Faith in Public Life relies on a dedicated faith and advocacy community across the globe and a team of associates on the ground. Meet the team. 

Board of Directors

OUR

TEAM

 
 
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Jennifer is the founding Executive Director of Faith in Public Life and the former chair of the White House Council on Faith and Neighborhood Partnerships. Before leading FPL Jennifer spent ten years working in the field of international human rights representing the Presbyterian Church (USA) at the United Nations and is an ordained minister. While mobilizing religious communities to address the AIDS pandemic and advocate for women’s rights she grew passionate about the need to counter religious extremism with a strong religious argument for human rights. Out of that experience she wrote Born Again: The Christian Right Globalized, which was published by University of Michigan Press. Her book calls for a progressive religious response to Religious Right efforts to take the culture wars global.

Jennifer served in the Peace Corps from 1989 to 1991 in a Mayan village in Belize, Central America where she discovered she was at heart a community organizer. A graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, she also studied public policy and community organizing and graduated with a MSW from Rutgers University. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary.

 

Jennifer and her husband Glenn together run Iona Conversations, a Christian spiritual community in downtown Washington DC. When not dreaming up ways to amplify a social justice faith voice, Jennifer loves camping, hiking and biking with her husband and son.​

REV. JENNIFER BUTLER / CEO

She/Her
 
 
 
VP OF COMMUNICATION AND DIGITAL STRATEGY
MICHELLE NEALY
VP OF ORGANIZING AND CAMPAIGNS
SARA BENITEZ
VP OF DEVELOPMENT
ADRIANNE JOHNSON
VP OF DEVELOPMENT
 
 
 
CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER AND CHIEF OF STAFF
ÄNNA IBRAHIM
CATHOLIC PROGRAM DIRECTOR
John Gehring
DIRECTOR OF MESSAGING AN ONLINE ENGAGEMENT
Dan Nejfelt
 
 
 
OHIO DIRECTOR
REV. DAN CLARK
GEORGIA STATE DIRECTOR
GRAHAM YOUNGER
FLORIDA DIRECTOR
JOEY MCKINNON
CAMPAIGNS DIRECTOR
KELSEY HERBERT
ORGANIZING ASSOCIATE
VIVIAN HULSEY
ADMINISTRATIVE MANAGER
BEN BROWN
 
 
DIGITAL MEDIA MANAGER
GREG WILLIAMS
HARM REDUCTION MANAGER OHIO
BLYTH BARNOW
CREATIVE CONTENT MANAGER
MACKENZIE HARRIS
EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT
CHYNNAH MCFADDEN
 

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Scott Nielsen, Chair

Scott is founder and principal of the Alexander Nielsen Consulting.  ANC partners with individual and institutional donors to create and implement pragmatic grantmaking strategies that promote social change.  Prior to forming Alexander Nielsen Consulting, Nielsen was a program officer for 13 years at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in Chicago, including seven years in the MacArthur Fellows Program (“Genius Grants”). Nielsen’s primary fields of grant making expertise include issue advocacy, voter engagement, public policy, public interest law and journalism, the arts, and academic social science and humanities disciplines. Nielsen holds M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Chicago Divinity School, and a B.A. from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Acacia Salatti, Treasurer

Acacia Bamberg Salatti is a leading voice on the issues of health equity, public health engagement, and community stakeholder outreach. Acacia served as Director of the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships in the Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). As Director, she was responsible for furthering the priorities, mission, and goals of HHS and the White House concerning public health engagement. While at HHS, Acacia served as a highly visible face of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) external outreach. Before HHS, Acacia served six years in the office of South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn, eventually assuming the position of Staff Director on the House Democratic Faith Working Group which Rep. Clyburn chairs. In addition to advising on policy, she most notably helped to increase Clyburn’s and the Democratic Caucus’ footprint and relationships among faith leaders. Her expertise helped to shift the conversations on what constitutes a faith issue, broadening the understanding to include food insecurity, healthcare, and immigration beyond the traditional issues of abortion and gay marriage.

Margarida Jorge, Secretary

Margarida Jorge is a veteran of electoral, union, civic engagement and issue campaigns and a recognized expert in strategic campaigns, grassroots organizing, issue advocacy and organizational development. Margarida currently serves in multiple roles including as Executive Director of Health Care for America Now (HCAN), a coalition campaign she helped found in 2008 to pass, implement and defend the landmark Affordable Care Act (ACA). Margarida has served in many national leadership roles including as National Director of SEIU’s American’s for Health Care campaign, co-chair of Americans for Tax Fairness, and Executive Director of the Women’s Equality Center. She has worked as a strategic consultant and advisor for many progressive organizations including Demos, Main Street Alliance, Vision First, Faith in Action, Family Values@Work, Working America, Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC) and the Ms. Foundation for Women. Before coming to DC in 2007, Margarida spent nearly 15 years organizing labor unions, passing legislation, building community organizations and electing candidates in states like Missouri, Illinois, Michigan, Kentucky, and Florida.  Margarida holds two BA degrees from Columbia University.

Dr. Parvez Ahmed

Parvez Ahmed is Director of Graduate Programs and Professor of Finance at the Coggin College of Business, University of North Florida (UNF). He was the founding director at UNF's Center for Sustainable Business Practices. In 2009 he was named a U.S. Fulbright Scholar. Prior to joining UNF he taught at Penn State University in Harrisburg and University of North Carolina at Charlotte where he also served as the founding Faculty Advisor for the Student Managed Investment Fund. At PSU he was also the Associate Director of the Giant Food Center for Economic Development. He has led student study abroad programs to London, Paris, Turkey and Egypt. His research work has appeared in several major finance journals such as the Journal of Portfolio Management, Financial Management, Journal of Banking and Finance, Journal of Investing, and Financial Review. In addition his papers have been published in Applied Economic Letters, Global Business and Finance Review, International Review of Economics, Managerial Finance, Journal of Wealth Management, and Journal of Alternative Investments. He coauthored a book titled, “Mutual Funds – Fifty Years of Research Findings.” The book is published by Springer. He also published an article in the Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law. Currently he is a member of Jacksonville’s Human Rights Commission. He also serves on the boards of Museum of Science and History, and the World Affairs Council of Jacksonville. In 2010 Folio Weekly named him “Person of the Year.” In 2014 he was awarded the Silver Medallion Humanitarian Award by OneJax. In 2015 he was named Arthur Vining Davis Fellow to the Aspen Ideas Festival. In addition Dr. Ahmed writes editorials about Islam and the American Muslim experience. He is a regular contributor to Huffington Post. Dr. Ahmed also teaches a special 10-week course titled, “Islam - the faith, the people and their politics,” at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in UNF. 

Rabbi Peter Berg

Peter Berg became the fifth senior rabbi of The Temple since 1895 in July 2008. Prior to coming to The Temple, he served as rabbi of Temple Beth Or in Washington Township, New Jersey and as the Associate Rabbi of Temple Emanu-El in Dallas, Texas. In 2013, Rabbi Berg was named by Newsweek and The Daily Beast as one of the top 50 most influential rabbis in the United States of America. Rabbi Berg worked for three years at the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) as a rabbinic intern with the National Director of Program. In this capacity, he helped to develop innovative programs for the Reform movement and to coordinate worship and special programs for several Biennial conventions. Additionally, for three summers, Rabbi Berg served as the Education Director at URJ Camp Harlam in the Poconos. Rabbi Berg recently completed his term as Chair of the national Program Committee for the Central Conference of American Rabbis. Over the years, Rabbi Berg has spent a great deal of time working with advocacy groups on issues such as separation of church and state, the death penalty, civil rights, religious freedom, welfare reform, hate crimes and the environment. He has served on numerous communal and advisory boards, including the American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress, the Anti-Defamation League, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Mental Health Association, Dallas for Children, the Westwood Area Clergy Association, The New York Service for the Handicapped, The Faith Alliance of Metro Atlanta (FAMA), Jewish Family and Career Services (JF&CS) and UJA Federation of Dallas and New Jersey. He currently serves on the Board of American Jewish Committee, The Anti-Defamation League, Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, URJ Camp Coleman Clergy Advisory Board, The Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students (GEEARS), and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Rabbi Berg is on the editorial committee for the new machzor (High Holy Day Prayer Book) for the Central Conference of American Rabbis. He is a member of the Greater Atlanta Reform Clergy Association and the Atlanta Rabbinical Association. A native of Ocean Township, New Jersey, Rabbi Berg holds a degree in Education and Human Development, with a focus in human services, counseling and Judaic Studies from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He earned his M.A. in Hebrew Literature and his rabbinic ordination from Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion in New York and Jerusalem, where he was a Steinhardt Fellow. Rabbi Berg also holds a certificate in Chemical Dependency and Spiritual Counseling and is a trained Disaster, Fire and Police Chaplain. In 2009, Rabbi Berg was inducted into the College of Preachers at Morehouse College.  Rabbi Berg was a member of the 2012 Leadership Atlanta class and is an active member of the Downtown Atlanta Rotary.  He was recently appointed to Georgia Commission on the Holocaust by the Governor

Bobby Clark

Bobby Clark is an independent consultant with BRC Strategies, LLC and formerly served as Vice President of Programs and Communications at the Gill Foundation, where he oversaw the foundation’s strategic communications efforts and grantmaking to promote equal opportunity for LGBT people. Prior to joining the Gill Foundation, Bobby helped found and lead ProgressNow, a network of progressive communications and advocacy organizations with affiliates in 21 states. Under his leadership, the network grew to a dozen states and generated thousands of stories in state and national media, while cultivating a network of nearly 3 million grassroots members and activists. Previously Bobby served as one of the earliest staff members on Howard Dean’s presidential campaign, launching the campaign’s groundbreaking Internet effort and helping pioneer its innovative use of social media to build the campaign into a national movement. Bobby also led the development of the social networking platform ultimately used by Barack Obama’s presidential campaign to power its website.

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The Rev. James Gertmenian

The Rev. Dr. James Gertmenian, a UCC minister, retired in 2015 after twenty years at Plymouth Congregational Church, a prominent Minneapolis religious community.  In 1999, with his leadership, Plymouth created a non-profit now known as Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative.  As of 2019, Beacon has created over $120 million in housing in the Twin Cities, much of it serving formerly homeless individuals.  Currently 98 collaborating congregations participate in Beacon's work of housing development, shelter provision, and advocacy.  Gertmenian also co-chaired Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak’s 2006 Commission to End Homelessness and was a founding partner of Downtown Congregations to End Homelessness.  In 2010 Minnesota’s Joint Religious Legislative Coalition gave him its Lawrence Gibson Interfaith Social Justice Award.  A promoter of interfaith dialogue, Gertmenian received the 2009 Temple Israel Interfaith Award for Commitment to Interfaith Understanding.  While at Plymouth, he led his congregation to a strong institutional stand in favor of marriage equality. At retirement in 2015, Gertmenian moved with his wife, Susan King, to Cumberland, Maine.  Over the past two years he has helped to develop and lead a joint project of Auburn Theological Seminary, The BTS Center, and Trinity UCC Church (Chicago) that brings together young, progressive faith leaders in small 3-day gatherings around the country.  A $1 million grant from the Lilly Endowment will support these gatherings from 2019-2024.  In December 2017, along with 8 other Maine faith leaders, Gertmenian was arrested during a civil disobedience action at the office of Senator Susan Collins at a time when the Republican tax bill was being considered.  He was arrested again at the Governor’s mansion in an action aimed to show support for Medicaid expansion.   He has been a participant in the work of Moral Movement Maine, an organization that has supported various progressive causes. Gertmenian is also a hymn-writer whose works appear in various denominational hymnals.

Jeanné Lewis

Jeanné is dedicated to building bridges between groups to find new ways to build just and empowered communities. Originally from the suburbs of Washington, D.C., she has lived and worked in four states and the District of Columbia to challenge systemic inequities. As Vice President and Chief Engagement Officer at the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP), Jeanné leads the team that designs and implements strategies for engaging progressive social justice nonprofit organizations and more than 120 foundation supporters. This includes signature initiatives such as the NCRP Impact Awards. Her efforts result in a deeply engaged philanthropic sector more open to learning from social justice movement leaders. Her earlier positions have drawn on her expertise in building unlikely alliances which generate new initiatives to promote justice and support marginalized groups. Before joining NCRP she was the Director of US Programs at Search for Common Ground; one of her major initiatives advanced bipartisan conversations among members of the U.S. Congress and other government leaders about the impact of racism on policy. Prior to that, Jeanné worked to build a network of support organizations for military families impacted by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. She also led a restorative justice program for New Hanover County Public Schools in North Carolina, and worked as a faith-based community organizer in Ohio and Florida. Her broad-based experience includes designing discussions and workshops to advance constructive interaction and social justice for international audiences. Jeanné has delivered these forums to elected officials, ambassadors, clergy, executives and other leaders. Jeanné serves in several volunteer roles, including the Board of Directors of Faith in Public Life.  She is a member of St. Augustine Catholic Parish in Washington, D.C., where she resides. She was an inaugural member of the Leadership Council of Within our Lifetime, a national movement to end racism seeded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. In her free time, she sings with SongRise, D.C.’s women's social justice singing group. She received her undergraduate degree from Washington University in St. Louis and her M.A. in Conflict Resolution from Antioch University Midwest.

Jennifer Owens

Jennifer joined the GBPI in March of 2013 to assist the organization with fund development to support and strengthen BGPI’s impact, and to conduct outreach to key policy influencers at the local and state levels. Jennifer has experience in policy research and advocacy, community organizing, strategic communication and grassroots mobilization, and fundraising. Prior to GBPI, Jennifer served in development and policy advocacy roles for Georgia Organics, is a former director of The League of Women Voters of Georgia, and a program coordinator for The Clean Air Campaign. Jennifer has been honored as one of the youngest recipients to be awarded the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s “40 Under 40″ and a 2012 recipient of The Georgia Conservancy’s Longleaf Award for Excellence in Environmental Advocacy.

Pastor Jason Ridley

Pastor Jason Ridley is a native of Richmond, Va.  He received his call at an early age and preached his first sermon at the age of 13.  He received a Bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Virginia Union University.  He then went on to Andrews Theological Seminary in Berrien Springs, MI where he received a Master’s of Divinity. Pastor Ridley has been blessed to preach and minister all around this country and around the globe, in such places as Canada, Bermuda, Thailand, Taiwan, Zambia, the Amazon in Peru, Albania, Birmingham & London, England and while in the seminary he preached a three week evangelistic campaign in Kampala, Uganda where 282 souls were baptized. Pastor Ridley is a Pastor in Allegheny West Conference where he has had the privilege to Pastor in Charleston & Huntington, West Virginia and currently he is the Pastor of the Hilltop Community Worship Center in Columbus, Ohio where he also serves as the Ministerial President for the Central Ohio Area. Pastor Ridley also sits on the Executive Boards for both Allegheny West Conference and the Columbia Union Conference.  He is also a member of the African-American Ministers Leadership Council which is a National cross-denominational organization in the United States which deals with issues of race and equality for all.  As well as a member of the Micah Leadership Council which is also a National cross-denominational organization in the United States for emerging Pastors under the age of 40 who are in the fight for Social Justice.  Pastor Ridley also serves as the co-chair of the Westside Community Health Advisory Committee under Columbus Public Health.

Bryan Whitaker

Bryan is the Chief Innovation Officer of TargetSmart Communications where he helps progressive organizations increase their effectiveness with data-driven decisions.  Formerly, Bryan was the Chief Technology Officer at the Democratic National Committee.  Before joining the DNC, he was the founding Director of Field Information Services at the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), where he managed an organization-wide data services department. Bryan grew up in a progressive Presbyterian family, learning that public service is noble and life’s greatest pursuit is justice for all. Bryan graduated from the University of Dayton, a Marianist Catholic institution in his hometown, Dayton, Ohio.

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PO Box #33668

Washington, DC 20033

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info@faithinpubliclife.org