Who we are


Toward the end of 2016, as gun violence in Chicago reached its highest levels in 20 years, a group of Chicago area business, faith, community, non-profit, civic and government leaders met to explore the common question they asked themselves:

Is there more that can be done to address the root causes of the current level of violence we are experiencing?

They realized that though the challenges in Chicago are highly complex and have developed over decades, there are strategic actions that can be taken to create a “collective impact”. Through these conversations, the desire to form a new nonprofit organization grew and Together Chicago was born. We formally launched Together Chicago in the fall of 2017 and are currently engaged in our five areas of focus – economic development, education, violence reduction, gospel justice, and faith community mobilization.


Together Chicago exists to be a catalyst for lasting change by reducing gun violence and increasing thriving communities in our city.


We catalyze faith, business, community and government leaders to inspire hope and affect peace and justice in the communities we serve.


We focus on five areas: economic development, educational achievement, violence reduction, gospel justice and faith-community mobilization.





  • Support job and business creation in disinvested communities in Chicago
  • Help corporations localize their supply chain
  • Encourage corporations to open locations in disinvested communities in Chicago
  • Support workforce development through partnerships and faith communities
  • Develop industrial and commercial real estate
  • Build high quality residential housing in urban communities for equity ownership


  • Engage churches in educational volunteerism
  • Form partnerships with targeted CPS schools, churches and/or relevant non-profits
  • Form afterschool mentoring programs
  • Improve educational outcomes through endorsement of best practices


  • Support churches at the forefront of violence reduction in their community
  • Care for victims and families affected
  • Partner with leading non-profits that are working to reduce violence
  • Convene key community stakeholders for catalytic conversion


  • Catalyze the development of local, community-based justice centers in partnership with local churches
  • Provide comprehensive legal services at an affordable and reduced cost that aligns with the felt-needs of those within the community


  • Support rhythms of prayer and partnership throughout the year in tandem with Chicagoland United in Prayer
  • Connect communities of faith with opportunities to put prayer into practical action alongside each other in their neighborhoods


Co-Founder & Co-CEO

Michael Allen

Michael Allen is Co-Founder & Co-CEO of Together Chicago. He was born in Kingston, Jamaica and immigrated to Fort Lauderdale, Florida with his family in 1977.  In 1986 he became a naturalized U.S. citizen.

Early in his professional career, Michael was called into ministry under the leadership of Dr. O.S. Hawkins, First Baptist Church – Ft. Lauderdale (1989). In 1997, Michael served as Assistant Pastor of Urban Outreach and Evangelism at The Moody Church in Chicago, IL . Michael also served as the Associate Pastor at Sagemont Church in Houston, TX (2002) and most recently as the Senior Pastor at Uptown Baptist Church. He also serves as Vice Chairman of the board of the Pacific Garden Mission.

Michael holds a Masters in Divinity from Trinity International University, a Bachelors of Arts in Biblical Studies from Trinity College – Miami, FL and an Associates in Computer Electronics.

Michael is married to Marilza from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and they have 4 children.

Co-Founder & Co-CEO

David Dillon

David Dillon is Co-Founder & Co-CEO of Together Chicago with over 30 years of experience in the application of advanced technology concepts and solutions for the financial services industry. As the CIO at CRT (a leading Chicago-based derivatives firm sold to Nations Bank), David led a global technology organization that built and supported real-time pricing, trade execution, and risk management capabilities that were instrumental in CRT’s success and ultimate sale. At Nations Bank and then Bank of America, David was a leader in the Global Corporate and Investment Bank in finding innovative technology solutions for complex corporate banking problems. David then ran the New Ventures Group for Citadel Investment Group in Chicago before forming the Dillon Kane Group in 2001.

Measurement Analyst

Jacinta Banks

Chief Operating Officer

Jonathan Banks

Jonathan Banks is motivated to see people thrive by challenging them to grow and inspiring them to rise. He actively serves his church and community and strives to help others reach their God-given potential in every area of life. Jonathan earned an undergraduate degree in engineering from Purdue University and an MBA from Northwestern University.

Jonathan is the author of a best selling book called ‘Raise Your GPA’, which outlines a faith-based approach to academic and life excellence for students. His own academic and tutoring experiences helped him form an effective approach to success that he willingly shares with the next generation.

Jonathan is a passionate leader and educator who serves his church and community in Illinois where he resides with his wife, Jacinta, and their teenage sons.

Community & Faith Engagement Officer

Rev. Alvin Bibbs, Sr.

In 1967, the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. pointed Rev. Bibbs out of a huge crowd during a service at Wayman African Methodist Episcopal Church which is positioned right in the heart of the former Cabrini-Green Housing Projects of Chicago. During his message Dr. King asked him to come forward to make an illustration in his sermon. At that very moment – Dr. King was challenging the audience to take responsibility for the promising future of the next generation and to bring pride back to their community. That moment left a lasting impression on Alvin’s life – especially after Dr. King shared a prayer of blessing over his life at the end of the church service alongside of his parents and four siblings.

Rev. Alvin C. Bibbs, Sr. is a highly sought-after motivational speaker, author (Crazy Enough to Care: Changing Your World Through Compassion, Justice, & Racial Reconciliation, InterVarsity Press) and serves as an organizational coach/facilitator to congregations, corporations, and not-for-profit organizations across North America. Along with currently serving as President & CEO of the Justice Journey Alliance™, Leadership Foundation of Chicago.

The Justice Journey Alliance™ vision is to reach an ever-increasing population divided by race and injustice. Rev. Bibbs also serves as the Community & Faith Engagement Officer for Together Chicago providing leadership to enlist local churches in Chicago to organize Gospel Justice Centers throughout the city. Most recently on September 25, 2020, Rev. Bibbs co-founded a national initiative called Beyond Words: Count Us In Movement which is a multi-city ecumenical movement in which faith leaders and pastors are taking direct action to address structural injustice and systemic racism. Rev. Bibbs is the Co-Founder and Visionary Leader of Beyond Words: Count Us In. Last of all, Rev. Bibbs is also the Founder & Lead Visionary for the THR!VE Pastors Cohort in Chicago. The mission of the THRI!VE Pastors Cohort is to position pastors in Chicago for amplified and holistic engagement by providing cutting-edge and practical resources to enable healthy and sustainable local churches.

Prior to the Justice Journey Alliance™, Rev. Bibbs served as the Multi-Cultural Regional Director for the Willow Creek Association in South Barrington, IL.

He joined Willow Creek Community Church in 1996 as the Executive Director of Extension Ministries (the Compassion & Justice Missions Outreach for the church).

In September of 2020, Rev. Bibbs was featured in two major national television broadcasts. Rev. Bibbs was featured in the newly released 200th Anniversary of Federal Courts in Illinois documentary entitled: A Court at the Heart of America. In June of 2020, Rev. Bibbs served as the Executive Producer, Editor, and Writer on a ‘Special Edition’ program entitled: We Can’t Breathe: Crisis in America powered by the Total Living Network. A JustUS Conversation roundtable on the growing national protests against racism with three highly sought-after Christian leaders from different racial, and vocational backgrounds.

Additionally, Rev. Bibbs was a contributing panelist on the Total Living Network – Significant INSIGHTS with Jerry Rose entitled: Racism: Then & Now. A three-part roundtable series analyzing the state of race relations in North America.

In the Christianity Today’s 1996 November issue, Rev. Bibbs was featured as one of the Top Fifty “Up and Coming” Evangelical Leaders in the country under forty years of age. In January of 2010 – Rev. Bibbs was featured in a TIME Magazine article entitled ‘Can Mega-Churches – Bridge the Racial Divide.’

Rev. Bibbs also served as the primary Chaplain to the World-Famous Chicago Cubs Major League Baseball Team for seven amazing seasons.

As a final point, Rev. Bibbs is also a well-known contributing cast member of the now
famous Hoop Dreams (1994) an award-winning documentary and remarkable true story of two American dreamers; an intimate reflection of contemporary American inner-city culture, following two ordinary young men on the courts of the game they love.

Rev. Bibbs holds a Master of Arts Degree in Christian Leadership Development & Organizational Management from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA. Rev. Bibbs has three amazing, gifted, and spiritually surrendered sons Alvin C. Bibbs, Jr., Brandon Q. Bibbs, & Devin L. Bibbs.

Street Outreach Supervisor

Marlon Buggs

Data & Mobilization Coordinator

Gineen Cali

Gineen graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a BA in Arts and Sciences. After college, she worked in the airline industry where she developed a passion for seeking out what is unique in people and places—in how others live and see the world. She has a gift of empathy, and a desire to help others find their strengths and connect with a supportive community: believing we are at our best when the weak and strong work together.

She holds a Masters degree in Counseling Psychology from Trinity International University, and has worked in nonprofit and private practice providing counseling, coaching, and assessment at various locations in the city: in the Loop, Rogers Park, and as part of Lawndale Christian Center.

Gineen and her husband Joe live on the Northside of Chicago, and partner with 20th District CAPS Faith-based Subcommittee and with the Chicago Police Department’s Custom Notifications initiative, and are a part of Chicagoland United in Prayer.

Director of Faith-Community Mobilization

Dr. John Fuder

Dr. John “Doc” Fuder serves as the Director of Faith-Community Mobilization for Together Chicago and leads the Chicagoland United in Prayer movement.

Doc is the Founder and Director of Heart for the City and has a passion for equipping the broader body of Christ to engage more deeply in contextualizing the Gospel in their local communities. His passion to teach and train others to engage the city comes from his many years of experience in ministry in California and training students in Urban Studies at Moody Theological Seminary. Doc is the author of A Heart for the City, A Heart for the Community, Neighborhood Mapping, and the Chicago Neighborhood Prayer Guide.

Doc holds a B.R.E. from Prairie Bible College, an M.A. in Religion from Pepperdine University and a Ph.D. from Biola University. He and his wife, Nellie, have three children and two granddaughters and live on Chicago’s north side and are part of Park Community Church.

Prayer & Mobilization Coordinator

Kimberly Harshman

Kimberly Harshman did her Pastoral studies at Global University with Assemblies of God. After nearly 20 years in youth and children’s ministry, she felt a call on her life to make prayer and intercession her full time occupation. She participated in an internship with International House of Prayer Kansas City (IHOPKC), where she later went on staff as a full time Intercessor in the 24/7 Global Prayer Room. As an overflow of that prayer, she worked as the Prayer Coordinator for the anti-human trafficking organization, Exodus Cry. She coordinated global prayer watches for the ending of human trafficking and managed the Human Trafficking Museum.

Kimberly has brought her passion for prayer to Together Chicago by mobilizing Prayer Partners to pray for the Five Focus Areas of Together Chicago. Each week she gathers the Leadership Team’s prayer needs and emails them out to our Prayer Partners. She also leads the Together Chicago Prayer Partners Prayer Zoom two days a week.

Kimberly leads an initiative called Love Your School Prayer Corners, where Prayer Champions are signing up all over the city and suburbs to adopt a school in their neighborhood where they go and pray each week for students, teachers and staff. As an overflow of her prayer for the youth in our city, she helps lead our Intervention Connection Team, to provide resources and direction to youth who have been involved in gun violence and crime.

Support Kimberly’s Prayer Ministry

Director of Education Initiatives

Damien Howard

Damien Howard is an educator with 12 years of experience, primarily with Chicago Public Schools. He cares deeply about Urban Education Reform. Damien teaches character development and life skills to help students thrive in all aspects of their lives.  His current work targets schools on the South and West sides of Chicago.

Damien graduated from the University of Illinois (05′) with a degree in Special Education. Damien received his M.Div. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (10′). Damien is married to Sharial and Gabrielle is their daughter.

Sr. Case Manager

Tramaine Jones

Chief Fiscal Manager

Tara Linta

As Chief Fiscal Manager, Tara leads our reporting and compliance efforts and manages Together Chicago’s finances. She supports our budget discussions, and interfaces with our major grant providers, assisting Together Chicago in fulfilling the practical expectations of the awards.

Tara has previously served on the Executive Leadership Team for a local Non-profit where she was responsible for financial, budget and grant compliance, as well as HR and IT oversight. Throughout her career, Tara has managed projects for a wide variety of organizations including accounting firms, office furniture manufacturers, and non-profits.

Tara has enjoyed serving in her local church on the Production Team as a Producer, and in the Welcome Ministry, as well as volunteering at her kids’ school assisting students with learning disabilities.

In her spare time, you will find Tara cheering on her two teenage children at their sporting events and soaking up as much sun as possible!

She feels so blessed to serve on a team who is united in their vision and passion to meet the vast array of needs across the city of Chicago through collective impact.

Street Outreach Supervisor

James Luckes

Victim Services Advocate

Alexis Luckett

Case Manager

Kutina Freeman

Violence Reduction Strategist

Christopher Mallette

Christopher Mallette is a renowned community safety strategist and management consultant. 

Christopher Mallette has devoted his life to advocating for social justice and serving residents and children in the city of Chicago and other U.S. urban communities. He is the former Executive Director of the Chicago Violence Reduction Strategy (CVRS) where he worked to reduce group and gang violence in the City of Chicago.  The focus of Christopher’s work has been and continues to be the development of collaborative strategies that reconcile communities by helping members to identify and value one another’s place in the social fabric of the community.

Prior to assuming his role with CVRS, Christopher served in the Mayor’s Office as the Director of Community Safety Initiatives where he focused on youth violence prevention, juvenile justice, gang intervention and prevention, and ex-offender reentry initiatives.  Before his appointment to the Mayor’s Office, Christopher served as the Executive Director of Chicago’s Juvenile Intervention Support Center. He has also served the City of Chicago as an Assistant Corporation Counsel, various roles at the Faith Community of St. Sabina, and Chicago Public Schools. 

He is also the Head Football Coach at Chicago’s Whitney M. Young Magnet High School.  Mallette is a Princeton University graduate and received his Law Degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Law. Christopher and his wife Kendall have four sons: Luke, Zion, Judah and Levi.

Assistant Director of Business Incubation

Jacqueline McMiller

Jacqueline McMiller is a Chicago native from the Roseland neighborhood. Jacqueline has over 10 years experience in managing projects, vendors, and gathering, organizing and analyzing data for many large organizations and corporations. She has a Masters Degree in Integrated Marketing Communications from Loyola University Chicago. She also specializes in strategic marketing and providing excellent customer service. Jacqueline enjoys organizing and helping entrepreneurs scale their business.

Street Outreach Supervisor

Delfonik Miller

Chief Financial Officer & Director of Economic Development

Mark O’Halloran

Mark O’Halloran is a manufacturing entrepreneur with 25 years’ experience starting and running engineering-centric businesses. As CEO, Mark created shareholder value by reinventing factory floors to achieve productivity gains of 400% – 600%, building world-class teams, securing intellectual property, and then bringing those competitive advantages to global customers.

Mark got his start at Griffith Foods where he was mentored by the CEO and financial team to study new markets, develop business plans, and allocate capital for their dozen international subsidiaries.

He speaks Spanish, German, and French, and holds an MBA from the University of Chicago. He and his wife of 37 years have 6 adopted adult children.

Director of Media Relations

Roy Patterson

Roy Patterson is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute and Trinity International University. He serves as host of three nationally syndicated programs, Celebration of Praise, Music for Sunday and UrbanPraiseRadio.org.

He is also a preacher, praise and worship leader, and vocalist. He has a passion to see the body of Christ united through worship, work, and sincere fellowship. Roy has served as a youth leader, senior pastor and a substance abuse counselor. In January 2011, Roy was appointed station manager for Moody Radio Chicago. In July 2015, Roy was appointed as Special Assistant to the President for Community Relations. He currently serves as the Community Relations Director of Moody Bible Institute.

Roy has been married to his wife, Lynette, for over 30 years and has three children.

Director of Business Incubation

Shelby Parchman

Shelby Parchman is a seasoned serial entrepreneur who has parlayed his experience into a career focused on assisting start-up and existing businesses. Prior to becoming Managing Partner of InUrban Strategies LLC and Director of Business Incubation at Together Chicago, Shelby was the Managing Director of Sunshine Enterprises. After obtaining a Dual B.S. in Biology and Chemistry and then a Master’s in Analytical Chemistry, Shelby started his professional career as a research scientist in the pharmaceutical industry.

He started many successful small businesses including, BHK Laboratories, Inc. and the Functional Beverage Group, Inc.

Some of his current projects include assisting Rush University Medical Center with supply chain localization, working with the staff of the Good Food Accelerator to assist in the development of business growth strategies for early-stage CPG food businesses, and the development of GFA extension programming that will enable food entrepreneurs in underserved communities to have access to retail distribution and funding opportunities. Shelby is also developing a shared commercial kitchen and event space in the Bronzeville community.

Chief Church Liaison Officer

Bishop Ed Peecher

Chicago native. One of 7 children. Revolutionary.

After years of leading Chicago Embassy Church, in 2017 Ed became a spiritual advisor to Chicago business and government leaders and is currently Chief Church Liaison Officer at Together Chicago.

As a child of the 1960’s Civil Rights movement, Ed has been involved in community relations for nearly 50 years. As a young adult, he joined the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party, to bring awareness to the national injustices debilitating the African-American community. In 1969, he was employed by AT&T and served the organization for many years. While at At&T, Ed started a bible study in its downtown headquarters after receiving the calling from Jesus Christ. In 1983 New Heritage Christian Center was formed and two years later Ed resigned from his Account Executive position to pastor full-time.

Ed holds a Certificate in Pastoral Studies from Moody Bible Institute (1975). He continues to guest-teach at several Bible Colleges and Seminaries. He has groomed many spiritual leaders, many of whom are serving as senior pastors locally and internationally.

Ed and his wife, Katie, have 3 children, two of which have proceeded them into eternity. 

Case Manager

Shereka Terrett

Director of Violence Reduction

LaVonas Troupe

Born and raised on the West Side of Chicago in the Henry Horner Homes (now Westhaven Park), LaVonas grew up under the influence of James “Major” Adams, and played the drums at the Henry Horner Boys & Girls Club. After Suder Elementary, LaVonas was accepted at the prestigious Von Steuben High School, where he was, ironically, expelled for fighting. He graduated from Flower Vocational High School (now Al Raby HS) in East Garfield Park and went on to attend Southern Illinois University – Carbondale.

Before Together Chicago, LaVonas served as an Operations Manager for Chicago Area Projects for 20 years under the leadership of Howard Lathan and Geneva Peterson Castleberry, helping lead community-focused work of Youth Services, Violence Prevention, and Community Advocacy.

LaVonas joined the Together Chicago team in 2021 as a West Side Street Outreach Worker. His diligence and perseverance enabled him to become a Certified Youth Developer and a Certified Professional Street Outreach Worker through the Metropolitan Peace Academy. His innate leadership qualities and dedication to help others resolve conflicts without violence led to LaVonas’ advancement: as the Director of TC’s Violence Reduction Initiatives, he oversees the entire Street Outreach Team, Case Managers, Victim Services Advocates, and Crisis Response Specialists.

Associate Director of Faith-Community Mobilization

Nate Tubbs

Nate Tubbs is a communications professional, organizer, and entrepreneur with a passion for his neighborhood and partnership in the city of Chicago. He has worked in the non-profit sector for many years in design, marketing, consulting, and community organizing.

Since 2014, Nate has worked alongside Dr. John Fuder and the leadership of both Pray Chicago and Chicagoland United in Prayer to administrate a growing coalition of individuals and churches working to develop habits of united prayer and collective action in Chicago. Nate serves as the Assistant Director of Faith-Community Mobilization for Together Chicago and has helped to organize the Hands Across Chicago and the Building Blocks of Peace initiatives since their inception. He is also a graduate of the Chicago Peace Fellows program, class of 2023.

You will find Nate at west side community meetings, his local school council, his block’s community garden, or playing with his kids. Nate and his wife, Jamie, and their three children live on Chicago’s west side.

Education Programs Specialist

Dr. Deborah Umrani

Deborah Um’rani is a native Chicagoan. She is the mother of Annisah (an attorney in Washington, D.C.) and Khalil (an investment banker in Atlanta) and the wife of Rashad for 38 years. She served at the University of Illinois as an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the College of Education. For 17 years, she led the pipeline initiatives for the Urban Health Program as the Visiting Director of Undergraduate Programs and Assessment and as the Director of the Early Outreach Program. Dr. Um’rani has designed, implemented and evaluated pipeline initiatives and educational and enrichment programs for underserved youth to prepare them for careers in S.T.E.M. disciplines. Annually, she provided academic and student support services to over 800 students who attend elementary school, high school, college, and graduate and professional degree programs. She has been very successful in supporting a cadre of talented African-American, Latino and Native American students and increasing their persistence in S.T.E.M. disciplines and careers in the health sciences. Over the years, Um’rani has expanded the minds and increased the options, while broadening the horizons of Chicago residents. She has been an incredible nexus for providing curricular options and co-curricular research, internship and volunteer opportunities throughout Cook County.

Street Outreach Supervisor

Daryl Wilkerson



Co-Founder & Co-CEO

Michael Allen

Michael Allen is Co-Founder & Co-CEO of Together Chicago. He was born in Kingston, Jamaica and immigrated to Fort Lauderdale, Florida with his family in 1977.  In 1986 he became a naturalized U.S. citizen.

Early in his professional career, Michael was called into ministry under the leadership of Dr. O.S. Hawkins, First Baptist Church – Ft. Lauderdale (1989). In 1997, Michael served as Assistant Pastor of Urban Outreach and Evangelism at The Moody Church in Chicago, IL . Michael also served as the Associate Pastor at Sagemont Church in Houston, TX (2002) and most recently as the Senior Pastor at Uptown Baptist Church. He also serves as Vice Chairman of the board of the Pacific Garden Mission.

Michael holds a Masters in Divinity from Trinity International University, a Bachelors of Arts in Biblical Studies from Trinity College – Miami, FL and an Associates in Computer Electronics.

Michael is married to Marilza from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and they have 4 children.

Co-Founder & Co-CEO

David Dillon

David Dillon is Co-Founder & Co-CEO of Together Chicago with over 30 years of experience in the application of advanced technology concepts and solutions for the financial services industry. As the CIO at CRT (a leading Chicago-based derivatives firm sold to Nations Bank), David led a global technology organization that built and supported real-time pricing, trade execution, and risk management capabilities that were instrumental in CRT’s success and ultimate sale. At Nations Bank and then Bank of America, David was a leader in the Global Corporate and Investment Bank in finding innovative technology solutions for complex corporate banking problems. David then ran the New Ventures Group for Citadel Investment Group in Chicago before forming the Dillon Kane Group in 2001.

Charlie Dates

In 2011, at age 30, Dr. Charlie Edward Dates became the youngest Senior Pastor in Progressive Baptist Church’s rich 98-year history.

Pastor Charlie earned a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communication and Rhetoric at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and both a Master of Divinity Degree and Ph.D. at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois.

He successfully defended his dissertation for the Ph.D. in Historical Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. His original research focuses on the burden of black preaching in late 20th Century Chicago.

In addition to his pastoral duties, Pastor Charlie is an affiliate professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and serves as an Adjunct Professor at the Moody Bible Institute. Dr. Dates also serves on the Community Advisory Board for the Chicago Fire Department. He is a contributor to the 2014 book Letters To A Birmingham Jail.

Jon Dennis

Jon is co-founder and the Senior Pastor of Holy Trinity Church in Chicago, a multi-ethnic church with congregations in Pilsen, Hyde Park, Downtown and the North Side. He currently serves as the Chairman of the Executive Team for City to City | North America, a church planting initiative launched by Tim Keller of Redeemer Church in New York that has helped plant more than 400 churches in global cities. Jon is also the Lead for Vision and Strategy for Neopolis which focuses on training leaders in preaching, pastoring and planting to influence the world for Christ. In the past he has served on the Local School Council for his children’s Chicago Public School and helped launch The Charles Simeon Trust as well as the Chicago Partnership for Church Planting.

Together Chicago is something Jon has been praying about for many years. His vision is to see the cities of the world – including Chicago – transformed by the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Beginning in November 2016, through friendship with David Dillon, he helped to assemble the initial core of twelve city leaders to explore establishing Together Chicago.

He is the author of Christ + City and for the last 19 years has lived in Hyde Park, Chicago with his wife, Amy, and their five children.

Dave Doig

For 25 years, David has served neighborhoods throughout Chicago in various nonprofit and governmental capacities, getting his start as a community organizer in Lawndale, evolving to a lead role at the City Department of Planning, then as CEO of Chicago Park District, only to return to the nonprofit field through his role at CNI. At CNI, David has closed $55 million in New Markets Tax Credits to support community facilities, coordinated the investment of nearly $200 million in public and private funds in Chicago’s low-income neighborhoods, raised more than $900,000 in microlending capital, and helped lead an organizing effort to have Pullman declared a National Monument. David has an undergraduate degree from Wheaton College and a Master’s in Social Science from the University of Chicago. David is also a member of Millennium Reserve Steering Committee.

Tom Formolo

Tom is a Partner at New Harbor Capital. He also remains a Partner at CHS Capital, where he leads the Business Services, Healthcare and Education team, and is a member of the Investment and Management Committees. Prior to joining CHS, he was with Heller Financial in the Leveraged Funding Group. Tom holds a B.B.A. from the University of Wisconsin and an M.B.A. from Northwestern University.

Joi Freeman

Joi Freeman is the Founder & CEO of Remnant Strategy, a consultancy working at the intersection of culture and commerce to help legacy and emerging businesses navigate the ever-evolving global terrain. As a strategist, youth culture enthusiast, and advocate for voices of vulnerable populations, Joi is regarded as a brand builder who connects the dots between corporate strategy, brand marketing, and social impact.

In this last year, Freeman led growth strategy engagements across sectors including arts education, teletherapy, and women/youth economic development. Prior to founding Remnant Strategy, she developed brand strategies for a host of businesses including The Boston Consulting Group, the YMCA, Claire’s & Icing stores, the Girl Scouts, MoneyGram International, HOPE Worldwide, McDonald’s, and Burger King.

As a frequent presenter on issues impacting Gen Zs globally and specifically youth of color, Freeman is deeply committed to creating successful pathways for the next and most diverse generation to maximize their full potential. She was selected as one of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Class of 2021 Emerging Leaders, serves on several non-profit boards including alt_ Chicago, GirlForward, and Together Chicago, and is the Chicago City Director for Resource Global.

Freeman has an MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management and a Bachelor of Arts in Literature of the African Diaspora and Creative Writing from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Brian Musso

Brian Musso is a managing partner of Promus Capital and a manager of Promus Asset Management. He also co-manages the firm’s funds of hedge funds. Prior to co-founding Promus Holdings in 2006, Brian was president of Accelerated Athletics, a sports performance enhancement company dedicated to training elite high school, college and professional athletes.

He graduated from Northwestern University in 1998. He was an All-Big Ten football player and a member of the Wildcats’ Big Ten Championship teams in 1995 and 1996. He went on to play wide receiver for the New York Jets. Brian currently sits on the board of directors of Harvest Consumer Insulation, Inc.

He lives in Wheaton, Illinois with his wife Heather and their sons John David and Chase.

Bishop Horace Smith

Bishop Horace E. Smith M.D. was born and raised on the south side of Chicago, Illinois. He was raised alongside two sisters and three brothers by his parents Shirley and Albert Smith. After the passing of Bishop Smith’s mother, his grandmother, Alberta Pryor, moved into the home and not only helped meet the needs of the children naturally but also trained them spiritually. Bishop Smith graduated as an honor student from Lindblom High School and went on to obtain the following academic accomplishments:

  • Bachelor of Science Degree (with honors) Chicago State University (1971)
  • M.D., University of Illinois Medical Center (1975)
  • Completion of Pediatric Residency, University of Illinois Hospital (1978)
  • Completion of Clinical Fellowship in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at Children’s Memorial Hospital/Northwestern University (1980)

On March 28, 1980, following the death of the former pastor, Bishop John S. Holly, Bishop Smith was named pastor of Apostolic Faith Church. Under his leadership, the congregation has grown from 200 members to 3,000 people who call Apostolic Faith Church their home.

Felecia Thompson

Felecia is a native of the south side of Chicago, a mother of two grown daughters, and has been married for 41 years to Steve. Felecia received her bachelor of arts in sociology/psychology from DePaul University, a master of science in human services administration from Spertus College, and is currently pursuing a doctor of ministry degree at Bakke Graduate University in Seattle.  

Felecia has also gone through senior management training with ServiceMaster Corporation and the John Templeton Institute’s program for non-profit board leadership and fundraising.  Felecia’s teaching gifts have given her instructional roles at Moody Bible Institute, Trinity Christian College, and numerous conferences.  Her administrative and leadership gifts have been utilized in executive roles with the DeVos Family Foundation’s Urban Leadership Initiative and the Family Care Network.  For most of the past 20 years, Felecia has directed community partnership programs for Trinity Christian College and then for World Vision, where she served as Executive Director of its Chicagoland operation for nearly three years.  Felecia exhibits extraordinary intelligence, experience, and personal grace.  She currently serves as the Executive Director for Community Development (The Roosevelt Road Initiative) at Christ Church of Oak Brook.

Shando Valdez

Rosendo “Shando” Valdez is a Chicago native born to immigrant parents from Monterrey, Mexico. Shando excepted the call from the lord in the late 1980s and has served his community every since. 

Shando is currently the Senior pastor at New Jerusalem Evangelical Baptist Church and has served his congregation for over 22 years. He continues to be devoted to his church family and is an advocate for connecting and supporting pastors in the Chicagoland area. 

He passionately leads his church and community towards having a heart for the misguided. Shando is determined to build up the kingdom of God and serves as an advisor on many boards both locally and nationally.

Pastor Shando is married to Lilliana, of whom he met while doing ministry work in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and have three adult children together. He is also a grandfather of four. 

Advisory Council

Debbie Birkey

Debbie Birkey is an entrepreneur advocating for under-resourced entrepreneurs and a mom passionate to see parents able to provide for their own children. Currently Senior Regional Representative for HOPE International she is raising funds and awareness for families in 15 countries,  Mother of four and grandmother of nine, Debbie built her own landscape design business – Grow by Design – while raising her children, homeschooling at points along the way and teaching a women’s Bible Study at Calvary Memorial Church in Oak Park.  She has been active on the West Side and, along with her children, volunteered at Breakthrough Urban Ministries, Circle Urban Ministries and is currently on the prayer team of The Field School.  The vision statement of HOPE captures Debbie’s heart for her community – “men and women finding their soul’s satisfaction in Christ and becoming dignified, hope-filled providers in their homes and communities.”

Ray Carter

Pastor. Educator. Coach.

After years of teaching and coaching Nashville, Tennessee , Ray accepted the calling from the Lord to attend Dallas Theological Seminary. Ray received a Master of Theology degree from the institution and moved to the Chicagoland area to serve as the pastoral intern at Willow Creek Community Church (1990).

In 1991, Ray became the senior pastor at Park Community Church were he served for 10 years. During his time at Park Community Church, Ray started meeting with a small group of businessmen downtown Chicago for weekly prayer, accountability workshops, and overall support. This quickly grew from 3 to nearly 100 men every week. In 2005, Chicago Fellowship formed as a 501c(3) nonprofit organization and continues to encourage men to be wise, and generous stewards of their lives through participation in strategic acts of justice and compassion in the broken places of this world.

Ray holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Psychology from the University of Memphis and a Master of Arts in Education from Tennessee State University.

Raymond Chang

Pastor Raymond Chang is the president of the Asian American Christian Collaborative, a pastor, and writer. He regularly preaches God’s Word and speaks throughout the country on issues pertaining to Christianity and culture, race and faith. He has lived throughout the world (Korea, Guatemala, Panama, Spain, China), traveled to nearly 50 countries, and currently lives in Chicagoland, serving as a campus minister at Wheaton College. Prior to entering vocational ministry, Raymond worked in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors, and served in the Peace Corps in Panama. He is currently pursuing his PhD on the intersection of Spirituality and Campus/Organizational Racial Climates. He is married to Jessica Chang, who serves as the chief advancement and partnerships officer of the Field School.

Brian Dye

Brian’s passion is to train urban leaders to make disciples in the neighborhoods and the nations. From this, Brian founded the urban discipleship conference—The Legacy—as well as Legacy Christian Fellowship—a network of house churches preaching Christ throughout Chicago. Living his passion for over the last 17 years Brian and his wife Heidi have had over 150 young men live in their home to be discipled.

Brian joined GRIP’s staff in September 2011 to train and encourage GRIP’s mentors to effectively foster and develop Life-on-Life relationships with youth. Brian received his Bachelors in Elementary Education from Cedarville University. 

Richard Grimm

Chicago native, Richard Grimm joined Trinity International University in June 2014 after being invited to serve by President David Dockery.  As Senior Vice President for University Services and Strategic Initiatives, Rich gives oversight to several areas at Trinity, and  provides support to a number of strategic initiatives designed to help connect the University to the broader community. Rich is currently an advisor for Together Chicago, and is dedicated to resurrecting ailing Chicago communities through the “collective impact” methodology.

Grimm earned his bachelor’s degree at Palm Beach Atlantic University and his Master of Divinity at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, followed by post-graduate coursework in educational leadership at Florida Atlantic University, Nova Southeastern University, and Regent University. Following his education and a brief stint as a pastor in Florida, Grimm began his career in Christian higher education, which included positions at Palm Beach Atlantic University and Criswell College. Following a nearly four-year tenure as the president of Jupiter Christian School in Florida, he joined Dr. Dockery’s staff at Union in Jackson, Tenn.

Rich and his wife, Linda, have three adult children (Daniel, Nathan and Rachel) and one granddaughter together. Rich and Linda are members of Harvest Bible Fellowship, Rolling Meadows. Rich is a lifelong Cubs fan and was finally rewarded for his loyalty in 2016.

Joel Hamernick

Joel is the executive director of both Sunshine Gospel Ministries and Sunshine Enterprises. His imagination and big dreams have contributed to the development of almost all of our current programming since he joined Sunshine in 1999. In addition to his religious service, Joel has completed several entrepreneurial ventures, leading to his involvement in the establishing of Greenline Coffee with his wife, Paula. Joel frequently speaks at events across the country and writes a blog. You can find him riding his motorcycle around the neighborhood, usually with one of his seven kids in the backseat.

Jon Houghton

Starting in October of 2022 Jon serves as The CEO of The Holy Post and the Director of Chicago Fellowship. The Holy Post is a multimedia company that uses whatever medium necessary to present a positive vision of life with God in a post Christian culture. Chicago Fellowship is committed to helping men experience the saving grace of Jesus Christ and together extend that grace to others through acts of compassion and justice in the broken places of our world. It is our desire that through shared experiences of service to some of the most marginalized and forgotten in our world, men come to a deeper understanding of the meaning of the gospel and what it is to be a God honoring steward of their lives. These two mission statements pretty well sum up Jon’s passions.

Prior to this Jon served on Young Life staff for over 20 years. Most recently as the Regional Director for Young Life in Chicagoland,. His Masters of Arts in Theology from Fuller Seminary was formative in helping Jon hone his practice of turning orthodoxy (right thinking) into orthopraxy (right living).

Jon is married to Annie, who after moving to Chicago, decided to start a school on the West Side of Chicago called The Field School, in partnership with a group of amazing people in the community. After serving as principal for many years she has returned as the Director of Community Life. They are grateful that three of their four kids are able to attend this school (Nick, Raelyn, Lucy), while their oldest is in High School (Kylie).

Jon’s greatest hobby is helping people or organizations become healthier and more effective. Beyond that, he enjoys sitting on a porch or outdoors at a restaurant talking with people he love. He also loves to read, exercise, watch NBA basketball and listen to way too many NBA podcasts.

Mark King

For 30+ years Mark has provided financing for entrepreneurs. He started his career in international micro-enterprise lending with Opportunity International and urban economic development with Chicago’s South Shore Bank. For the last 20 years, Mark has been lending to venture capital backed companies at Heller Financial, GE Capital, BlueCrest Capital, and Ares Capital. In 2018 Mark launched Mandorla Group to help impact investors achieve the impact they want and the returns they need.

Mark holds a B.A. from Wheaton College and an M.B.A. from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. He is also a CFA® charter holder.

Mark and his wife Tina reside in the Chicago area and have three H.S. and college-age sons.

Peter Kisluk

Peter brings deep expertise across a wide range of professional disciplines with over 29 years of commercial real estate investment, finance and risk management experience. In the four years prior to joining Promus Asset Management, LLC, Peter provided executive-in-residence expertise to various entrepreneurial pursuits and provided consulting services to investors seeking to maximize the value of their real estate holdings.

He has also held senior-executive level roles with Capmark Financial Group and its affiliates overseeing all origination, underwriting and administration activities for its $12.5 billion Construction Lending Division.Peter co-managed the Affordable Housing Division of Capmark Capital, and served on the board of trustees of Newman Capital, an affiliated tax-exempt bond fund.

Alex McElroy

Alex McElroy is an apologist, international speaker, TEDx speaker, leadership advisor, author of Blueprint for Bible Basics, blogger at RelentlessPursuitofPurpose.com and formerly the Pastor of Education at New Life Covenant Southeast Church, led by Pastor John F. Hannah, with over 20,000 members. Alex is now a founding Pastor at Engage Community Church. Alex has been serving in both youth and teaching ministries for over fifteen years. In his role, he has taught Discipleship class designed for adults to learn, fellowship, and grow in their faith in a small group setting.

Alex has also trained hundreds of teachers and ministers throughout the world to be well equipped to deliver lessons in proper lifestyle, Biblical study, focused preparation, and Apologetics in order to maximize their effectiveness in and for the Kingdom of God. Alex has studied apologetics under the foremost apologists in the world at RZIM and the Cross Examined Instructors Academy with Dr. Frank Turek, Jim Warner Wallace, Sean McDowell, Jorge Gil, Greg Koukl, and others. Alex graduated with honors with a Masters in Christian Apologetics from Liberty University.

Beyond his role at church, he is also a dedicated husband to his supportive wife of thirteen years and a loving father to two beautiful daughters who continue to inspire and push him to be a better man of God.

James Meeks

Pastor James T. Meeks is the founder and senior pastor of Salem Baptist Church of Chicago, which has been recognized as one of the fastest growing megachurches in the United States. Salem is the largest African American church in Illinois with over 15,000 members.

In 2002, Pastor Meeks successfully ran for Illinois state senator. His win made him the first Independent legislator ever elected to the Illinois Senate. He served three terms, where his major focus was on educational equity. He has also served in positions of leadership including chair of the Education committee as well as joint chairman of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus. Pastor Meeks currently serves as Chairman, Illinois State Board of Education.

In 2005, Pastor Meeks led Salem in the building of the House of Hope, a $50 million, 10,000 seat community and worship center which is the largest facility built from the ground up for the purpose as a worship venue in the United States.

Throughout his life, Pastor Meeks has served the needs of the people whether it was through legislation on the Senate floor, community organizing events in the streets of Chicago or from the pulpit every Sunday morning.

In 1998, he led a rally to “dry up” the Roseland community, which resulted in the closing of 26 liquor stores. He distributed 30,000 Bibles to residents in the church’s zip code. He provided every prisoner in the state with the Bible on cassette.

The list goes on and in his 38 years of ministry, Pastor Meeks has taken his message of hope and reform around the world including Israel, Africa, China, Jamaica, Argentina, Sweden, the Czech Republic, and Australia.

He is the author of two books, “How to Get out of Debt and Into Praise,” and “Life-Changing Relationships,” which have been received with critical acclaim.

Pastor Meeks and his wife Jamell are the proud parents of four children and four grandchildren.

Steve Nelson

Steve Nelson has over 20 years experience leading and managing teams focused on business solutions to societal issues. Most recently he was Director for Member Development and Relations at the Center for Higher Ambition Leadership where he helped companies forge strategic identities rooted in a meaningful purpose. Previously he served as VP of Strategic Initiatives for Opportunity International, a non-profit organization which invests tiny sums of capital in microenterprises located in the developing world where he was responsible for corporate partnerships and philanthropic strategies. Steve is an entrepreneurial, innovative and passionate national and global nonprofit leader. He has traveled extensively across the globe through his work and has an enriched perspective on global issues and partnership solutions that address meeting the needs of the underprivileged. Steve joined Opportunity after five years in operations management positions at Van Kampen Merritt, an investment banking firm.

He currently serves as Principal of Nelson Fundraising Services where he advises non-profit organizations how to raise funds for their missions. Steve serves on two non-profit boards, Oasis International and UTR Media.

Brian Ng

Brian Ng is a native of Chicago’s South Side. He has been involved in economic development and community empowerment for over a decade, serving as Together Chicago’s Associate Director of Economic Development and volunteering with local organizations such as Windy City Habitat for Humanity, the Pacific Garden Mission, Legacy Disciple, Emmaus Ministries, and Pacific Global Bank.

Brian began his career in institutional investments, focusing on high-yield, distressed, and special situation assets and companies, including working on the Lehman Brothers Bankruptcy in Asia. In recent years, he has been an executive and operational leader in various fast-scaling organizations, including impact organizations like New Story, which addresses global homelessness with innovative solutions like 3D-printed communities, and Atomic Invest, a fintech startup working to increase financial investing access. At Atomic, he was team member number 5 and saw the firm from Seed to Series A, grew the team to over 40 employees globally, set up its brokerage, and increased AUM to over $1 billion. Brian has worked in Chicago, New York, and Hong Kong.

Brian obtained his B.S. in Finance from NYU’s Stern School of Business and his M.B.A. from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. He also obtained an MDiv from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Brian has served as an adjunct professor at Trinity International University, teaching nonprofit financial management, international business, and economics. Additionally, he has served as Holy Trinity Church’s Director of Finance and Senior Director of City and Global Ministries in Chicago.

Brian is a thought leader in work and faith integration, resource stewardship, social entrepreneurship, and community revitalization.

Brian and his wife, Rebecca, have two sons, Tyson and Ethan, and reside in the Bucktown neighborhood of Chicago.

Chris Ordway

Chris earned his undergraduate degree from The University of Michigan in 1991 and began his career working for Kellogg Company in foodservice sales. In 1993, he returned to the University of Michigan, where he completed a Master of Business Administration with a focus on marketing and international business.

Following graduate school, Chris and his wife moved to Singapore, where he ran the Asia-Pacific operation for a supplier of pumping equipment used in petro-chemical production.

In 2008, Chris and his family relocated to London to lead the European and African consumer products division of Motorola. Chris left Motorola in 2011. He and his family moved to Rwanda to join Hope International, a Christian microfinance institution dedicated to “providing a hand up and not a hand out” through small business loans to people who typically live on less than $1 a day. Now back in Chicago, Chris works with a group of Christian investors who build sustainable businesses, where profits are redeployed back into missions and development work around the world.

Jim Perry

Jim Perry is a Managing Director on the MDP Telecom, Media & Technology Services team. Prior to co-founding MDP, Mr. Perry was with First Chicago Venture Capital for eight years. Previously, he was with The First National Bank of Chicago. Mr. Perry concentrates on investments in the telecom, media and technology services sector and currently serves on the Boards of Directors of Asurion Corporation, Centennial Towers, Intermedia.net, Inc., Liquid Web, The Topps Company, Univision Communications, and Chicago Public Media. He is on the Board of Overseers of the University of Pennsylvania School of Arts and Sciences and serves as Chairman of the School Board of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Dr. Nicholas Pierce

A scholar, entrepreneur, and pastor, Dr. Nicholas Pearce is an award-winning clinical professor of management and organizations at Northwester University’s Kellogg School of Management, the founder & CEO of The Vocati Group, a global executive advisory consultancy, and assistant pastor of Chicago’s historic Apostolic Church of God. He is also the author of the bestselling book, The Purpose Path: A Guide to Pursuing Your Authentic Life’s Work.

Dr. Pearce is an internationally recognized thought leader on the practice of leadership in organizations and has served as a trusted adviser, executive coach, and keynote speaker for corporations, nonprofits, churches, and governments on six continents. He holds four academic degrees, including an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from MIT and graduate degrees in theology and organizational behavior from Fuller Theological Seminary and Northwestern University. He and his work have been spotlighted by ABC, Christianity Today, CNN, ForbesFortuneHarvard Business Review, NPR, and PBS, among other global media outlets.

Dr. Pearce is deeply committed to giving back to the community, serving as a trustee of the Field Foundation, Fuller Theological Seminary, McCormick Theological Seminary, Seminary Co-Op Bookstores, and Chicago Children’s Museum. In recognition of his impact, he has been named one of Chicago’s 40 Game Changers under 40 and is a Fellow of Leadership Greater Chicago.

Steven Preston

Steven C. Preston, former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) 08-09’, has served in numerous operational and financial leadership positions in both the private and public sectors. He has led successful turnarounds as the CEO of two private equity companies, headed two major federal agencies during times of national crisis, and served as the CFO of two Fortune 500 companies during times of significant change and restructuring. 

As the U.S. Secretary of HUD, Preston expanded FHA capacity to meet mushrooming demand, broke ground on major public housing developments in New Orleans (which had been stalled), expanded HUD’s ability to assist victims of natural disasters, and advanced sensible regulations requiring clearer disclosure of mortgage terms to borrowers. 

Preston also served as the Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration. 

He currently serves as the Vice Chairman of Liberty Advisor Group, a firm that supports companies with large transformational initiatives often driven by technology, cybersecurity including ongoing business threat intelligence, and analytical insights.

Preston graduated summa cum laude from Northwestern University and received an MBA from the University of Chicago.  He has served on numerous boards or in other capacities for organizations supporting the needs of disadvantaged children and urban communities. Preston and his wife, Molly, have five children, ages 15-23 and reside in the Chicago area.

Marilyn Rhames

Marilyn Anderson Rhames is the Founder/CEO of the nonprofit organization Teachers Who Pray. She taught in Chicago Public Schools for 14 years and is authoring a book entitled, The Master Teacher: 12 Spiritual Lesson That Can Transform Schools and Revolutionize Public Education. 

Once a New York City reporter for PEOPLE, TIME, Newsday, and The Journal News, Marilyn now weds her education and journalism skills by blogging for the likes of Huffington Post, Education Week, Education Post, The New York Times and others. Marilyn speaks widely on issues relating to education, race, writing and faith. 

Born and raised in Chicago, Marilyn is a wife and mother of three.

Dr. Phil Ryken

A Wheaton native and the son of longtime professor Dr. Leland Ryken and Mary Graham Ryken, President Ryken attended Wheaton as an undergraduate, majoring in English literature and philosophy. He met his wife, Lisa, during their first few days at the College, and they were married before their senior year. The Rykens have five children: Josh, Kirsten, Jack, Kathryn, and Karoline.

Dr. Ryken earned a master of divinity degree from Westminster Theological Seminary and a doctorate in historical theology from the University of Oxford. Dr. Ryken returned from England to join the pastoral staff at Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia in 1995, preaching there until his appointment at Wheaton.

Dr. John J. Schlichtman

Schlichtman is an urban sociologist who is motivated by the potential of equitable, just, and productive community development. As an associate professor at DePaul University, he has focused on the dynamics of large-scale processes such as globalization and gentrification and how they play out in communities and households in the most intimate ways. In the book GENTRIFIER (2017), with Jason Patch and Marc Lamont Hill, Schlichtman works to develop a fuller understanding of the causes and outcomes of gentrification that can more productively inform action and policy.

Schlichtman’s perspectives have been discussed in such media outlets as Next City, CityLab, the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, the New Republic, and the Economist. He has been a recipient of the PSA Praxis Award (2012) for impact on organizational institutions, community betterment, and human suffering, and was also named a Next C​ity Vanguard (2016).

Terrand Smith

Terrand is a commerce expert that has overseen close to $1 Billion in revenue during her decade-long career in corporate retail. She managed, grew, and restored categories with thousands of products and hundreds of vendor partners in over 15,000 retail outlets.

Her strengths around innovation, category optimization and analytics allowed her to drive significant growth in sales, market share, profitability and new business models for her company.

Terrand is the Founder & CEO of 37 Oaks, a Chicago-based commerce consulting firm that strengthens and revitalizes underserved communities through local commerce. Her company focuses on educating and preparing women and minority businesses for diverse growth through wholesale, e-commerce, storefronts and mobile retail.

Dr. Noah Toly

Noah Toly is Director of the Center for Urban Engagement and Professor of Urban Studies and Politics & International Relations at Wheaton College. He also serves as Non-Resident Senior Fellow for Global Cities at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and teaches on cities and urbanism in the Free University of Berlin’s Center for Global Politics. He has written multiple books and articles on urban and environmental politics, and he edits the Routledge Series, Cities & Global Governance. In 2011, he was named an Emerging Leader by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. In 2012-2013, he served as Senior Fellow at the University of Chicago’s Martin Marty Center for the Advanced Study of Religion. And in 2015, he was the first recipient of the Emerging Public Intellectual award given by a coalition of North American think tanks in collaboration with the Centre for Christian Scholarship at Redeemer University College. He currently serves on the Steering Committee of the Thriving Cities Project.

Along with consultations for municipal governments, committees of national legislatures, and investment groups, Noah has given invited lectures at Christ College Taipei, Gordon College, Hope College, Judson University, Ming Chuan University, Redeemer University College, University of Chicago, and University of Virginia. His work has appeared in Books & Culture, Capital Commentary, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Comment, Next City, The Hedgehog Review, Quartz, and Sightings among other publications. He has appeared on Moody Radio and NPR, and has been interviewed for articles in the New York Times and The Atlantic. In addition to his academic work, Dr. Toly has published Cities of Tomorrow and the City to Come: A Theology of Urban Life (Zondervan) and What is Mercy Ministry? (Presbyterian & Reformed, co-authored with Philip Ryken).

After earning an undergraduate degree at Wheaton College, Noah earned an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Urban Affairs & Public Policy from the University of Delaware. He later earned an M.A. in Theology at Wheaton. Noah and his wife, Becky, met at Wheaton College, where they both now teach. They have three children: Joe, Ben, and Rose.

Richard Townsell

Richard Townsell is a Chicago native and thought leader in community development. In Richard’s 20+ years, he has developed hundreds of residential and commercial properties, created countless public service programs, and designed comprehensive community plans for affordable housing, education and more. 

Richard is currently the Executive Director at the Lawndale Christian Development Corporation and a consultant to FEED (Fellowship Educational & Economic Development Corp.). Richard has taught community development courses at Northwestern University’s Asset-Based Community Development Institute and been an adjunct professor at Wheaton College’s Wheaton in Chicago program. He holds a Bachelor of Science from Northwestern University in Mathematics Education and a Masters of Science from Spertus College in Nonprofit Management. 

Richard has been married to his college sweetheart Stephanie for 27 years.  They have two adult children, Lena and Gabriel.  Richard also coaches youth wrestling in his spare time.   

Carrie Wiggins

During a 20 year career in the automotive industry Carrie served and led in the areas of manufacturing engineering, skilled trades supervision, finance, strategy and sales. She started her career at Chrysler and also worked for Bosch, Timken, and Dana.

In 2017 she transitioned into a Development role for MobilePack at Feed My Starving Children, a Christian, non-profit, humanitarian relief organization that provides nutritious meals to clinics, orphanages, schools, and missions in nearly 70 countries around the world.

Carrie holds a Dual B.S. from Purdue University in Industrial Technology and Industrial Distribution, a M.S. of Engineering Management from Oakland University, and a M.S of Finance from Walsh College.

Carrie and her husband Tim reside in the Chicagoland area and have two high school age daughters.

Jeffrey Wright

Jeff Wright is CEO of UMI (Urban Ministries, Inc.) joining the company in 1994 after a 15-year career in the consumer products and healthcare industries with two Fortune 50 companies, Johnson & Johnson and Bristol Myers Squibb.  UMI has been serving African American churches and consumers since 1970 with Christian education resources including curriculum, books, magazines, media, and digital products and is the largest company of its kind.

Active in ministry for over 25 years, Jeff has served several congregations as associate pastor, director of Christian Education, adult bible study teacher, and in various teaching and administrative roles. He has also provided consulting to several national ministries.

He is the author of the book and media literacy bible study guide, God’s Vision or Television: How Television Influences What We Believe and is also a contributing author to the book Non Profit Leadership in a For Profit World.  Jeff serves on the boards of Circle Y Ranch (a Christian Camp and Conference Center), Fuller Theological Seminary, Evangelical Christian Publishing Association, Baker Publishing Group and Oasis International.

Jeff is a graduate of Fisk University, Georgetown University Law School and earned his MBA in Finance from Columbia University.  He also did additional post-graduate study at the Wharton School and at the Harvard Law School.

John Zayas

Rev. John Zayas, Senior Pastor, is ordained in the Christian Reformed Church (CRC) and has a passion to save the lost and work with the community towards holistic restoration. He has been instrumental in the development of community organizations that extend from GAPC, such as the Community Center and Safe Harbor, a domestic violence intervention ministry. Prior to his becoming senior pastor, John worked for 6 years with Northwest Chicago Young Life reaching out to high school students with the gospel. He attended North Park, Christian Leaders Institute and Leadership Development Network (LDN). John resides on the northwest side of Chicago with his wife of thirty years, Angelina, and has two adult children.