2017 CCDA National Conference Speakers


Pastor Gail Song Bantum — Gail is the Executive Pastor at Quest Church in Seattle, WA. Her passion is to prophetically call people, groups, and organizations to become all that God says they are, through the lens of Identity, Leadership Development, and Discipleship. As a second generation Korean American, formed in the Korean immigrant and Black Pentecostal traditions, she seeks to faithfully embody advocacy and justice surrounding issues of race and gender within the life of the Church. Gail is an ordained minister in the Evangelical Covenant Church, received her M.Div. from Duke Divinity School, and her Bachelor of Music from The Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. Gail, her husband Brian, and their three sons reside in Seattle.


Christopher Brooks — Pastor Christopher Brooks is the Senior Pastor of Evangel Ministries, a thriving 1600 member church in the heart of Detroit and author of two books; Kingdom Dreaming and Urban Apologetics.  He is also the daily host of two radio program, “Equipped for Life”, aired daily on the Salem Network, 1500 AM and a national live talk show “Equipped with Chris Brooks”, airing daily on Moody Radio.   He was appointed Campus Dean of Moody Theological Seminary’s Michigan Campus in 2013.



Simone Campbell — Sister Simone Campbell is the Executive Director of NETWORK – a national group of social justice advocates inspired by Catholic Sisters that lobbies in D.C. to mend the gaps in income and wealth in the U.S.  She has led five cross-country “Nuns on the Bus” trips, focused on economic justice, comprehensive immigration reform, voter turnout, bridging divides in politics and society, and (most recently) mending the gaps. She wrote the famous “Nuns’ Letter,” considered by many as critically important in convincing Congress to support the Affordable Care Act, and is the author of “A Nun on the Bus: How All of Us Can Create Hope, Change, and Community,” published by HarperCollins.  She has received numerous awards, spoke at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, and has appeared on 60 Minutes, The Colbert Report, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.  She is a religious leader, attorney and poet with extensive experience in public policy and advocacy for systemic change.

Noel Castellanos — Dr. Noel Castellanos is the President of CCDA. He has worked in full-time ministry in Latino, urban communities since 1982. He has served in youth ministry, church planting, advocacy and community development in San Francisco, San Jose, and Chicago. After serving on the Board of the Christian Community Development Association for many years, he established the CCDA Institute, which equips emerging church leaders in the philosophy of Christian Community Development. Noel was appointed to serve on President Obamaʼs Council for Faith and Neighborhood Partnerships and is a highly sought after speaker, motivator, and mentor to young leaders throughout the USA. Noel is the author of Where the Cross Meets the Street, which blends the art of story with firmly rooted theology and time tested praxis. He is the co-author of A Heart for the Community, New Models for Urban and Suburban Ministry, and has contributed to various other books and publications. He and his wife, Marianne, have three adult children; Noel Luis, Stefan, and Anna, and make their home in the barrio of La Villita in Chicago.

Marvin Daniels — Marvin Daniels is the Executive Director/CEO of The Hope Center KC a Community and Youth Development organization whose mission is to develop healthy communities where the vulnerable can have Hope and Flourish. He holds a Masters in Education and Urban Missiology; and accredited certifications in Mediation and Dispute Resolution; and Youth Development in the Urban Context. Marvin continues to speak, lecture and train on relevant issues pertaining to urban ministry, urban education, and child and youth development. He also serves as a Trainer in Scenario Planning and Change Management for the DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative. He is married to Angie for 27 years and they have 5 children together (three sons) Malachi, Isaiah, Micah, and (two daughters) Imani and Nia. Marvin enjoys reading, musical productions, fellowshipping with friends, and creating memories with his family.

Wayne “Coach” Gordon — Affectionately known in his community as “Coach”, Dr. Wayne Gordon is founding Pastor of Lawndale Community Church and co-founder and President of the Christian Community Development Association. He is a graduate of Wheaton College and Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, and received his Doctor of Ministry from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary. In 1975, Wayne moved to the North Lawndale neighborhood on Chicago’s west side, which, at that time, was the 15th poorest neighborhood in the country. In Lawndale, he taught and coached at Farragut High School. Wayne and his wife, Anne, along with local high school students, founded Lawndale Community Church with a goal of developing a new generation of leaders for North Lawndale. Over 200 young people have graduated from college with more than half returning to live and work in the community. Today, LCC has over 1,000 worshipping families and Wayne continues as pastor. Wayne and Anne have raised their three children in the Lawndale community.

Michelle Higgins — Michelle holds an M.Div from Covenant Theological Seminary in Saint Louis, MO; where she works as the Director of Worship and Outreach for South City Church. Michelle is the Director and a founding member of Faith for Justice, a Christian advocacy group dedicated to continuing the biblical story of activism. Faith for Justice promotes and leads public justice actions and events that connect faith communities to the movements that seek to dignify and humanize Black lives. As a member of the coordinating team for St. Louis Action Council, Michelle works with a number of local activism groups including ArchCity Defenders, Deaconess Foundation, Forward Through Ferguson, MCU (Metropolitan Congregations United), Missouri Jobs with Justice, and Decarcerate STL, through which she has learned a great deal about collaboration and solidarity. Michelle also serves as conference director for the Leadership Development Resource Weekend (LDR Weekend), amplifying Black voices for today’s church in an annual gathering founded to address the core concerns of dignity, identity and significance for people of color.

Juanita Irizarry — The executive director of Chicago’s powerful Friends of the Parks advocacy group, Juanita Irizarry grew up and still lives in Chicago’s Humboldt Park. Inspired by her parents’ lives of ministry in the ‘hood and curious about the land use and affordable housing, she found Christian Community Development after college and went on to study urban planning and policy. Fifteen years of non-profit community development and policy advocacy work mostly in Latino and African-American communities led her back to graduate school for a Master of Public Administration degree from the Harvard Kennedy School. After post-grad school stints working for CCDA, in philanthropy at Chicago’s regional community foundation, and in the office of former Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, Juanita ran for city council to represent her lifelong community of Humboldt Park. Falling 143 votes short of a run-off election in 2015, she bounced back to lead Friends of the Parks’ successful 2016 city-wide battle to protect Chicago’s lakefront from private development in the form of filmmaker George Lucas’ proposed Lucas Museum.

Peter Moskowitz — Peter Moskowitz is a writer and journalist focused on inequality. He lives in Philadelphia.





Ali Noorani — Ali Noorani is the Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, an advocacy organization promoting the value of immigrants and immigration. As the son of Pakistani immigrants, Ali quickly learned how to forge alliances among people of wide-ranging backgrounds. Prior to joining the Forum, Ali was executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, and he has served in leadership roles within public health and environmental organizations. In 2015, Ali was named a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He holds a Master’s in Public Health from Boston University and is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley. Ali lives in Washington, D.C. and is the author of There Goes the Neighborhood: How Communities Overcome Prejudice and Meet the Challenge of American Immigration.

Ivan Paz — Ivan Paz was born in Los Angeles but was raised in Fresno, CA. His story is one of ambition and resilience. Aftet ending up in prison for five years for gang violence, he began to think about three things: forgiveness, social justice, and God’s love. Ivan’s life then took a radically different turn. He decided he wanted to pursue higher education while living among, and working with, residents in inner-city neighborhoods. Ivan is on staff with a local, interfaith, community organization that is committed to building cross-sector partnerships which aim at the holistic betterment of Fresno’s disadvantaged neighborhoods. Ivan is also an adjunct professor at Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary and the founder of 701 United, a local mixed martial arts gym for teens that seeks to instill / cultivate in them values of faith, fitness, and leadership.

Dr. John M. Perkins — Dr. John M. Perkins was born into Mississippi poverty in 1930. After overcoming the seemingly impassible barriers of being black in the segregated South, Dr. Perkins moved to California to escape the oppression of Mississippi’s closed society. In 1957, Dr. Perkins was converted to Christianity and after three years of discipleship, he was called back to the struggle of his home state of Mississippi. Since then, Dr. Perkins has lived the last 54 years engaged in the work of developing our world’s most troubling cities. His faithfulness to loving God and loving his worldwide neighbors has been recognized by eleven honorary doctorate degrees. Dr. Perkins has personally advised three U.S. presidents, has participated in writing 14 books, and founded the internationally known organization and movement, the Christian Community Development Association. With all these accolades, Dr. Perkins’ pride comes from his 62-year marriage to his wife, Vera Mae.

Dr. Robert Chao Romero — Robert is a professor of Chicana/o Studies and Asian American Studies at UCLA. He received his Ph.D. in Latin American history from UCLA and his J.D. from U.C. Berkeley, and is also an immigration lawyer and pastor. He is the author of numerous books and articles related to race, history, religion, and the Latina/o community. Together with his wife Erica, Robert co-directs Jesus 4 Revolutionaries and the Matthew 25 Movement in Southern California.



Michelle Warren — Michelle Warren is the Advocacy and Strategic Engagement Director for the Christian Community Development Association, based in Chicago, IL. She has been working in Christian community development for 24 years utilizing her skills as an educator, non-profit manager and public policy specialist. Michelle earned her Bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Cedarville University and later earned her Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Colorado. She is an immigration, education and human service policy specialist. Michelle is an adjunct faculty member at Denver Seminary in their Justice and Mission’s program, teaching, Political Advocacy, Doing Justice in the Public Square. Michelle is a consultant for the National Immigration Forum, a non-partisan, DC based immigration advocacy organization as the Western Regional Consultant for their Bibles, Badges & Business campaign. She is the author of, The Power of Proximity, Moving Beyond Awareness to Action. She is married to David Warren, Executive Director of Open Door Ministries. They live in Denver with their three children, 21, 19 and 15.

Michael W. Waters — The Reverend Dr. Michael W. Waters is founder and Senior Pastor of Joy Tabernacle A.M.E. Church in Dallas, Texas, one of the newest and fastest-growing A.M.E. churches in the state. He also serves as the newly appointed Senior Pastor of the nearly century-old Agape Temple. As pastor, professor, author, social commentator, and community leader, Waters’ words of hope and empowerment inspire national and international audiences. Named among America’s emerging leaders by Ebony Magazine and a recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Emerging Leader Award of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, Waters earned bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees with honors from the University. He is the award-winning author of Freestyle: Reflections on Faith, Family, Justice, and Pop Culture (Upper Room Books, 2014) and the author of Stakes Is High: Race, Faith, and Hope for America (Chalice Press, 2017). He is wonderfully married to Mrs. Yulise Reaves Waters, Esq., an assistant city attorney of Dallas. They are blessed to be the parents of Michael Jeremiah, 10, Hope Yulise, 7, and Liberty Grace, 5.

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