With specialties ranging from economic justice to communications and finance, 13 new full- and part-time staff members have joined several national ministries of the United Church of Christ since mid-2019.
Some have stepped into existing positions held by past colleagues who have moved on. Others fill new full-time or part-time posts. Unless otherwise noted in the brief profiles below, they are based in Cleveland. Phone and email contact information for all these staffers can be found here.
Economic Justice Minister: A longtime pastor in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the Rev. Sekinah Hamlin (left), started work Jan. 6 with Justice and Local Church Ministries as a deployed staff member in Greensboro, N.C. She has served nationally as director of the Ecumenical Poverty Initiative and director of faith affairs with the Center for Responsible Lending. The UCC's medical debt initiative sparked her interest in the position and its theological, educational and "movement" potential. "I could not pass up the possibility of addressing both the short-term need of debt eradication and the long-term systemic need to eradicate predatory debt traps, immoral lending policies, and unjust wage and worker justice issues that further exacerbate economic inequality and are barriers to home ownership and wealth creation."
Generosity Officer: The Rev. Jessica Shine (right) joined the staff of the Office of Philanthropy, Technology, Identity and Communication on Jan. 6, and will be working from Portland, Ore. Her background includes work as an Adventist pastor in California and a chaplain in police and hospice settings. "Part of my passion is about helping people reorient themselves to the resources we share. My calling is to educate and create experiences of generosity, in how we live and love every relative on this planet. Out of many other organizations and denominations, it is my belief that the United Church of Christ is best positioned to call us back to remembering ourselves in the greater story – through the lens of radical inclusivity, justice for earth and ‘othered,’ and in the call to personal examination and accountability of faith."
Minister for Ministerial Support and Accountability: The Rev. Tara Barber (left) brings a staff background with several UCC Conferences to her work with the Ministerial Excellence, Support and Authorization team, begun Dec. 1. Nationally in the UCC, she has been involved in boundary training events and "communities of practice" and contributed to the widely used "A Sure Foundation" resource. "MESA has a history of engaging best practices and navigating the landscape of ministry so that clergy may flourish and better serve our communities. This ministry we are called to is complex, difficult, heart-rending and necessary. We need one another, we need opportunities to grow in skill and understanding, and we need guides to help us navigate the bounds of our work and actions in order to be about this ministry for the long term."
Online Communication Specialist: Jessica Quinn (right) has been cranking out news of the UCC's policy work since joining the Washington, D.C., staff July 16. She previously worked as a communicator with the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire, and, as a UCC member, was already a fan of the Capitol Hill office. "I was an eager consumer of the JPANet newsletters, action alerts and social media that I now play a role in creating. It has been a blessing to me, and at times feels surreal, to be in this place, surrounded by these wonderful people, and to feel like I too have a hand in working toward a more just world for all."
Digital Marketing Specialist: Promoting UCC messages via email and other digital means is the work of David Sarkies (left), who joined OPTIC July 1 with a digital background with such firms as Telos Alliance, Budget Dumpster and Marrell Music. "I was interested in moving into the nonprofit world with an organization whose mission I believe in. I knew the UCC was a progressive denomination, so it seemed like a great fit. I look forward to doing my part to advance the UCC’s many social justice initiatives."
Senior Relationship Manager: Rob Herrick (right) started work with the Cornerstone Fund June 17, bringing a background in leadership with Fountainhead Commercial Capital, Government Loan Solutions, National City Bank (now PNC), Sterling Bank and other firms. He travels the UCC, building relationships with members, local churches and related institutions that use, or might use, the services Cornerstone provides. "Working for Cornerstone has been a pleasure. It's nice to work in such a positive environment. The support from my supervisors and coworkers has been excellent."
Also new to the national staff (working part-time unless otherwise indicated) are the following. Web and Digital Specialist Waide Harris joined OPTIC permanently on Jan. 20, having worked part-time since May 2019 … 3 Great Loves Coordinator Kimberlee Vasko started Jan. 6, working from Illinois … Ted Gannon began temporary work Dec. 9 in the payroll department ... Assistant Controller Karen Hoge joined the Church Building and Loan Fund staff on Nov. 19 … Program Assistant Sherri Smith started Nov. 1, working full-time in the Office of Events Management … Erica Poellot, National Coordinator for Overdose and Drug Use Ministries, began work with the Health and Wellness Advocacy team Nov. 1. She is based in New York City … Vice President of Sales and Chief Lending Officer Jeanine Colozza began work Sept. 3, full-time, with the Cornerstone Fund.