Elected at age 27, Heather McTeer Toney knows what it means to be a public servant. She was the first African-American, first female and the youngest to serve as Mayor of Greenville, Mississippi from 2004-2012. In 2014, she was appointed by President Barack Obama as Regional Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Southeast Region. Known for her energetic and genuine commitment to people, her work has made her a national figure in the area of public service, environmental justice and community engagement. She currently serves as the Climate Justice Liaison for the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Senior Advisor to Moms Clean Air Force, two affiliated organizations that represent over 3 million environment allies committed to fighting climate change and protecting children from the dangers of air pollution.
Heather has appeared on numerous news outlets and has written for publications including New York Times and the Washington Post. She is a regular columnist for DAME magazine. Most recently, Heather was one of the essayist featured in the breakout climate book of 2020, “All We Can Save”, essays from women at the forefront of the climate movement.
Mrs. Toney earned a bachelor’s degree from Spelman College and her law degree from Tulane School of Law. She is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and attends Oxford University United Methodist Church. She is a member of the board of directors for Vote Solar and the Mississippi Free Press. She is married to Dexter Toney and they have three children.
Janet has worked as a poverty rights organizer, United Methodist pastor with urban and rural congregations; college and seminary professor; learner, teacher, animator with think tanks inside prisons. She works with the Children’s Defense Fund focusing on public theology, transformative justice and nonviolent direct action organizing to disrupt and dismantle the cradle to prison pipeline through leadership by and partnership with those who are now or have been caged. She is the Dean of CDF’s Proctor Institute’s Dale P. Andrews Freedom Seminary and a member of the Coordinating Committee with the National Council of Elders. She is the author of the Mission u study Practicing Resurrection: The Gospel of Mark and Radical Discipleship.
Greetings and Malo e Lelei! Kuou tuku ha Fakamalo mo fakafeta’l kihe ‘Otua Mafimafe kihe tauhi ‘ofa kuo ne fai ma’mku mo kitutolu hono kotoa. My name is ‘Ainise ‘Isama’u and what an honor it is to be with you all! I thank God for the opportunity and blessing!
My United Methodist Women story began with a conversation with Brenda Tuita, who was the California-Pacific Conference United Methodist Women Limitless Young Women Coordinator, regarding an event for UMW. The conversation led to talking about Limitless. That’s when I attended my first conversation with the West District Limitless team. As we know, Limitless is a UMW Life Mentoring Program for Young Women. To be brutally honest, I admit I was a skeptic at first because growing up, UMW wasn’t exactly my “cup of tea.” I thought it to be a group of seasoned women who gathered and talked about things from 1869, had long drawn-out meetings and spent time in a circle just sewing their life away. Little did I know that attending a conversation with Limitless would lead me to be a United Methodist Women member for the rest of my life. Today, I am a mother of an 8-year-old girl, a wife, a friend, a mentor… a leader. Since that conversation life hasn’t been the same. Almost everywhere I go I meet someone with a United Methodist Women connection. I always feel welcomed and like I have a place at the table.
I have served on the district level and also on the conference level. I still remember how nervous I was to send out my first newsletter to all United Methodist Women of the California-Pacific Conference. My nervousness was automatically put to peace because I never felt alone. As the former Communications Coordinator for Cal-Pac Conference UMW, the lessons I learned in this role taught me so much about being organized, working with women of all ages and making sure information is sent out in proper time. Trust me, there were many learning curves, but the California-Pacific Conference UMW Team were amazing teachers from day one. It’s not really that they taught me, but they embraced me and showed me the way while allowing me to have my own voice. These women have stepped into my life to continue showing me. This group of very special women … bold, courageous, daring and loving women opened their hearts and mentored me.
Harriett Jane Olson has served as chief executive officer of the United Methodist Women’s national administrative and policymaking arm since 2007. United Methodist Women is a U.S.-based women’s organization in The United Methodist Church, with nearly 800,000 members engaged in work with women, children and youth in the United States and over 100 other countries. United Methodist Women operates and owns the Church Center for the United Nations in New York City, which it makes available to the U.N. and NGO community. A Harvard Law School graduate, Ms. Olson practiced real estate and environmental law (1983-96) in New Jersey. From 1996-2007, Ms. Olson was senior vice-president for publishing, editorial director of The United Methodist Publishing House in Nashville, Tenn., whose imprints include Abingdon Press and Cokesbury. Ms. Olson has a bachelor's degree from Houghton College in Houghton, N.Y., where she serves on the board of trustees.
Director of Equity and Language Services, Sumner-Boney Lake School District
Sophia Agtarap is a 1.5-generation Filipina American and a deaconess in The United Methodist Church—a lay order of persons called to full-time vocation in ministries of love, justice and service. She serves as director of equity and language services at a school district in western Washington, where she is excited to be leading the work of equity as she partners with the community, families, students, and district administration to create the conditions where all may find belonging and thrive. Agtarap's training in education and digital media has allowed her to bridge the church and the world as she resources individuals and organizations exploring emerging communication tools. She has worked for The United Methodist Church's agencies in roles at the intersections of social concerns and digital media. She is a qualified administrator of the Intercultural Development Inventory and enjoys coming alongside organizations to equip them in the areas of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion. Much of her life's work has involved advocacy and engagement in the areas of immigration, economic justice, health care, poverty, homelessness and educational access. She is a proud member of United Methodist Women and is honored to serve her community as former assistant dean and dean of Mission u in the Tennessee Conference. She lives with her spouse, toddler and three pups. She is the daughter of a retired United Methodist clergyperson and public health nurse.
Regional Missionary, United Methodist Women
Mudime Catherine Akale is a regional missionary with United Methodist Women. She is from Cameroon, a bilingual (French and English) country in Central Africa.
Board of Directors, United Methodist Women
Ruby Anderson serves at Scott Memorial United Methodist Church, resides in Southfield, Michigan and is lay leader of her church and district. She has served as president, vice president and secretary of program resources for Scott United Methodist Women and secretary for program resources for her conference and Regional School of Christian Mission. Anderson was her conference's mission ambassador to Sudan, Africa, and a United Methodist Women Volunteer In Mission leader to Northern Ireland and other VIM explorations. She is currently in her second 4-year term on the national board of directors of United Methodist Women, and is a member of the resource management team and the finance committee. She is a retired social studies teacher.
General Secretary, General Commission on Religion and Race of The United Methodist Church
The Rev. Giovanni Arroyo is a native of Puerto Rico and an elder of the Baltimore-Washington Conference. For the past decade, he has led the programmatic work of the General Commission of Religion and Race in its efforts of engaging diverse groups in vital conversations on race, culture, diversity, inclusion and equity; developing intercultural leaders; and addressing the racial inequities within the church. The development of GCORR intercultural competency trainings has been a key area of expertise that Arroyo has led due to his experience in serving in cross-racial/cross-cultural ministry settings for almost two decades. His doctoral work is on Wesleyan leadership and intercultural competency.
Member and National Finance Officer, Board of Women's Work/National United Methodist Clergywomen Association
The Rev. Cristine Carnate-Atrero is from the Philippines Central Conference, a pastor of the United Methodist Church for 26 years. She has been serving as a District Superintendent since 2018, as an annual conference representative to the Board of Women's Work and a national officer of the National United Methodist Clergywomen Association since 2016. Atrero is studying for her doctor of ministry degree at Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky. She entered the ministry at age 18, serving youth, women and children. As a mother, woman and young clergyperson, she understood the relevance and power of "Soul Care" in mission and service.
Board of Directors, United Methodist Women
Haejin Ban sits on the United Methodist Women Board of Directors, serving on the Planning & Assessment and Editorial committees. Before joining the board, she served as a Korean language coordinator for the North Georgia Conference and as a secretary for her district. Ban has been a social worker for more than 20 years, concentrating on community organizing related to senior issues from housing to health care to hospice. She is particularly interested in community education and developing outreach programs. Currently, she is the managing director of Care Lift Corp., providing advocacy, education and support for care partners in the metro-Atlanta area.
Former Board of Directors, United Methodist Women
Esther Barkat is a retired professor of psychology and is a nationally certified and licensed school psychologist. She currently works at Fairfax County Public Schools as a school psychologist. Born and raised in Pakistan, she came to America in 1973, and earned her doctorate from West Virginia University and her school psychology degree from Marshall University, West Virginia. She has taught at universities and has worked as a school psychologist, therapist and child development specialist. She has published several articles concerning South Asian families and has presented papers at several local, national and international conferences. Barkat has served on the United Methodist Women Board of Directors (2012-2020). She also served on the General Board of Global Ministries Board of Directors, representing United Methodist Women. She was a member of the Northeast Jurisdiction leadership team and served as a consultant to the South Asian Youth Ministry program headed by Global Ministries. Barkat is married to Aslam Barkat, a retired United Methodist pastor. Her husband is serving at St. Luke's United Methodist Church in Falls Church, Virginia. She has three children and one granddaughter.
Director of Connectional Ministry, Oklahoma Conference of The United Methodist Church
The Rev. Derrek Belase is director of connectional ministries for the Oklahoma Conference of The United Methodist Church. He has been active in United Methodist Women as a local church pastor and through Mission u, and has served as a youth and adult study leader, regional study leader, assistant dean, dean and registrar. His life has been changed by the embodied, engaged, transformative learning through United Methodist Women. Belase holds degrees in criminal justice and theology and is currently a doctoral student at Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis. He lives with his family in Edmond, Oklahoma.
Deaconess, Order of Deaconess and Home Missioner
Lauren Breck is a deaconess who was dedicated in May 2021 and is being consecrated at this Assembly. She has grown up in The United Methodist Church and currently attends Zoar United Methodist Church in Snellville, Georgia, teaching Sunday school to middle school students, leading children's church and serving as a lay speaker. She currently serves as Limitless co-coordinator for the North Georgia Conference, has worked and led the children's study for Mission u and Faith, Fun and Everyone. Breck is a pediatric occupational therapist and brings her unique understanding of growth, development, healing and creativity to developing dynamic and personal studies to encourage finding your voice, your confidence and strength in God.
Language Coordinator, Rio Texas Conference United Methodist Women
Minerva Briones is an immigrant, born in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, living in this country for more that 35 years as legal resident. She finally became a U.S. citizen on May 15, 2020. She has been a United Methodist Women member since 1985, and is currently serving as language coordinator of Rio Texas Conference. She is retired and volunteers her time with the Interfaith Welcome Coalition. She assists families who have been released from immigration detention centers, and helps them find their way back to their families and friends in the U.S. who are waiting. Briones has many firsthand accounts of what these families have been going through and giving them hope for the road ahead. She says she has had the best training through United Methodist Women, since her first conference position was communications, among others, and two times as a Mission u study leader.
Pastor, Fair Oaks United Methodist Church
Kim Montenegro is an engaging and encouraging diversity equity inclusion presenter and a pastor in the California-Nevada Annual Conference. For over a decade she has worked as an inspirational facilitator, trainer and lecturer. Her work emerges from years of self-exploration and academic study. Group dialogue, self-inquiry, reflection and whole-body learning by participants are some of the strategies she employs. She invites people to grapple with both the intellectual and emotional complexities of diversity, equity and inclusion. Montenegro identifies as a multiracial African-American woman. Caring about diversity, equity and inclusion isn't just an academic pursuit for her, but a reflection of who she is. She grew up in a multicultural family in Stockton, California, studied cross-cultural sensitivity in seminary and has led workshops across the United States. She is always looking for co-conspirators to build a more inclusive society. She attended Saint Mary's College of California and Pacific School of Religion, where she received her Masters of Divinity. She and her husband have three children.
Former Interim General Secretary, General Commission on Religion and Race of the UMC
M. Garlinda Burton is a United Methodist deaconess with more than 40 years' experience as a writer, editor, speaker, Christian educator and advocate for racial and gender justice. She served as interim general secretary for the denomination's General Commission on Religion and Race (2020-2021), where she led the creation of learning engagements and resources to challenge the worldwide United Methodist Christian church to confront and root out racism in its own structure, systems, worship and disciple-making. Burton previously served as general secretary of the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women, where she raised the denomination's awareness of the issues facing women of color, women from Africa and women from the Philippines. Before taking on leadership ministry in church agencies, she worked as a journalist in public newspapers and at UMNews Service as a news director, also serving as editor of Interpreter magazine and the churchwide program calendar. Burton lives in Nashville, Tennessee, where she is a member of the board of visitors at Vanderbilt Divinity School and secretary of the board of directors of the Wesley Foundation at Tennessee State University. She served as the the founding executive director of the Nashville Freedom School Partnership (2014-2020), a literacy program developed by the Children's Defense Fund to promote reading proficiency, activist citizenship and cultural pride among low-income Black and Brown children and youth.
Charter for Racial Justice Support Team, United Methodist Women
Vicki Busby was born and raised in the Great Lakes state of Michigan. She lived in the Los Angeles area for six years, prior to her job relocating to Texas in 1994. She is very involved with United Methodist Women, currently serving as a local United Methodist Women president, as the Northwest District United Methodist Women social action coordinator, as the Northwest District representative on the North Texas Conference United Methodist Women leadership team, on the North Texas Conference United Methodist Women Racial Justice Charter Policies Committee, as a member of the United Methodist Women Racial Justice Charter support team, representing the South Central Jurisdiction, on her church's Justice Ministry team and on the Church Council. Mission and outreach are a passion of Busby's. She has led mission teams internationally and for hurricane relief recovery in Texas and Louisiana. She has also participated on mission teams in Haiti with FUMC Plano, in Kenya with Living Water International and multiple mission trips to UMCOR Sager-Brown in Baldwin, Louisiana, with her church. She retired in 2010 after 35 years in corporate America working in property and casualty insurance and at a financial brokerage firm, mostly in the area of Information Technology. Busby lives with her husband and dog in Denison, Texas. They worship at Grace UMC in Sherman. All three love to travel and camp in their trailer. Hiking, camping, gardening, reading and crocheting are her passions.
Florida Program Director, Solar United Neighbors
Heaven Campbell is a Florida native and calls Central Florida home. In her role with SUN, she educates, advocates and helps spread solar energy across the Sunshine State. Focusing on energy democracy, SUN seeks to engage everyone in the energy revolution by helping them make the transition to solar and then empowering them to advocate for solar rights. From a farming family and rural Putnam County, Campbell is especially passionate about ensuring equitable distribution of solar access throughout all of Florida.
Executive for Development, United Methodist Women
Deaconess Christi Campos serves as the executive for development and donor relations at the United Methodist Women National Office in New York City. Before coming to the national office, Christi had over 25 years of development, public relations and management experience working for social service agencies in the Kansas City metropolitan area. Past positions include director of development for Legal Aid of Western Missouri and The Whole Person, and executive director of the Domestic Violence Network. Campos is from the Missouri Conference, where she has served as Kansas City North District president; conference vice president and nominations chair, South Central Jurisdiction nominating committee; and as a certified lay speaker. She was consecrated and commissioned to the Order of Deaconess in 2020. Campos enjoys spending time with her three daughters and three grandchildren.
Regional Missionary, United Methodist Women
Emma Cantor is a deaconess from the Philippines and a United Methodist Women missionary. She facilitates trainers' trainings in the Asia/Pacific region. She earned a B.A. degree in Christian education from Harris Memorial College and an M.A. in women and religion from St. Scholastica's College/Institute. She completed further studies in feminist theology through St. Scholastica's Office of Formation and Religious Studies. Cantor enjoys sharing Asian perspectives and concrete experiences on leadership and finding commonalities and inspiration from that exchange.
Trainer, Lakelands Institute
Neal Christie's family is from India and Pakistan. He has lived in Washington, D.C. for 24 years and served the General Board of Church and Society in three positions. He is currently on the faculty of the Lakelands Institute, a trainer in Equity 2.0 for the Baltimore-Washington Conference focusing on antiracism, bias awareness and relationship repair, and on the racial justice team for the conference. Christie has taught at Schools of Christian Mission and Mission u on the following studies: "The Bible as an Immigration Handbook," "The Epistles of John," "Engage Conflict Well," "Covenant," "All About the Money" and "Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools." He has also taught workshops for United Methodist Women globally and workshops for deaconesses in the Philippines.
CFO/Treasurer, Untied Methodist Women
Tamara Clark is a peacemaker at heart. She was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, into a nurturing and close-knit family that was and still is active in the community and church. At a young age she became involved in the ministries of Mid-Town Parish United Methodist Church, where she sang in the choir, helped lead the youth ministry, and was secretary for the local United Methodist Women's group. She credits her church and women's group with helping her to develop spiritually and telling her not to be afraid to lead. Clark is a graduate of Temple University's Fox School of Business. She is a certified public accountant who started her career in public accounting. She has since worked for two United Methodist annual conferences—in Eastern Pennsylvania and Wisconsin—and was elected treasurer and CFO of United Methodist Women one year ago. She is grateful for the opportunity to work for an organization whose work she is passionate about.
Board of Directors, United Methodist Women
Valerie Clark is a member of Covenant United Methodist Church in Rochester, New York, in the Upper New York Conference. She currently serves as lay leader, chairperson of the caring ministry and co-facilitator of her local United Methodist Women unit. Clark is also a member of her district and conference leadership teams and has served on and held several leadership positions at the district and conference levels of United Methodist Women. In the past quadrennium she was the Program Advocacy Group member for her conference. Currently, she is a member of the United Methodist Women Board of Directors. Her passion is teaching and since retiring in 2011, Clark maintains a connection to the profession as an adjunct professor of undergraduate studies in literacy for the State University of New York.
Just Energy Coordinator, Partnership for Southern Equity
Blythe Coleman-Mumford serves as the Just Energy coordinator for the Partnership for Southern Equity, and the chair of the Education and Action Committee for the Just Energy Circle. She originally came to PSE when she met Chandra Farley and former Just Energy manager Eriqah Vincent, at the 2019 U.S Climate Action Network annual meeting. As an annual meeting intern in 2019, she helped put together an inaugural dinner convening specifically for USCAN environmental leaders of color to meet and discuss unique priorities they had moving into 2020. Coleman-Mumford has grounded her career in relationship building and continues to bring this passion into her work at PSE. At Smith College she studied environmental science and policy, with a concentration in sustainable foods. She notably co-created a network called SCOPES, where students of color across the five-college consortium could come together to discuss how their environmental and climate studies could be inherently more intersectional, and she advocated for this at the administrative level. Her love of environmental studies came from being a student leader at her high school and board representative for a school farm project. During this time, she led a group of students in maintaining a farm plot behind her local Boys and Girls Club, and eventually was able to use the produce grown in her school lunch menu. She thrives on collaboration and the shared understanding that environmental justice is foundational in understanding the core of the social justice movement.
Faith and Justice Equity Dirversity and Inclustion Manager, Southeast Climate and Energy Network
The Rev. Dallas Conyers is a community health activist from Brooklyn, New York, who now enjoys living in the beauty of the South. Her work is centered in helping people be able to live out their creation purpose with a healthy body in a healthy environment. Conyers believes we must be intentional in being as physically, mentally and spiritually healthy as possible so that we can accomplish what God set each of us to do without the hindrances of self-inflicted illness. In this ministry, She leads workshops and classes with the hope that her work encourages people to build a love of themselves so that when it is time to love others as they love themselves, it is prolific. In addition to being an advocate, Conyers is also a writer, body restoration specialist, preacher, certified sustainable agriculturalist, beekeeper, yoga/pranayama/meditation instructor and licensed nursery worker.
Author, Upper Room Books
Marsha Crockett is a certified spiritual director and author of six nonfiction books, including a book on the gifts of spiritual direction from Upper Room Books (release date in March 2022). She resides in Port Orchard, Washington, with her husband, and is actively involved with the Port Orchard United Methodist Church. She has led small-group ministries at numerous churches, including the recent establishment of listening groups in her local community. She believes that the spiritual journey is best lived in community where we are invited to come home to ourselves, to God and to others.
Charter for Racial Justice Support Team, United Methodist Women
Jessie Cunningham is a member of St. Andrew United Methodist Church in Homewood, Illinois, where she serves as lay leader, lay delegate to Annual Conference and treasurer. She is the former social action coordinator of the Northern Illinois Conference United Methodist Women. She represented the conference at the 2011 National Seminar in Birmingham, Alabama. Her focus in 2011 was immigration, and she has spent the four years since speaking on immigration in each district in the conference. She taught a class in Economic Inequality at the 2015 National Seminar in Chicago. She was a delegate to the United Nations CSW-60 in 2016 representing United Methodist Women. Cunningham is currently a member of the conference Board of Ordained Ministry, Episcopacy Committee and a member of the Racial Justice Charter Support Team representing the North Central Jurisdiction. She taught a workshop at Assembly 2018, titled "Resisting Racism."
Spiritual Growth and Formation Specialist, United Methodist Women
Nora Asedillo Cunningham is the spiritual growth and formation specialist for United Methodist Women. Her role facilitates opportunities for spiritual growth and nourishment that reflect a fundamental joining together of social justice with faith practice. She received her Master of Divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary in New York City, where she studied postcolonial and liberation theologies and Christian social ethics. She has a bachelor's degree in sociology from Mount Holyoke College.
Retired Director of Spiritual Formation and Mission Theology, United Methodist Women
Glory Dharmaraj is retired director of spiritual formation and mission theology for United Methodist Women. She is the president of the World Association for Christian Communication-North America. She has served as the administrator of the United Methodist Seminar Program on National and International Affairs at the Church Center for the United Nations, New York. She was previously a district program resource secretary in the former Central Illinois Conference. Dharmaraj is an author and co-author of several books, including "Concepts of Mission," "Many Faces and One Church" and "A Theology of Mutuality: A Paradigm for the 21st Century." She has addressed several national and international conferences on the themes of Christian mission, interfaith, and media and gender. Dharmaraj earned her Ph.D. from Loyola University, Chicago. She has done special studies at Harvard University and joint doctor of ministry studies at San Francisco Theological Seminary, California, and Ecumenical Theological Education at the World Council of Churches, Geneva. Her favorite hobby is listening to medieval chants and lyrics in her mother tongue, Tamil.
Former Board of Directors, United Methodist Women
Gail Ddouglas-Boykin was commissioned as a deaconess in May 2020 and serves in ministry as the coordinator of ministerial services for the New York Annual Conference Board of Ordained Ministry. She served as a member of the United Methodist Women National Board of Directors (2012-2020), and as the chair of the governance committee (2016-2020). She has served as a United Methodist Women study leader for more than 10 years and has been trained to facilitate workshops and lead mission studies. Douglas-Boykin has been Bible journaling for a number of years. Although she has no formal training in Bible journaling, she believes that participants will benefit from what she has learned about meditating on the scriptures and prayer while Bible journaling.
Executive, International Ministries, United Methodist Women
Tatiana Dwyer, executive for Global Justice, has more than a decade-long career with United Methodist Women. She currently provides leadership and oversight to international work supporting and empowering women in Central Conferences of The United Methodist Church. She works directly with regional missionaries and in-country women teams to develop and direct the long- and short-term planning and projects that can achieve measurable impact on women's lives. She serves on the Grant Review Committee and Mission Giving team, and is a creator of the virtual series Voices from the Field, featuring women leaders sharing their work and life stories. She also led global advocacy and coordinated work related to the U.N. and global justice issues for United Methodist Women. Dwyer has more than 25 years of professional experience in international relief, development and advocacy with on-the-ground work experience in Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Tajikistan and Romania. She is a thematic expert in the areas of gender advancement, women's empowerment and leadership development. She led the United Methodist Women International Strategy team to determine strategic direction and develop an innovative community-based approach. This approach focuses on building local leaders, empowering women economically and mobilizing opportunities and resources to help women improve their lives and livelihoods. Dwyer worked as the associate director for Church World Service (2005-2009), where she was responsible for Eastern Europe and the Middle East development portfolios. Prior to CWS, she worked as the community development director for World Vision International in Kosovo. She managed a multiyear comprehensive youth development program funded by USAID and implemented by UMCOR in Georgia (1998-2001). She also served as the head of the monitoring team for the U.N. World Food Programme, and as field coordinator for Caritas Denmark in Georgia (1995-1997). She received an M.P.A. from Columbia University and a B.A. in English Language and Teaching from the State University of Foreign Languages in Tbilisi, Georgia.
Board of Directors, United Methodist Women
Magdala Edmond is a member of St. John United Methodist Church in Highland County, Florida. She first served in her local unit, and later served for four years as the language coordinator at the conference level. She also served for four years as a national office director and is currently serving her second term. Edmond loves public speaking and collaborating with people who have different backgrounds. As a person working in the medical field, she has a passion for helping others to build faith in God.
Former Board of Directors, United Methodist Women
Deaconess Clara Ester lives in Mobile, Alabama, where she served for 36 years at Dumas Wesley Community Center, a United Methodist Women national mission institution. Her affiliation with United Methodist Women began as a child attending meetings with her mother in Memphis, Tennessee. She has served at the local, district and conference levels and just completed the 2016-2020 term as national vice president of United Methodist Women. Through her high school and college years, Ester participated in numerous strikes and boycotts during the 1960s. Her interest in social welfare and justice was fueled by her early relationship with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She was very active in the Civil Rights struggle in Memphis, and worked with several other projects throughout the South. She was one of the youth organizers for the Second Poor People's Campaign in Marks, Mississippi. Ester has consistently tried to speak out against injustices all her life because Black Americans have been trying to gain equality and justice for over 400 years.
Faith Talks, United Methodist Women
Jennifer Farmer is an author, trainer and small business owner. She is the author of "First and Only: A Black Woman's Guide to Thriving at Work and in Life" and "Extraordinary PR, Ordinary Budget: A Strategy Guide." In addition to her books, she is an essayist whose writing focuses on everything from faith to leadership development to issues of gender and race. Her work has appeared in publications such as Thrive Global! Blavity, Society for Nonprofits, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, CNN, The Root, HuffPost, LifeHack, PR Daily, Red Letter Christians and more. Farmer is the founder of Spotlight PR LLC, a boutique firm specializing in communications strategy and for leaders and groups committed to social and racial justice, and also the founder of the Center for Social Justice Leadership, which exists to support leaders and organizations in creating more inclusive workplace cultures. She has provided services to national organizations and celebrities committed to social and racial justice space.
Charter for Racial Justice, United Methodist Women
Kathy FitzJefferies is from the Western North Carolina Conference. She is a member of the United Methodist Women Racial Justice Charter Support Team representing the Southeastern Jurisdiction. Over the past 20 years, she has been member and held leadership positions in various groups committed to racial justice. She has over 40 years' experience as a clinical addiction social worker and educator. On this spiritual journey as an advocate and activist for racial justice, FitzJefferies is learning and gaining understanding of what it means to be antiracist.
Deaconess, Office of Deaconess and Home Missioner
Allison Francesco is a deaconess and educator from Beach Lake, Pennsylvania, in the Susquehanna Annual Conference. She is the past vice president and spiritual growth director for Susquehanna United Methodist Women and is a local member of Beach Lake Friday Friends United Methodist Women. Currently, Francesco teaches 8th grade English language arts at Wallenpaupack Area Middle School. She has completed her health ministry certificate through Wesley's Heal the Sick Program and serves as lay leader and health ministry chair for her local congregation. She is a doctoral candidate for educational leadership at Wilkes University; her research focuses on best practices for educators in assuring a welcoming and safe environment for LGBTQI students.
Member, Friday Friends United Methodist Women at Beach Lake UMC
Angelea Francesco is a student at Penn State University, and is originally from Beach Lake, Pennsylvania in the Susquehanna Annual Conference. They are a member of Friday Friends United Methodist Women at Beach Lake United Methodist Church, and were a panelist at United Methodist Women Assembly in 2018. Francesco is currently studying to become a community health educator with a focus on LGBTQ+ health. They are both a member of the Susquehanna Conference Reconciling Ministries Team and an officer at Penn State Altoona's Pride Alliance. Angelea has been out as a member of the queer community for seven years, and as a trans individual for four years.
Program Advisory Group, United Methodist Women
Inez Freeman is a member of United Methodist Women, representing the Peninsula-Delaware Conference. She has worked as a patient access supervisor at University of Maryland Shore Regional Health in Easton, Maryland, for 23 years. At Union United Methodist Church in St. Michaels, Maryland, she is currently the president of their local unit. She has served on the Peninsula-Delaware Conference United Methodist Women mission team as communications coordinator and secretary of program resources. She also served as dean of the conference's annual mission education event, Mission u. Freeman is married with two sons, and is a grandmother of four.
Gifts Processor/Trainer, United Methodist Women
Geraldine Garbutt was born in Belize, Central America. She was raised to trust in God through the strong faith of her mother and grandparents. After immigrating to New York with her mother and younger brother, Garbutt attended O.I.C. Training School in Brooklyn, where she studied secretarial and office skills. She always had a passion to work with a faith-based organization. She has worked in gift processing within the finance department for both the General Board of Global Ministries and United Methodist Women.
Executive for International Ministries, United Methodist Women
Betty Gittens is the executive for international ministries with United Methodist Women. She leads and coordinates international programming for women, children and youth that focuses on impacting poverty through building capacities of local women leaders and supporting economic development programs. She works with the regional missionaries and local in-country teams to develop and implement long- and short-term projects for women. She serves on the Grants Review Committee and has provided past leadership on the Jurisdiction and Regional School planning teams. Gittens previously served as lead staff for United Methodist Women's mission service program, Ubuntu Journeys, which provided international short-term mission service opportunities for members. She also held the position of executive for Research and Hospitality, serving as a resource to United Methodist Women members on global issues and United Nations advocacy. She coordinated United Methodist Women's hospitality program at the Church Center for the United Nations that provided a forum for partners and civil society to engage in peace and justice advocacy at the U.N. Prior to United Methodist Women, she worked at Global Ministries as the executive secretary for Congregational Health Ministries, providing global training and resourcing while supporting networking opportunities for leaders engaged in health ministries. She received a M.A. in Government and Politics with a focus in international relations from St. John's University and a B.A. in Business Administration from Marymount Manhattan College.
Transformative Education and Training Specialist, United Methodist Women
Jay Godfrey is the transformative education and training specialist for United Methodist Women, providing leadership in the development and production of Mission u curricula and training events. He began attending Mission u as a teen with his church in central Pennsylvania in the 1980s and early 1990s. These experiences led to a life of service in the church, including spending five years as a young-adult missionary with the General Board of Global Ministries in Alabama, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and New York City. Since joining the staff of United Methodist Women, Godfrey has served as a study leader trainer with Mission u for more than 10 years and written four youth studies, including the 2021 youth study, "Becoming Peacemakers in a Culture of Violence." Godfrey holds a Master of Divinity degree with a concentration in Church and Community Ministries from the Candler School of Theology, Emory University.
Editorial Director, The Upper Room, Discipleship Ministries of the UMW
Lindsay Gray is editorial director at The Upper Room. She has been on the staff there since 2012. She particularly enjoys collaborating with writers, helping them share their experiences of God in clear and relatable ways. Gray is an alumna of Hollins University, where she received a bachelor's degree in religious studies and developed a passion for writing and editing. She received her Master of Divinity degree from Vanderbilt University Divinity School. Gray lives in Tennessee, where she loves hiking in the Smokies, knitting and listening to audiobooks.
Founder and Lead Practicioner, Inclusive Modality
Deaconess Rosa Linda (Rosie) Guadarrama is the founder and lead practitioner for Inclusive Modality, where she serves as a Reiki master, yoga instructor and Ayurveda practitioner. In addition to her healing passion, she balances her sense of justice as a licensed arbitrator. At her home church, Upland First UMC, she serves as a deaconess, lay minister and lay servant. As part of her local volunteer work, she has been serving as a facilitator, having dialogues about race and related issues between Pilgrim Place residents (a retirement community for religious leaders) the National Council of Negro Women and the NAACP. As a facilitator, she experienced many "aha" moments in building unity between people who once thought they had nothing in common, eventually realizing something they already knew at some level: that we are all God's children and worthy of love. Guadarrama enjoys knitting, crocheting, reading, coloring and traveling. She shares these talents at home, on mission trips and wherever she goes. While at Chautauqua 15 years ago, she joined Knitting4Peace and has shared her talents as a travel agent, (delivering peace pals), as a diversity committee member and pod organizer. She travels with a purpose on mission trips (to Mexico, Puerto Rico and Haiti teaching knitting), Ubuntu trips (to Cambodia and Costa Rica), always sharing her gifts. She is an eternal student who loves to learn. A friend recently stated, "Rosie is a humanitarian leader, an interfaith spiritual mentor and an ambassador of ahimsa."
Owner, Brenda Gullet Associates
Brenda Gullett is a member of Priscilla (Circle 3) Central United Methodist Church in Fayetteville, Arkansas and serves as social action coordinator for the Arkansas Conference. Her work in human resources inspires human potential through skills training for both nonprofit and for-profit businesses, including training in customer service, supervision, board member development, training of trainers, conflict resolution, vision and mission statement development, facilitation, leadership development and interpersonal communication. Gullet is also a public speaker and keynote presenter. She hold a B.A. in English, Oral Communication, along with a Secondary Education certificate.
Program Advisory Group, United Methodist Women
Olhivia Gutierrez is from San Antonio, Texas, and was raised in The United Methodist Church at the hands of faithful United Methodist Women. She has volunteered for many years with Justice for Our Neighbors, a UMC immigration ministry, and has served on their staff. She hopes to educate people that it is not as simple as they think to become a U.S. citizen, legal permanent resident, or even have protected status in the U.S. Gutierrez became a U.S. citizen in 2017.
Creator, Women's Financial Connection
Debra Hadsall co-created the Lunch Bunch Mentoring Activity in 2010 in Port Isabel, Texas, when she was the United Methodist Women president at the local United Methodist church, as part of the local United Methodist Women outreach mission. She did the same in Fredericksburg, Texas when she moved there in 2013. She has held a variety of local United Methodist Women unit offices and also served on the district board. Over the last 20+ years, Hadsall's professional life has been mainly focused on financial literacy for girls and women. She created the Women's Financial Connection to provide financial literacy for girls and women. She is also the author of four books. Hadsall is currently a returning member of Smoky Hill UMC; but also was a member of Port Isabel UMC (Texas), Fredericksburg UMC (Texas) and Barnett Chapel UMC (Kerrville, Texas) over the years. She was a United Methodist Women member at three of the churches. She attributes her confidence to start the Lunch Bunch Activities and be an on-site mentor to learning from accomplished local and national United Methodist Women leaders and servants.
Executive for Candidacy Office of Deaconess and Home Missioner, United Methodist Women
Megan Hale was consecrated as a deaconess at Assembly in 2014. She has been appointed to the role of executive for the Office of Deaconess and Home Missioner, which is administered by United Methodist Women. In her role, she oversees aspects of the deaconess and home missioner relationship.
Program Advisory Group, United Methodist Women
Deaconess Kim Harris, Program Advisory Group liaison, has been a member of the United Methodist Church of Anoka in the Minnesota Conference for 20+ years. She has held positions of leadership in United Methodist Women at the local, district and conference levels, including as technology coordinator, vice president/program coordinator, communications coordinator, member of the nominations committee, Mission u study leader and web master. With the love a support of the local, district and conference United Methodist Women, she learned about and became a member of the Order of Deaconess and Home Missioner. She was consecrated as a Deaconess and Home Missioner in 2016, and is commissioned as an early childhood educator at Kids & Co Child Care in Anoka.
Program Advisory Group, NEJ President, United Methodist Women
Mikele Haskins-Delmore hails from the Baltimore-Washington Conference. She currently serves as president of the Northeastern Jurisdiction of United Methodist Women. She serves on her conference's Charter for Racial Justice committee, has led several book discussions on ending institutional racism and is actively involved in issues that impact communities of color.
Manager of Faith and Community Relations, Kids Above All, formerly ChildServ
Catherine Inserra lives in a suburb of Chicago and is active at her home church of First UMC Park Ridge, Illinois. Her affiliation to United Methodist Women is as a consecrated Deaconess, and she serves as the manager of Faith and Community Relations with the Kids Above All child welfare agency, which was established by Lucy Rider Meyer as a Methodist Deaconess Orphanage in 1894 in Lake Bluff, Illinois. She earned a certificate of spiritual direction at Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary in 2010, and served two different churches in faith and spiritual formation ministries between 2006 to 2019, including participating in Lay Servant Academies as a leader and Mission u as a study leader for children and a study leader for adults. Inserra began leading a prayer practice experience using the Lord's Prayer and introducing movement to embody the prayer in 2009, and is committed to giving it new life for such times as this and to equip women with the power of the prayer Jesus gave to us through His disciples.
Education Minister of Discipleship Intern, Mill Creek Parish United Methodist Church
The Rev. Esther Inuwa is an ordained elder in the Southern Nigeria Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, Nigeria Episcopal Area. She is the general secretary of The United Methodist Church Clergywomen Association of the Nigeria Episcopal Area. She served in various leadership roles at the local district and the annual conference of the Southern Nigeria Annual Conference. Her care for children's education led her to open a nursery/primary school in UMC Nigeria Kunini to provide qualitative education to the children in that community. Before her call to ministry, Inuwa worked with the Ardo-Kola local government council of Taraba State, Nigeria, as a public administrator and women development officer. She also served the National Council of Women Society, Taraba State Chapter, as their public relations officer for five years. Her combined experience with women, youth and children as the development officer for 17 years has given her the knowledge to advocate for women and youth empowerment and children's education at the local and state levels. As a local church pastor and through her pastoral work, she contributes and advocates for women and children's rights and wellbeing in society. She is also a missionary and enjoys traveling to new places for missionary activities outside of Nigeria, and experiencing cross-cultural differences that shape her ministry. Inuwa studied public administration at the Federal University of Technology, Yola, Nigeria, and obtained a public administration diploma. When called to ministry, she obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Theology at West Africa Theological Seminary, Lagos, Nigeria (2013), and was later enrolled at Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, D.C. She graduated with a Master of Theological Studies (2020) and is currently attending Drew University to pursue a Master of Sacred Theology. While at Wesley, Inuwa served as an intern with the General Board of Church and Society, Washington, D.C. (2019-2020), and as a Wesley's missioner-in-residence of the Epworth House Mission Committee of the Greater Washington/Central Maryland District of the Baltimore/Washington Conference (2018-2020). She is passionate about preaching the gospel by the act of love for God and service to humanity, which she believes is a tool for transforming the world as Christ's disciples. Currently, she serves as an education minister of discipleship intern at Mill Creek Parish UMC in Rockville, Maryland.
Women's Executive Secretary, Mozambique North Annual Conference
Alzira Sebastiao Isaac Machauene was born in Mozambique and has served as United Methodist Women's executive secretary of the Mozambique North Annual Conference since 2014. She is married to a pastor and is a mother of four children, one boy and three girls.
Director of Mobilization and Advocacy, United Methodist Women.
Mollie James-Vickery is a United Methodist deaconess serving as the director of mobilization and advocacy for United Methodist Women. She has previously served as outreach director at CUMAC (Center for United Methodist Aid to the Community) in Paterson, New Jersey. Prior to moving to Northern New Jersey, she served as executive director of Edwards Street Fellowship Center, a United Methodist Community Center and Food Pantry in South Mississippi. She holds a B.A. in History from the University of Southern Mississippi and a Master of Special Education from William Carey University. She was a teacher for more than 10 years previously, specializing in students with disabilities. This work inspired a passion for advocacy that still drives her work today. She is married to Scott James-Vickery, who is a home missioner serving as executive for the Office of Deaconess and Home Missioner at United Methodist Women. Together they have five children and make their home in Hackensack, New Jersey.
Executive for Deaconess and Home Missioner, United Methodist Women
Scott James-Vickery is a home missioner of The United Methodist Church, appointed as an executive to the Office of Deaconess and Home Missioner, which is administered by United Methodist Women.
Executive for Racial Justice, United Methodist Women
Emily Jones works as the executive for racial justice at United Methodist Women. She leads United Methodist Women's campaign to interrupt the school-to-prison pipeline. Prior to her current position, she served as the director and lead organizer for the Rhode Island Interfaith Coalition to Reduce Poverty. Jones has also worked as a program manager for an education nonprofit and as a lay associate pastor for discipleship at a new church plant in Chicago, Illinois. She began her career as a labor organizer with the health care employees' union in Connecticut.
Promoter of Women's Rights, Centro Ecuménico Popular para América Latina de Comunicación (CEPALC)
Nathalia Juez Mahecha lives in Bogota, Colombia. She is a leader trained in the Centro Ecuménico Popular para América Latina de Comunicación/Center for Social Communication in Latin America (CEPALC) process of accompanying vulnerable populations. She currently works as a promoter of women's rights with CEPALC and writes for the "women's word" section of CEPALC's "Encuentro" magazine for popular communication. CEPALC is an ecumenical center that has been working for 43 years for training in communication, values and rights of the people of the popular sectors and with special emphasis on gender and women's rights. For the past five years Juez Mahecha has been a part of the women's team that prepares workshop series and accompanies other women in this process in different parts of Colombia as a promoter of women's rights. She is in her final year as a student of physiotherapy at the Rosario University, where she participated in its different institutional groups that promote women's rights.
Board of Directors, United Methodist Women
Daryl Junes-Joe is a Navajo from Shiprock, New Mexico. She is a national director and chair of the Governance Committee. She has been a member of United Methodist Women since 1988 and has chaired the Shiprock United Methodist Women unit. She is retired from the Navajo Nation government. She has litigation experience involving domestic violence and sexual assault cases and has presented trainings to various law enforcement agencies and tribal entities. Junes-Joe has presented at various United Methodist Women events, Sunday church services and community affairsl. She has presented testimony before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on the substandard maintenance of the oil and gas equipment, and she also presented at the United Nations side events concerning injustices against Indigenous women. Her experience in her Christian walk as a Native woman has been an interest to non-Native people, and she teaches from her Native life and teachings from her elders.
Program Coordinator for Grassroots Organizing, General Board of Church and Society of the UMC
Laura Kigweba James is the program coordinator for grassroots organizing at the General Board of Church and Society. She is committed to building, strengthening and equipping United Methodists to transform the church and community through faith-based community organizing. In partnership with the director of grassroots organizing, she facilitates and develops training that strengthens the capacity and leadership of all United Methodists to respond to matters of social justice in the church, community and world. Kigweba James attended Wesley Theological Seminary, where she studied as a missional fellow. At Wesley, she discovered her call and passion for the church to recognize and renew its commitment to social justice. She received her Master of Divinity in Missional and Urban Church Studies (2015), and was appointed to a church in Baltimore, Maryland. After serving in Baltimore, she was called to work with Church and Society to strengthen her role as a faith leader committed to justice and social change. Kigweba James is passionate about deepening the connection and understanding between faith and justice for all people and deeply believes acts of justice are spiritual disciplines that transform hearts and minds for all of God's people.
Charte for Racial Justice Support Team, New England Conference.
Susan Kim was born in Korea and moved to New York City with her family in 1972, while in high school . In 2018, she moved to Bedford, Massachusetts, to be close to her twin granddaughters. She served as the Korean language coordinator, vice president, and president in the New York Conference United Methodist Women unit. She is currently serving as the business manager in the New England Conference Mission u. One of the 10 members of the Racial Justice Charter Support Team formed in 2016, she also serves as the co-chair of the Racial Justice Task Force at the Korean Ministry Plan of The United Methodist Church at Global Ministries. She gave presentations and workshops at United Methodist Women gatherings and local churches. Learning of the hidden/untold U.S. history of the abused—Indigenous folks, slaves, Blacks, Latinx and Asians, together with the RJCST and sharing personal stories with diverse backgrounds—enlightened her about how deeply systemic racism is rooted in our country. This journey in racial justice empowered her to share her experience of growing up as a 1.5-generation immigrant with model minority myth and honorary white privilege. Racism has been presented as a binary issue between Blacks and whites. However, Asians have been a part of American history for over 200 years, yet are still not considered to be American.
Vice President, United Methodist Women, California Pacific Conference
Young Mae Kim was born and raised in Seoul, Korea. She now lives in Los Angeles with her husband and has two adult children living in the area. She is currently serving as vice president of United Methodist Women in the California-Pacific Conference. Kim's professional background is in broadcasting. She worked as a reporter, editor and training coordinator in Korea for a major TV/radio broadcasting company before coming to the United States with her husband and two young children. In the U.S. she worked in public school systems as a teaching assistant and substitute teacher (in California), and an early literacy coordinator leading classes and workshops for parents and toddlers promoting literacy activities (in Virginia). She participates in a weekly Quiet Time women's small group, and has been part of a Bible reflection online group for more than three years.
Charter for Racial Justice Support Team, United Methodist Women
Jo Ann Lawson currently serves on the Racial Justice Charter Support team of United Methodist Women, representing the Western Jurisdictional area. She served as vice president and president of the California-Nevada Conference United Methodist Women (2008-2015). She has also served on the Pacific Regional School Team, the Annual Conference Session Planning Committee, the District Committee on Ordained Ministry and the Conference Board of Pensions of The United Methodist Church. In 1998, Lawson retired from a career with the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation, a national nonprofit organization chartered and funded by Congress since 1967, with the charge of revitalizing neighborhoods, providing affordable housing in middle- to low-income communities, leadership development and self-sufficiency through public/private partnerships. As director of the Pacific Region (Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon and California), she was responsible for funding, organizing, staffing and supporting the development of independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit, community-development agencies throughout the Pacific region. She staffed and managed a regional office in Oakland, as well as two field offices (Honolulu and Los Angeles). The home office of Neighborhood Reinvestment (currently NeighborWorks America) is based in Washington, D. C. Prior to NRC, Lawson served as executive assistant to three mayors of Berkeley, California, over a period of 16 years. She is a member of Easter Hill UMC in Richmond, where she serves on the Worship Committee, Intercessory Prayer Ministry, Stewardship Committee and Endowment Committee, and also sings with the Voices of Easter Hill Choir. She also served as vice president on the UMW Western Jurisdiction Leadership Team (2016-2018). She is the wife of Rev. Phil Lawson, retired pastor of Easter Hill UMC, and has a daughter and a grandson.
Director of Anti-Racism, General Commission on Religion and Race of the UMC
Michelle Ledder serves as the Director of Anti-Racism for the General Commission on Religion and Race (GCORR). GCORR focuses on helping the United Methodist Church, at all levels, live into increasingly honorable forms of diversity, inclusion, and racial equity. Rev. Ledder is an ordained Elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church and serves as an Assistant Minister at Metropolitan AME Church in Washington DC, where the Rev. William Lamar, IV is pastor. Michelle is a PhD Candidate at Emory University with a focus on homiletics and pedagogy. Her dissertation is entitled, "To Tell the Truth in Love: An Anti-Racist Homiletic for 21st Century White Christians." She currently resides in Baltimore City.
Author, The Upper Room
Britney Winn Lee is an author, editor and community arts nonprofit director living in Shreveport, Louisiana, with her husband and son. A lifelong United Methodist and writer at the intersection of faith and justice, she published her book, "Rally: Communal Prayers for Lovers of Jesus and Justice," in 2020 through The Upper Room. Lee has worked in ministry for 12 years, and spent five years as the director of a faith-based community arts nonprofit. She has experience in public speaking and leading workshops, and has taught at state-level United Methodist Women conferences. Lee has also attended the larger regional United Methodist Church conference.
Executive, Economic and Environmental Justice, United Methodist Women
Elizabeth Chun Hye (Liz) Lee serves as United Methodist Women's executive for Economic and Environmental Justice and Climate Justice lead. Her primary area of work is around advancing climate justice with United Methodist Women members, church and society through trainings, program development, partnerships, corporate engagement, advocacy and solidarity. She advocates for climate justice through the intersections of women's rights, human rights and theology. Lee represents United Methodist Women at the U.S. Climate Action Network, NAACP's Solar Equity Initiative, Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility and the Transit Equity Network. She was recognized by Sojourners as one of "10 Christian Women Shaping the Church in 2020" and served as a women's Earth alliance alumnae mentor. Lee previously served as the director for young adult mission service at the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church, developing over 100 global and national partnerships and training and supporting hundreds of young adults around the world to live out their faith through social justice. She has also worked with the World Council of Churches' United Nations Liaison Office, focused on human rights, gender justice, migration, indigenous people's rights and climate displacement. She also worked as a Coro fellow in Public Affairs (New York) and a Williams in China fellow at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the Asian Human Rights Commission (Hong Kong). Lee has served on boards and executive teams including Global Youth Connect, Ecumenical Women at the United Nations, the World Student Christian Federation Trustees in the USA and Nexus Korean American UMC network. She serves as the Church and Society chair at HA:N UMC. Lee's studies include coursework in comparative politics, political identity, human rights, history, theology and women studies from Williams College, Oxford University and Regent College (Canada). She was born in Seoul, South Korea and grew up in New York City before studying and working globally. She lives in occupied Canarsie, Matinecock and Munsee Lenape Queens, New York with her spouse and daughter, navigating what it means to "Be Just. Be Green."
Connectional Officer, United Methodist Women
Sung-ok Lee is the connectional officer for United Methodist Women, where she has worked for the past 30 years. Currently, she is a member of the Senior Leadership Team and has responsibility for developing and strengthening relationships within The United Methodist Church and ecumenically on behalf of United Methodist Women; preparing United Methodist Women for participation in General Conference, particularly in legislation development, member education, advocacy and monitoring; supporting the work of the jurisdictions, organizational bylaws and governance; overseeing the work of United Methodist Women's international mission; and overseeing the work of the Deaconess/Home Missioner Office. Lee obtained her Masters in Theological Studies and Social Work at Boston University. She is a deaconess, commissioned in the New York Annual Conference. A mother of two adult daughters, she is a lifelong United Methodist and a longtime member of United Methodist Women.
Executive Director, Labor Sustainability Network
Michael Leon Guerrero serves as the executive director for Labor Sustainability Network. He previously served as the national coordinator of the Climate Justice Alliance. Guerrero has over 30 years of community-organizing and alliance-building experience. He was a field organizer and executive director at SouthWest Organizing Project for 17 years, leading successful environmental and economic justice campaigns. He helped strengthen environmental policy and enforcement in low-income Chicano communities. Guerrero co-founded and served as the national coordinator of the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (2004-2012), playing a leadership role in organizing the World and U.S. Social Forums. He also served as executive director of UNITY, an alliance of national alliances organizing in different sectors of working-class communities of color in the U.S. He also serves on the board of directors of Greenpeace, Inc., and is a former board member of Jobs with Justice.
President & CEO, United Way of Yellowstone County
Kim Lewis is originally from Arizona. Her husband is a UMC minister and they have lived in the Rocky Mountains for the past 15 years. She is the CEO of a local United Way and is also a deaconess candidate. Lewis used to be an adjunct professor, teaching business communications. She learned to lead a Zoom class on "How to Encounter God Through Arts/Crafts" for her congregation during the pandemic.
Program Advisory Group, SCJ President, United Methodist Women
Ellen Lipsey is a retired Texas public school teacher. After teaching elementary grades for 31 years, she chose to transition from the classroom to advocate for children and their families through the many opportunities provided by United Methodist Women. She has served in various leadership positions on each level of United Methodist Women, most recently as part of the team of jurisdiction guides for United Methodist Women's Be just. Be green. program. In that role she was promoting wholeness and justice in the way meetings and events are planned, and resourcing Conference United Methodist Women teams in reaching climate justice goals. Lipsey currently serves as South Central Jurisdiction United Methodist Women president and as a member of the board of McCurdy Ministries Community Center, one of United Methodist Women's national mission institutions.
Retired Mental Health Counselor, Washington County
Gloria Marple was born in St. Helens, Oregon, where her father was pastor at the local Methodist church. She grew up in Idaho and Oregon, moving as her father was called to pastor for The United Methodist Church. She was consecrated as a deaconess of The United Methodist Church in 2012. Marple retired in 2018 after almost 20 years as a mental health counselor at the Washington County Jail in Hillsboro, Oregon, where she conducted different cognitive groups for the women and men. During that time, she also served as lay assigned at Wilshire United Methodist Native American Fellowship (2011-2016), now known as Great Spirit, in northeast Portland. At the latest count, there are more than 38,000 urban Natives in Portland. In addition to her work in the Washington County Jail, Marple became a life coach for the new deaconesses and home missioners coming into the Deaconess and Home Missioner order. She is continuing that work with a group to be consecrated at the 2022 United Methodist Women Assembly. Marple served on the Conference United Methodist Women team (2004-2010), first in Membership, Nurture and Outreach, and then as vice president. She also served as president of the Metro District (2010-2011). Most recently she has served as spiritual growth liaison for the Columbia District and is currently vice president in the Cascadia District. Marple earned her B.S. degree at Concordia University (1996) and her Master's degree at Lewis and Clark College (1999). She married in 1973, and in 1986 she and her husband adopted two special needs sons. They lived in northeast Portland for many years, and moved to Yamhill, Oregon, in 2012.
Founder, Self-care Revolution Spark
Dawn Martin is the first board-certified holistic nurse in Mississippi. She is a lifelong member of First United Methodist Church in Columbia, Mississippi, and serves as the Brookhaven District United Methodist Women education and interpretation coordinator. After taking care of both sets of her grandparents and finishing nursing school, she embarked on a journey to inspire, encourage and empower others to take the wheel concerning their health. She is a BASI-certified pilates instructor, synergistic myofascial therapy practitioner, Reiki master, and holistic health and self-care lifestyle coach. She focuses first on posture because it is vital to performance and longevity, and every organ in the body functions better when the spine and chakras are aligned. She has created a pilates chair class repertoire that is incredibly effective at improving body awareness, core strength, posture and relieving common tension patterns. These simple exercises are easily doable by most anyone at any age or stage of fitness. Martin is also the creator of Pilates for Nurses and several other virtual courses designed to empower people to self-care. A mother of four, she enjoys camping with her family, foraging, gardening, learning, teaching and dancing.
Program Advisory Group, United Methodist Women
A lifelong United Methodist, Dr. Karen McElfish is passionate about her work with United Methodist Women. She currently serves as a member of the Program Advisory Group and liaison to Conference Social Action Coordinators. She has held many positions in United Methodist Women, including coordinator for social action and education and interpretation for her local unit, Arlington District social action coordinator and president, and Virginia Conference vice president and social action coordinator. She chaired the Conference Legacy Committee, co-coordinated the Conversations on A Way Forward and led studies for Mission Encounter. As a United Methodist Women representative, she serves on the board for Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, the Conference Legislative Network and the Conference Board of Church and Society. Additionally, she is the Arlington District lay leader, delegate to Jurisdictional Conference and first alternate delegate to General Conference. McElfish is a retired pediatrician, now pursuing a second career in art. She is married and has two daughters and a granddaughter. She enjoys singing in church choir and playing cello and flute. One of her greatest joys about United Methodist Women is the opportunity to work with and befriend women from many walks of life, across the United States.
Associate Music Director, Zoar United Methodist Church
Olivia McKinsey is associate music director at Zoar United Methodist Church in Snellville, Georgia. She originally hails from Maryland and now calls Snellville home. She joined The United Methodist Church eight years ago. McKinsey has worked with the children, youth and adults within her chosen missions. She is an active member of the praise team and leads roadside cleanups. She is focused on seeking out the role of women in scripture.
Program Advisory Group, WJ President, United Methodist Women
Bonita Miller is grateful to live on Dena'ina Elnena land and Denendeh land in Nikiski, Alaska. There she gardens, walks, practices yoga, enjoys her vast state and keeps active as a mother of three daughters and a grandmother of five. As the Western Jurisdiction president, she is a member of the Program Advisory Group and part of the Eliminating Institutional Racism team. Her passion for justice and equality for all persons has moved her to listen, study, grapple with her privilege and learn. This cumulates in empathy and a desire to resist the forces of injustice and do what she can to act bravely to remove barriers impeding progress in race equality.
Executive Director, Westside Community House
Rachelle Milner, a licensed supervising independent social worker and board-certified Christian counselor, is a Clevelander with over 20 years of nonprofit leadership and management experience. She is the executive director of the West Side Community House, a national mission institution of The United Methodist Church. She is also a member of the Health and Wellness Committee for the UMC North Coast District of the East Ohio Conference. Milner has much experience as a presenter, workshop facilitator and trainer, as well as expertise in women's interests, parenting and child welfare. She has conducted workshops and trainings for the local church and is dedicated to merging her expertise and experiences in discipling the next generation of leaders to their purpose. Milner holds a BSW degree from Clark Atlanta University and an MSSA degree from the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University. She is also a community research scholar with the Case Center for Reducing Health Disparities at MetroHealth Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio. Milner became executive director in 2018 after managing the Family Services programs at West Side Community House, which have grown to serve over 1,500 families in crisis each year.
Corporate Secretary, United Methodist Women
Susan Moberg has been corporate secretary for United Methodist Women since April 2020. She serves as liaison to the conference secretary in additional to serving the United Methodist Women Board of Directors and Program Advisory Group. She brings strong administrative skills through past experience as the office manager for a local United Methodist church, and project management skills from years spent in corporate America.
Director, PR and Marketing, United Methodist Women
Yvette Moore is director of public relations and marketing for United Methodist Women. She has served in the organization since 1989 in several communications capacities, from senior writer to managing editor to executive editor of response magazine. She has also coordinated and led communications training events for regional and district United Methodist Women leaders. Moore is also a writer and publisher living in Brooklyn, New York, with her family. Her novel "Freedom Songs" is a young adult Civil Rights classic . She recently re-issued "Freedom Songs" through her company, Jubilee Year Communications, along with its new arson-mystery sequel, "Just Sketching," and "The Birth of Christ," a colorful rendition of the Christmas story for children of all ages.
Comptroller, United Methodist Women
Halina Mui is a deaconess and CPA. She was consecrated in 2016 and is a member of the Greater New Jersey Conference. She is passionate about the ministries of love, justice and service. Mui is a graduate of the State University of New York at Albany. Her experience was in public accounting prior to joining the General Agencies of The United Methodist Church in 2004. She is thankful for the opportunity to be part of United Methodist Women, whose values she shares. Before her work with United Methodist Women, she was a comptroller at the United Methodist Committee on Relief.
Lead Pastor, Swarthmore United Methodist Church
Lydia Munoz is a proud Puerto Rican made in Puerto Rico but born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She is an elder in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference and currently serves as the lead pastor of Swarthmore United Methodist Church in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, in the Philadelphia area. Munoz is a graduate of Wesley Theological Seminary and is currently working on a Doctor of Ministry degree at Drew Theological School focusing on Public Theology. Her doctoral project is providing resources to help congregations dismantle racism and de-center whiteness and patriarchy in our corporate worship experience. Among her experiences developing ministries of justice among marginalized and multicultural communities, she has been involved in leading worship for 20 years in varied and diverse settings, both locally and nationally, including for the World Council of Churches Assembly in South Korea (2013), the United Methodist General Conference (2012) and the Festival of Sacred Arts in Falstbo, Sweden. She is a published author and contributor on the New United Methodist Hymnal Committee and has been featured in Abingdon Preacher's Manual (2019 and 2020). Munoz has served as worship leader for several annual conferences throughout the connection, as well as national conferences including the United Methodist Women's Mission u and General Assembly. Munoz has a passion for following the Spirit's lead in the creation of sacred moments and spaces for emergent communities, where together as the gathered we can experience the transformative power of God. Her general rule for worship is that the Church needs to worship and live incarnationally, which means we live what we sing, and we sing what we live and what we are working to become: God's Reign on Earth. She lives with her young adult and her dog.
Regional Missionary, United Methodist Women
Grace Musuka is from Zimbabwe and is a member of Chisipiti United Methodist Church in Harare. She is currently a church choir member and a World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women committee member. She has been a Sunday school teacher and worship committee chairperson, and is a member of the women's association as well as a commissioned regional missionary for six Central African countries (Cameroon, Malawi, DRC, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe). Her work includes leadership training, Bible studies, maternal and child health programs, training in best practices in organic, fruit and vegetable, and herb farming; relevant children's programs; food and nutrition; and training for transformation. Musuka initiated relevant programs that were funded by United Methodist Women encouraging women to write their faith stories. She has helped produce newsletters for the work in Tanzania, DRC, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia. She encourages women to participate in national, ecumenical and world programs with World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women, World Day of Prayer, United Methodist Women Assembly, National Council of Churches and relevant NGOs through women leaders in their churches. She is a Program Advisory Group member for United Methodist Women. Musuka completed her elementary, secondary and teacher training education in United Methodist institutions in Zimbabwe, and later taught for two years at primary school in Zimbabwe. She earned a B.A. degree from Drury University in Springfield, Missouri, U.S. She is married with two married sons and three grandchildren.
President, North Texas Conference United Methodist Women
Julie Noel is a lifelong resident of Dallas, Texas, and a member of Highland Park UMC/Dallas for more than 35 years. She serves as the president of the North Texas Conference United Methodist Women unit. She has served in a variety of leadership positions at the local, district and conference levels of United Methodist Women. Noel has a passion for encouraging and empowering United Methodist Women members to step up and embrace the call to serve as leaders at all levels. In addition to serving as a United Methodist Women leader, she has considerable experience as a volunteer leader at the national level, representing the profession of speech-language pathology on the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) Board of Directors twice within a 10-year period.
Program Advisory Group, SEJ President, United Methodist Women
Sue Owens grew up Presbyterian, but was predestined to be a Methodist. After attending Winthrop University and Converse University, she taught Physical Education and Health at the same junior high for 29 years. She has served on the local, district, conference, regional and national levels of United Methodist Women. It was while working in that junior high school, however, that she learned of the difficulties experienced by her students who were impoverished, living in low-in-come housing projects, dealing with drugs and alcohol on a personal basis as well as in the family, and possibly seeking "alternative methods of supporting themselves." Based on her teaching experiences and while serving on the board of the Spartanburg Bethlehem Center, she sees the value of helping fight the battle of racism.
Program Advisory Group, NCJ President, United Methodist Women
Marchelle "Micki" Phelps is currently serving as the president for the North Central Jurisdiction and Program Advisory Group (2021-2024). For the past four years, she has worked with the school-to-prison pipeline, giving various presentations and leading a retreat on the subject throughout the Michigan Conference for the UMC and United Methodist Women. She has also assisted in the 2021 Mission u study, "Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in School." She is a member of the Michigan Conference United Methodist Women in the Greater Detroit District and retired from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan in 2016, after 41 years of service. Phelps has been a member of Conant Avenue United Methodist Church in Detroit since 1975 and a United Methodist Women member since 1990. She began her journey with United Methodist Women as a local unit member of Conant Avenue United Methodist Women. She then served in various positions at the district and conference United Methodist Women levels. She was the last conference president of the former United Methodist Women Detroit Conference (2015-2018). Phelps has a B.A. in Sociology from Wayne State University and a Master of Science in Administration (MSA) degree in Information Resource Management from Central Michigan University. She has one son.
Senior Director of Leadership and Accountability, General Commission on the Status and Role of Women (COSROW)
The Rev. Pamela Pirtle of the Northern Illinois Conference is the senior director of leadership development and accountability. She is responsible for supporting each annual conference's Commission on the Status and Role of Women (COSROW), providing resources and education for the full inclusion on women and overseeing monitoring functions on behalf of the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women (GCSRW). Pirtle serves the Northern Illinois Annual Conference on the Committee on Finance Administration and the Committee on Religion and Race. She serves as a board member for the Northern Illinois United Voices for Children and is a former board member of Black Methodists for Church Renewal. Prior to her position with GCSRW, she served as the pastor for Gorham United Methodist Church, located in the Washington Park community on the South Side of Chicago. Pirtle has spent most of my professional career in equal employment opportunity, affirmative action, and diversity/inclusion in higher education and government. She is passionate about social justice, education and inclusion. Her position with GCSRW allows her to merge her professional experience with a way to serve the church in ministry and enhance the Wesleyan thought, "A charge to keep we have, a God to glorify… to serve this present age, our calling to fulfill." She believes we each have a calling to leave this world better than when we arrived. Pirtle is a graduate of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary (M.Div.), the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (M.A.) and National-Louis University (B.A). She is currently a D.Min. student at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. She considers parenting her daughter the greatest joy of her life.
Former Director, United Methodist Women
Shannon Priddy lives and works in Indianapolis, Indiana. She is a past national president of the national board of United Methodist Women and a lifelong member. She has learned that our approach to leadership grows and changes as we grow and change through opportunities of leadership.
Regioanl Missionary, United Methodist Women
Finda Quiwa is from the Eastern Region, Kono District, Sierra Leone. She is a United Methodist Women regional missionary working with women, children and young people in Africa in leadership development, empowerment and education programs, advocacy, organizational development, addressing social justice issues and networking. Fulfilling Mathew 25:36: "I was in prison and you visited me," she presently works with the Sierra Leone maximum security female prison and the remand home (prison) for children under 18 years old, ensuring that their human dignity is maintained. Ecumenical partnership, especially in the development of resources and networks, are a vital part of her work. She went through the youth and young adult organization and served as president, leading other young people in her local church and also as the first young women's coordinator of the West Africa Central Conference (WACC) Young People's Network of The United Methodist Church in West Africa. Spending two months in Hong Kong (2005) working with migrant workers from the Philippines, Indonesia, Nepal and Sri Lanka, she saw how vulnerable they were to injustices of sexism, racism and other inhuman treatment. Working with women enabled her to see how women are suffering in that part of the world, all in the name of survival. This gave her the conviction and commitment to work to make sure women, young people and children get a better place in Africa, which marks her missionary journey. Quiwa attended Fourah Bay College University of Sierra Leone and earned a Bachelor of Social Sciences and Law degree, majoring in accounting. She received a certification in management and administration from the Graduate School of Management in London through the Ghana campus. She also completed studies in design, management and evaluation of community-based HIV/AIDS programs through Global Health Action. She has attended numerous seminars in Europe, Africa, Asia and the United States addressing issues surrounding justice. She is married with children.
United Methodist Missionary, Assistant for Partnership & Network Development, Centro Ecuménico Popular para América Latina de Comunicación, CEPALC
Hannah Reasoner currently serves as a United Methodist missionary in Bogotá, Colombia, working with Centro Ecuménico Popular para América Latina de Comunicación/Center for Social Communication in Latin America (CEPALC), and Global Ministries' Latin American and Caribbean Regional Office. CEPALC has worked with various grassroots groups throughout Colombia to train women, children, youth, impoverished communities, Afro-Colombian and Indigenous groups in communication skills such as journalism, radio, music, theater, art, puppetry, etc., as a way to promote and educate human rights and gender equality. Reasoner is from New Jersey and has been a lifelong member of St. Paul & St. Andrew United Methodist Church in New York City. She graduated from Ramapo College of New Jersey in 2017 with a bachelor's degree in Communication Arts and two minors in music and human rights. She became a Global Mission Fellow in 2017 and was matched with CEPALC, where she served two years producing radio programs on social issues, writing for CEPALC's Encuentro magazine, and leading workshop series for women, children and youth on gender equality and human rights, along with CEPALC's team of young female leaders. In 2020, she returned to Colombia as a global missionary to continue working alongside this incredible organization that is changing the machista culture in Colombia and inspiring young women to raise their voices as leaders in the community.
Regional Missionary, United Methodist Women
The Rev. Andrea Reily Rocha Soares is an elder of the Methodist Church in Brazil. Since 2015, she has been serving as the United Methodist Women regional missionary in Latin America. She was born and raised in Brazil as part of a U.S.-Brazilian family. After many years living abroad, she has returned to her native land, where she lives with her husband in Campinas, São Paulo. She has participated in many different types of leadership development trainings, and has facilitated many more, always bringing some aspect of popular education. As a regional missionary, she led the Training for Transformation course (2019 and 2020), based on Paulo Freire's pedagogy. The program is intended to assist communities in their development, starting and expanding from within. Reily Rocha Soares earned bachelor's degrees in Religion and Spanish from Emory & Henry College, and a Master of Divinity with a specialized track in Mission Studies from Boston University School of Theology. As a student and a missionary, she has been strongly influenced and molded by popular education. She has been transformed and empowered—and continues to be with every encounter—by the wisdom and knowledge that come from the lived experiences of the Latin American women and their communities.
Deaconess, Order of Deaconess and Home Missioner
Amy Reimer was appointed as a deaconess to Trinity United Methodist Church: Wilmette in Illinois, in June 2018. She has served as the church administrator and financial secretary there for eight years. She has been very fortunate to build many strong relationships within the church community during this time. Trinity UMC: Wilmette is also her home church, where she has been a member for 27 years. During that time, Reimer has served as a Sunday school teacher, choir member, member of multiple committees and has helped to create a prayer shawl ministry that is still going strong today. Since the pandemic, Reimer has taken on a new role leading a women's Bible study through Zoom. She looks forward to being back in community with everyone soon. She loves knitting, crocheting, cooking and singing. On her first trip to Chautauqua, New York, she met Deaconess Rosie Guadarrama (her co-presenter). Guadarrama introduced her to Knitting4Peace. Since that time, the Trinity UMC prayer shawl ministry has become a peace pod for Knitting4Peace. Members knit and crochet scarves for an annual Christmas donation to a Chicago homeless ministry. The group hopes to expand its mission work in the future.
Board of Directors, Vice President, United Methodist Women
Cynthia Rives is currently serving as the vice president of United Methodist Women. She was born and reared in New Mexico and currently lives in Denton, Texas. She has served with Daryl Junes-Joe on United Methodist Women's Acts of Repentance Working Group since 2016. She is on the United Methodist Women Texas Legislative Event Planning Committee and serves on the Texas Impact Board of Directors.
Executive for Development Management, United Methodist Women
Kenya Roberts has a combined 16 years of experience working with local and international nonprofits and foundations in development. She also has experience in managing fundraising campaigns and relationship building. She is the executive for development management at United Methodist Women and has the honor of working closely with United Methodist Women members around the country, who are working together toward the future of the organization through the Legacy Endowment Fund. Roberts has always had a passion for working with women and children, and she continues to do this through every facet of her life.
Just Energy Manager, Partnership for Southern Equity
Alicia Scott serves as the Just Energy manager for the Just Energy portfolio at Partnership for Southern Equity. She is an experienced nonprofit leader offering expertise in community-based program management. She has leveraged 10 years of professional experience to increase strategic outreach, boost memberships and increase contribution bases in several organizations and leadership positions. Scott has run for public office, helped implement and run political campaigns all over Georgia, and was the executive director of LaunchPad 2xInc in 2019. She is also a graduate of the 2019 Just Energy Academy, where she first met Partnership for Southern Equity and began the initial connections that brought her into the manager role she holds today.
Regional Missionary, United Methodist Women
Elmira Sellu is a United Methodist Women regional missionary based in her home country of Sierra Leone, where she has been facilitating leadership training workshops for United Methodist Women. She has been a regional missionary for the past 20 years and has been working closely with women from several countries in Africa, improving their leadership skills. In addition to her diploma for women's leadership from the Mindolo Ecumenical Foundation (1994), she also has a degree in Human and Social Studies from the University of South Africa (2013).
Writer and Storyteller
Hannah Shanks is a writer, storyteller and social worker from St. Louis, Missouri. A self-described "accidental clergy spouse," she makes her home in a parsonage on the grounds of Arlington United Methodist Church in Bridgeton, Missouri. She combines her passion for big stories, compassionate understanding of others and love of connection to enhance her writing and storytelling. She has been a featured storyteller for the St. Louis Storytelling Festival, Second Tuesdays St. Louis: A storytelling collective, UMC LEAD Conference and Wild Goose Festival. Her book, "This Is My Body: Embracing the Messiness of Faith and Motherhood" (Upper Room Books, May 2018), weaves together personal reflection, historical church practices and pointed questions of the church. It showcases her journey of discovery and reclamation as she finds familiar paths in unfamiliar territory and new meaning in worn-in rituals.
Director of Membership and Engagement, United Methodist Women
Khia Shaw, a native of Southern New Jersey, serves as the director of membership and engagement for United Methodist Women. She is responsible for leading the strategic direction, vision and performance of the organizational priority, Engage. Layered by her work as an entrepreneur in corporate and government sectors, Shaw is known for creating unique partnerships to receive financial support for new initiatives. She has acquired funding for projects that top $1 billion, most recognizably for the R.I.S.E. initiative. She has spearheaded the New Jersey governor's community justice initiative and co-created the Camden City Youth Commission. She has worked on global and prominent campaigns with Fortune 500 clients, served as the lead law professor at Premier Education Group and been a publicist for three bestselling authors. Shaw has a B.A. in Political Science from North Carolina Central University, with graduate studies in law. She also attended North Carolina College for a master's in theology and is attending St. Thomas University to receive a master's in international business. She has been recognized and featured in Success from Home magazine and honored by the American Red Cross and Commission on the Status of Women.
Program Advisory Group, United Methodist Women
Rita Simpkins-Smith was born and raised in New York City, where she was an active member at St. Mark's UMC in Harlem. She holds degrees from Tuskegee University and the University of Illinois at Champaign. She has been married for 49 years, with three children (one recently deceased). She is a grandmother and retired public school educator, administrator, coach and counselor. She has also served as a PTA president and district director. She has served as past lay leader at Resurrection UMC, current lay member to her annual conference, certified lay servant, past president of Chicago Black Methodists for Church Renewal, older adult chairman and committee member of Nominations, Safe Sanctuary, Higher Education and Church and Society. She was elected as a delegate to the 2012, 2016 and 2020 General and Jurisdictional Conferences, and is a member of the Interjurisdictional Episcopacy Committee, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Midwest Chaplains Council, North America, World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women treasurer, and the UN Global Concerns Illinois Church Women United chairman. Simpkins-Smith has previously served on the D'Estee board of directors and currently sits on the Midwest board of directors of the Selah Freedom Foundation and co-chairs the Poor Peoples Campaign Chicago Westside Cluster. She serves as president of her local United Methodist Women unit, has co-authored the resource pamphlet, Phase III Campaign for Children on Public Education, is district and conference social action coordinator, a board member of the Marcy-Newberry Association, a participant in the Racial Justice Consultation programs, was an Assembly 2010 and 2018 presenter, a Mission u study leader and assistant dean, and Human Trafficking Task Force member. She is also a former president of the Northern Illinois Conference United Methodist Women and is the immediate past president of the North Central Jurisdiction United Methodist Women. Simpkins-Smith testified at Chevron and at the EPA hearing. During the Equity Day 2021 she gave a public hearing testimony on air quality and the harmful effects of emission to children's health and safety. She also participated in the Climate Justice Legislative Days.
Founder, Exploring Peace Ministries
Whitney Simpson is a deaconess in The United Methodist Church offering soul care resources for others. As founder of Exploring Peace Ministries, she hosts a prayer and meditation podcast, contemplative retreats, ecumenical spiritual direction sessions, as well as yoga and meditation classes (online and in person). She is the author of "Holy Listening with Breath, Body and the Spirit" from Upper Room Books. Simpson began practicing yoga as part of her recovery after stroke and brain surgery in 2005. She was hesitant to believe a yoga practice could ease her chronic pain, but embracing the practices of yoga and meditation have been foundational for her healing journey and her soul care work today. Prior to completing her first yoga teacher training, Simpson pursued her certification in Spiritual Formation at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. She is an experienced registered yoga teacher (E-RYT 200, RYT 500) and a member of Yoga Alliance, Hearts on Fire and Spiritual Directors International. As a trauma-certified yoga instructor, she is especially passionate about her embodied work with trauma survivors, longing to create safe space for all. She believes in offering soul care resources for all people, regardless of experience, age, size, shape, or ability. Her ministry work encompasses her passion for embodied spirituality and the ministry of spiritual formation. Simpson lives with her family just outside of Nashville, in Lebanon, Tennessee.
Organizer, Partner for Southern Equity
Wan Smith grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. She has been organizing in Atlanta, Georgia, and across the American South for more than a decade. She currently works with the Partnership for Southern Equity as a just energy organizer. In this roll, she works to advance racial equity and the democratization of electric co-ops by educating and organizing member-owners to participate and become leaders of their co-ops.
Program Advisory Group, United Methodist Women
Alice Staley is a United Methodist Women Program Advisory Group member from the Illinois Great Rivers Conference. She serves as the PAG liaison for United Methodist Women conference communications coordinators. She is from Bloomington, Illinois, Illinois Great Rivers Conference and joined United Methodist Women just out of high school. She has served on the district, conference and jurisdiction levels in several positions, including public relations/communications. She has also served many years with other organizations in the same role. She believes that communications is vitally important to engage persons of all ages in the mission of United Methodist Women.
Author of Spiritual Growth Study, United Methodist Women
Darryl Stephens is an ordained deacon in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of The United Methodist Church. He teaches at Lancaster Theological Seminary, where he also serves as director of United Methodist studies. He is the author of the 2021 Spiritual Growth Mission Study, "Bearing Witness in the Kin-dom: Living into the Church's Moral Witness through Radical Discipleship," and maintains the blog https://ethicsconsidered.com. He holds a Ph.D. in Christian Ethics from Emory University and teaches widely on mission, ministry and the church.
Project Director, I Challenge You, Inc.
Deaconess Erie Stuckett has lived in Greenville, Mississippi, all her life. She a member of Revels Memorial United Methodist Church in Greenville, Mississippi, and the Mississippi United Methodist Annual Conference. In 2014, she became a consecrated member of the Order of Deaconess and Home Missioner of The United Methodist Church. Stuckett was educated in the Greenville, Mississippi, public school system, where she graduated from Coleman High School. She earned a B.A. in Sociology from Mississippi Valley State University in Itta Bena, Mississippi, and was employed with the Mississippi Department of Human Services after college. This allowed her to work helping people in need. She retired as the first person of color to hold the position of county director of the Washington County Department of Human Services. She retired after 32 years with the county, but is actively serving as a volunteer with the Revels United Methodist "I Challenge You" mentor program. She is the widow of her husband of 52 years, has three adult children and has seven grandchildren. Her favorite things in life are to spend time with family and to watch the young people of the ICU Mentor Group come into full bloom.
Director, Kairos Center for Religion, Rights and Social Justice
The Rev. Liz Theoharis is co-chair with the Rev. William J. Barber II of the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, which organized the largest coordinated wave of nonviolent civil disobedience in 21st-century America, and has since emerged as one of the nation's leading social movement forces. She is also the director of the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice at Union Theological Seminary. Theoharis is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and teaches at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. She received her B.A. in Urban Studies from the University of Pennsylvania; her M.Div. from Union Theological Seminary in 2004, where she was the first William Sloane Coffin Scholar; and her Ph.D. from UTS in New Testament and Christian Origins. She has been published in The New York Times, Time magazine, CNN, The Guardian, Sojourners, The Nation and others. In 2018, she gave the "Building a Moral Movement" TED Talk at TEDWomen, was named one of the Politico 50 "thinkers, doers and visionaries whose ideas are driving politics," and was also named a Women of Faith recipient by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A). In 2019, she was a Selma "Bridge" Award recipient and named one of "11 Women Shaping the Church" by Sojourners. In 2020, she was named one of "15 Faith Leaders to Watch" by the Center for American Progress. Theoharis is the author of "Always with Us?: What Jesus Really Said About the Poor" (Eerdmans, 2017), co-author of "Revive Us Again: Vision and Action in Moral Organizing" (Beacon, 2018) and editor of "We Cry Justice: Reading the Bible with the Poor People's Campaign."
Author, Upper Room Books
The Rev. J. Dana Trent is an ordained Baptist minister, a professor of World Religions and Critical Thinking at Wake Tech Community College and a former hospital chaplain. She is a graduate of Duke Divinity School. Trent's work has appeared on Time.com, and in Religion News Service, Sojourners, Religion Dispatches, and The Christian Century. Publishers Weekly calls her fourth book, "Dessert First: Preparing for Death While Savoring Life," "poignant," "hilarious" and "practical." She is also the award-winning author of "One Breath at a Time: A Skeptic's Guide to Christian Meditation," "For Sabbath's Sake: Embracing Your Need for Rest, Worship, and Community" and "Saffron Cross: The Unlikely Story of How a Christian Minister Married a Hindu Monk." She winds down from writing and teaching by leading group fitness classes for the YMCA.
Executive for Natioanl Ministries, United Methodist Women
Jessica Tulloch is a western Pennsylvania native who began attending United Methodist Women's meetings as an infant. She currently serves with United Methodist Women as executive for national ministries, supporting our nearly 100 national mission institutions. She is also happy to be the staff liaison for conference mission coordinators for education and interpretation, working with leaders to promote the amazing work of United Methodist Women. She has been engaged in adult education and training for more than 20 years.
Solar Advocacy Campaigner, Solar United Neighbors
Liz Veazey lives in Omaha, Nebraska, and has 20 years of experience with clean energy, climate and social justice organizing with leadership roles across the movement for clean energy and climate justice. She serves as solar advocacy campaigner, working on the policy team at Solar United Neighbors. In her past work, Veazey was the network director at We Own It, building the movement for rural electric co-op reform and energy democracy (2015-2020). In her work with SUN & WOI, she has collaborated with member-owners at dozens of electric co-ops across the United States. She also served three years on the steering committee of the RE-AMP Network, helping to set a goal of equitably eliminating GHG emissions in the Midwest by 2050. Veazey enjoys working with United Methodist Women through the national Solar Equity Initiative and presenting and supporting the United Methodist Women Just Energy for All campaign.
Charter for Racial Justice Support Team, United Methodist Women
Ilka Vega is a native transfronteriza (cross-border) from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and El Paso, Texas. She is a graduate of Lydia Patterson Institute and holds a B.A. in Business and in Sustainability, Culture and Social Justice from Southwestern University. She is currently completing a MSc. on Innovation, Human Development and Sustainability at the University of Geneva in Switzerland. She has worked for more than 10 years on human rights and issues of social and environmental justice, including migration and climate change. She has served for the past four years as part of the Racial Justice Charter Support Group of United Methodist Women. In her free time Vega enjoys going on hikes and writing music.
Charter for Racial Justice Support Team, United Methodist Women
Nichea VerVeer Guy is a former United Methodist Women director, serving the Michigan Conference United Methodist Women unit. She has served at the district and conference offices, as a Mission u study leader, and as a liaison with the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility as the national board chair of finance. VerVeer Guy has been on the Charter for Racial Justice Support Team for the past four years, working to engage our members on the issues surrounding race. She has experience leading workshops, team discussions, and designing legislation. She is personally committed to antibias and racial equity within our world.
Transformation Officer, United Methodist Women
Sally Vonner serves as the transformation officer at United Methodist Women, overseeing the strategic planning and implementation. She also serves as staff liaison for the planning and assessment committee of the United Methodist Women Board of Directors and the conference presidents. Vonner has led numerous workshops at Leadership Development Days and other United Methodist Women events, including Assembly. She previously resourced the conference committee on nominations and now, as the conference president staff liaison, she meets with them quarterly to provide ongoing support and leadership development opportunities.
Executive for Distance Learning Coordination, United Methodist Women
Alana Walls is a native to New Jersey and a lifelong member of Ferry Avenue United Methodist Church. She serves as the distance learning coordinator for United Methodist Women. In 2021, she also served as a Mission u study leader trainer and conference study leader for "Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools." Walls has a B.S. in Elementary Education and Middle School Math from the University of Delaware and an M.S. in Educational Administration from Johns Hopkins University.
Deaconess, Order of Deaconess and Home Missioner
Leah Wandera is a member of the Kenya/Ethiopia Annual Conference. She was born and raised in Kenya, and her current ministry is reaching out to girls, speaking out to end violence against them and ensuring they are healthy and able to further their education through her organization, Mama's Smile Health Foundation, in Kenya. She has worked as an acting CEO for Hope Foundation for African Women, facilitating various communal discussions on how to initiate community-led projects aimed at addressing the social issues and gendered violence in the community. She is also a trained volunteer facilitator for Mission Roundtable negotiations for the African Region. As a deaconess candidate, Wandera was officially received and dedicated into the Deaconess and Home Missioner order in 2021, and will be consecrated during Assembly 2022. She is the first United Methodist deaconess from Kenya. This has given her the chance to work with the Office of Deaconess and Home Missioner as an intern, helping to plan for the establishment of the deaconess and home missioner movement in Africa. Wandera earned a certificate in practicing leadership for social change from Coady International Institute, Nova Scotia, Canada, in addition to her Bachelor of Science in Project Planning and Management. She is currently pursuing her Master of Divinity in the Social Justice Advocacy program at Drew University School of Theology in Madison, New Jersey.
President, United Methodist Women Rio Texax Conference
Sandy Wilder is the president of the Rio Texas Conference United Methodist Women. Previously, she was executive secretary for financial interpretation on the staff as well as a development consultant of United Methodist Women (then the Women's Division), and served on the General Board of Global Ministries and Women's Division Board of Directors. She has been a local, district and conference officer; has written for response magazine and developed promotional resources; has taught in many conference and regional Schools of Christian Mission (now Mission u); and has led many United Methodist Women events across the country. Sandy is employed by Global Impact, a nonprofit that raises funds for its 100 international partner charities through workplace giving campaigns. Sandy has a B.A. in Spanish and French and an M.A. in Foreign Language Education. She volunteered with the Methodist Church of Bolivia for two years after her college graduation. For 16 years, she was a volunteer host for the weekly half-hour religious public affairs television program "Austin Faith Dialogue." For relaxation, she enjoys gardening, going to movies, reading science and science fiction, traveling and visiting museums.
Senior Director for Sexual Ethics and Advocacy, General Commission on the Status and Role of Women (COSROW)
Becky Posey Williams joined the staff of the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women in 2014 as senior director for sexual ethics and advocacy for the worldwide United Methodist Church. In this position, she provides consultation to bishops and judicatory leaders and offers training throughout the denomination on the topics of sexual ethics and integrity in ministry, including the importance of self-care. She is also a trainer for the development and use of response teams for congregational and staff healing following an incident of sexual misconduct in a local ministry setting. Prior to GCSRW, Williams worked as a licensed clinical mental health therapist in private practice for 25 years. She also served as a trainer/consultant with annual conferences of The United Methodist Church in the areas of response to sexual misconduct and healthy boundaries for 10 years. She developed and led "Beginning Well," an 11-session small group for first-year Residents in Ministry, focusing on understanding oneself in the multiple roles of ministry. In 2007, Williams completed a two-year training and certification as a spiritual director through the Center for Ministry at Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi. A lifelong United Methodist, she has served in various lay leadership positions, including chairperson of the Staff Parish Relations Committee, lay leader, and on the district Board of Ordained Ministry. Williams is the mother of one daughter and enjoys being in nature, either kayaking or biking.
Charter for Racial Justice Support Team, United Methodist Women
Deborah Williams lives in Omaha, Nebraska. She is originally from the Desert Southwest Conference in Arizona. She has served as a United Methodist Women director (2012-2016), on the Program Advisory Group (2016-2020), in the Act of Repentance Working Group (inaugural member) and on the Racial Justice Charter Support Team (inaugural member). Williams currently serves as the legacy Liaison, for the Desert Southwest Conference.
Program Adviosry Group, United Methodist Women
Katie Willis is a United Methodist Women Program Advisory Group member from the Missouri Conference. She serves as the PAG liaison for United Methodist Women conference communications coordinators.
Former Mission u Study Author, United Methodist Women
Faye Wilson, from Salisbury, Maryland, is president of the Salisbury District United Methodist Women, Peninsula-Delaware Conference. She coauthored, with Trudy Corry Rankin, the children's mission study book, "Managing Our Emotions," and the youth mission study book, "Managing Anxiety." She has presented workshops at United Methodist Women Assemblies since 1996, and has been a study leader for many Mission u's.
Administrator of Professional and Organizational Development, United Methodist Women
Simone Wilson is the talent and organizational development leader for United Methodist Women. In this role, she serves as an agent of change and development, working to align learning with the organization's new direction and using a broad range of practices to help achieve organizational goals. She works across the national office structure, identifying and implementing value-added solutions related to professional learning and development, enhancing the culture, planning processes and change efforts to support United Methodist Women in moving its strategic goals forward. She is also a staff liaison for the Planning and Assessment Committee of the United Methodist Women Board of Directors. Wilson has a diverse professional background, with experience in the areas of leadership and organization development, change management, training, counseling and professional development coaching spanning across nonprofit and for-profit sectors. Prior to joining United Methodist Women, she held roles as a training specialist, learning and development consultant to managers and human resources partners, employment counselor and substance abuse counselor. In addition, she has facilitated leadership retreats, professional and personal development seminars, and workshops on topics such as transformative leadership, cross-generational communication and team building. Wilson holds a Master of Arts in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, and a certificate in high-performance leadership. Her commitment to service is driven by her faith, values and a passion to make a difference in the world by using the gifts and talents bestowed on her.