Frank Alexander has served as Senior Pastor at Oasis of Hope Baptist Church in Indianapolis since 1975. During his tenure there, he founded two development corporations, providing 255 units of multi-family and senior housing in the community, and the Jobs Partnership of Greater Indianapolis. Concerned for the poor worldwide, Pastor Frank also helped to found Missions For Rural Africa in 1985, a Liberian ministry that supports efforts of village evangelism, educational services and medical and economic development. He was educated at Bishop College in Dallas and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, and has been married to his wife, Shirley, for 42 years. They have five children.
A Teach for America (TFA) alumna, Nicole Baker Fulgham taught fifth grade in Compton, where she led her students to the highest academic gains of any fifth grade class in the school district. After receiving her Ph.D. from UCLA with a focus on urban education policy and teacher preparation, Nicole worked for the Council of Great City Schools as a policy analyst and researcher. She later joined the national staff of TFA, serving in several leadership capacities before occupying her current role: Vice President of TFA’s Faith Community Relations Initiative. Nicole speaks regularly and has authored several articles about educational equity. She lives in Washington, DC with her husband and three children.
Leroy Barber has dedicated more than 20 years to eradicating poverty, restoring local neighborhoods, healing racism and living what Dr. King called “the beloved community.” In 1990, burdened by the plight of Philadelphia’s homeless, he founded Restoration Ministries to serve families and children living on the streets. In 1997, he joined FCS Urban Ministries, to found Atlanta Youth Academies, a private elementary school providing quality Christian education for low-income families. He is currently the President of Mission Year , a national initiative introducing 18-29 year olds to missional and communal living through one-year urban internships. Leroy and his wife Donna have five children.
Arthur C. Brooks is president of the American Enterprise Institute, a non-partisan public policy think tank in Washington, D.C. Until 2009, he was the Louis A. Bantle Professor of Business and Government Policy at Syracuse University. He is the author of eight books and many articles on topics ranging from the economics of the arts to applied mathematics. His most recent book is The Battle: How the Fight Between Free Enterprise and Big Government Will Shape America’s Future. Before pursuing his work in public policy, Mr. Brooks spent twelve years as a professional French hornist with the City Orchestra of Barcelona and other ensembles. He resides in Bethesda, Maryland with his wife Ester and their three children. Read more about Arthur at his website.
Crissy Brooks is a founding member and the executive director of Mika Community Development Corporation. She spends her days with her neighbors, church partners, staff, and friends figuring out what it looks like to love God and their neighbors in Costa Mesa, California. Crissy has the privilege of leading initiatives in neighborhood organizing, youth development, and building church-community partnerships. She loves to make a good plan and finds joy in running, journaling, and traveling.
Jonathan Brooks is the Senior Pastor of Canaan Community Church and CEO of Canaan Community Redevelopment Corporation in Chicago’s West Englewood Community. Under the name of Amen Anointed, he has recorded four hip-hop albums with the group Out-World. Jonathan has also been an elementary teacher for Chicago Public Schools for eight years and is currently enrolled at Northern Seminary, pursuing his M.Div. in Christian Community Development.
Rodolpho Carrasco is the Director of Two Forty Group and U.S. Regional Facilitator for Partners Worldwide. He is the former Executive Director of Harambee Ministries in Pasadena, California and a CCDA Advisory Board member. He is passionate about indigenous leadership development and writes frequently on youth development, economics, and racial reconciliation. His articles have appeared in Christianity Today, Pacific News Service, Discipleship Journal and other publications. He lives with his wife, Kafi, and their four children in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Read more about Rudy at his blog.
Currently the CEO of CCDA, Noel Castellanos has served in full-time ministry in urban communities since 1982. He is a highly sought-after speaker, motivator, and mentor to young leaders throughout the United States, and is a member of the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Castellanos is coeditor, with John Fuder, of A Heart for the Community: New Models for Urban and Suburban Ministry.
As dean of Esperanza College, Dr. Elizabeth Conde-Frazier is responsible for setting the vision, the strategic direction, and providing leadership and management for the programs and faculty of the school. Previously, she was professor of religious education at the Claremont School of Theology and taught Hispanic/Latino/a theology at the Latin American Bible Institute, in California. With a PhD in theology and religious education she has written in the areas of multicultural education, Latina feminist theology, and Latino/a spirituality. Her most recent book, Listen to the Children/Escuchemos a los Niños is about how immigration affects children. She has over ten years experience as an ordained pastor and has been a bilingual teacher.
Rev. Jeremy Del Rio, Esq. co-founded and directs 20/20 Vision for Schools, a movement to transform public education that launched in New York City in 2008, and connects, trains, and mentors youth workers regionally and locally. He has consulted ministries and nonprofits since 2000, and directed Generation Xcel, a holistic youth center in Manhattan, from 1996-2006. Jeremy was the founding, bi-vocational youth pastor at Abounding Grace Ministries, and also worked as a corporate attorney in New York. He has contributed to several books, including Deep Justice in a Broken World and The Justice Project, and his articles have appeared in numerous publications. Jeremy and his wife Diana have two sons. Read more about Jeremy at his blog.
Wayne Gordon, affectionately known as “Coach,” is Lead Pastor of Lawndale Community Church and President of CCDA. In over 30 years of ministry, he has played a key role in numerous community development initiatives, and one of his major goals has been to develop a new generation of leaders for North Lawndale. Coach holds a D.Min. degree from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary and is the author of Real Hope in Chicago and, most recently, Who Is My Neighbor?: Lessons Learned From a Man Left for Dead.
Founder, former CEO, and President Emeritus of Bethel New Life on Chicago’s West Side, Mary Nelson is presently coordinates Loyola University’s Institute of Pastoral Studies master’s degree program in Social Justice and Community Development. She serves on the boards of CCDA, Sojourners, and the Seminary Consortium for Urban Pastoral Education and is in demand as a consultant, writer, teacher, and speaker in all areas of community development. Nelson holds a Ph.D. from Union Graduate School. Read Mary’s writing on the God’s Politics blog.
Christian Community Development pioneer John M. Perkins and his wife, Vera Mae, are founders of Voice of Calvary Ministries in Mendenhall, Mississippi; the Harambee Christian Family Center in Northwest Pasadena, California; the John and Vera Mae Perkins Foundation for Reconciliation and Development; and CCDA. Author of the memoir Let Justice Roll Down, he has been recognized for his work with eight honorary doctorates from colleges and universities across the United States.
Dr. Lisa Ramírez serves as the director of migrant education in the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education. A former migrant worker herself, Dr. Ramírez left the fields to serve in the United States Army Reserves. She financed much of her college education through the GI Bill and began a career as an educator in 1992, first as a teacher, then serving as an assistant principal and principal. In 2004, she opened the Lubbock Independent School District’s first public charter campus. Dr. Ramírez received her B.A., M.Ed., and Ed.D degrees from Texas Tech University and is an alumna of an Executive Leadership program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Kimberley J. Richardson is district manager of Classical Conversations (CC), where she leads directors of homeschooling communities on the South Side of Chicago, South Suburbs, and Northwest Indiana. She spent three years as the director for CC, and has been a homeschooling mother for ten years. Mrs. Richardson is also a singer for music ministry. She and her husband have been married for 18 years and have three daughters.
After serving with InterVarsity for ten years in southern California, in 2007 John Teter planted Fountain of Life Covenant Church in Long Beach, California, a multiethnic and multiclass congregation. He also serves as director of church-planting training for the Evangelical Covenant Church and is the author of two books, Get the Word Out and (with coauthor Alex Gee) Jesus and the Hip Hop Prophets.
Richard Twiss is a member of the Sicangu Lakota Oyate from the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota and President of Wiconi International (pronounced: we-choe-knee). He is a speaker, activist, educator, author and networker among innovative thinkers within Native North American and international indigenous communities. Currently, he is completing a doctorate in cultural anthropology, primal and folk religions and the history of Christian mission at Asbury Theological Seminary. Prior to his current work, Richard spent 13 years as Senior Pastor of New Discovery Community Church and authored One Church Many Tribes: Serving Jesus the Way God Made You. He and his wife Katherine live in Vancouver, Washington, where they raised four sons.
Jim Wallis is a bestselling author, public theologian, and frequent speaker on faith and public life. He is the author of God’s Politics, and his latest book is Rediscovering Values: On Wall Street, Main Street, and Your Street. He is President and CEO of Sojourners and editor-in-chief of Sojourners magazine, whose combined print and electronic media have a readership of more than 250,000 people. His columns appear in major newspapers and blogs, and he regularly appears as a television and radio commentator. He is a husband, father of two young boys, and a Little League baseball coach.
Matthew Watts serves as Senior Pastor of Grace Bible Church in Charleston, West Virginia where he also leads HOPE Community Development Corporation, a non-profit organization with the mission of empowering the inner city through spiritual renewal, education, employment and training and economic development. He was formerly employed by Union Carbide Corporation for 18 years as an engineer, leaving to pursue ministry and community service. Educated in West Virginia’s public school system, he is passionate about working with teachers and community residents to reform local public schools. He and his wife Pamela have been married for 30 years and they have five children and five grandchildren. Read more about Matthew at his website.
Thurman Wiliams has been Pastor of New Song Community Church, in the Sandtown community of West Baltimore since 2000. Prior to that, he spent five years as the Minister of Outreach and Youth at Faith Christian Fellowship Church while attending Chesapeake Theological Seminary and four years on staff with Young Life. Thurman serves as a member of the PCA’s Mission to North America Committee and is the chairman of Chesapeake Presbytery’s Urban and Mercy Ministries Committee. Thurman just completed his D. Min. degree at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis. He and his wife, Evie, have been married for 13 years and have four children.
Known as the quarterback with the Midas touch, Danny Wuerffel received the highest honor bestowed on any college football player in 1996—The Heisman Trophy. Upon graduating, he was recruited by the New Orleans Saints, playing three years before joining the NFL’s European League where he was named MVP. Danny also played one season with each of the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears and Washington Redskins. In 2004, Danny began work with Desire Street Ministries in New Orleans, well-known as a ministry to one of America’s toughest neighborhoods. Since 2004, the ministry has grown to include sites in Baton Rouge and Atlanta, the new headquarters where Danny and his wife Jessica raise their three children.