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Meet Our Team

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Rev. Veronica M. Johnson

Outreach Director | she/her

Rev. Veronica M. Johnson was born in Chicago, IL and raised in Maywood, IL. She attended the University of Illinois, Urbana/Champaign where she earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering, with honors. She worked in the fields of engineering and project management for several Fortune 500 companies for 20 years prior to answering her call to ministry in 2006.

Rev. Johnson earned a Master of Divinity Degree from McCormick Theological Seminary in 2012, graduating with academic commendation. Rev. Johnson currently serves as CoPastor of Hyde Park Union Church. She has served previously in the Baptist, AME, and UCC churches, and is the former president of the council for the American Baptist Churches of Metro Chicago.

Rev. Johnson has been instrumental in mentoring and guiding persons of many nationalities, ages, religious backgrounds, etc., to pursue theological education, as she served for seven years as the Sr. Director of Admissions and Enrollment of McCormick Theological Seminary.

She has also served as a motivational speaker, mentor, workshop facilitator and consultant for corporations, K-12 and higher educational institutions, churches and faith-based organizations.

Rev. Johnson is the mother of two children: Curtis Johnson II,  a student at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Vanessa Johnson, a student at Howard University in Washington D.C.

 
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Rev. Cindy Shepherd

Green Team Director | she/her

Rev. Shepherd directs all of Faith in Place’s Central Illinois outreach programs.

 

Her enjoyment of working with the many people and communities of the region inspire her every day in her desire to live out faith with compassion for Earth and her inhabitants. Cindy grew up in Kansas and has lived in Illinois for 24 years. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English and Philosophy from the University of Kansas and Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary.

She served in parish ministry for the Presbyterian Church (USA) and joined Faith in Place in 2012 as a discussion leader for the Just Eating Sustainable Food Curriculum. Cindy became the Director of Outreach for the Central Illinois office in June 2014. 

 
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Dori Chandler

Indiana Statewide Outreach Director | she/they

Dori Chandler serves as the Indiana Statewide Outreach Director. Previously, Dori worked as the Interim Executive Director and Public Policy Director for Hoosier Interfaith Power & Light from 2018-2022.

 

At Faith in Place, Dori brings together the faith community to advocate for fair utility rates and practices, works to expand renewable energy and access, and educates our congregations about the importance of working together to implement lasting and comprehensive changes that strengthen and sustain our communities: fighting for environmental justice for impacted communities, empowering moral leadership in our response to climate change and ensuring the long term health of our democratic institutions. As the Coordinator of Interfaith and Jewish Life at Butler University, Dori supported students to infuse their everyday actions with moral and spiritual conviction.

 

Dori has a Master of Urban Planning from Hunter College with a focus on waste reduction, reuse, circular economies, and green stormwater collection, and a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Originally from North Carolina, Dori's commitment to this work comes from years as an educator in the Jewish community, working to instill the values of Tikkun Olam–repair of the world–and Baal Tashchit–not to needlessly destroy–as core values.

 
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Peter Bakken

Wisconsin Statewide Coordinator | he/him

Peter Bakken received his Ph.D. in Theology from the University of Chicago Divinity School.

 

He is the author of Church on Earth: Grounding Your Ministry in a Sense of Place (with Jeff Wild; Augsburg Fortress 2009); Ecology, Justice and Christian Faith: A Guide to the Literature (co-compiled with J. Ronald Engel and Joan Gibb Engel; Greenwood Press, 1995) and Evocations of Grace: Writings on Ecology, Theology and Ethics by Joseph Sittler (co-edited with Steven Bouma-Prediger, Eerdmans, 2000). He was a member of the task force that produced the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America social statement, “Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope and Justice.”

 

Peter is based in South Central Wisconsin and also serves as the Justice and Witness Coordinator for the Wisconsin Council of Churches.

 
 
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Dan Huntsha

North & West Chicago Suburbs Outreach Director | he/him

Dan first joined Faith in Place in 2014 as a volunteer working to gather grassroots support for the EPA Carbon Rules, and later the Illinois Clean Jobs Bill. In 2015 he joined our outreach staff to help with our smart energy programs in the western and northwestern Chicago suburbs.

 

He grew up in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, currently resides in Rolling Meadows, and is a member of Countryside Church Unitarian Universalist. His B.A. in Communications is from DePauw University, and he previously volunteered with environmental education and advocacy organizations including The John G. Shedd Aquarium, Sierra Club, and The Climate Reality Project.

 

By living his philosophy, “Try to learn something from everyone,” while spending time with many climate organizations, he’s been able to develop a creative climate communication style that produces action. He strives to be a catalyst for positive healthy change by connecting people’s existing passions with Faith in Place’s action-focused programs.

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Rev. Wade Halva

Southern Illinois Outreach Coordinator | he/him

Wade grew up in Raleigh, NC at the end of a half-mile long dead end dirt road. The back property line was a creek, and Wade’s early playground was the woods. His roots in the forest continue to ground his care for creation. 

Wade received his Bachelor of Arts in history and religious studies from the College of Wooster, a Master’s in Divinity from Columbia Theological Seminary, and a Master of Arts in Christian Education from Union Presbyterian Seminary. He has served in parish ministry in the Presbyterian Church (USA) in Illinois and Utah. 

For rest and relaxation, Wade enjoys the mountains and the beach, the forests and the bluff. Malawi, Tanzania, and  Zambia hold a special place in his heart. 

 
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Isioma Odum

Chicago Outreach Senior Coordinator | she/her

Isioma grew up in Vancouver, Washington surrounded by evergreen trees. Her father is the Director of the Department of Ecology for Washington state, which is where her passion for all things environmental stems from.

She received her Bachelor of Arts in Social Science concentrating in Sociology and Psychology from Washington State University, and an Master of Arts in Social Justice from Loyola University Chicago’s Institute of Pastoral Studies. During her graduate program, she was an Intern Facilitator at the Brother David Darst Center. Prior to that, she worked for the Health Justice Project and was involved in the Initiative to Amend Lead-Based Paint Poisoning in Federal Homes.

Isioma joined Faith in Place as the Bronzeville Outreach Coordinator in May 2018. Now she serves the organization as the Chicago Outreach Senior Coordinator. 

 
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Carla Aldana

Northern Illinois Bilingual Outreach Coordinator | she/her

Carla is from Waukegan, IL where she later went to college as a first-generation student.  She received her Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies with a minor in Communication Arts from Allegheny College in Meadville, PA in May 2020. Carla has always loved camping, hiking, and going out into nature when she was a child.

 

In college, Carla served as the multicultural intern for the admissions office where she assisted and created programming for student visits. Diversity and inclusion, which includes religious, ethnic, socioeconomic, gender & sexuality, etc. is a key factor when having various conversations, especially when talking about environmental justice. She has ethnographic research experience that helped her understand telling people’s stories is a powerful tool when advocating and learning about various communities.

 

Carla is the Lake County Outreach Coordinator at Faith in Place. She is excited to be back in her community to help bring various groups of people together to protect the environment.

 
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Sarah Mundell

Thriving Faith Communities Coordinator | she/her

Sarah Mundell lives in Indianapolis, Indiana, and serves as Faith in Place’s Thriving Faith Communities Coordinator to accompany cohorts of congregations through energy efficiency programming, educating their congregations, and helping them better align with creation care goals. She interfaces with local climate action groups and city offices about the substantial impact faith communities can have on carbon reduction goals.

 

Sarah has a Master of Arts in Global Development and Social Justice from St. John’s University in New York, a Bachelor of Arts in English and Journalism from the State University of New York, and trained for ministry at the Istituto Internazionale Mistici Corporis near Florence, Italy. All have supported her 18 years in ministry in the US, Italy, and Argentina, and continue to inspire her passion to translate faith values into daily practices, foster Catholic/ecumenical/interfaith dialogue, and work tirelessly to build more person-centered, community-centered, just and environmentally sustainable models in all fields of human living.

 

Born and raised in Indianapolis, Sarah is on the local Catholic Archdiocese Creation Care Commission, the international EcoPlan Taskforce of Focolare, and consults for the team developing the Vatican’s Laudato si' Action Platform, a seven-year initiative forwarding the ecological practices of the Catholic Church worldwide.

 

She joined Faith in Place with the new partnership between the Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin affiliates of Interfaith Power & Light, having previously worked for the Indiana affiliate. Sarah also works part-time as director of communications and community outreach for Mundell & Associates, an environmental consulting firm in Indianapolis, and prior to that managed the communications team of Southface Institute, one of Atlanta’s oldest sustainability nonprofits.

 
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Jalisa Mauldin

Indiana Outreach Coordinator | she/her

Jalisa Mauldin lives in Gary, IN and serves as Faith in Place’s Gary Indiana Outreach Coordinator. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English and Political Science from Fisk University. Jalisa is passionate about environmental justice, community building, and resource management. 

 

Jalisa’s passion for community building continued during her years as a student at Fisk University. As a member of the Fisk Regional Club, Jalisa was given the opportunity to connect with community members in the North Nashville, TN area. With a continued partnership with the local Boys and Girls Club, Jalisa unearthed her interest in teaching. Jalisa’s opportunity to teach, coupled with her experience as a Media Management Intern, gave her a true appreciation for providing communities with information for change! Jalisa also acted as Class Senator for two consecutive terms which ingrained in her a greater desire to champion community involvement, especially regarding the evolution of legislation. 

 

Jalisa’s skills in outreach, education, and community advocacy will propel her mission to continue bringing environmental health and community building to the forefront of Gary, Indiana.

 
 
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Elsa Barron

Indiana Green Teams Outreach Support | she/her

Elsa Barron is the Green Teams Outreach Support for Faith in Place in Indiana, formerly known as Hoosier Interfaith Power and Light. She grew up in Wheaton, IL, and attended the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, IN, where she studied biology, peace studies, and sustainability.

 

Elsa has a passion for environmental peacebuilding and believes that faith communities have a powerful role to play in it, from a local to a global scale. She is an advocate with Young Evangelicals for Climate Action and attended COP26 this last fall through the Christian Climate Observers Program, where she was inspired by a global, youth-driven movement for climate justice.

 

She has written about the intersections of faith and climate action in the Chicago Tribune, the South Bend Tribune, and the Indianapolis Star, and her faith-based activism has been featured in Inside Climate News and Rolling Stone.

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Ramont "Ray" Bell

Director of Programs | he/him

Ramont is the Director of Programs at Faith in Place. In his current role, he carries the overall responsibility for achieving measurable impacts for environmental justice across all 5 program areas by supervising program staff, budgets, tracking of KPIs, creation of programs, and implementation. Ray also coaches 3-5 Green Teams.

Previously, he served as Outreach Coordinator for the Water Preservation program at Faith in Place.  He was responsible for overseeing and facilitating the improvement of storm water management systems at houses of worship in the Calumet region. The Water Preservation program includes storm water audits, green infrastructure planning, water audits and retrofits, and utilizing Faith in Place’s Interfaith Water Curriculum.

Ramont joined the Faith in Place staff in February 2016. He has a passion for economic/social justice and environmental issues, especially water preservation.

Previously, he worked for AT&T in various engineering positions. His last position was the Area Manager of Engineering and Planning for Illinois and Wisconsin. He received his Bachelor of Science in Industrial Technology and Education from Chicago State University, his Master of Science degree in Information Systems and Telecommunications from DePaul University, and his Professional Certificate in Watershed Management from Purdue University.

 
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Princess Harris

Sustainable Food & Land Use Senior Coordinator | she/her

Princess joined Faith in Place in March 2018. She is the Sustainable Food & Land Use Senior Coordinator, managing the Winter Farmers Markets, Migration & Me, and other related programs. Previously, she served as Outreach Coordinator for the Migration & Me program.

Princess’ interest in the environment started as a child when she would go into the Van Vlissingen Prairie & Wetland (now known as the Marian R. Byrnes Natural Area) with nothing but two dogs and the curiosity of a “cat” looking for some plant or creature to bring home. Having access to that area fueled her passion for all things green (watch her hike there!) and it is that experience that she wants to bring to all through the Migration & Me program.

Princess has worked on and managed an inner city farm, farmers market and understands the importance of having access to fresh fruit and vegetables. Princess hopes to use that knowledge to support Faith in Place’s mission to care for the Earth. Princess has a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies from Northeastern Illinois University and is working on her Master of Public Policy at Northwestern. She is honored to be part of Faith in Place and lives by the quote “There is no planet B.”

 
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Samantha Miller

Energy & Climate Change Outreach Coordinator | she/her

Samantha educates and engages people of faith with Faith in Place’s Smart Energy programs that help individuals and faith communities save money and reduce their environmental impact.

Before joining the Faith in Place team in July 2014, 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 holds a B.A. in Business Management with a concentration in Accounting.

"I work at FIP because I want to do my part in helping people to care for our planet.  I know a little about global warming and why we are getting these severe weather patterns.  But working at FIP has inspired me to learn more about how I can make a significant difference by becoming a good steward of our beautiful Earth.  People need to know that we only have this one planet and one chance to get it right!"

 
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Cesar Almeida

Youth Empowerment Coordinator | he/him

“The preservation of ancestral form is meaningless without a genuine development program.” As an artist, educator, and global meaning maker, Cesar designs artistic and educational programs for youth and young adults to conserve and uphold ancestral forms, which include environments, cultures, and languages. This work challenges Western Colonial approaches to education by centering the learner’s identity, embodying youth led approaches, and validating new media as literacy.

 

Ultimately, Cesar recognizes that the environment is not only about the birds, bees, and trees but is about the places we live, learn, eat, and sleep.

 
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Rev. Scott Onqué

Policy Director | he/him

Pastor Onqué currently serves as Pastor of St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church, a 100-year-old historic church on the south side of Chicago. He has served in this capacity for 14 years. Under his leadership the church has grown tremendously both spiritual and numerically. Pastor Onqué has a passion for teaching and preaching the Word of God. Pastor Onqué is very civically and socially conscious.

 

He serves on several community boards and commissions and realizes that volunteering his time in community efforts is an integral part of his ministry. He is currently the President of the Congress of Christian Education Department of the Salem Baptist District Association of Chicago and Vicinity. He currently serves as the Treasurer of Baptist General State Convention of Illinois. Pastor Onqué also serves as a commissioner for African American Families Commission for the State of Illinois.

 
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Christina Krost

Policy Senior Coordinator | she/her

Christina Krost (long o, rhymes with "most") grew up in suburban Detroit and holds a Bachelor of Arts from Albion College and an MAT from Marygrove College.

 

She taught in both public and private schools in Illinois and Michigan for 10 years before starting her ministry in creation justice. She joined Faith in Place in March 2015 to organize Houses of Worship around smart energy programs in Central and Southern Illinois. In addition to her work at Faith in Place, she is Vice President of the Illinois Great Rivers Conference United Methodist Women and Chair of her conference's Church & Society board.

 

She is married to Todd, an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church, and has 3 daughters. The family lives in Mattoon, IL. 

 
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Alexander Malchow

Wisconsin Policy Coordinator | he/him

Alexander Malchow lives in Madison, Wisconsin, and is the Wisconsin Policy Coordinator for Faith in Place.

 

He received his Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies and is working toward completing his Master in Public Administration from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

 

Alexander is passionate about environmental and social justice, advocacy, and politics. Before joining the Faith in Place team in June 2022, Alexander's interest in justice led him to co-found Housing Navigation Services of Dane County. A program assisting individuals, families, and young adults, to get housed quickly and systematically.

 

In his free time, Alexander enjoys bicycling, coaching basketball, reading, and volunteering in his community. 

 
 
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Katie Maxwell

Communications Senior Coordinator | she/her

Katie joined Faith in Place in August 2017. In her current role as Communications Senior Coordinator, she manages Faith in Place's social media and website, supports database management with a focus on communicating to supporters and optimizing their user experience, and is an active member of planning the organization's largest annual events, such as the Green Team Summit, Annual Advocacy Day, and Annual Celebration & Fundraisers. Katie and Lauren also co-host Faith in Place's podcast: Voices of the Earth!

Prior to taking on her current role in January 2019, she served as the Communications Support person. Katie initially came to Faith in Place through the Lutheran Volunteer Corps—a service year program that emphasizes simple, sustainable living, intentional community, and spirituality—to manage the Winter Farmers Market program during its 2017-2018 season. 

Katie lives out those values passionately and eagerly incorporates them into her work. She believes we cannot achieve a healthy environment without racial justice, and is thrilled to work toward environmental justice with Faith in Place. She is proud to be on a team that readily names how racism intersects with health disparities and food insecurities and also seeks to address these inequities across Illinois.

In 2017, she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental Studies and German with a concentration in Management Studies from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. During college, she interned at The Field Museum's Keller Science Action Center, researching policy related to monarch butterfly rehabilitation in Chicagoland’s 284 municipalities. Katie enjoys using the knowledge she gained from that research to support Faith in Place’s Migration & Me program as well as its other programs.

 
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Lauren Paris

Media Relations Coordinator | she/her

Lauren serves as a Media Relations Coordinator at Faith in Place. She recently graduated from DePaul University, earning a Bachelor of Arts in both Journalism and Environmental Studies with a focus in sustainability. Her passion for environmental justice and environmental communications grew from her experience working as a freelance environmental journalist and writer—covering climate change and environmental justice issues in Chicago.

Lauren also served as the President and Director of Communications for DePaul’s chapter of the Climate Reality Project—a student-led organization focused on increasing the Catholic University’s sustainability initiatives. More recently, Lauren worked to conduct research and co-author a chapter for the Routledge Handbook of International Trends in Environmental Communications on youth-led environmental movements and climate change communication in the digital era of activism.

Growing up in a working-class, single-parent household on the southwest side of Chicago and surrounding suburbs, Lauren became passionate about writing and communicating issues of injustice that she witnessed in her own community and across the world. She is passionate about utilizing her strong writing, storytelling, and communications skills to advocate for just climate solutions and healthy communities, while working to empower and educate diverse communities of faith through her work at Faith in Place. Check out Voices of the Earth—a podcast she co-hosts with Katie—to learn more!

 
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Kira Dault

Communications Director | she/her

Kira serves as the Director of Communications for Faith in Place. Her personal mission statement is “To wield empathy, creativity, and collaboration to advance positive change and justice in the world.” She has a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Allegheny College and a Master of Theological Studies from Vanderbilt University. 

 

Kira spent her early career as a hospital chaplain for a pediatric trauma center. That early work in chaplaincy continues to inform her work in nonprofit communications. Kira brings more than a decade of eclectic experience to her role at Faith in Place including communications strategy, digital communications, and advocacy strategy. 

 

Kira’s passion for environmental justice stems from her passion for democracy, abolition, and racial justice. She lives the Hyde Park neighborhood in Chicago with her family, including her husband and two children.