October 2019 – Arts, Theater, and Impact – Derek Martin

Featuring Derek Martin
Director and Core Faculty, Theater, William Jessup University


Shakespeare said that all of life is a stage and that we are merely players.  If that is true, Derek Martin is developing opportunities for such players to make positive impacts in the arts and in society.  Derek is a professional actor, director, choreographer, producer and educator and has spent the last eighteen years working professionally in the Arts, Media and Entertainment. He holds both an MFA Acting/Directing from Regent University and a BFA Musical Theater from University of Hartford.  

Derek has translated his professional career and educational training in the arts and theater to preparing the next generation of artists and performers, particularly from a faith perspective.  Currently, he serves as the Director and Core Faculty for the Theater Program at William Jessup University in Rocklin, CA.  Previously, he was a professor of theatre and Chair of the BA in Theatre at Regent University in Virginia Beach, VA.  

Derek bring his academic work to life through his active engagement in the arts and theater.  He is a member of Actors Equity Association, Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, and Christians in Theatre Arts and has been a recognized actor/combatant with the Society of American Fight Directors. Derek has worked professionally at numerous respected theatres around the country such as: Connecticut Repertory Theatre, The York Theatre Company (NYC), Virginia Stage Company, Virginia Musical Theatre, The Palace Theatre, The Musical Theatre of Connecticut, The Round Barn Theatre and many others performing in such shows as “SINGIN IN THE RAIN, THE MUSIC MAN, WEST SIDE STORY, THE SECRET GARDEN, HELLO DOLLY.”

Derek was the lead in the multiple-award winning short film, “THE NOBLE LIE”. He has choreographed Broadway’s Carol Jaudes in her one woman international tour of “And Sarah Laughed” and performed as “Chris” in the table-read cast of CBN’s hit animated series, “SUPERBOOK!” Derek is also the Artistic Director and founder of the professional summer theatre company – THE AMERICANA THEATRE COMPANY in Plymouth, MA, where he spends every summer producing theatre with his wife, Jennifer (who also is a performer and faculty member at  WJU).

Through his theater and education experiences, Derek also brings a passion for justice and for Christian engagement in the arts and global concerns.  He serves as Board Director at G.L.O.B.A.L. Justice and has been active with G.L.O.B.A.L.’s CREATE Justice project with brings together artists and the pursuit of justice.  Most recently he served as Master of Ceremonies for G.L.O.B.A.L’s 5th Anniversary Celebration that featured many artists from Colorado and around the country.

Derek’s life and work is a reflection not only of his love of arts and theater, but his faith and commitment to making a positive impact for justice through the arts.

October 2019 – Sculpting Life, Sculpting Humanity – Jane Dedecker

Featuring Jane DeDecker, 
DeDecker Studios


Jane DeDecker has been sculpting the human figure for over thirty-five years. She seeks to capture moments that reveal truths about the human condition, that, when stripped down to their essence, are understood intrinsically. As a figurative sculptor, she communicates emotional experience through lyrical compositions that move the viewer. Jane’s sculptures stop life in mid-sentence, somewhere between inhaling and exhaling. She tells a story through the simple moments that imprint our lives and define us. 

Jane was born in Marengo, Iowa in 1961. She grew up with nine sisters and brothers on a family farm, and her art work reflects a connection to nature, both the environment and human nature. 

As Jane works with clay, concepts emerge from memories and observations of life. Impressions of something felt, seen, or heard take three-dimensional form. A family rising with the dawn becomes a spiritual awakening. A woman worn thin by her burdens opens the possibility of a lightness of being. A man managing a wheelbarrow reminds us of the steadfast patience to balance life’s abundance. 

Jane manipulates clay with painterly brush marks, with careful attention to her intent. Under her hands, there is a fluidity in clay that echoes the human form. Her work is not static, nor is it a finished thought, but rather tied to a moment in time and place that reflects the unfinished story that is our humanity. The permanence of her sculptures cast in bronze drives her to respect the message she leaves behind – positive affirmations about life. 

Jane DeDecker became a member of the National Sculpture Society in New York City in 1998 and a Fellow in 2007. She has placed over 175 life and monumental sized public sculptures in over thirty-three states. Some of the highlights of her installations include “Harriet Tubman” at the Clinton Library in Little Rock, Arkansas; “Albert Gallatin” at the National Park Service in Friendship Hill, Pennsylvania; “Emily Dickinson” at Converse College, in Spartanburg, South Carolina; “Can Can” at the Brookgreen Gardens in South Carolina; “In the Wings” at the Robinson Performing Arts Center in Little Rock, Arkansas; “Amelia Earhart” at the Earhart Elementary School in Oakland, California; “Sharing Discoveries” at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota; and “Who’s Watching Who” at the Meijer Sculpture Garden in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Jane feels honored to be sculpting in a time when communities are investing in art to value what defines their unique history. 

Jane’s works have transcended not only art but arenas of justice.  One of the major projects that she is working currently engaged in is a sculpture entitled “Every Word We Utter” that pays homage to the history of the women’s suffrage movement, recognizing many of the movement’s significant leaders.  Every Word We Utter has developed into an initiative to become a monument in Washington, DC that commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Women’s Right to Vote.  

The enduring themes and images of Jane DeDecker’s sculptures not only capture the human condition but recognizes the progression of humanity for good and for justice. 

September 2019 – Striking Out Slavery and Sharing Blessings – Deidre Pujols

Featuring Deidre Pujols
Founder, Open Gate International


Deidre Pujols was just 21 years old when she gave birth to her first child, Isabella, who was born with Down Syndrome. As a single mother from Kansas City, Missouri, Deidre knew her life would change, but she didn’t realize how dramatically in the years to come. 

A few weeks after Isabella’s birth, Deidre met Albert Pujols – who was from the Dominican Republic and grew up in Kansas City. He shared with her on their first date that he was only 18, and she shared with him that she was a single mother of a child with Down syndrome. She gave Albert information about Down syndrome in Spanish since he didn’t speak much English. To her amazement, after he reviewed this information, he didn’t leave, but embraced both her and her child. The couple was married on January 1, 2000 and went on to have four more children together. 

But their story involved more than family. Albert was an exceptional athlete. Soon after their wedding, Albert was called up to the St. Louis Cardinals baseball farm team in Peoria, Illinois, and in 2001, he was called up to the Cardinals major league team. After 11 seasons with the Cardinals, he now plays for the Los Angeles Angels. He has become one of the wealthiest baseball players in the MLB. 

Deidre’s focus has been God and family and one of her favorite verses was Luke 12:48 — “But to whom much is given, much is required.” She believes that we are put on this Earth for a purpose and that the blessings we have are for a reason. This belief has been the driving force behind the Pujols Family Foundation which Deidre and Albert founded in May 5, 2005. 

Through the Foundation, Deidre has pursued many projects, including a launch of a website devoted to Dominican cooking and the disadvantaged women of her husband’s native country. As part of that project, Deidre launched a cookbook/calendar. 

In April of 2016, Deidre Pujols travelled to different parts of the world to learn about human trafficking and other exploitations that were beyond what she knew existed. Deidre connected with NGO’s, ministries, and government officials that are part of an enormous war, fighting battles against exploitation at every level.

After gathering information from her travels, toward the fall of 2016, Deidre started to ask what she could do to help combat this global crisis. She began to wonder if she could provide access to a new way of life for those escaping human trafficking or any of the exploitation she was witnessing. That led her to establishing Open Gate International.

Open Gate International is dedicated to identifying vocational opportunities throughout the world that will provide students in need with the opportunity to gain independent economic success. Once vocational needs have been identified, Open Gate develops the program with top-tier professionals, integrate life skills mentoring and job placement assistance while providing all of it at no cost to the students to set them on a course of sustainable life success.

In 2017, as an extension of her efforts to address human trafficking, Albert and Deidre created Strike Out Slavery. They started this initiative after learning that modern-day slavery is the fastest-growing criminal industry in the world, generating $150 billion USD annually. The Pujols knew that if Major League Baseball teams, players and fans joined them, Strike Out Slavery could spread awareness about modern-day slavery and help a global network of nonprofit organizations rally against it. The inaugural Strike Out Slavery event was held at Angel Stadium in September 2017, where more than 40,000 attendees learned about the issue. Two years later, Strike Out Slavery continues to expand among players and baseball fans across the nation, even the world.

On March 1, 2019, the United Nations Women for Peace Association’s (UNWFPA) Annual Awards Luncheon, in celebration of International Women’s Day, honored Albert and Deidre Pujols with the Humanitarian Award for their efforts to combat human trafficking through their organization Strike Out Slavery.

Deidre is a tireless wife, mother, and advocate who is not only helping to strike out slavery, but passing along God’s blessings to those in need. 

September 2019 – From Airlines to Africa: A Journey for Empowerment and the Environment – Holly Pettit

Featuring Holly Pettit
Founder, Africa Bags


The sky’s the limit for Holly Pettit.  As a Southwest Airlines Captain, she is regularly travelling and  bringing passengers to destinations across the country. But as the Founder of Africa Bags, she has taken her journey to farther reaches and to a new level of advocacy. 

Just over 10 years ago, after watching a documentary about the Rwandan genocide, Holly, an airline pilot, and Todd, her husband and a roofing contractor, became aware of the devastating poverty in Africa.  They desperately wanted to do something to help and began researching what others were doing to empower Africans.  

After seeing various projects, Holly and Todd were inspired to start Africa Bags in January 2007.  Their intent was to start a grass roots organization with the hope of making positive change in the world. It has become an empowerment project focused on fighting poverty in rural Malawi and reducing environmental waste in the United States and beyond.  

In May 2007, Holly and Todd made their first trip to Malawi.  They introduced their project to three villages near Mzuzu, Malawi, and then established Africa Bags within the villages of Kamweko, Viweme, and Nkhata Bay.  They began training on the production of reusable cloth bags, by providing foot powered treadle sewing matches and all the materials and training needed to make the bags.

Africa Bags is conscientious of environmental concerns while pursuing economic opportunities.

By producing hand crafted bags in sewing groups and selling them around the world, they are providing a sustainable income to women at risk.  Using a cloth bag from Africa also helps reduce the need for plastic shopping bags, which wastes the earth’s non-renewable resources and increases pollution.

Holly, along with Todd, and their children, have continued to grow and expand Africa Bags. They have included Africa Pads, empowering school girls by providing them with reusable, hygenic pad kits. They also have included Greening Malawi, which fights deforestation with a tree planting initiate and feeding vulnerable school children.

Holly’s tremendous efforts on behalf of Malawi and environmental concerns were recently recognized by the Colorado Women of Influence.  COWOI presented Holly with the International Woman of Vision award at the Women of Vision Gala in July 2019.

Throughout her career, Holly has presented herself as just a regular person and airline professional.  But indeed her skills and her heart show that her journey has been far more remarkable. 

August 2019 – Arts, Administration, & Advocacy – Kim Akeley-Charron

Featuring Kim Akeley-Charron
Executive Director, Thompson Education Foundation


Kim Akeley-Charron grew up in Maine where she developed her passion for art as a student.  She received a BA in Art History from the University of Maine.  She later worked in various contexts to further her interests in the arts and related fields.  She also realized her skills in donor relations, events, and nonprofit management while working with the University of Maine Alumni Association.

Eventually Kim and her family shifted from the East to the West, making the long trip from Maine to Colorado.  Her arts experience and management skills led her to working with the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and the Women’s College at University of Denver.  Later, she became the Cultural Events/Marketing Coordinator for the City of Loveland’s Cultural Service Department.  These experiences over a decade honed her interests in arts and advocacy while developing her leadership abilities.

In July 2012, Kim was named the Executive Director of Thompson Education Foundation in Loveland, Colorado – an opportunity connect the range of experiences that she has accumulated in arts, advocacy, and education.   In her role, Kim is committed to increasing the foundation’s support for students in Thompson School District as well as to the financial and organization growth of the foundation. 

Through her time as Executive Director of TEF, Kim has worked with many community organizations and entities including the Thompson School Board, Loveland Chamber of Commerce, and Loveland City Council.  She also serves on many community boards/committees in Loveland and Northern Colorado.  Kim also had the honor of serving three years as Chair of the Colorado School Foundations Association.

The experiences she has gained from these collaborations and service opportunities have allowed her to gain valuable insights for the community.  Those insights in turn have prompted her to now run for County Commissioner – a public service opportunity that allows her to utilize the full range of skills and experiences.  

Whether in education or public service, Kim continues to serve as an advocate and administer for the arts and for the community.

August 2019 – Bill Halldin – Principal, Halldin Public Relations

Featuring Bill Halldin – Principal, Halldin Public Relations


Bill Halldin is owner of an award-winning public relations firm, Halldin Public Relations. Before launching his firm, Bill worked eight years as a journalist, including serving as Capital Bureau Chief for one of Florida’s largest newspapers, and later served as an aide to the Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut and the Attorney General of Connecticut.

Bill had a long history of volunteering in the community – including serving as Chairman of the Rocklin, CA Chamber of Commerce and President of the Sierra College Board of Trustees. He currently serves as a member of the Rocklin City Council.

Bill earned an undergraduate degree in journalism from Northwestern University and a master’s in business administration from Yale University.

July 2019 – Breaking Barriers by Running with Courage – Jackie Marsh

Featuring Jacki Marsh
Mayor, City of Loveland, CO


Jacki Marsh was elected Mayor of Loveland in November of 2017. But her journey to this significant role was one with many significant turns and much courage. And it was not the only run she would make in her life and her career. 

As a small business owner in downtown Loveland Jacki Marsh became a close observer of Loveland civic affairs. She attended virtually every City Council meeting for a three-year period prior to her decision to seek election as Mayor. The knowledge she gained equipped her to lead the city through change and growth. 

But Mayor Marsh’s story did not start with either government or business, rather it was in road races.  Growing up in San Jose and with a challenging family situation, Jacki turned to running as both an escape and an expression of her natural athleticism. She was an exceptional runner and with and her running mates was breaking barriers each day.  They pursued distances and times that women had never yet had the opportunity to run.  Jacki trained hard for years and often competed in races where she the only woman.

Then in 1972, at the age of 17, Jacki won the world’s first women’s six-mile race, the Crazyleg’s Mini-Marathon in New York’s Central Park. Three weeks after that ground-breaking race, Title IX was signed into Law; guaranteeing women equal funding and equal opportunities in all federally funded schools. Today, the New York Mini Marathon is the world’s premier women’s road race. The New York Mini is run annually and has over eight thousand female runners each year. Olympians from around the world gather to compete in this prestigious women’s race.

In her prior professional life, Mayor Marsh has worn many hats, some include: Early Childhood Teacher for the Department of Social Services, Bookkeeper for a Dental Clinic, Trade Show Marketing Manager, Purchasing Manager and Purchasing Director for an International Software Company and General Manger for a large Home Service Provider.  Currently, in addition to her Mayoral duties, Jacki represents over ninety Colorado Artists in her Artisan Boutique, Rabbask Designs.

Mayor Marsh’s dedication to her Mayoral duties is an extension of her many experiences and service oriented spirit.  As Mayor, she is active in the Loveland community and can routinely be found lending a hand at KidsPak, attending Veteran breakfasts, & Veteran events, school events, Regional meetings and serving on several Boards and Commissions. She seldom turns aside invitations to appear and to join in civic events.

Jacki is committed to transparency, equality and being responsive to Loveland residents. She courageously broke barriers in running and for women throughout the years.  And now she is dedicated to addressing the issues facing Loveland and Colorado and ensuring the best community for her constituents. 

July 2019 – Ideas Worth Sharing – Jeremy Duhon

Featuring Jeremy Duhon
Founder & Curator, TEDxMileHigh


Jeremy A. Duhon is a man of ideas, and more so, he’s about sharing ideas for the good of the community.  As Founder & Curator of TEDxMileHigh, he brings together several hundred community members at several events each year to hear and exchange ideas in arts, business, education, policy, technology & other arenas.  

Jeremy’s background is focused in business and financial investment. He is a CFA and Partner, Portfolio Manager and Analyst at Denver Investments. Jeremy joined Denver Investments in 2004 and is part of the international team. He serves as Portfolio Manager at Westcore Trust - Westcore International Small-Cap Fund and Clearwater Investment Trust - Clearwater International Fund. Since joining Denver Investments in 2004, Jeremy has travelled extensively around the globe providing significant services to clients worldwide. 

But Jeremy’s path to business started in the sciences. He studied neuroscience at Pomona College in Claremont, California, where he earned a B.A. degree.  But as he concluded his undergraduate education, he realized that he loved the social sciences. Instead of going to medical school, he focused on learning about investing.  

This shift in interests opened up career opportunities in the financial world and in community service.  Before joining Denver Investments, he served as a Senior Investment Fellow of El Pomar Foundation from 2002 to 2004. That firm provided him experience in funding charitable nonprofits and governmental entities. Jeremy was also active in community service programs including El Pomar Youth in Community Service Program, and Young Nonprofits Professionals Network – Denver Chapter.  

Bringing his entrepreneurial sense and commitment service, Jeremy tapped into the creativity and innovation of Denver. In 2009, TED Talks launched TEDx, a community based TED-like event that engages community presenters.  Jeremy became a TEDx licensee and, a year later, launched the first TEDxMileHigh event in Denver. TEDxMileHigh presents many events throughout the year – from general TEDx talks to special events focus on topics and issues areas such as children and women.   

Jeremy serves as a strong advocate for Denver through TEDxMileHigh and other. He was recognized for his efforts in 2010 when ColoradoBiz magazine named him one of the state’s “Top 25 Influential Young Professionals.” He continues to engage and create opportunities to inspire and share ideas

June 2019 – From Africa Missions to Global Advocacy – Wess Stafford

Featuring Wess Stafford, President Emeritus, Compassion International


Dr. Wess Stafford often says, "Everything I really need to know to lead a multinational organization I learned from the poor, growing up in an African village." Indeed, as President Emeritus of Compassion International, one of the leading children’s organizations in the world, Dr. Stafford draws from his unique experiences in Africa and his distinct preparation from the mission field to global advocacy for children in poverty. 

As the son of missionaries to Africa, Dr. Stafford was raised in a village in the Ivory Coast. He grew up with wise and loving African “extended family.” He experienced many of the same difficulties of life in the village as his African family – poverty, deprivation, hunger. As a young boy, he was heartbroken as he watched African friends die from poverty and diseases, and was troubled that he had been vaccinated but they had not.  When he arrived in the U.S. at age 15, he felt convicted to connect the abundance of resources in the U.S. with the abundance of love and need in Africa. 

Dr. Stafford’s life experiences uniquely prepared him for his future role at Compassion International. In addition to his missions experiences, he earned undergraduate degrees from Moody Bible Institute and Biola University, a Master's degree from Wheaton College, as well as a Ph.D. from Michigan State University. He also is a veteran, having served four years in the U.S. Army as a linguist in military intelligence.

Dr. Stafford was drawn to the ministry of Compassion International by the way they were serving the poor through sponsorship of children. He joined the staff in 1977 and worked with the ministry since then, both overseas and at headquarters,  and served as President for 20 years.  Based in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and now as President Emeritus, he travels widely to share his life experiences and the impact that Compassion International has made on several million children around the world. 

No one could have imagined that a poor missionary child in Africa would one day become one of the world’s most recognized international advocates for children in poverty.  But Wess Stafford had a calling and a destiny to make a remarkable impact for the least of these. 

June 2019 – Education, Sociology, & Environmental Justice

Featuring Stephanie Malin, PhD,
Associate Professor, Colorado State University


Stephanie Malin, Ph.D., Associate Professor at Colorado State University is an educator, sociologist, and environmental advocate.  In each of her roles, she brings her research, teaching, and advocacy skills to be on environmental concerns of today while preparing the next generation of advocates. 

Dr. Malin specializes in environmental and natural resource sociology, governance, and rural development.  She conducts community-based and mixed methods research focusing on the community impacts of resource extraction, energy production, and environmental de-regulation. Her main interests include environmental justice, environmental health, social mobilization, and the socio-environmental effects of market-based economies. 

As an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at Colorado State University, Dr. Malin is an award-winning teacher of undergraduate courses on environmental justice, water and society, and environmental sociology and a graduate course in Environmental and Natural Resource Sociology. 

In addition, Dr. Malin is also the author of The Price of Nuclear Power: Uranium Communities and Environmental Justice (published by Rutgers University Press, May 2015) and has published her research in journals such as Social ForcesEnvironmental Politics, the Journal of Rural Studies, and Society and Natural Resources.  Her book explores how under-addressed legacies of uranium development intersect with current efforts to renew uranium production. 

Dr. Malin’s current field work includes multi-year and multi-sited ethnographic research interrogating the community, environmental justice, and environmental health outcomes of unconventional oil and gas production (including the notorious hydraulic fracturing stage).  She also co-leads a Water Center Research Team project examining environmental justice issues among various water users in the Rio Grande Basin.  She has on-going projects examining just transitions, uranium development, and the intersections between water, agriculture, and energy development. Dr. Malin is also part of an interdisciplinary team that recently received National Science Foundation funding to initiate a multi-year graduate training program focused on Food-Energy-Water nexus issues in the semi-arid West.

Dr. Malin’s work is supported by grants through the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (part of National Institutes of Health), the Rural Sociological Society’s Early Career Award, and the CSU Water Center’s Faculty Fellowship & Research Team grant.  

Besides her teaching and research roles, Dr. Malin has enjoyed serving in elected leadership positions for the American Sociological Association’s Section on Environmental Sociology and the International Association for Society and Natural Resources. She completed a Mellon Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship at Brown University in 2013, after earning her Ph.D. in Sociology from Utah State University in 2011.

Through her range of experiences, Stephanie Malin has interrelated the fields of education, sociology and the environment to consider how to promote justice for a more sustainable world.

May 2019 – Environmental Justice For All – Michael Wenstrom

Featuring Michael Wenstrom, Environmental Justice Program, 
Environmental Protection Agency


Environmental justice is not a concept most people consider for their career or for their purpose.  But Michael Wenstrom is not like most people.  His purpose has been to bring effective policy and practices to address environmental concerns. 

Michael has been working in the arena of public policy for more than thirty years.  For the past eighteen years, he has worked in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 8 Environmental Justice Program.  

Michael’s work has been focused on a range of environmental concerns in many areas of the United States.  He assisted EPA Enforcement staff to negotiate Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs) which direct money to communities to remedy past environmental ills.  He is also working with the people of Pueblo in the state of Colorado and the US Army to give the community a greater voice in the destruction of 780,000 rounds of chemical weapons.  He is also working with local partners to address environmental health issues in Salt Lake City to improve children’s health.  He also is working with community members in assessing risks from industrial facilities located near residential areas.

Michael also piloted work in EJ communities to reduce the threat of radon and partnered with the State of Colorado to retrofit school buses in school districts serving low income communities. Michael also assists the EPA Urban Waters Program in applying environmental justice principles in the remediation of America’s urban waterways.

Recently, Michael spent a year working with EPA Headquarters staff and the EPA Region 5 Environmental Justice program to develop strategies to more fully engage the residents of Flint, Michigan in coping with the city-wide water crisis.  Flint is considerable among the most egregious of environmental concerns with high concentrations of lead throughout the city’s water systems, resulting in many health concerns for community members.

Throughout his work and career, Michael’s dedication to pursuing environmental protections especially for vulnerable communities has helped to ensure environmental justice for all.

May 2019 - Creating a Safe Place for Those At Risk - Jerri Schmitz

Featuring Jerri Schmitz, 
Founder/Executive Director, The Mathews House


Jerri Schmitz is a woman who is kind, supportive, strong, and focused.  Those characteristics have made her a passionate advocate for those who are at-risk in the communities where she serves as the Founder/President of The Mathews House.

The story of The Mathews House stems from Jerri’s passionate response to a personal concern.  In 2003, Jerri met a young man in Old Town Fort Collins. He had just aged out of foster care, which resulted in him couch-surfing and living on the streets. Jerri told him she was going to do some research and find resources for him. However, in the early 2000’s, there weren’t any resources for kids aging out of foster care in Larimer County. Jerri’s response to this lack of services what that “…someone should do something about that…” and that someone was Jerri.

Jerri and Sara Mitchell, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, launched the nonprofit together in 2005. They began working with youth in 2006. They dreamed of creating a safe place where at-risk youth could escape poverty and abuse. Their dream quickly became a reality, and soon every child aging out of foster care was being referred to the program. 

But while the Mathews House’s innovative approach was working to support such youth, they also saw the need to address why this need was there. That prompted The Mathews House to reach families early enough and helping them gain stability, so that kids could avoid being placed in foster care in the first place.

The Matthews House currently works with over 3,200 youth and families annually. They are growing with purpose and filling in service gaps to meet the needs of families and communities.  They work collaboratively with many nonprofits, businesses, and public entities to best address the needs of participants. The Matthews House offers both intervention and prevention programming, walking alongside youth and families as they work their way from crisis to thriving – providing a safe place for those most at-risk.

April 2019 – Church for Survivors and Vulnerable - Dr. Beth Grant


Featuring Dr. Beth Grant
Co-Founder/Director, Project Rescue

What does it look like to take the Church to the streets, to other countries, to the most vulnerable? Dr. Beth Grant knows too well what that looks like. It is simultaneously difficult and beautiful. She and her husband David have served in the mission fields for more than 40 years, fighting injustice and promoting faith. As Co-founder and Director of Project Rescue, a ministry to survivors of sex trafficking, Dr. Grant has brought the Church to some of the most needed places in the world.

Dr. Grant’s ministry and work stems from a deep and abiding faith, immersion in the church, and extensive Christian educational experiences. She holds a B.S. from Central Bible College, an M.A. from the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. from Biola University. Dr. Grant has served as faculty and guest lecturer in missions and cross-cultural communication in seminaries and universities in India, South Africa, Europe and the United States.

Dr. Grant and her husband David founded Project Rescue in 1997. A team from Bombay Teen Challenge was stunned to find an estimated 100,000 women and children living in sexual slavery. In that first encounter, over 100 women came to Christ, and 37 of their children were rescued – creating an aftercare shelter that night.
Since then Project Rescue has worked extensively to support survivors of sex trafficking. Last year, Project Rescue ministered to over 37, 000 women and children in sexual slavery. They have extended their work to not only India but also Nepal, Bangladesh, Moldova, Tajikistan, Spain, and France, providing aftercare homes, vocational training, afterschool programs, night care shelters, HIV/AIDS and medical clinics, red light district churches and Sunday schools, and awareness and prevention programs.

Dr. Grant’s efforts to bring Christian advocacy to issues of human trafficking worldwide also include serving on the steering committee member of the Faith Alliance Against Slavery and Trafficking. In addition, she developed and co-edited Hands That Heal, an international curriculum to train caregivers of trafficking survivors. She also authored Courageous Compassion: Confronting Social Injustice God’s Way.

Dr. Grant’s ministry and advocacy leadership have led her to a range of other leadership opportunities. She served as chairperson for The Network for Women in Ministry for the U.S. from 1999-2010. In 2009 she became the first woman elected to the Executive Presbytery of the National AG USA.

In addition to her advocacy, ministry, and leadership experiences, Dr. Grant remains a testament to what a Christian life and a Christian faith can do for justice. She supports survivors of human trafficking through her steadfast commitment and Christian convictions. She has extended her faith and heart to bring the Church in real and tangible ways to people who would not otherwise experience it. She brings hope and freedom to the most vulnerable.

April 2019 - John Cotton Richmond, Ambassador-at-Large, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons


Featuring John Cotton Richmond
Ambassador-at-Large, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons

John Cotton Richmond is the United States Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons and leads the Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. In October 2018, the Senate unanimously confirmed him and President Trump appointed him to lead the United States’ global engagement to combat human trafficking and support the coordination of anti-trafficking efforts across the U.S. government.

Ambassador Richmond has a distinguished career in the global battle for freedom. He co-founded the Human Trafficking Institute that exists to decimate modern slavery at its source by empowering police and prosecutors to use victim-centered and trauma-informed methods to hold traffickers accountable and ensure survivors are treated with respect and care. While at the Institute, Ambassador Richmond built a team of experienced and dedicated anti-trafficking professionals, and led the Institute’s long-term international country projects and its aggressive research agenda. In 2018, he co-authored the first Federal Human Trafficking Report that collected and analyzed all the active federal human trafficking cases in the United States.

Prior to the Institute, Ambassador Richmond served, for more than ten years, as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit where he investigated and prosecuted numerus victim-centered labor and sex trafficking cases throughout the United States. He also prosecuted cross burnings, police misconduct, and neo-Nazi hate crimes cases. Ambassador Richmond regularly served as an expert to the United Nations Working Group on Trafficking in Persons. He also lived in India for three years pioneering International Justice Mission’s anti-slavery work.

Ambassador Richmond’s work to combat human trafficking has earned numerous honors, including: being named one of the “Prosecutors of the Year” by the Federal Law Enforcement Foundation, receiving the David Allred Award for Exceptional Contributions to Civil Rights, twice earning the Department of Homeland Security’s Outstanding Investigative Accomplishments in a Human Trafficking Award, receiving Shared Hope International’s Pathbreaker Award for Innovations in Combating Human Trafficking, as well as twice receiving the Department of Justice’s Special Commendation Award.

Ambassador Richmond has trained judges, prosecutors, federal agents, law enforcement officers, and non-governmental organizations on effective, proactive human trafficking investigative and prosecutorial strategies. He also taught Human Trafficking Law, Policy, and Litigation at Pepperdine School of Law and Vanderbilt Law School. He earned his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Mary Washington and his Juris Doctor from Wake Forest University School of Law.

March 2019 – Gitanjali Rao: Discovering & Sharing Science & Brilliance

Featuring  Gitanjali Rao : Student, Scientist, and Inventor

Featuring Gitanjali Rao: Student, Scientist, and Inventor

Gitanjali Rao is a unique 13-year-old.  She’s an 8th grader at STEM School Highlands Ranch in Highlands Ranch, CO, but also so much more – she’s a scientist and inventor.

Gitanjali was named America’s Top Young Scientist of 2017 by the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, with a patent pending device to detect lead in water faster than any other current techniques. She is also the winner of a global Paradigm science challenge. She is a Davidson Young Scholar since 2012, and has received several awards for achievements in science, arts and community service. She also was recognized as a Forbes 30 under 30, 2019 for science and invention. She is an EPA Presidential award winner and is recognized as a Gloria Barron ‘Young Hero’ Honoree for community impact.

Gitanjali is an active STEM promoter and is involved in promoting STEM based activities in schools, clubs and the community. She was selected as the STEM Scout of the Year in 2016-2017 and was selected as one of the 12 delegates to Report to the Nation in the year 2017-2018.  

In addition to being a scientist and inventor, Gitanjali has won awards for her writing in national and international contests. She published her first book at age of 9, called Baby Brother Wonders. The self-illustrated book, based on the story that won 2nd prize in the PBS national writing contest, described the world through her younger brother’s point of view. Gitanjali has also won first place in the International Aviation Art Contest for last four years at the state level. 

Gitanjali has applied her interests to serving others as well. She was a “TIME for Kids” Kid reporter for the 2017-2018 school year and wrote articles bringing awareness to Flint crisis.  She has been an active volunteer for an organization called Children’s Kindness Network that spreads an anti-bullying message, and promotes the importance of kindness in all of us. She conducts workshops in elementary schools and hopes to educate children about kindness when they are still young. She also gave three TEDx talks in India and the U.S. apart from speaking in several girls’ conference and being a UNICEF panelist about the role of Youth to power the planet.

Some of Gitanjali’s hobbies include playing the piano, Indian classical dancing and singing, swimming, fencing, and baking. She has been playing classical music for almost 7 years. She also recently learned how to play the bass guitar and the clarinet. She shares her talent of playing piano in local assisted living centers. She has received numerous awards for her piano performance.

Gitanjali has recently open-sourced her lead detector invention processor and app code for the community and is continuing to perform accuracy testing in Denver Water for the lead sensor.  Gitanjali currently is shadowing research in University of Colorado, Denver in department of Cell Biology.  Gitanjali aspires to study genetics and epidemiology. She hopes to keep writing, discovering, and sharing her knowledge in the future.

March 2019 – Dr. Debora Scheffel: Faith & Leadership for Education

Featuring  Dr. Debora Scheffel : Dean, School of Education, Colorado Christian University

Featuring Dr. Debora Scheffel: Dean, School of Education, Colorado Christian University

Dr. Debora Scheffel, Dean of the School of Education at Colorado Christian University, is an educator’s educator.  Her life and work reflect her faith and commitment to education. She has dedicated her studies and her career to teaching and learning, preparing teachers and students, and especially supporting those with communications and learning disabilities. 

Dr. Scheffel was appointed Dean at CCU in September 2013. She previously served as Dean of Research at University of the Rockies in Denver, CO, and Dean of the School of Education at Jones International University in Centennial, CO. She has held a tenured professorship at the University of Northern Colorado (Greeley, CO), and served as Director of Competitive Grants and Awards and Literacy Grants and Initiatives at the Colorado Department of Education, as well as Special Assistant to the Commissioner of Education in Colorado, in Literacy.  She has an extensive background in assessment, serving as Director of Academic Assessment at two universities, and has been a visiting scholar at the United States Air Force Academy in assessment.

Dr. Scheffel’s academic background is in communication sciences and disorders and in special education with research interests in cognitive psychology; brain-behavior relationships; learning, reading, and oral language development and disabilities in children and adolescents; and education reform policy.  She holds a Ph.D. in Communication Sciences and Communicative Disorders from Northwestern University, an M.A. in Special Education from the University of Denver, and B.S. from Bob Jones University. Dr. Scheffel’s professional affiliations include the International Neuropsychological Society, the International Dyslexia Association, and the Council for Exceptional Children. 

In addition to working in six states in a variety of post-secondary educational contexts, Dr. Scheffel is a published author in literacy, special education, and higher education assessment. She also serves on editorial boards of Learning Disabilities Research and Practice and the Journal for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition.

Along with her post-secondary and publishing experiences, Dr. Scheffel was elected to a 6-year term on the Colorado State Board of Education in November, 2010, representing the 6th Congressional District. In that capacity she works not only on issues impacting schools in Colorado but overall education policy. 

Through her academic and professional achievements, Dr. Scheffel has been unwavering in her faith and commitment to bringing effective leadership to education in Colorado and throughout the country.

February 2019 - Jennifer Bulotti: Communicating and Combatting Injustices

Featuring  Jennifer Bulotti , President,  Stryker-Munley Group Sacramento ; CEO,  3 Strands Shop

Featuring Jennifer Bulotti, President, Stryker-Munley Group Sacramento; CEO, 3 Strands Shop

Jennifer Bulotti is a leader in marketing, public relations, and communications.  More so, she is passionate about combatting sex trafficking and pursuing justice.  She has applied her many years of experience serving corporate and other clients, to creating an organization and a brand that is focused on addressing the injustice of sex trafficking.

As the president of Stryker-Munley Group Sacramento, Jennifer provides strategic counsel to Stryker-Munley Group marketing, PR and communications clients. Stryker-Munley Group is a national agency representing leading marketing professionals from across the country who represent top clients in a wide range of industries. Offices are strategically located in New York, St. Louis, New Jersey, Silicon Valley, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas and Sacramento.

Jennifer’s academic and professional experiences have equipped her for high level communications and PR expertise.  Jennifer holds a Bachelor’s in Organizational Communications, and a Master’s in Public Administration.  Her professional experiences that range from creating and executing corporate branding, PR, community engagement and marketing strategies, to providing counsel on leadership positioning and philanthropic initiatives. Jennifer has worked on behalf of companies in the high tech, biotech, investment services, entertainment, healthcare, insurance, and hospitality industries, as well as celebrities. In addition to extensive private sector experience, Jennifer has also supported statewide and local public information and involvement campaigns. 

Jennifer brings her expertise to another significant role – as CEO of 3Strands Shop (www.3StrandsShop.com), a California-based company and accessory brand dedicated to combating human trafficking through sustainable employment initiatives. 3 Strands employs survivors and those at risk for human trafficking. Through this work, Jennifer co-founded 3Strands Global Foundation, a non-profit fighting human trafficking through education and employment initiatives. In these capacities, Jennifer helps lead the organizations in efforts to increase awareness, funding and engagement for the issue globally.  

Jennifer’s key role is establishing partnerships to further the fight against human trafficking around the world, but she is also at the forefront of developing and supporting prevention education programs in schools, rescue and recovery efforts, restoration of victims, and employment for survivors. Jennifer has developed an Advisory Council, bringing together global thought leaders to create a world free from modern day slavery. 

Although a significant amount of her work is global, most recently she helped initiate what became AB 1227 in California, a bill signed into law by Governor Brown mandating prevention education to fight human trafficking in grades 5-11 in California (other states are considering adoption). She also helped create an employment program for survivors of human trafficking in collaboration with the Kings Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, working alongside a multi-disciplinary team of partners and sponsors.

Jennifer extends her advocacy for justice through a number of organizations and issues. She currently sits on the Agape International Missions (AIM) Board, a global leader in trafficking prevention, rescue, restoration and reintegration initiatives, and on the marketing and fundraising committees for Hands4Hope, a Northern California organization dedicated to inspiring and empowering youth in leadership and service.   Jennifer is also committed to the advancement of women’s issues and women in business and is a member of the National Association of Professional Women. 

Through her many other roles and commitments, Jennifer Bulotti has effectively communicated her passion for addressing sex trafficking, and has inspired many to pursue justice locally and globally. 

February 2019 - Larry Coburn: Thinking, Coaching, Leading

Featuring Larry Coburn, Leadership & Lean Thinking Coach; Program Director, Master’s in Leadership Program, Northwest Christian University Leadership & Lean Thinking Coach Program Director, Master’s in Leadership Program, Northwest Christian University

Featuring Larry Coburn, Leadership & Lean Thinking Coach; Program Director, Master’s in Leadership Program, Northwest Christian University
Leadership & Lean Thinking Coach
Program Director, Master’s in Leadership Program, Northwest Christian University

Larry Coburn is a thinker, coach, and leader. He adds value by coaching leaders and teams to think with more clarity and act with effectiveness.  And he extends that value to a range of experiences, opportunities, and communities.

Based in Eugene, Oregon, Larry’s academic and professional experiences have provided him a range of leadership roles.  He holds a BS in Accounting from the University of Oregon, and an MS in Ministry from Pepperdine University.  He has 37 years of international business experience in Finance, IT, Marketing, Training, Lean Manufacturing, and Leadership Coaching.  

Larry’s leadership experience includes 27 years in many roles for Nike.  From 2003-2008 Larry was a key Spokesman and Thought Leader for NOS (Nike’s Lean Manufacturing initiative) and the chief architect of Nike’s Lean Manufacturing “House” — which remains the basis for Lean Training, Implementation, and Assessment within Nike Manufacturing partner base. Larry also served as Director of Nike’s Lean Training Center in Vietnam for 5 years — responsible for training over 300 senseis from 40 factories spread across 6 countries and cultures, who are today driving the lean transformation of the Athletic Footwear Manufacturing Industry.

After retiring from Nike in 2008, Larry has focused on applying lean to non-manufacturing business environments, as well as continuing to work with factories – primarily in the footwear and apparel industries. He has developed and delivered training for lean coaches in the US, Europe, Americas, and Asia in the business areas of IT, Finance, Sales Operations, Human Resources, Administrative Services, Supply Chain Logistics, and Product Development.

Larry also conducts a consulting practice that centers on coaching leaders and providing inspirational leadership presentations.  He is a member of the John Maxwell Team member and licensed Live2Lead host.  Live2Lead is an annual leadership growth experience featuring John C. Maxwell and a selection of his friends and colleagues presenting fresh insights for leaders.  The live program happens in the Atlanta area each year in October.   

Larry now applies his extensive leadership experience to preparing and supporting both experienced and emerging leaders.  He serves as the Program Director for the newly launched Master’s in Leadership program at Northwest Christian University.  This fully online program is designed for seasoned leaders and aspiring leaders to engage with principles of best practice, to sharpen their own self-understanding as leaders, and to sharpen their skill set for more effective leadership in the groups and organizations where they serve. The program includes concentrations in Business Administration, Church Leadership, Higher Education Leadership, and Non-Profit Management.

Through his many leadership roles, Larry is helping shape current and future leaders into more effective thinkers and managers who will make a positive impact not only in business but also society.  

January 2019 - A Dedicated Advocate to Ending Human Trafficking and Violence Against Women - Dr. Melissa Farley

Featuring Dr. Melissa Farley, Founder of Prostitution Research and Education.

Featuring Dr. Melissa Farley, Founder of Prostitution Research and Education.

Dr. Melissa Farley is a dedicated voice and expert in ending human trafficking and violence against women through education and advocacy. Her background as a clinical psychologist has allowed her to use her expertise to educate and equip others on the harms of prostitution, pornography, and human trafficking.

Dr. Farley has served as a consultant with agencies, governments, and advocates for prostituted and trafficked women as well as serving as an expert witness in forensic evaluations. She is a well known legal expert on the effects of sexual violence against women and children, posttraumatic stress disorder, dissociation, prostitution and trafficking. In her work, she emphasizes the connections between prostitution, racism, poverty, and both domestic and international trafficking.

As a trusted expert, Dr. Farley has provided consultation as an expert on the harm of prostitution to the Medical Examining Board of the State of California and psychological evaluations of prostituted young women for Contra Costa County and for San Francisco County.

Dr. Farley is also the founder of Prostitution Research & Education, a nonprofit organization which provides information about trafficking and prostitution, including a list of agencies offering services to women who have been in prostitution. This website is a resource for advocates across the world who work on behalf of women and children in prostitution and is a resource for survivors of prostitution, students, teachers, government officials, criminal justice personnel, social workers, legal advocates and nongovernmental agencies that are developing services to women who have been prostituted or trafficked.

Dr. Farley has also collaborated with a team of researchers in northern California at Kaiser Permanente who are studying the long term effects of violence against women on their health and how that violence impacts preventive health care for women.

In addition to her consulting work and work at PRE, Dr. Farley is the senior author of Prostitution and Trafficking in 9 Countries: Update on Violence and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, an article distributed by the Trafficking in Persons Office of the U.S. State Dept. She also contributed to other advocacy resources including Dissociation among Women in Prostitution by Colin Ross, Melissa Farley, and Harvey Schwartz; and the chapter Prostitution and Trafficking of Women and Children from Mexico to the United States by Marisa B. Ugarte, Laura Zarate, and Melissa Farley. Dr. Farley has also conducted a two year research study in Nevada focused on the connections between legal brothels, legal and illegal prostitution, domestic and international trafficking, political corruption, and organized crime in Nevada.

With her expertise and passion for justice, Dr. Farley is making an impact assisting advocates and trafficking victims around the world.