. He co-founded The Reciprocity Foundation, an award-winning non-profit dedicated to transforming the lives of New York City’s homeless youth.
Rev. Jennifer Bailey is an ordained minister, community organizer, and emerging national leader in multi-faith movements for justice. As Founder and Executive Director of the Faith Matters Network (FMN), Jennifer believes that people of faith can be game changers in the fight to build a more justice, compassionate, and peaceful world. She comes to this work with nearly a decade of experience combatting intergenerational poverty in her hometown of Chicago, and her adopted home of Nashville, Tennessee.
Jennifer Butler is the founding CEO of Faith in Public Life (FPL). Before leading FPL, Jennifer spent 10 years working in the field of international human rights representing the Presbyterian Church (USA) at the United Nations and is an ordained minister. While mobilizing religious communities to address the AIDS pandemic and advocate for women’s rights, she grew passionate about the need to counter religious extremism with a strong religious argument for human rights. Jennifer and her husband Glenn together run Iona Conversations, a Christian spiritual community in downtown Washington, D.C.
F. Douglas Powe, Jr. is the James C. Logan Professor of Evangelism and Professor of Urban Ministry at Wesley Theological Seminary. He is also the co-director of The Institute for Community Engagement and the Faculty director of The Course of Study Program. Dr. Powe is an ordained elder in the Missouri Annual Conference. His newest book, Not Safe for Church: The Ten Commandments for Reaching New Generations, co-authored with Rev. Jasmine Smothers, is a very practical book that helps congregations to improve the way in which they connect with younger generations.
Joanne Lin has been a legislative counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union Washington Legislative Office since September 2007. She works with the Congress and executive agencies on a broad range of immigration and human rights issues including racial profiling, state and local immigration enforcement, access to higher education, immigration detention conditions, sexual assault in immigration detention, immigration due process, access to counsel, judicial review, material support bars, border enforcement, and excessive use of force by border patrol. Together with ACLU’s national litigation projects and state affiliates, Lin works with federal lawmakers to ensure that federal policies, practices, and procedures comport with the Constitution, due process, and civil liberties.
Robyn Henderson-Espinoza is a queer Latin@ who negotiates layers of agnosticism as their faith orientation. Believing that the ways of Jesus are tangible ways of enacting radical social change, Robyn strategically deploys theologies and ethics of radical difference to disrupt the hegemonic structures that reproduce multi-system oppressions. As an anti-oppression, anti-racist, Trans*gressive genderqueer, Robyn takes seriously their call as an activist theologian and ethicist to bridge together theories and practices that result in communities responding to pressing social concerns. Robyn is our Theologian-in-Residence for Transform 2015.
Linda Kaufman is National Movement Manager for Community Solutions’ Zero: 2016 work. This nationwide initiative has a goal of ending veteran and chronic homelessness by the end of 2016. Linda has worked in homeless services in D.C. since the mid-1980s, most recently as Chief Operating Officer of Pathways to Housing DC; she was also the Director of Homeless Services at the Downtown Business Improvement District (BID), and served at the Director of Adult Services for the DC Department of Mental Health.
Bec Cranford-Smith is a Bapticostal Misfit floating in the Mainline. Bec founded Church of The Misfits with her husband Terry. She works full-time in one of Atlanta’s largest homeless service agencies. Bec enjoys getting messy with acrylic, theology, and Basil, her four-legged child.
Judy Esber is a Los Angeles native who moved to Philadelphia six and a half years ago to work as an organizer for UNITE HERE!, a union with more than 4,000 members in the Philadelphia metropolitan area. Her work with UNITE HERE! includes organizing food service workers at the stadiums and serving as the chief negotiator for the most recent contracts at Lincoln Financial Field and the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia and orchestrating divestment campaigns with college students at five major universities across the country. She was recognized by New Leaders Council – Philadelphia as a progressive leader in 2014 for her work with the hunger strike that helped restore contracts for education support professionals throughout the city.
Drew Hart is known in social media circles as an “Anablacktivist.” Though raised in a non-denominational African-American Christian community, as an adult Drew stumbled upon Anabaptism, and has since sought to learn from and dialogue with both the wider Black Church and Anabaptist streams. Drew came back to Philadelphia after four years of ministry to work on his MDiv at Biblical Seminary with an urban/missional concentration. Along with continuing in pastoral ministry, he is also a PhD candidate at Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, in theology and ethics. His research is a dialogical experiment with both Black theology and Anabaptism. He is also currently a part-time professor for some local Philly seminaries.
Teresa B. Pasquale is a “crooked” mystic, a trauma therapist, integrative healing provider, yoga and meditation teacher and equine-facilitated care practitioner. She is also the Clinical Director of an integrative and experiential therapy out-patient program for those recovering from issues of trauma and addiction at RECO Intensive in Delray Beach, Florida. Teresa is author of an educational memoir titled Mending Broken: A Personal Journey Through the Stages of Trauma + Recovery and is currently working on a second book on religious hurt and spiritual injury tentatively title Sacred Wounds (Chalice Press, 2015).
Broderick Greer is a third year Master’s of Divinity student at Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Virginia. He currently serves at St. Thomas’ Parish in Washington, D.C. In July, he will be joining the clergy staff of Grace-St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Memphis, TN as curate (assistant priest).
Erin Rose is a Program Director with Making A Melody, an organization that provides cultural trainings and worship resources for churches seeking to embody Christ-centered diversity and reconciliation. Erin also serves as the Worship Director at East End Fellowship, an economically and culturally diverse church in the Church Hill neighborhood of Richmond, VA. She will be speaking on “Worship on Earth as it is in Heaven,” a workshop exploring the beauty and complexity of worship for a multicultural congregation. Erin is Co-Artist-in-Residence for Transform 2015.
Jennifer Yoder is a social justice, undoing oppression, nonviolence, queer feminist community organizer/activist, currently as the Communications & Engagement Director for Christian Peacemaker Teams. Jennifer’s previous roles include Victim Services Coordinator for the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence and Field Director for the Universal Health Care Action Network in Columbus, OH. In 2008 Jennifer co-founded Pink Menno, a movement for LGBTQIA2S welcome and liberation in Mennonite Church USA. Jennifer is currently based in Pittsburgh, PA.
Scott Bostic is a Missional Church Fellow at Wesley Theological Seminary, in Washington, D.C. He is currently working at Wesley and in Northwest D.C. to examine the link between faith and health, and to promote holistic fitness and wellness amongst the seminary community and the communities they will serve. Scott is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and has served in the U.S. Army as a health care administrator. He worked in Iraq to provide shoes and footwear for local youth in the desert east of Baghdad. He has also worked with the Watertown Urban Mission, in Watertown, NY, and served with the Hospitality House in Black River, NY on various local service projects prior to attending seminary.
Evie Frankl works with the Center for Popular Democracy’s (CPD) partner organizations to create and promote a progressive education agenda. Evie brings decades of education experience to CPD. She has led an educational equity coalition to end tracking in Montgomery County, MD, as well as served as Deputy Director at The Next Step Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. Evie worked as a high school teacher at Bell Multicultural High School, and she served as a bus driver during desegregation bussing in Boston.
AnaYelsi Sanchez is a straight ally working as the Mid-Atlantic Organizer for The Reformation Project (TRP), an organization dedicated to equipping Christians with the Bible-based tools they need to support and affirm LGBT people. A graduate of The DART Organizer’s Institute, AnaYelsi is a trained inter-faith community organizer. Prior to joining TRP, she was the Director of Communications and Development for Florida Abolitionist; the Advocacy Director for Word Made Flesh; and worked as an inter-faith organizer with the Hillsborough Organization for Progress and Equality (H.O.P.E).
Holly Roach is a contemplative activist with her activist roots in various social justice movements. Holly has a bachelors degree in art and social change and is a student in the inaugural class of Richard Rohr’s Living School for Action and Contemplation. She is an organizer for the Faith-Rooted Organziing Un-Network and mentored by Rev. Alexia Salvaterra. Holly is president of the board of Transform Network and producer of the it’s annual national gathering. Holly is also a bodyworker and mother to four beautiful big dogs.
Justin Chambers is a Grand Rapids, Michigan native who graduated from Western Michigan University with a degree in Criminal Justice and a minor in Social Work. While at WMU he participated in an alternative spring break trip to Atlanta, which served as his introduction to Discovering Opportunities for Outreach and Reflection (DOOR), and the beginning of his career in service work. Chambers spent the past two years in Atlanta serving as a PC(USA) Young Adult Volunteer/Dweller. During this time of service, he worked with Mercy Community Church sharing in ministry with those that live in the streets and those who are in jail. Chambers accepted a position as the Recruitment Associate for the DOOR Network in the fall of 2014. He now travels the country inviting people to engage in the same community oriented service learning opportunities that have forever changed his life.
Rick Elgendy is Visiting Assistant Professor of Public Theology at Wesley Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in Christian ethics and systematic theology. In his research, he brings resources from constructive and historical theologies, political theologies, and critical theory to bear on matters of religion in public life. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and the University of Chicago Divinity School.
LaTaska M. Nelson serves as a Community Organizer for the United Methodist Church 20019/InspireDC. She is a native of Flint, Michigan, where she met and married her husband Armon Nelson. She is currently completing her Masters of Divinity Degree at Wesley Theological Seminary. At Wesley she is an Urban Fellow and Presidential Scholarship recipient.
Katie Beth Miksa is a first-year student concurrently working toward a Master in Theological Studies from Wesley Theological Seminary and a Master in International Peace and Conflict Resolution from American University’s School of International Service. Prior to graduate studies, she spent eight years in Taiwan, the Republic of China. The first two were spent studying Mandarin Chinese as the recipient of a Rotary Cultural Ambassadorial scholarship, and the latter six were passed teaching English as a second language to underprivileged youth. She attended private schools for elementary, high school, and college and holds two bachelor degrees: one in math and one in global language studies. Katie Beth also enjoys running, coffee, and the cello.
Jonathan Stith is a founding member and the National Coordinator for the Alliance for Educational Justice, a national network of intergenerational and youth-led organizations working to end the school-to-prison pipeline. He is the former Director of Youth Organizing at Empower DC. He has 18 years of experience working with youth and community organizations to address social inequities. As the former Executive Director of the Youth Education Alliance (YEA), he was a critical leader in the School Modernization Campaign that won 3.2 billion dollars for school renovation and repair in the District. He was also a steering committee member of the Justice for DC Youth Coalition that successfully organized youth and their families to win critical juvenile justice reforms in the District. Last and most importantly, he is a father of three children (15, 13 and 11) all of whom attend public schools in the District of Columbia.
Ryan Rowe, Regional Associate Field Director for the Human Rights Campaign, helps lead the field work for HRC in the Southern U.S. and also works across regions in HRC’s field work with communities of color and communities of faith. He has lead HRC’s faith field outreach on state-wide marriage equality campaigns in Delaware and Illinois, served as NAACP Outreach Director for the Maryland marriage equality ballot campaign, and served as Faith Outreach Director for the campaign against North Carolina’s Amendment One. He is currently helping to lead HRC’s Southern efforts to defend several states against a national onslaught of religious refusal bills (RFRA) and most recently directed the field work in a successful coalition campaign to defeat the RFRA bill proposed in the Georgia legislature’s 2015 session. Prior to his work with HRC, Ryan was the Faith Field Organizer for Equality NC and the North Carolina Conference President for Reconciling United Methodists NC. He is the son of Rev. Edwin Rowe, long-time social justice advocate and pastor in Detroit, Michigan.
Alexandra Elwell is a student at Wesley Theological Seminary. She recently moved to the D.C. area from the green state of Vermont. Alexandra spent a year working as an AmeriCorps* VISTA at Emmaus Inc. in Haverhill, Massachusetts. She primarily was a Volunteer Coordinator and Donations manager. She also worked for the past year at Metro House, a shelter at Metropolitan UMC, here in North West D.C.
Rev. Adam Briddell is a provisional elder in the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, and serves as the associate pastor at Asbury UMC. Serving at Asbury, Pastor Adam is a part of the InspireDC movement, working to connect with the many and diverse young professionals who are increasingly shaping the District. He helps to lead our community’s response to human trafficking and prostitution in our neighborhood. And he has worked extensively with our city’s homeless families who live at the shelter at DC General Hospital.
Dr. Sharon Groves works at the intersection of faith, LGBTQ equality, and social justice. She is currently working within multi-faith settings to forge dialogue between faith communities on LGBT justice and reproductive justice. Sharon is the former Director of the Religion and Faith Program at the Human Rights Campaign, a post she held from 2005-2014. Through her leadership, Groves oversaw breakthrough conversations with conservative and moderate religious leaders nationwide to advance dialogues around faith and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equality. She guided the mobilization of faith organizers in statewide advocacy work, including marriage efforts in Oregon, Illinois, Rhode Island, Maine, Maryland and Washington State. Groves has also overseen the development of many training tools and resources for advocacy efforts as well as efforts to increase understanding of LGBT family and friends from a faith perspective. She has also created a Summer Institute for Religious and Theological Study, which invests in the next-generation of LGBT and allied faith scholars. Throughout her career Sharon has been guided by the believe that noone should have to choose between who they are, who they love, and what they believe.
Doug Walker serves with the General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church as National Coordinator in the Office of Civil and Human Rights. Doug is a recent graduate of Wesley Theological Seminary and is the 2014 recipient of the Margaret Pittman Award for excellence in Urban Ministry. As an Urban Fellow, Doug helped to produce “Beyond the Bars and Barriers,” a workshop on prison ministry and reentry. Since 2008 Doug has served on several boards and committees working to bring people of goodwill to a more faithful response to the challenges facing our society, including the Board of Directors of the Urban Epicenter, in Nashville Tennessee; facilitator/trainer on Public Narrative with Marshall Ganz; and continuing collaboration with the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference in their work to end mass incarceration.
LeAnn Snow Flesher, Ph.D., is CAO/Academic Dean and Professor of Old Testament at the American Baptist Seminary of the West, a member school of the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) where she also serves as a member of the Core Doctoral Faculty, in Berkeley, California. She is an ordained minister with the American Baptist Churches, USA, and spent 20 years working on a local church staff while teaching in the seminary. Dr. Flesher has taught internationally as visiting professor at theological institutes and seminaries in Costa Rica, Panama, Central Africa, and Korea. She is the author of Left Behind? Facts Behind the Fiction (Judson Press, 2006); Co-editor of Daughter Zion: Her Portrait, Her Response (Atlanta/London: Society of Biblical Literature/Brill, 2012); Co-editor of Why?. . .How Long? (London: Bloomsbury, 2012); and Editor of Review and Expositor, vol. 109, no. 3 (Summer, 2012) on “Prophetic Preaching,” and vol. 111, no. 2 (May 2014) on “Poverty in the US;” along with numerous articles.
R. Kayeen Thomas is an author, poet, and playwright. His passion for the written word and his affinity for social critique, make all of his creative endeavors powerful and fearless. He is a thunderous voice emerging from the hip-hop generation. From 2006 to 2011, he taught various grade levels in both public and private schools. In 2011, he signed a three-book publishing deal with Strebor Books, an imprint of Simon and Schuster. The first of the three book series, Antebellum, was released to significant acclaim in mid-2012 and its prequel, The Seven Days was released in April of 2013.
As author of Antebellum, Kayeen won the Phyllis Wheatley Book Award for First Fiction, and was nominated to receive the 44th NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Debut Author. His latest project is the production of his two stage plays, “After Church” and “After Church II” under his emerging company, RKT Productions.
Kayeen currently resides in the nation’s capital with his wife and young daughter. He is a recent graduate of Wesley Theological Seminary, receiving his Masters of Arts degree in Theology / African-American Religious Studies, and is presently a 5th grade English teacher with the District of Columbia Public School system.
Ra Mendoza is the Philadelphia city director and national program recruitment coordinator with Mission Year. An alum of the Mission Year program, Ra is excited and passionate about pastoring young leaders as they uncover the ways their faith and desire for justice intertwine. After receiving her MA in community development from Eastern University, Ra has been specifically interested in the effects of relocation in under-served/isolated urban areas. A native of Southern California, Ra is proud to call Philadelphia home and is actively involved in her church community, Circle of Hope.
Anita Grace graduated last year from Beyond Asana in Philadelphia and is known for her servant’s heart as she has been sharing mindfulness practices with the incarcerated for several years. She blogs for Emerging Voices and is honored to be volunteering teaching yoga here at Transform DC. She’s a mama to two incredible teens and wife for nearly 23 years. Her passions are dancing like a wild woman and writing poetry.
Cheryl A. Leanza is the President of her consulting firm, A Learned Hand, LLC. In this capacity she serves as policy advisor to the United Church of Christ’s historic media advocacy arm and as the Co-Chair of the Leadership Conference of Civil Rights Media & Telecommunications Task Force. Her other clients have included the Progressive States Network, Leadership Conference Education Fund, National Federation of Community Broadcasters, Future of Music Coalition, Public Knowledge, and Native Public Media, among others.
Jennifer Davidson is Associate Professor of Worship & Theology at American Baptist Seminary of the West (ABSW).