Our Staff

Brian Sauder Bio

Rev. Brian Sauder , Executive Director

Brian grew up in IL in rural Tazewell County, received his B.S. from the University of Illinois in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, M.A. in Religion from Urbana Theological Seminary, and M.B.A. from the University of Illinois. Brian is licensed towards ordination by the Mennonite Church U.S.A. He started the central Illinois office for Faith in Place in January 2010, where he served as the statewide Policy Director for Faith in Place. Brian has recently become the new Executive Director of Faith in Place. He serves on the Board of the Illinois Environmental Council and his work has been recognized as a 2012 award recipient of the University of Illinois's Business School's Community Scholar and as a 2013 Central IL Business 40 Under 40 winner.

Cindy Shepherd

Rev. Cindy Shepherd , Central Illinois Congregational Outreach Director

Cindy grew up in Kansas and has lived in Illinois for 24 years. Her interest in sustainable agriculture was stoked by visits to small growers in Nicaragua and Palestine. Her interest in yummy vegetables is fed by a share of Faith in Place's partner: Sola Gratia Farm in Urbana. She recently left parish ministry to become the Director of Congregational Outreach for Faith in Place's Central Illinois office. She looks forward to working with the many people and communities of the region who strive to live out their faith with compassion for Earth and her inhabitants.

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Veronica Kyle , Chicago Congregational Outreach Director

Veronica joined the Faith in Place staff in August 2008 to engage in the much needed work of linking/involving African American churches to the work of Faith in Place. In addition Veronica works with other Faith in Place partners in the movement to share, coordinate and support congregations that are new to the idea of living out their faith while serving as good stewards of the environment. Veronica lived and worked for the past twelve years in the Caribbean and Southern Africa for a faith-based organization in the areas of social justice and development. She received her B.A. in Religion and Women Studies from Vermont College of Norwich University and her Masters degree in Gender Studies from University of the West Indies, 1999.

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Lorena Lopez , Congregtional Outreach Coordinator

Lorena Joined Faith in place September of 2013 as the Latino congregational outreach organizer. One of her first projects was to connect the Latino population to their own migration stories and the natural migrations of butterflies, birds and nature. Lorena grew a passion for nature as a young girl. She started her first community garden at the age of 10. A longtime resident of the Little Village neighborhood, Lorena was a community organizer for LVEJO, a community environmental organization. Through her work with this group she was involved with community mapping to demand a new, clean, safe park in Little Village. Along with a core group of volunteers, Lorena’s team was able to win major victories including the clean-up of 171 homes from cancer causing toxic chemicals as well as working for the installation of new drainage, new fencing, paved roads and street lights around a park site. Lorena’s passionate for community advocacy has led her to return to school to develop her professional skills, where she is currently pursuing a degree in Environmental Studies.

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Susana Figueroa , Wuakegan Congregational Outreach

A graduate of Lake Forest College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, Susana has worked serving the needs of the Waukegan community, specifically the needs of the Latino Community, for the last 28 years. She is continuing that trend by joining the Faith in Place team as our Waukegan Community Outreach Organizer. From 1995 to 2013, Susanna worked for the Mayor’s Office as the City’s Community Liaison Administrator. In April 2013, Susana decided to take the next step in serving her community by choosing to run for the office of Mayor of Waukegan. During her 18 years of service in the city, Susana has been awarded and recognized for her outstanding service by the government of Mexico, The Illinois Park and Recreation Association and Illinois Association of Park Districts, Vision Newspaper, The Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Waukegan, and The Coalition of United Latinos of Lake County. Born and raised in Mexico, Susana moved to Waukegan in 1986, and now is now married with two beautiful children.

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Ava St. Claire , Entrepeneur-in-Residence

Ava St. Claire is an Urban Designer helping communities grow through sustainability, technology and economic development. She lends her expertise to Faith in Place's Minority Outreach by helping to build credibility through better branding and operations. She is LEED ID+C Certified, holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Urban Planning from Florida State University and a Master's of Commercial Design from Harrington College of Design.

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Ginnie Judd , Office Administrator

Ginnie joined the Faith in Place team in January 2013 when she responded to a plea from Rev. Clare Butterfield in a Faith in Place e-newsletter for a one-day-a-week office volunteer. Four weeks later, Ginnie was thrilled to be asked to take on a part time job as Office Administrator. Ginnie has a Bachelor of Science in Food Science from Iowa State University in Ames and spent the majority of her career in food industry management before taking a nine year career break for family reasons. Faced with starting a new chapter of her life, she decided to move in the direction of environmental issues, something that has been close to her heart for many years. Ginnie has been a CSA (community supported agriculture) subscriber since 2007, and her home in the western suburbs was a host location for Genesis Growers of St. Anne, IL, for 4 years. She is glad to support Faith in Place’s mission in whatever ways she can. She divides her work time between Faith in Place and St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Glen Ellyn, where she takes on a short list of admin responsibilities in addition to her volunteer work there.

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Iona Snedeker , Congregational Outreach

Iona grew up the Bethalto, Ill. She graduated in 1985 from Lewis and Clark Community College with an ADN degree.
She has since worked in many areas of the medical field, supervised and independently as a registered nurse. While working full time she completed a Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Greenville College in 1999.Iona has been a member of Berean Baptist church of Bunker Hill for over 40 years, and severed two elected terms as Alderman for the City.
Iona and Orland now live in Bunker Hill close to daughter and son in-law Stephanie and Warren Hormann.

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Amie Roach , Congregational Outreach

Amie joined the Faith In Place staff in 2014. She has lived in Hillsboro, Illinois for 38 years and is very excited to have the opportunity to educate the local congregations on ways to conserve energy and save money. She has spent the last 12 years working with the elderly and at Hillsboro Hospital in material management. When not working with congregations, Amie enjoys spending time with her husband and two children, volunteering at the school, working in the garden and doing photography.

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Brooks Darrah , Congregational Outreach

Prior to pursuing a Master of Divinity degree at McCormick Seminary, Brooks had been an actor in the Chicago area for 25 years, working with a myriad of groups in stage, on-camera, and voice-over venues. Having received his classical training at Carnegie-Mellon University, he holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. A Wisconsin native, he has a love for nature that traces back to the days of his youth spent in scouting, boundary water canoe trips, and summers spent playing and working on his grandparents’ dairy farms. Since the devastation of Hurricane Katrina on the gulf coast in 2005, Brooks has heeded the call to serve in rebuilding efforts with his home church, Lake View Presbyterian of Chicago, through the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance program. Brooks is looking forward to bringing together his unique mix in order to serve and grow in his ministry while working with Faith in Place.

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Samantha Miller , Congregational Outreach

Samantha joined the Faith In Place staff in July 2014 to recruit and engage members of religious congregations to implement strategies for education and engaging individuals on saving energy and money.
Samantha worked for a nonprofit social service agency for over 20 years in Administrative Management. She is a member of the New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church located in the West Garfield Park neighborhood and is a longtime resident of the North Lawndale community.
Samantha received her B.A. in business Management with a concentration in Accounting in 1992.

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Jordan Hoover , Congregational Outreach and Support

Jordan joined Faith in Place in August 2013 as the yearlong Lutheran Volunteer Corps member. At Faith in Place he coordinates the Farmer's Market program and supports various programs at Faith in Place. Jordan graduated from Loyola Marymount University in December 2012 with a double degree in Theology and History, and originally hails from Dallas, Texas.

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Meghan Strell , Database Consultant

Chicago native, Meghan Strell, consults with Faith in Place on 1s and 0s. She uses the SalsaLabs contact database, Access, Excel, Social Media and a website to support FIP staff as they build relationships in the real world. She does the same for Protestants for the Common Good and the Community Renewal Society. When she's not online, she performs with Mucca Pazza.

Jim Cavallo

Jim Cavallo , The Energy Doctor

Jim Cavallo, director of Midwest Energy Performance Analytics, Inc., is a RESNET certified home energy rater, BPI credentialed building analyst and shell specialist. His accomplishments are many – associate editor of Home Energy Magazine, board member of the Illinois Association of Energy Raters and Home Performance Professionals. He is a BPI proctor, teaches energy auditing and weatherization at St. Augustine College in Chicago, and teaches weatherization to contractors through the Illinois weatherization certification program. Prior to starting his own firm in 2000, Jim was on the research staff of Argonne National Laboratory where he directed a program on energy efficiency in existing buildings. He holds a Ph.D. from New York University in economics.

While volunteering with us, Jim (or The Energy Doctor, as we like to call him) will work with congregations participating in Faith in Place’s new Milestone program on energy management. With years of experience and a wealth of knowledge and resources at his fingertips, he will be an invaluable asset to those Milestone congregations looking to save energy and money.