Lisa Anderson is vice president of Intersectional Engagement at Auburn Theological Seminary, an initiative dedicated to equipping bold and resilient women faith leaders with the tools they need for a lifetime of prophetic social justice activism. Before coming to Auburn, Anderson designed seminars on national and international affairs at the Church Center of the United Nations for the Women’s Division of the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church. Anderson was also a leader and facilitator at Marble Collegiate Church, working specifically on behalf of the Women’s Ministry, Young Adult Ministry and the Senior Fellowship. Anderson is a graduate of Vassar College, where she majored in religion and philosophy. A trained theologian, Anderson holds a Master of Divinity and Master of Philosophy degree from Union Theological Seminary. Anderson has taught courses in black, womanist, feminist, and LGBTQ theologies; Christian ethics; and liturgy.
The Rev. Hannah Adair Bonner is ordained in the United Methodist Church and is a graduate of Duke Divinity School. She is the Curator of The Shout: a spoken word poetry-focused arts and justice movement, which cultivates a community of diverse people committed to transforming our world. The death of Sandra Bland on July 13, 2015, rocked The Shout community, and the poets who had gone to school with Sandra demanded a response. In March of 2016, WomanPreach! Inc. honored Hannah with the Parthia Hall Justice Award, given to “a woman minister whose prophetic voice has been obvious and effective in the public arena.” Hannah writes at SoulUnbound.com and has her first curriculum, “The Shout: Finding the Prophetic Voice in Unexpected Places,” coming out from Abingdon Press in May, 2016. Hannah has four siblings, five nieces and nephews, and counts being an example to her nieces as the most important task of her life.
Taquiena Boston is the Director of Multicultural Growth and Witness for the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). She serves on the UUA’s executive Leadership Council and is a member of the Core Team that coordinates the UU Minsters Association/UUA Beyond the Call Entrepreneurial Ministry Project. Boston’s UUA work focuses on leadership development, culture change, and social justice for congregational and community leaders engaged in intentional multicultural ministries, including faith-based justice-making and social movement-building. Her staff group launched the Mosaic Makers Leading Vital Multicultural Congregations Conference for UU leaders in 2012. Mosaic Makers is moving toward greater collaboration with The Middle Project’s Leading Edge Multicultural/Multiracial Congregations Leadership Conference. Boston is a member of All Souls Church, Unitarian, an intentional multiracial/multicultural congregation in Washington, DC, that has inspired her work with leaders and congregations doing intentional multicultural, justice-based ministries. She has attended every Middle Church Leading Edge Conference from the beginning through the present.
Melvin Bray is an Emmy award-winning storyteller, writer, educator, and social entrepreneur. He is an active member of multiple networks that cultivate sustainable approaches to a life of faith, including Faith Forward and Wild Goose Festival. He co-edited “Faith Forward: A Dialogue on Children, Youth & a New Kind of Christianity” (Woodlake Publishing, 2013) and is coordinating author of “The Stories in Which We Find Ourselves.” Through gardening, neighboring, storytelling and convening, Melvin helps people pursue collaborative relationships in which to thrive. He resides with his wife, three kids, two dogs, and innumerable worms in the West End of Atlanta, Georgia.
Caitlin Breedlove is the Campaign Director of Standing on the Side of Love: a campaign of the Unitarian Universalist Association. She is the former Co-Director of Southerners On New Ground (SONG), where she has co-led innovative intersectional movement-building work in the LGBTQ sector. Under Caitlin’s co-leadership, SONG built new alliances, trained a large cohort of LGBTQ organizers in the South, built a membership of over 3,000, and led countless political education processes for SONG’s constituency. Since 2003, Caitlin has been organizing and doing movement-building work in the South with communities across race, class, culture, gender, and sexuality. Caitlin is known across social justice movements as a leader, strategist, and writer connecting LGBTQ, racial, and economic justice. Caitlin began her work in the South doing popular education and organizer training at the historic Highlander Center in Tennessee.
The Rev. Karyn Carlo, Ph.D., is a retired New York City Police Captain turned preacher, teacher, and theologian. She earned her Master of Divinity and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from Union Theological Seminary. An ordained American Baptist pastor, she currently serves as adjunct faculty at New York Theological Seminary and as the Founder and Director of the Clergy, Community, Cops Project.
Chris Crass is the author of the new book Towards the “Other America”: Anti-Racist Resources for White People Taking Action for Black Lives Matter. He writes and speaks widely on anti-racist organizing, feminism for men, strategies to build visionary movements, and creating healthy culture and leadership for progressive activism. He was a founder of the anti-racist movement building center, the Catalyst Project, and helped launch the national white anti-racist network, SURJ (Showing Up For Racial Justice). Rooted in his Unitarian Universalist faith, he works with congregations, divinity schools, and religious leaders to build up the spiritual Left. He is also the author of Towards Collective Liberation: anti-racist organizing, feminist praxis, and movement building strategy. He lives in Nashville, TN, with his partner and their two sons.
Deborah De La Torre has professional experience in the corporate, public, nonprofit, and faith-based sectors. Trained as a classical pianist and composer, she is the founder/former executive director of an international multi-venue art and film festival in Michigan, now in its fifteenth year, and has received numerous public awards for contributing to civic engagement. Deborah’s teaching experience includes cultural studies, piano performance, and composition at the private and college levels. She has worked as a church pianist, choir director, music camp director, and guest performer at various churches, composing and arranging for a variety of musical holiday events, cantatas, and special services. Deborah judges and coordinates performance events, holds leadership roles in music teacher and composer organizations, and gives lectures and concerts around the country. Her Company, DLT Creative Productions, develops music, film, and book projects. She holds degrees from the University of Miami and Regis University in Denver.
The Rev. Dr. Miguel De La Torre serves as a professor of social ethics at Iliff School of Theology. He focuses on ethics within contemporary U.S. thought, specifically how religion affects race, class, and gender oppression. He specializes in applying a social scientific approach to Latino/a religiosity within this country, Liberation theologies in the Caribbean and Latin America, and postmodern/postcolonial social theory. De La Torre came to the U.S. as a refugee from Cuba when he was six months old. He earned his M.Div. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and earned a Ph.D. from Temple University in social ethics. He has authored numerous books, including Reading the Bible from the Margins; Santería: The Beliefs and Rituals of a Growing Religion in America; and Doing Christian Ethics from the Margins. He has served as a director to the Society of Christian Ethics and the American Academy of Religion. He is vice-president of the Society of Christian Ethics.
Bishop Yvette Flunder founded the City of Refuge United Church of Christ, a thriving inner-city congregation, in 1991 in order to unite a gospel ministry with a social ministry. A native San Franciscan, Bishop Flunder is a third-generation preacher with roots in the Church of God in Christ (COGIC). She was licensed in the COGIC and later ordained by the Bishop Walter Hawkins of Love Center Ministries. Bishop Flunder is also an ordained Minister of the United Church of Christ and holds a Doctor of Ministry degree from San Francisco Theological Seminary. In June 2003, Bishop Flunder was consecrated Presiding Bishop of The Fellowship—a multi-denominational fellowship of 110 primarily African American Christian leaders and laity representing 56 churches and faith-based organizations from all parts of the United States, Mexico, and Africa. She has received many awards for her work in the HIV/AIDS epidemic with the elderly and youth.
Lena K. Gardner is Director of Fundraising and Membership at the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Larger Fellowship. A leader in the faith community as well as a social justice champion, Lena is a co-founding member of the Black Lives Matter Minneapolis chapter. She has helped organize a host of demonstrations and vigils following the police shooting deaths of unarmed Black people around the country, including that of Minneapolis resident Jamar Clark. As a writer, Lena’s work reflects the call for justice by black leaders and community members. She graduated in 2015 with her Master of Arts in Justice and Peace Studies from United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities.
Dr. Sharon Groves joined Auburn Seminary’s team in August 2015 as its Vice-President for Partner Engagement, where she liaises with movements, leaders, and organizations doing justice work grounded in faith and moral courage. Prior to joining Auburn’s staff, Sharon served as a Senior Fellow for Auburn Seminary working at the intersection of faith, LGBTQ equality, and social justice, specializing in breaking down cultural barriers between those on opposing sides of the “culture wars.” Sharon is the former Director of the Religion and Faith (RFP) Program at HRC, where she worked from 2005-2014. She received her Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Maryland in 2000 and has furthered her theological education at Chicago Theological Seminary, Wesley Theological Seminary, and the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation. Sharon splits her time between New York and her home in DC, where she lives with her spouse, Ann, and her mischievous puppy, YoYo.
Anurag Gupta is the Founder & CEO of Be More, a millennial-led social enterprise that aims to make real the promises of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all humans regardless of their external appearance or presentation. Be More is to human capital as Fair Trade is to coffee, LEED is to buildings, and B Corp is to business. Be More aims to assess, train, and certify public and private corporate entities to understand and transform ingrained habits of thought that lead to errors in how institutional actors perceive, remember, reason, and make decisions regarding human talent, potential, and abilities. Gupta has a J.D. from NYU School of Law, a Master’s in Development Studies from Cambridge, and a Bachelor’s in Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies from NYU. Born and bred between old Delhi and New York, Gupta has worked with social enterprises and nonprofits in Korea, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Burma, and across the U.S. He teaches yoga and mindfulness meditation in his spare time.
Vasudha Gupta has a vision of a just and collaborative society with an interest in effective communication, equitable decision-making, and inclusive policies. Vasudha is a Co-Founder of Be More America, where she strategizes the implementation of Be More’s grander vision to reduce bias and disrupt racial inequities. Prior to Be More, Vasudha was a project manager at the Port Authority of NY & NJ, where she implemented various facility improvement projects. Vasudha is a graduate of MIT Sloan and a native New Yorker.
The Rev. Ashley Harness is a United Church of Christ minister and a communications strategist with almost a decade of experience in non-profit media work. Currently, Ashley is the Director of Communications at the Center for Progressive Renewal and also an Associate Minister at Lyndale United Church of Christ. She previously worked with Auburn Seminary’s digital organizing and media teams, providing confidential training and counsel to religious leaders seeking to use social and traditional media as a pulpit of the 21st century. Ashley first cut her media teeth at Fenton Communications, the largest public interest communications firm in the country, where she consulted for a range of non-profit organizations across issues from international human rights and electoral political campaigns to LGBTQ equality. Ashley received her Masters of Divinity at Union Theological Seminary in 2012 and her Bachelor of Arts at Brown University in 2005.
Melissa Harris-Perry is the Maya Angelou Presidential Chair at Wake Forest University. There, she is the Executive Director of the Pro Humanitate Institute and founding director of the Anna Julia Cooper Center. She is the former host of “Melissa Harris-Perry,” which broadcast live on MSNBC. She is the author of the award-winning Barbershops, Bibles, and BET: Everyday Talk and Black Political Thought, and Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America. Harris-Perry received her B.A. degree in English from Wake Forest University and her Ph.D. degree in political science from Duke University. She also studied theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York. Harris-Perry previously served on the faculty of the University of Chicago, Princeton University, and Tulane University.
The Rev. Peter Goodwin Heltzel, Ph.D., an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), is the Director of the Micah Institute and Associate Professor of Systematic Theology at New York Theological Seminary. He also serves as Assistant Pastor of Evangelism at Park Avenue Christian Church in New York City. Heltzel has contributed to seven books as author or editor. He has published numerous articles in journals, such as Books & Culture, Science & Theology News, Sojourners, Political Theology, and Princeton Theological Review. Heltzel serves on the Metro Commission on the Ministry and the Anti-Racism/Pro-Reconciliation Team of the Northeastern Region, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Heltzel holds a B.A. from Wheaton College, a M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. from Boston University. He also completed course work at the University of Mississippi in Southern fiction and creative writing. These courses, combined with his childhood years in Mississippi, inform his work with a deep commitment to the power of words and music, to social justice, and to a global movement of radical change and collective activism.
Queen Mother Imakhu is a Khametic Community Mother, healing minister, metaphysician, and ordained Interfaith minister. Queen Mother is the founder and Pastor of Sharaym Shenu True Living Water Temple. She is producer/host of the TV show, ASHE!, highlighting African diasporic culture. Queen Mother Imakhu is the founder and chief executor of AKERU MultiMedia, which reaches people worldwide through Internet web casting, radio, recording, and print. Queen Mother’s activism was inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, El Hadj Malik El Shabazz, Rosa Parks, and Harriet Tubman. She is an active member of the People’s Organization for Progress. Her motto is, “In order to bring about change in the world, you must bring change to your world.”
The Rev. John Janka is a consultant to congregations and non-profits. He is an experienced trainer and coach with a focus on systems intervention, educational design, training models, staff supervision, coaching, and evaluation. He has trained, coached, and led teams in diverse settings and across racial/ethnic, generational, gender, and socio-economic lines. Janka’s experience includes strategic planning and visioning, managing change and resistance, dealing with difference, cultural diversity, human relations training, and conflict management. He is currently on the Doctor of Ministry faculty at Wesley Theological Seminary. Janka is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church, the Director of Program for The Middle Project, and the Interim Minister of Membership, Care, and Pastoral Care at The Riverside Church.
Micky ScottBey Jones serves on the leadership team of Transform Network as the Director of Training and Program Development. Recently named one of the “Black Christian Leaders Changing the World” in The Huffington Post, Micky is a ‘contemplivist’ leader and organizer who hosts and facilitates conferences, trainings and online conversations; writes and speaks on a variety of topics including burnout, race, justice, and theology from the margins; and curates contemplative spaces and activities. She is a contributor at Patheos, Medium, and Homebrewed Christianity.
The Rev. Jim Kast-Keat is the Associate Minister for Education at Middle Collegiate Church. He is a divergent thinker, an ideation specialist, a podcast machine, a LEGO enthusiast, and an aspiring minimalist. Prior to working at Middle, he helped lead ikonNYC in New York, NY, worked as a Product Designer with Sparkhouse in Minneapolis, MN, and was a pastor at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, MI. He is the creator and curator of ThirtySecondsOrLess.net, where he shares ideas and amplifies voices every day.
Valarie Kaur is an award-winning filmmaker, civil rights lawyer, and interfaith leader who centers her work around the power of storytelling. She is the founding director of Groundswell at Auburn Seminary, a non-profit initiative with 80,000 members that mobilizes people of faith for social change. She has led national campaigns responding to hate crimes, racial profiling, immigration detention, and solitary confinement. She is a frequent political contributor on MSNBC, and her essays appear regularly on CNN, the Washington Post, and the Huffington Post. Kaur earned degrees from Stanford University, Harvard Divinity School, and Yale Law School, where she founded the Yale Visual Law Project to train students in the art of storytelling for social change. A third-generation Sikh American, Kaur is from Clovis, California where her family settled as Punjabi farmers in 1913. She lives in Los Angeles with her filmmaking partner and husband Sharat Raju.
The Rev. Dr. Grace Ji-Sun Kim received her Ph.D. from the University of Toronto and is Associate Professor of Theology at Earlham School of Religion. Kim is the author of 9 books, including Embracing the Other; Theological Reflections on “Gangnam Style”; and Contemplations from the Heart. She is the coeditor of Christian Doctrines for Global Gender Justice, Here I Am, and Reimagining with Christian Doctrines. She is also on the American Academy of Religion’s (AAR) Board of Directors as an At-Large Director. She is a co-chair of AAR’s “Women of Color Scholarship, Teaching, and Activism Group.” Kim writes for The Huffington Post, Sojourners, and EthicsDaily.com, among other publications. She is an ordained minister of word and sacrament within the PC (USA) denomination.
Amichai Lau-Lavie is the spiritual leader of Lab/Shul and the founding director of Storahtelling, Inc. An Israeli-born Jewish educator, writer, and performer, he was hailed by Time Out New York as “Super Star of David” and an “iconoclastic mystic.” He was also named as “one of the most interesting thinkers in the Jewish world” by The Jewish Week. He is currently a rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. Amichai was a Jerusalem Fellow at the Mandel Leadership Institute in Israel (2008-2009) and is a consultant to the Reboot Network, a member of the URJ Faculty Team, and a fellow of the new Clergy Leadership Institute. He is the proud Abba of Alice, Ezra, and Charlotte-Hallel.
Marlin Lavanhar is the Senior Minister of All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa, OK. It is the largest Unitarian Universalist Church in America and one of the denomination’s most racially and culturally diverse congregations. In 2000, Lavanhar was called to All Souls. During his tenure the church, has grown from 1000 to more than 1800 adult members and serves 800 children and youth. In 2008, All Souls welcomed Bishop Carlton Pearson, the founder of the Azusa Conference and his predominantly African American congregation, to join what had been an essentially all “white” church. Today, All Souls offers multiple worship services weekly with a variety of styles of music, theology, and liturgy. He and the congregation have been recognized and given many awards locally and some nationally for their work for social, racial, economic, and LGBT justice at home and abroad. The church has a vision and commitment to create a thriving intercultural, interfaith, and intergenerational community.
Naomi Christine Leapheart, a daughter of Detroit, is a minister, educator, organizer, and organizational consultant. She is currently a Brown, Rooks, and Evans Scholar at Lancaster Theological Seminary. She is the suburban community organizer for POWER, a multi-faith, multi-racial network of congregations working to shift power, change public policy, and do justice for the most vulnerable in Metro Philadelphia. As an anti-racism trainer for the Lancaster YWCA, Naomi delights in facilitating difficult and transformative conversations about systemic power, race, and theology. Naomi is the creator of “In Chains We Trust,” an interdisciplinary learning series on faith, race, and mass incarceration. She is an organizer with Black Lives Matter 717 and a board member of Lancaster Interchurch Peace Witness, a grassroots ecumenical network of churches and institutions that promotes biblical values of justice, care of creation, and peaceful solutions to conflict.
The Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis is Senior Minister at Middle Collegiate Church, a 900-member multiracial, multicultural, welcoming, and inclusive congregation in New York City. She is an activist, preacher, and fierce advocate for racial equality, economic justice, and LGBTQ equality. Middle Church’s activism for these issues has been featured in media like the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and Essence magazine. She is a frequent contributor to MSNBC, where she is host of Just Faith at MSNBC.com. Jacqui co-founded The Middle Project, which trains leaders for the movement for justice. She has been adjunct professor at Wesley, Princeton and Union theological seminaries. She is ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA). Jacqui is the first African-American and woman to serve as senior minister in the Collegiate Churches. She is working on a book about finding a grown-up God and is the author of 10 Essential Strategies to Grow a Multiracial, Multicultural Congregation; The Power of Stories; and the children’s book, You Are So Wonderful!
The Rev. Michael-Ray Mathews is the director of clergy organizing for PICO National Network, a faith-based network of more than 1,200 congregations engaged in community organizing in more than 200 cities in the United States. He is the lead organizer of PICO’s Prophetic Voices Initiative, which is organizing a prophetic faith voice leading the struggle for racial and economic inclusion in the U.S. He joined the PICO senior leadership team in January 2008. An ordained American Baptist minister, he served churches throughout California, most recently as the senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church of San José from 2000-2008. A native of California, Mathews celebrates 26 years of pastoral ministry this year. Mathews is a candidate for the Doctor of Ministry degree at the San Francisco Theological Seminary in San Anselmo, California. His dissertation project is an introductory pastoral theology for pastors engaged in faith-based community organizing.
Dionne McClain-Freeney is a pianist, composer, singer, choral director, and teaching artist. She has appeared on numerous national and international stages, played in some of New York City’s most beloved churches, and accompanied a variety of artists from Broadway, television, and the recording industry. Her award-winning musical theater compositions and arrangements (New York Musical Theatre Festival; GLAAD Media Award nominee), including the music for The Sugar Hill Sisters (book and lyrics by Bil Wright) and music and lyrics for This One Girl’s Story (book by Bil Wright), have been featured on television and radio. In 2016, Dionne headlined Joe’s Pub and was one of the keyboardists that set the Guinness World Record for World’s Largest Electronic Keyboard Ensemble in 2013.
Allison Mickelson has sung on tour throughout the Midwest and performed in regional theatre productions including Ragtime, Hairspray, and in the title role of Mame. She presented her cabaret, “Deepest Gladness,” at Middle Church in October. For Women’s History Month, she co-presented the cabaret, “Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Woman.” She is a K–12 music teacher and conductor who enjoys making music with and for others.
The Rev. Waltrina Middleton is the Founder of Cleveland Action, a human rights resource in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. She is a preacher, poet, social critic, and community organizer committed to actualizing the vision of a Beloved Community. Recently, Rev. Middleton was recognized by Rejuvenate Magazine as one of its 40 Under 40 Professionals to Watch in Non-Profit Religious Sector. The Center for American Progress named her as one of the 16 to Watch in 2016. Last summer, she was awarded the Jonathan M. Daniels Memorial Fellowship by the Episcopal Divinity School to support a research project on the parallels between activism, arts, and lament in the Black Lives Matter Movement in the US and the anti-apartheid movement in Palestine. She received her Master’s Degree from the Chicago Theological Seminary. She holds fast to the principles of Ubuntu which declares, “I am because we are. We are because God is.”
Joey Morelli is a law enforcement officer with over 25 years of experience serving as a State Police investigator. Joey comes from a police family including Joey’s uncle, his son, and 2 granddaughters. Joey’s first job was to investigate complaints of police brutality made by defendants and the community. Joey worked at the World Trade Center for a Federal Task Force investigating money laundering. Joey later was a 9/11 first responder. After that, Joey became a threat assessment expert for domestic violence and sexual assault victims. Joey also coordinated efforts to assist former gang members to establish new lives through witness protection. Joey then was promoted to run District Attorney Hynes’ Command Center. Among Joey’s duties, Joey was liaison to the community, the NYPD, and the press, and was the incident commander for Homeland Security. Currently, Joey consults with Middle Collegiate Church on church safety and security.
The Rev. Elizabeth Nguyen is the Leadership Development Associate for Youth and Young Adults of Color at the Unitarian Universalist Association in Boston. She resources religious leaders, supports racial justice work, and develops programs that serve UU youth and young adults of color. A graduate of Harvard Divinity School, she is affiliated as a community minister with First Parish in Cambridge, UU. She was a founding member of the Lucy Stone Cooperative, where she continues to serve on the board of Unitarian Universalist Community Cooperatives. She serves on the Diverse Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist Multicultural Ministries Steering Committee and the UU Ministers Association Mass Bay District executive team. Worshiping at the Sanctuary Boston, singing at the Lucy Stone Co-op, and remembering to pray are some of her spiritual practices. She roots for the Wisconsin Badgers.
Teresa B. Pasquale is a trauma therapist, contemplative practice and yoga teacher, and contemplative actioner. She is a graduate of The Living School at the Center for Action and Contemplation, Sivananda Yoga Teacher Training, and New York University’s School of Social Work. She is the author of two books on trauma, spirituality, and healing, and is currently working on her third—a book about spiritual pilgrimage that speaks, teaches, preaches, and offers workshops on issues of spirituality, addiction, trauma, woundedness, professional burnout, healing, reconciliation, and contemplative activism. She is co-curator of Mystic Action Camp at the Wild Goose Festival and is on the leadership team at Transform Network.
Jardana Peacock is the founder of Embodied Leadership, a methodology that centers healing as foundational for how we organize in movements for social justice across the world. A long-time healing, justice, and cultural organizer based in the Southeast, her work at the Anne Braden Institute and Highlander Center helped her develop her integrated approach to healing and social justice movement building. She helped found SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice) and served on the leadership team. Anne Braden and Ella Baker are movement mentors who guide her. She recently released an e-book, Heal Myself, Heal the World: Practices for Liberation, and has been featured in The Huffington Post and other online publications. She has studied traditional yoga and holistic healing for over fifteen years and has worked with hundreds of change-maker clients around the world.
Hussein Rashid, Ph.D., is Founder of islamicate, L3C, a consultancy focusing on religious literacy and cultural competency. He has a B.A. from Columbia, and an M.T.S., M.A., and Ph.D. from Harvard. His research focuses on Muslims and American popular culture. He writes and speaks about music, comics, movies, and the blogistan. Hussein has appeared in mainstream media, including CNN, Channel 4 (UK), Al-Jazeera America, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. He has been published in On Faith (Washington Post), Belief Blog (CNN), On Being, and The Revealer. He is a fellow with The Ariane de Rothschild Fellowship in Social Entrepreneurship, the American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute, and the Truman National Security Project. He is a contingent faculty member most often associated with Hofstra University and has taught at Fordham University, Virginia Theological Seminary, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, SUNY Old Westbury, and Barnard College.
Holly Roach is president of the board and a co-founder of Transform Network. She is a ‘contemplavist’ with activist roots in numerous social justice movements, including the struggles for Leonard Peltier, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Big Mountain, AZ, nonviolence training, anti-oppression, art activism, and the Global Justice movement. She is an organizer for the Faith-Rooted Organizing Un-Network and is mentored by The Rev. Alexia Salvatierra. She produces several large gatherings each year. Holly has a Bachelor’s Degree in Art and Social Change and graduated in August 2015 from the inaugural class of Richard Rohr’s Living School for Action and Contemplation. Holly is a practicing writer and mother to no less than 200 pounds of dogs.
Betty Jeanne Rueters-Ward’s personal mission is to empower leaders of all ages to grow spiritually while making social change. Her work has included ministry, community organizing, writing, teaching, training, coaching, and non-profit management. Currently, she serves as a national faith organizer with Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), as Assistant Professor of Transformative Leadership at Starr King School for the Ministry, as Program Director at All Souls Unitarian Church in Manhattan, and as an independent consultant working with change-makers around the world. She is a proud member of Middle Church and its gospel choir.
Candace Simpson is a second-year M.Div. student at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. She is a Brooklyn native, a sister, and a teacher with a passion for community organizing and teaching. She attended Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, majoring in Educational Studies. After graduating in 2012, she became a co-teaching apprentice through the Urban Teaching Corps, a cohort-based teacher preparation program designed for teachers of color who intend to stay in the field of education. Her most recent project was serving as site coordinator for the Concord Freedom School, a summer literacy-based enrichment program for children in Bedford-Stuyvesant, based out of her home church Concord Baptist Church of Christ. She is a tutor and mentor, lovingly referred to as “Ms. Candace” by her younger friends. She blogs for the Black women’s blogging collective “For Harriet” on race, gender, faith, and protest.
Adriene Thorne is an Executive Minister at Middle Collegiate Church. She completed her Master of Divinity degree with an emphasis in art and psychology at The Pacific School of Religion. Prior to ministry, she pursued a nearly 20-year career in the performing arts, including time as a Rockette. Thorne served the Reformed Church in America’s Commission on Christian Worship for three years and was the Visiting Artist at New Brunswick Theological Seminary from 2010–2011. Her key assertion is that the arts have the ability to drop us into the center of ourselves and our healing more quickly than anything else. Thorne is married to Colin St. Rose and together they are raising a little girl named Petal.
Jim Wallis is a New York Times bestselling author, public theologian, speaker, and international commentator on ethics and public life. He recently served on the White House Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and was former vice chair of the Global Agenda Council on Values of the World Economic Forum. Jim is the author of 12 books, including his most recent, America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America. He is president and founder of Sojourners, where he is also editor-in-chief of Sojourners magazine. His columns appear in major newspapers, including Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and Boston Globe. He frequently appears as a commentator on television shows such as Meet the Press, Hardball, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and The O’Reilly Factor. He has taught at Harvard University, Georgetown University, and other academic institutions.
The Rev. Melinda Weekes-Laidlow is the President of Weekes In Advance Enterprises, an organizational development firm that offers consulting, coaching, and professional development services in social innovation, racial equity, and collaborative leadership spaces. Recently, Melinda served as the Managing Director for Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation; as publisher of the news website Colorlines; and as presenter of Facing Race, the nation’s largest multi-racial, multi-disciplinary, inter-generational gathering on racial justice. Melinda has also worked as a Senior Associate for the Interaction Institute for Social Change, building the capacity of individuals, communities, and networks towards more effective collaboration and inclusivity. A member of the ordained clergy, she serves on the ministerial staff of the Greater Allen Cathedral of New York. Melinda holds degrees from Wesleyan University, Harvard University, and New York University School of Law.
The Rev. Dr. Traci C. West is Professor of Ethics and African American Studies at Drew University Theological School in New Jersey, where she teaches both seminary and Ph.D. students. She is the author of Disruptive Christian Ethics: When Racism and Women’s Lives Matter (Westminster/John Knox, 2006), Wounds of the Spirit: Black Women, Violence, and Resistance Ethics (New York University Press, 1999), and editor of Our Family Values: Religion and Same-sex Marriage (Praeger, 2006). She has published articles on clergy ethics, racism, sexual ethics, and other justice issues in church and society. She is an ordained minister in the United Methodist church and previously served in parish and campus ministry in the Hartford Connecticut area.
Jamye Wooten is a faith-rooted organizer, digital strategist, and 2016 New Maryland Economy Fellow with the Institute for Policy Studies. Jamye is the founder of Kinetics Communications and publishing editor of KineticsLive.com, an information ministry that integrates theological reflection and practice and uses dialogue as a catalyst for social change. In the Fall of 2015, he launched the #BlackChurchSyllabus, providing resources that help cultivate a deeper theological framework to pursue justice. In April 2015, Jamye co-founded Baltimore United for Change, a coalition of grassroots organizations in Baltimore City that organized in response to the death of #FreddieGray. Jamye has organized and documented social movements from across the United States, United Kingdom and Africa. He is the former program director of the Collective Banking Group, Inc. (CBG), a Christian ministry that draws together leaders from the faith, business, and public service sectors to develop and enhance economic empowerment strategies for the African American community.
Bil Wright is an award-winning novelist and playwright. His novels include Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy (Lambda Literary Award and American Library Association Stonewall Book Award), the highly acclaimed When the Black Girl Sings (Junior Library Guild selection), and the critically acclaimed Sunday You Learn How to Box. His plays include Bloodsummer Rituals, based on the life of poet Audre Lorde (Jerome Fellowship), and Leave Me a Message (San Diego Human Rights Festival premiere). He is the Librettist for This One Girl’s Story (GLAAD nominee) and the winner of a LAMI (La Mama Playwriting Award).
BETTY is a five-piece pop rock band fronted by Elizabeth Ziff, Alyson Palmer, and Amy Ziff. Bonded since an unfortunate incarceration, BETTY began as an edgy a’cappella/spoken word/techno-beat trio in Washington, DC. They have gone on to perform in clubs, theatres, and arenas all over the world. BETTY’s national tour of their hit Off-Broadway show, BETTY RULES (directed by Michael “Rent” Greif), their controversial theme song for Showtime Television’s The L Word, and their acting appearances on that program have catapulted this deeply beloved cult band to wilder international recognition. Activist entertainers, the band is known for fighting fiercely for what they believe: equal rights, feminism, finding cures for breast cancer and AIDS, Planned Parenthood, the Pro-Choice movement, an end to sexual violence and everybody’s inalienable right to safely dance naked in the streets.