Featured Speakers

Read about featured speakers from this course

Rev. Denise Anderson 

Former Co-Moderator 222ND General Assembly PC (U.S.A.)

Coordinator of Racial and Intercultural Justice 

PC (U.S.A.)

Rev. Laura Mariko Cheifetz

Laura Mariko Cheifetz began serving as the Assistant Dean of Admissions, Vocation, and Stewardship in August 2019. She is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), a graduate of North Park University (MBA, ’11), McCormick Theological Seminary (M.Div. ’05), and Western Washington University (BA in Sociology, 2000). 

She is a contributing editor to Inheritance, a magazine amplifying the stories of Asian American and Pacific Islander Christian faith. She is the co-author and editor of "Church on Purpose: Reinventing Discipleship, Community, & Justice" (Judson Press) and contributor to "Race in a Post Obama America: The Church Responds" (Westminster John Knox Press), "Leading Wisdom: Asian and Asian North American Women Leaders" (WJK), "Here I Am: Faith Stories of Korean American Clergywomen" (Judson), and "Streams Run Uphill: Conversations with Young Clergywomen of Color" (Judson). She is co-author of the "Forming Asian Leaders for North American Churches" entry in the "Religious Leadership" reference handbook (SAGE Publishing). An occasional contributor to various blogs, her piece "Race Gives Me Poetry" for "Unbound: An Interactive Journal of Christian Social Justice" won the Associated Church Press 2016 Award of Excellence - Reporting and Writing: Personal Experience/1st Person Account (long format).

Laura is multiracial Asian American of Japanese and white Jewish descent. She was the fourth generation of her family to be born in California, and grew up in eastern Oregon and western Washington. Laura has served on various boards, national and international ecumenical bodies, and has been president of two homeowners associations. She is currently the co-moderator of the Special Committee on Per Capita-Based Funding & National Church Financial Sustainability for the Presbyterian Church (USA). 

Laura and her partner, Jessica Vazquez Torres, the National Program Director for Crossroads Antiracism Organizing & Training, live in Nashville, TN with two rescued Shih Tzus. They enjoy all their nieces and nephews, and hope to be such fabulous aunties that the kids smuggle good booze to them in their retirement home. In their free time, Jessica bakes and Laura delivers the baked goods to friends and neighbors 

Dr. Jennifer Harvey 

Author "Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America"

Drake University 

Joanna Kim 

Director of Ministry Services
Grace Presbytery, PC (U.S.A.)

Rev. S. Unzu Lee

Born and raised in the southern part of divided Korea, Unzu Lee left for Brazil as an ethnic Korean at age 14. Her identification with the Asian American identity was borne out of her encounter with a group of dedicated Japanese and Chinese Americans who rallied with Korean Americans to bring justice to Chol-Soo Lee, a Korean American, who was held on death row at San Quintin in the late 1970's.  Unzu's ministries have been in the areas of gender and racial justice, and since February 2020, she is serving as a regional liaison for East Asia in the Presbyterian Church USA

Dr. June L. Lorenzo 

Contributor to PCUSA "Doctrine of Discovery" Report 

Laguna United Presbyterian Church, NM

Rev. Alex McNeill 

Rev. Alex Patchin McNeill is the Executive Director of More Light Presbyterians. During his tenure at More Light, he has equipped congregations to live into policy change for inclusion of LGBTQIA+ people and has successfully enacted policies for marriage equality in the Presbyterian Church, USA. Alex is the first openly transgender man ordained as a Minister of the Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church, (U.S.A.). He lives in Asheville, NC with his spouse and their three dogs.

Dr. Raj Nadella is the Samuel A. Cartledge Associate Professor of New Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary. His research and teaching interests include postcolonial biblical interpretation, migration and biblical perspectives on economic justice and their ethical implications for the Church and society. He is the author of Dialogue Not Dogma: Many Voices in the Gospel of Luke (T&T Clark, 2011) and an area editor for Oxford Bibliographies Online: Biblical Studies. He is the co-author of Postcolonialism and the Bible and co-editor of Christianity and the Law of Migration, both forthcoming in 2021. He has written for publications such as the Huffington Post, Christian Century and Working Preacher.

Nadella is actively involved in the academy and the Church on issues such as race, representation and immigration. He serves on the National Council of Churches USA’s Faith and Order Commission and chairs the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL)’s Committee on Underrepresented Racial and Ethnic Minorities in the Profession (CUREMP).

Rev. Kevin L. Porter
Stated Clerk
Presbytery of Philadelphia

Elona Street-Stewart 

Synod Executive

Synod of Lakes & Prairies PC (U.S.A.)

Jessica Vazquez Torres

National Program Director

Jessica Vazquez Torres is a proven leader with 20 years-experience in antiracism, anti-oppression, and cultural competency workshop development and facilitation. An effective communicator and critical thinker, deeply committed to dismantling the socially constituted structures and cultural dynamics that oppress, marginalize, and harm People of Color, Queer, and immigrant communities and limit their access and control over the resources they need to thrive. Jessica, a 1.5-Generation ESL Queer Latina of Puerto Rican descent, holds a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from the University of Central Florida, a Master of Divinity from Christian Theological Seminary, and a Master of Theological Studies from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University. She has co-authored a four-session adult study on the history of racism in the United States. Jessica has presented at the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Studies annual meeting as well as during the gathering of the Society for Christian Ethics. Her papers were titled: “The Suffering that Pulls Us Together & Pulls Us Apart: Moral Injury, Race, and the Challenge of Solidarity in Social Justice Work” (2019), “Does Moral Injury Have a Color? On Moral Injury and Race in the United States” (2014), "Race and Virtue: The Practice and Ethics of Race Based Caucusing” (2012). When not facilitating a conversation virtually or in person, Jessica attempts to become a bread baker, cultivates community with her spouse Laura, listens to too many books and podcasts at once, walks (sometimes for exercise), and sings songs badly with full abandon.

Dr. William Yoo is Associate Professor of American Religious and Cultural History at Columbia Theological Seminary. He is the author of American Missionaries, Korean Protestants, and the Changing Shape of World Christianity and editor of The Presbyterian Experience in the United States: A Sourcebook. He is currently writing a book on the history of race and racism in Presbyterianism in colonial North America and the United States.

Last modified: Wednesday, August 5, 2020, 8:40 PM