Joy Bailey is a national organizer for Crossroads Antiracism Organizing & Training as well as the co-program coordinator for Chicago ROAR, a regional program of Crossroads. She has been a Core/Organizer Trainer since 2008. Joy has her Bachelor’s degree in Spanish Education and her Master’s in Socio-cultural Studies in Education, both from Western Michigan University (WMU). Formerly, Joy taught high school Spanish for six years in Kalamazoo Public Schools (KPS) and also taught courses on race and racism in education at WMU. Although originally from North Dakota, Joy currently lives with her partner in Chicago, IL.
Derrick C. Dawson
Derrick received a bachelor’s degree in English and Linguistics from Northeastern Illinois University. He was also a broadcaster and journalist in the United States Navy, where he served for over 10 years on ships in the Pacific fleet. Derrick Dawson is a member of the Antiracism Commission of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, and served as its Co-Chair for several years. He is currently serving his second elected term as a member of the Standing Committee of the Diocese. Derrick also serves on the Board of Directors of ReVive Center for Housing and Healing Homeless Shelter. Derrick is an Organizer/Trainer and former board member of Crossroads Antiracism Organizing and Training and is currently Co-Program Coordinator for Chicago Regional Organizing for Antiracism, a regional program of Crossroads Antiracism & Training.
Eric Bjorlin is an educator and organizer with a varied and diverse personal and professional history. He spent three years as a HS math teacher, two at a public school in Chicago’s northern suburbs and one at a small, alternative-credit HS in Milwaukee, part of a year-long volunteer program. He also spent 5 years working with schools around walking- and biking-related issues at the non-profit Active Transportation Alliance. He has also worked as a camp counselor, recruiter, tutor, and lifeguard, and spent two months as part of a peace team in Palestine in 2008. eric is currently a Master of Social Work candidate at Northeastern Illinois University. He also considers himself a writer and storyteller, having performed at various live lit shows around Chicago, and enjoys biking, theater, and being outdoors.
Rev. Shawna Bowman is an artist and pastor doing ministry with the creative and justice-seeking folks at Friendship Presbyterian Church in Chicago. Shawna is Co-founder of Creation Lab, an Arts Incubator and Co-op Studio at the intersection of creativity, spirituality and prophetic imagination in Edgewater. Shawna is also Affiliate Faculty and Associate Director of Field Ed & Experiential Education at McCormick Theological Seminary and serves on the Board of Directors at The Night Ministry and the Leadership Team at CROAR.
Vicky Curtiss has been a Presbyterian pastor since 1980, currently serving as Associate Pastor for Mission at Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago. Previously she served churches in Cleveland, Ohio; Tucson, Arizona; Ames, Iowa; and Corvallis, Oregon. Vicky also has been a presbytery executive and director of three non-profit organizations. One focused on community education on Central American issues, another offered retreats for women to explore issues of money, spirituality and justice, and the third was Chicago Lights, which offers youth development and social service outreach in the city. She co-founded and co-staffs the Racial Equity Council at Fourth Church for whom C-ROAR is a resource, and is the Chair of the Interfaith Coalition Against Racism in Chicago. Vicky is also a certified spiritual director and trained in community organizing. She has been married since 1985 to Kent Organ, who is also a Presbyterian pastor. She enjoys quilting, theater, travel, reading, and being in nature.
Nora Gaines is an Adjunct Professor of African-American Studies and an Adult Education Instructor from the southern east coast with experience in community organizing and public policy. She holds a M.A. in African-American Studies specializing in social justice from Columbia University and a B.A. in Sociology specializing in stratification and inequality from the University of Maryland. A committed practitioner of work-life balance Nora enjoys playing with her new cat Dayo, writing, dinner parties and getting lost in reading fiction novels and on the streets of unfamiliar neighborhoods.
Seva Gandhi has been in the field of community development as an organizer and facilitator, locally and abroad, for the past 10 years. She received her Master’s in Social Work (MSW) with a focus on community organizing and nonprofit management from the University of Michigan. She is a Certified ToP Facilitator (CTF) and a ToP Mentor Trainer. Seva supports organizations and initiatives working on social change through her organizational development consulting, facilitation, and training. Seva’s own work focuses on community engagement, environmental justice, and anti-racism. Currently, she serves as the Director of Programs and Partnerships at the Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA), and on the Boards of ICA-International, and the Asset Based Community Development Institute. Seva’s interests involve food sovereignty, riding her bicycle, crafting, and cooking.
Abbi Heimach-Snipes is a Presbyterian pastor and currently serves as Associate rector at St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church in Oak Park, IL. She has a Masters of Divinity from McCormick Theological Seminary and a BA in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies and Religious Studies from the College of Wooster. Some of her past work experience includes teaching elementary special education in Nashville, TN and working in the Hunger and Young Adult Ministry offices of the Presbyterian Mission Agency in Louisville, KY. Inspired by the sense of awe her little child has for the world already, Abbi hopes for, longs for, and organizes for a world where we all can live fully into our humanity.
Kenji Kuramitsu is an organizer and trainer in the Chicago area with cultural roots in the Hawaiian islands. Kenji studies ministry at McCormick Theological Seminary and clinical social work at the University of Chicago. He is the author of A Booklet of Uncommon Prayer: Collects for the #BlackLivesMatter Movement and Beyond. Kenji has served on the boards of directors of the Reformation Project and the Japanese American Citizens League.
Ryan Lents, a Chicago ROAR leadership team member since 2017, is the Director of the Office of Human Dignity and Solidarity for the Archdiocese of Chicago. In this capacity, he works with Catholic parishes and people of faith on a wide range of initiatives, including justice education and programming, advocacy, restorative justice, and fostering partnerships and collaboration between local, state, and national organizations working on issues of Catholic Social Teaching. Ryan graduated from Catholic Theological Union in 2018 with an MA in Justice Ministry, with an emphasis on racial justice, reconciliation, and peacebuilding. Originally from Indianapolis, IN, Ryan and his family reside in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood.
Mary Pat Martin has been an Early Childhood Education professional with experience as a director of an Early Childhood Program. She was a professor at Oakton Community College in Illinois, and a member of the Oakton antiracism team. She has an M.A. in Early Childhood and a Masters in Education. Mary Pat has also been an elementary and preschool teacher and an early childhood education consultant in the Chicago area. She has done extensive consulting and training in culturally relevant and anti-bias education. Mary Pat has been associated with Crossroads for more than 20 years.
Arij Mikati is originally from Lebanon, but thinks of Minnesota as home. She was born the daughter of a diversity organizer, and her mother serves as her greatest mentor and inspiration for her anti-racism work. She has her bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Theater from the University of Minnesota as well as her Master’s in Bilingual Education from the University of North Carolina. Arij has spent her career working as a teacher, teacher coach, and education nonprofit professional. Currently, she is the Managing Director of Persistence at OneGoal, a nonprofit that focuses on college access and persistence for first-generation college students. In her spare time, Arij enjoys exploring the Chicago arts scene, improv comedy, acting, traveling, and playing her ukulele.
Iván A Pérez
Iván A Pérez was born in Puerto Rico but grew up and resides in Chicago. He is the proud partner of Victoria Alvarez, a civil engineer from Colombia, and father of Nicolás, a rambunctious child of God and the person who motivates him to carry on with this work. As a bicultural, bilingual Latinx male in the US, “living on the hyphen” has provided him unique insight into the destructive nature of racism. As a result, Iván has devoted his life to positively impacting the evolution of our society and of our hopeful witness to this world. A founding member of the antiracism ministries of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Iván currently serves as co-lead organizer/trainer for Another Pebble the Metropolitan Chicago Synod Antiracism Team. Iván holds Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Architecture and Master of Management in Organizational Development degrees and spends his days as a Technology Project Manager in the financial services industry. Iván loves reading comic books, spy novels and latino literature and exploring museums with Vicky and Nico.
SOUKPRIDA PHETMISY (SHE/HER/HERS)
Soukprida’s journey in equity work began in Savannah. Ga., teaching middle school students storytelling through performance art and poetry. As a daughter of Laotian immigrants, striving to understand how she can be a good ancestor serves as her driver and passion for this work. Soukprida has spent time in both the arts and education nonprofit sectors as a teaching artist, capacity builder, and learning & development practitioner. Presently, she is the Director of Learning, Development & Culture on the national marketing & communications team at Teach For America, a non-profit focused on developing leaders who work toward eliminating educational inequity for all children. She also sits on the Diversity, Equity, & Inclusiveness Council, Teach For America – Chicago-Northwest Indiana’s transformation team, as part of their inaugural board. She has her B.F.A. in Writing from the Savannah College of Art and Design and trained with NPR’s Next Generation Radio Fellowship on radio journalism and story. When not working, Soukprida enjoys hanging out with her rescue pup, Wilbur, exploring Chicago’s arts and eats scenes, and making her own clothes.
Michael P. Russell
Michael P. Russell has been involved with transforming communities and the lives of its residents for most of his life. Currently the pastor of a church in Country Club Hills, IL, he spent many years doing community organizing with Neighborhood Housing Services, Inc as a Neighborhood Director in Chicago’s West Englewood neighborhood. Michael is president of SOUL, a grassroots coalition of organizations focused on economic justice, leadership training and political responsibility in Chicago’s Southland. Michael has a B.A. in Communication/Philosophy from Augustana College in Rock Island, IL, a Masters of Divinity from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago and has completed post graduate studies at the Keller Graduate School of Business Management in Chicago IL. Michael has been active with Crossroads for more than 15 years. He is partner of Debra, father of three adult children and “Big Papa” to his grandson. They are inspiration for his anti-racism work.
Nina D. Sánchez
Nina D. Sánchez is a proud second-generation Chicagoan with roots in Pilsen and Central Mexico. As the director of Enrich Chicago, Nina collaborates with a network of 31 arts and philanthropic organizations whose goal is to end racism in the arts. She has over fifteen years of experience supporting initiatives and organizations working to advance equity in the Chicagoland area and is currently working to launch an anti-racist, anti-bias learning community for children and families in Chicago. Nina and her partner, Mike, are parents to a high-energy, curious toddler who teaches them something new every day.
Terry A. Solomon
Terry A. Solomon is an advocate, change agent, and visionary leader for social justice on behalf of African-American children, families, and communities. Solomon is the founding executive director of the African-American Family Research Institute, Adjunct Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago Jane Addams College of Social Work, and Results Based Accountability Coach for Sisters of the Academy. Solomon is dedicated to improving the quality of life of communities through family-centered public policy and racial equity programs. Solomon has facilitated the creation of social policy impacting human services in the areas of education, child welfare, and public health, coordinated anti-racism trainings, and co-developed a racial equity assessment for child welfare professionals
Anne Stewart has worked as an Organizer/Trainer for Crossroads since 1992. She believes that her life experience has prepared her to focus on systemic racism. That experience includes: growing up in Mississippi, teaching high school English on Chicago’s South and West Sides, counseling individuals and couples, teaching and social work in an Early Childhood setting, and parenting and grand-parenting African Americans.
Stacy Williams has brought her passion for social justice to bear on her work in the field of education for two decades, working in large city schools from preschool to adults, as a classroom teacher, school administrator, district leader and most recently consulting on school improvement initiatives in Chicago. Her work has centered on addressing the needs of students of color and supporting schools to address challenges such as disproportionality in diverse learner education, college access for underrepresented populations, exclusionary discipline, and becoming trauma responsive. She holds a master’s degree in Trauma and Resilience in Education. Stacy originally is from California and now resides in Chicago, IL with her spouse, Reggie Williams, and their two children. Stacy loves to travel, explore the outdoors, and spend time with her family.
Lynn Woodbury is excited to be a new member of the CROAR leadership team. She was born in Wyoming, but raised in New Orleans where white racism was constantly on display. She received a B.A. from San Jose State University and a PhD in LIterature from the University of California, Santa Cruz. After teaching part time in California, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Illinois, she and her spouse found two permanent teaching jobs in the Chicago area. She taught for 27 years at Oakton Community College in Des Plaines, Illinois, and retired as the Chair of the English Department in 2017. She helped establish and served on Oakton’s anti-racism team for over 10 years. Those years were an education in the effects of racism on an institution and the necessity of making real changes in the culture in order to live up to a mission that promised equity. She enjoys living in Chicago, traveling, swimming, reading, theater, and music, especially jazz. She and her spouse have been married for 39 years and have one son who lives in Manhattan.