Apostle Onleilove (pronounced: “Only Love”) Chika Alston, Founder of Prophetic Whirlwind Ministries, was born and raised in East New York, Brooklyn. Onleilove is a global community organizer, speaker, and writer. After experiencing poverty and homelessness in her youth, Onleilove developed a compassion for people and justice and knows that the gospel is truly “good news to the poor.”
She is one of the first African-American women to visit Jews in West Africa where she studied, learned from and researched these communities for 6-years. This resulted in her book: Prophetic Whirlwind: Uncovering the Black Biblical Destiny. To date, “Prophetic Whirlwind” is one of the few books written by an African-American who has spent time with Jews in West Africa. In September 2020, she was awarded an honorary doctorate from Zoe Life Theological College, an accredited theological college in Nigeria and India, on account of the research she conducted for her book.
After receiving her bachelor’s degree in Human Development with a minor in African-American studies from Penn State University, she completed a year of service with AmeriCorps Public Allies New York. In 2011, she received her Master of Divinity and Master of Social Work degrees from Union Theological Seminary and Columbia University School of Social Work, respectively. She is currently a Doctor of Ministry Candidate at The Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology of Virginia Union University (STVU) where she is focusing on Global Leadership and Institutional Reform. She is an adjunct professor at Columbia University School of Social Work, The Hebrew Academy International, Hope International University, NY Theological Seminary and Voices for Liberation and Transformation.
For over a decade, Apostle Onleilove has worked as a faith-based community organizer and advocate. In 2015, she was appointed as the youngest member of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Inaugural Clergy Advisory Council and is currently serving on the Faith Transition Team Committee for NYC Mayor-Elect Eric Adams. In 2016, Onleilove testified before the United Nations Working Group for People of African Descent on Mass Incarceration’s Impact on Black Women & Girls. Currently, she works as the Director of Organizing for FaithActs for Education a Black led faith based educational equity organizing federation .In 2018, she founded Her Wisdom LLC, a consulting firm, where she advises non-profits, NGOs, and other companies on women’s leadership, faith-based organizing, diversity, and inclusion. Currently HerWisdom is the NYC Civic Engagement TRIE Neighborhood Coordinator for Hamilton Heights and Morningside Heights leading the #Vote4Harlem Coalition.
Aside from ministry and organizing work, Rabbi Onleilove is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Arts and Sciences in Criminal Justice for Hope International University and is a Professor at The Hebrew Academy of Detroit.
René August, a black South African woman, is co-director of The Justice Conference South Africa. She also works at The Warehouse, a church network in Cape Town dedicated to addressing poverty and injustice effectively. An ordained priest in the Anglican Church – South Africa, she served under and was mentored by Bishop Desmond Tutu.
A veteran of the anti-apartheid movement and an Anglican priest, René August is a reconciliation trainer with The Warehouse, a worshiping community organization in Cape Town, South Africa that walks alongside churches as they seek to respond to the issues of poverty, injustice, and division in a city that struggles with some of the worst inequality in the world.
Donna Barber, a native Philadelphian, has served as an educator, trainer and coach for urban youth and urban youth program leaders for more than 25 years. In Philadelphia and Atlanta, she worked to create and lead schools and youth programs that develop urban children to be spirit-led, socially aware, community-minded leaders. Donna has served with local churches, private and public schools and local non-profits. She holds degrees in Communications and Urban Teacher Leadership and has provided trainings and coaching for national organizations including Mission Year, CCDA, DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative, Portland Leadership Foundation and several colleges and universities. Donna is the first African American to be elected to the David Douglas School Board, in Portland, Oregon, a member of the district and Regional School Board Equity Teams, and the recently published author of “Bread for the Resistance: A Devotional for Justice People,” released by IVP. She currently resides in Portland, OR with her husband, author, speaker, and Voices President, Leroy Barber and together they have six children.”
Leroy Barber has dedicated 30 years living and working towards what Dr. King called “the beloved community.”
Leroy starts projects that shape society. In 1989, burdened by the plight of Philadelphia’s homeless, he and his wife, Donna, founded Restoration Ministries to serve homeless families and children living on the streets. In 1994 he became Director of Internship Programs at Cornerstone Christian Academy. Leroy was licensed and ordained at Mt Zion Baptist Church where he served as Youth Director with Donna, and also served as Associate Minister of Evangelism. In 1997 he joined FCS Urban Ministries in Atlanta, GA working with the Atlanta Youth Project to serve as the founding Executive Director of Atlanta Youth Academies, a private elementary school providing quality Christian education for low-income families in the inner city. Leroy also helped found DOOR Atlanta, Community Life Church, South Atlanta Marketplace, and Community Grounds Coffee shop in Atlanta, as well as Green My Hood and The Voices Project. Leroy is an innovator, entrepreneur and lover of the arts.
Leroy is currently Director of Innovation for an Engaged Church serving the Greater NW area of the United Methodist Church. Leroy is the Co-Founder of the Voices Project and Adjunct professor at Kilns College and Multnomah University. Rev. Barber has served on the boards of The Simple Way, Missio Alliance, The Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN), and the Former Board Chair of the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA).
Jess Bielman has his Doctorate of Ministry from Wesley Seminary in Washington, DC where his work focused on contextualizing theological education. He teaches classes specifically geared towards the formation of students. These classes range from preaching labs, community engagement labs, historic Christian spirituality, religion and culture, and others.
Jess has successfully become a pastoral presence for a generation of people who have said “no” to pastors in a traditional sense. He is a mentor to those who minister in the name of Jesus to a church that historically has not valued their perspectives. Jess prepares leaders to engage community in ways that honor the dignity of all people and cultures.
He has been mentored and engaged leaders in cultural work and developed initiatives that center the voices on the margins. He has worked with scholars and practitioners to co-constructed programs, curriculum, and content that analyzes theological and cultural issues impacting the thriving of church and community.
Ann Matsushima Chiu (she/they) is a Research and Social Sciences Librarian in Portland, Oregon. Ann earned a Master’s in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and a BA in Visual Arts-Art History and Criticism from the University of California, San Diego. Ann has worked in academic libraries, public libraries, and archives, with a focus on research skills, research methods and critical information literacy and can help students and faculty with topic formation, literature reviews, citation management and more!
Rev. Dr. Soong-Chan Rah is Milton B. Engebretson Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago, IL and the author of The Next Evangelicalism; Many Colors; Prophetic Lament; co-author of Forgive Us; Return to Justice; and Unsettling Truths. Soong-Chan received his BA from Columbia University; his MDiv from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary; his ThM from Harvard University; his DMin from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and his ThD from Duke University. Rah is formerly the founding Senior Pastor of Cambridge Community Fellowship Church (CCFC), a multi-ethnic church living out the values of racial reconciliation and social justice in the urban context. He has previously served on the boards of World Vision, Sojourners and the Christian Community Development Association.
Rev. W. Tali Hairston, MAGL, is Director of Community Organizing, Advocacy, and Development at Seattle Presbytery. His work includes serving congregations and ministries in pursuit of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. He is father to four wonderful children, Isaiah, Kennadi, Lynia, and Jordan. He and his wife Crystal enjoy doing ministry together, going to plays and musicals, and being foodies. Along with an amazing community of friends, these are the true gifts of his life that encourage and strengthen him. For 17 years Tali served as the founding director of the John M. Perkins Center at Seattle Pacific University. As a noted speaker, writer, consultant, researcher, and educator he is passionate about the work of organizational diversity and equity, public theology and policy studies, and social change. He has served on several boards and currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the Seattle Public Library.
I love cities and as such for over 30 years have designed and administered community and faith-based urban programs and have integrated those experiences into my training and facilitated learning contexts, particularly in the areas of community development, congregational redevelopment, intercultural programs, organizational and leadership development, ministry/nonprofit management and community youth development. I was the director of the Transformational Urban Leadership graduate program at Azusa Pacific Seminary and served as the Community Transformation Specialist with Compassion Creates Change, Inc.. I have also served with World Vision U.S. Programs and on the faculty at the Claremont School of Theology where I was the Director of the Urban Leadership Institute after serving fifteens years as part of the pastoral team at Los Angeles First Church of the Nazarene (a multi-ethnic/multi-congregation church with a highly regarded community program and prominent youth program). I currently serve or have served on the boards and advisory councils of local and national community, ecumenical, nonprofit and academic organizations. I have earned degrees in biblical literature, religion and urban planning.
My wife, Tina, balances my admiration of the built environment by creating a sustainable environment where were live (a certified urban habitat)— growing much of the vegetables and fruit we eat and at one time cared for our chickens. Most recently she completed a 10 year stint as the president of a community land trust committed to sustainable living.
Pastor Mayra Macedo-Nolan
Mayra grew up in East Los Angeles, and has lived in Pasadena, CA for over 20 years. She was on the pastoral team of Lake Avenue Church for over 20 years and is now Executive Director of the Clergy Community Coalition of Greater Pasadena, which seeks to unite and mobilize the local church to bring about a just community where all people can flourish.
Her love for her community and the local and global church fuels her speaking, teaching, mentoring and coaching, especially in the areas of leadership, gender equity, embodied faith, race, justice, and the Church. Her extensive experience working with leaders in under-resourced communities both locally and nationally, and pastoring and leading in beautiful yet challenging multi-ethnic contexts have led to the development of deep theologies at the intersections of place, race and justice, the foundation from which she lives and leads.
She has served on numerous local, regional, and national boards, is currently Chair of the Board of Directors of the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA), an Elder of The Voices Project, and Board Member of The Voices School for Liberation and Transformation.
She is married to Chris and they have raised their four children in Pasadena.
Dr. Tracey Shenell is a dynamic speaker, insightful coach, and engaging consultant. Her work in multi-ethnic, multi-generational, and multi-socioeconomic communities enables her to have keen insight into the intersectional reality of people.
As a coach, Dr. Tracey walks with clients as they seek to reach personal goals and navigate life challenges and transitions. As a consultant, she guides her clients while they do deep internal reflections as they pursue justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout their organizations. As an adjunct faculty, she mentors and teaches students as they grow into leaders. Dr. Tracey teaches and trains on a variety of topics with clarity, inspiration, and practicality to help people and teams move forward.
In her 20 years of experience, she has developed, coached, and trained diverse leaders, volunteers, and staff in 1-on-1 and team-building settings. Dr. Tracey has spent the last two decades in Southern California working for and with non-profits and churches in marginalized communities as they seek racial and social justice.
She has a BA in Psychology with a minor in Sociology from DePaul University, an MDiv, and a DMin from Fuller Seminary, where she focused on Urban Ministries & Studies. She completed her doctoral studies on examining the role of race, class, and gender plays in one’s identity formation. She is a certified Personal Development Life Coach through LeaderBreakthru, a certified RelateStrong Facilitator, and received her DEI certification through the National EIDA Center.
Andrea Smith is Professor and Chair of Ethnic Studies at UC Riverside. She is also a faculty and board member of the North American Institute for Indigenous Theological Studies. She has an MDiv from Union Theological Seminary, a PhD from UC Santa Cruz and a J.D. from UC Irvine. She is the author of Native Americans and the Christian Right, Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide, and Unreconciled: From Racial Reconciliation to Racial Justice in Christian Evangelicalism (Duke). She is co-editor of several volumes including: Otherwise Worlds: Against Settler Colonialism and Anti-Blackness, Native Studies Keywords, and Theorizing Native Studies. She is also the author of 61 peer-reviewed articles.
Tamice Spencer-Helms (she/they) is a published author, speaker, and theologian based in Richmond, Virginia.
At 20 years old Tamice was drawn to full time ministry. After 15 years, Tamice went on to found Sub: Culture Incorporated, a nonprofit that provides holistic support and crisis relief for Black College Students.
In addition to their Bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies and Copywriting (Virginia Commonwealth University), Tamice has a Masters of Arts in Contextual Leadership and a Masters of Arts in Theology.
Over the years, Tamice has been a change-maker and pioneer for young people in her community. Throughout their life, Tamice has connected, supported, and ministered to countless young adults. Her friendly and down-to-earth approach to public speaking and teaching, as well as their dedication to theological study, has helped empower and inspire people in her community and beyond.
Tamice lives in Richmond with their spouse Ellison, her daughter Harlym and their puppy Beacon Rey. In her spare time, she loves to dissect and listen to Hip-Hop, watch documentaries, whiskey tasting, and relax with a good book and a fresh cup of coffee.
Don’t miss out on what Tamice has planned next! Stay tuned and follow her on Instagram @tamicenamaespeaks and Twitter @TamiceNamae. To engage with Tamice’s writing on a regular basis, subscribe to her Substack
Dr. Agnes Thomas is the Executive Director of Catholic Crosscultural Services (CCS), a Greater Toronto Area-based non-profit organization that provides programs and services assisting in the settlement and integration of immigrants and refugees. As the chief steward of CCS, Agnes is committed to driving impact for the 40 000 plus newcomers served by CCS yearly in their suite of programs and services. Agnes served in the not-for-profit sector for more than two decades locally and internationally. This includes her time at various L’arche communities in India, Canada, and the US, at the Yonge Street Mission, and at the Jane/Finch Family and Community Centre. She also serves on several non-profit boards and network tables in the GTA.
Dr. Thomas is a leading community development practitioner and academic with a passion for gender equity, community mobilization and transformation, and organizational change. She has been a long-time advocate for the rights of marginalized groups, both locally and internationally, championing the rights of immigrants, women, children, and people with in/visible disabilities or those in precarious employment situations.
In her leadership role, Dr. Thomas is committed to working with various partners to address issues of marginality to bring about transformational change in our communities by investing in people, shifting organizational cultures, and diversifying partnerships. Her areas of expertise include immigration and settlement issues, community organizing, governance, policy, strategic planning, community-based research, training, micro-enterprise, and the creation of tools for transformative learning initiatives for organizations and community leaders alike.
Her passion for advocating for the rights of marginalized groups led her to complete and receive her Ph.D. in Adult Education and Community Development with an award-winning thesis from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto. Her research examined marginality and learning in the realm of informal/cash work performed by immigrant women from Asia. She has a Masters (M.A.) in Critical Disability Studies from York University, and a Diploma n Social Development from the Coady International Institute, St. Francis Xavier University with this study and other community-based research under her direction; she was able to conceive and implement inclusive learning frameworks and analytical tools to listen to voices that are not traditionally heard, or understood.
Agnes was recognized as a Canadian South Asian Trailblazer and a champion for Gender Equity by the Council of Agencies Serving South Asians (CASSA), an umbrella organization of agencies providing services to the South Asian community, to celebrate South Asian Heritage Month 2019 and for organizational excellence in 2022 by the Ontario Heroes. Dr. Agnes is also a finalist for the Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Awards, 2020.
Agnes is a firm believer that everyone has something unique to offer and should be given every opportunity to participate and contribute tangibly to society. Agnes enjoys teaching, facilitation, coaching, mentoring, volunteering, writing, and photography. Agnes and her husband have three children and live in Scarborough.
“Rev. Dr. Cassie Trentaz is Associate Professor of Theology, Ethics, and Church History at Warner Pacific University in Portland, Oregon. She earned her PhD from Chicago Theological Seminary in Theology, Ethics, and the Human Sciences and has fifteen years of experience teaching in higher education in Chicago, Anderson, IN, and Portland, OR. Trentaz is the author of Theology in the Age of AIDS & HIV: Complicity and Possibility (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012) and the book and film project, Love in a Time of Fear: Hearing Our Neighbors Across Lines that Divide Us (Wipf & Stock, 2018, www.loveinatimeoffear.com). Invested in learning that is deeply contextual, Trentaz brings all of her identities as a parent, partner, neighbor, teacher, minister, community organizer, and low-key rascal into her work in each space, committed to inching, stumbling, and leaping toward glimpses of shalom in the world today following the lead of those often excluded.”
Justine Wilson is the pastor of Norman First American United Methodist Church in Norman, Oklahoma. She has been involved in Native ministry for three decades. She has a PhD in New Testament from Harvard University and her area of scholarship is Indigenous hermeneutics. She has also taught biblical studies classes for Native communities for the past ten years.