2015 Hope Talks
During the HOPE Gathering, we have the opportunity to hear from a number of Christian women as they share how God offers us hope and empowers us to be agents of His Hope in our world. We intentionally seek out inspirational speakers from New York City who have particular insight into our cultural context as women living in NYC, and who come from many different walks of life.
Below you will find the 2015 speakers' bios by clicking on each speaker's name.
Dimetra Barrios was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. Despite the challenges of the urban community she faced in her younger years, Dimetra was dedicated to staying in her home town of Brooklyn in order to witness the power of God move to provide change and hope. In the past, she worked for the Dodge YMCA, where she led an after school program, dance classes, and a gym class for high school students. Having a passion for understanding relationships and theology, Dimetra studied at Liberty University in the area of Psychology, Christian Counseling and Biblical Studies.
Currently, Dimetra is the Family Ministries Pastor at Trinity Grace Church Crown Heights, which is a multi-ethnic church parish in Brooklyn. She is also the co-director of the Crown Heights Summer Arts Camp. She and her husband have two children and they are looking forward to how God is going to continue to use them, as a family, to serve their community.
Carly Byrd has lived in New York City since 2002 and has over 13 years experience in the finance industry. She currently works at Deutsche Bank specializing in US taxation and chairs the Securities Industry SIFMA corporate actions society tax committee. She is native Hawaiian and lives in Harlem with her husband Ashley, two daughters, and dog.
Deahna Calgaro holds a master’s in counseling from Geneva College. Her graduate training specialized in marriage and family counseling. Deahna is a licensed professional counselor in the state of Pennsylvania and a nationally certified counselor. Before moving to New York, Deahna worked in private practice for four years in Pittsburgh where she also participated with the Christian Counselors Collaborative, serving clients and helping in the training of graduate interns. Deahna counsels individuals, couples and families. Her areas of interest include sexual abuse, eating disorders, personality disorders, codependency, depression and anxiety, and relationship issues surrounding communication, boundaries and intimacy. Deahna and her husband, Scott, enjoy good food, reading and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Tatiana Mahoney’s first introduction to Operation Exodus was in 1994, when she began serving as a mentor. At the time, she was working as a research assistant for Cronkite-Ward, a documentary production company. Later, she worked at CBS News, and then as an editor at Parents.com, which is where she learned to be a portal for relevant information for parents looking to improve their parenting skills.
The position of Parent Coordinator at Exodus came at an opportune time, when Tatiana had to leave her job to care for her mother, who was battling cancer. After her mother passed away, Tatiana felt the best way to honor her legacy, which included her passion for education, was to continue at Exodus, and it became a true calling.
Tatiana works hard to ensure that every family gets support based on the family’s needs, helping parents feel “empowered,” to become positive role models at home, and strong advocates for their children within the school system.
Native Philadelphian Carolyn Harrison currently lives and serves as Metro Director in the Greater Bronx for Young Life. A trained theater arts educator for twenty years, Carolyn began her second career as a youth minister with Young Life in East New York, Brooklyn as the Area Director. Carolyn completed her undergraduate and graduate studies in Theater Arts at Bucknell University and Antioch University-McGregor School respectively. She completed a Master of Divinity at Nyack College-Alliance Theological Seminary in 2015.
Carolyn is advancing her work as a theater professional by creating a performance piece entitled Precious Metals which highlights the parallel nature of struggles and victories experienced by women regardless of their historical, geographical, or cultural context. Carolyn will showcase Precious Metals in December 2015 as an offering of thanks for completing her Master of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.
Additionally, Carolyn serves on the Intercessory Board of Community2Community (C2C), a grassroots organization dedicated to building self-sufficient communities by working alongside the Haitian community of Petit Goâve as they recover from the staggering effects of the 2010 earthquake.
Newly married, Carolyn is grateful for the partnership with her husband, Eric Harrison, whose creative inspiration and loving support enables her to pursue life at full capacity. Of all her accomplishments, Carolyn is most proud of her ministry as a parent to two young adults and one teen, two daughters and a son, for whom she prays daily that they might become the world changers that God intends.
Elysabeth Ratto is the editor-in-chief of re.write magazine, an online magazine that she and her husband started in 2012 in which they profile ordinary people who have been transformed by an extraordinary God. She received a B.A. in Literary Journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She has written for publications such as The Orange County Register, The New University, Yonhap News Agency, and she was an international news reporter for TBS eFM, an English radio station in South Korea. After a couple years of daily, news-based journalism, she desired to return to the long form, narrative-based literary journalism that she fell in love with. Hoping to combine that with her love for Jesus, re.write magazine was birthed.
Elysabeth, her husband Mark, and their 10-month-old daughter Colette, live in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, where they can often be seen picnicking in Prospect Park or strolling through the beautiful nearby neighborhoods that Brooklyn has to offer.
Lolita Jackson, a 25 year resident of Manhattan, is Chief of Staff to the Senior Advisor to the Mayor for Recovery, Resiliency & Infrastructure in the NYC Mayor's Office. Prior to her 10 years of government service, she was a finance professional for 14 years in product management, business development and marketing, managing a $10 billion product line. Outside of work, Lolita is a Trustee of the Children's Aid Society, President of the University of Pennsylvania Class of 1989 Alumni, a Trustee of the Royal Society of Arts, and a fellow of the US-Japan Leadership Program and the British American Project. A 1989 alumna of the Penn School of Engineering, she is a 2007 winner of the Penn Alumni Award of Merit, the highest honor an alumnus can receive.
Lolita is also a professional singer in her spare time, having graced stages on four continents and Carnegie Hall. A 20 year attendee of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, she has attended and led five missions trips and is a past deaconess, among other leadership positions. She is a survivor of both 9/11 and the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, having worked on the 70th floor of the South Tower, and her 9/11 testimony is featured in two Christian books: Miracles by Eric Metaxas and It’s a God Thing: When Miracles Happen to Everyday People by Don Jacobson.
Lourdes Delacruz is a mom, daughter, friend and connector. Lourdes has been very active in two church plants in Washington Heights; Church of the Heights and TGC Washington Heights. She became a christian in 2014. Started her own connecting business in 2013 called Equip for Success; which connects businesses, individuals, ministries and organizations to the services they need to move forward. She has translated for FEMA and Habitat for humanity and is very involved in community organizing. Her heart for serving the homeless, single moms and people without family have opened doors for her as far as networking and leadership workshops. She is a native Dominican, born there and raised between Dominican Republic and NYC. Lourdes has a 16 year old daughter who she has raised since 7 months pregnant on her own and with the help of God and the people God has placed around them.
Lourdes is currently the program coordinator for a mentoring program called: Whi/Inwood pathways mentoring program in Washington Heights, whose purpose is to provide a mentor for every at risk middle and High school child in NY, starting with Washington Heights and Inwood.
Jessica Minhas is an author, women’s rights activist, humanitarian, social entrepreneur, media commentator, and the founder and CEO of I’ll Go First. For the past 12 years she has worked in media and the anti-trafficking space, helping to craft economic empowerment programs and investigations on behalf of sex trafficking victims, as well as carefully producing inspiring media content on complex human rights issues for audiences around the world.
As the founder and CEO of I’ll Go First, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing hope, healing and purpose to survivors of trauma and abuse, Jessica is dedicated to leveraging media and technology in order to provide remote psychosocial care to marginalized trauma populations throughout the developing world. Everything Jessica does is colored by a commitment to shed light on issues that are normally silenced in shame and offer hope to those without it.
Jessica is also a Global Shaper for the World Economic Forum, a United Nations Global Accelerator, a New York New Abolitionist and is working on her first book- a memoir entitled “I’ll Go First” about searching for, and finding, her biological family. Learn more about her work at www.jessicaminhas.com and www.illgofirst.com.
Charlotte grew up Catholic and was in second grade when she met God, but didn't understand what that meant until she was 16 years old. It was then that she surrendered her heart to Jesus Christ and began to understand what it meant to listen to His Voice in her heart. While in university she responded quickly to God's call on her life to go into missions and nursing. She met her husband, Gary and they spent 15 years in Lima, Peru and established a Wesleyan Church there.
God clearly led the Wileys to Manhattan in 2002 to church plant. In 2007, God allowed them to serve as church planters with Trinity Grace Church Washington Heights. Since moving to NYC, Charlotte has been heavily involved in the ministry of her local church, in the areas of mentoring young women, small group discipleship, and most importantly, in premarital/marital counseling. Gary has recently stepped down as Senior Pastor there and they are currently attending the Good Shepherd Church in Inwood.
Charlotte works part time as a registered nurse in a private dermatology office on the Upper East Side. She has three children and is madly in love with her 7 grandchildren, 5 of whom she actually lives with!
Charlotte has a special place in her heart for nurturing and affirming younger women to hear the Voice of God and discover who He has ordained them to be! "No matter who we are, where we come from, or what our vocation is, we've all struggled in trying to figure out Jesus Christ. His desire is that we fall deeply in love with Him, and as we allow Him to Be our Source, He resides at the core of our being, and we can then understand His heart's desire for our lives, and trust Him to actually show us what that is!"
Suzi Chun-Turley has spent her career in both private and nonprofit sectors helping organizations become more effective. Her private sector experience includes providing senior leaders management leverage at Bridgewater Associates, strategic consulting at McKinsey & Co. and investment banking analytic support for nonprofit and government entities at J.P. Morgan Securities. Her experience supporting nonprofit organizations includes building up a charitable services group at Next Jump, serving as an internal management consultant for the United Nations, and helping to develop one of the nation’s earliest SROI (social return on investment) models for REDF, a social venture fund in San Francisco. Most recently, she was the Director of Social Impact at Tough Mudder.
She received her M.B.A. from Columbia University and B.S. in Operations Research from Columbia School of Engineering. She lives in Washington Heights with her husband David and their two children, Hudson and Margot, and is most likely craving chocolate ice cream right now.
Robynne grew up in a Jewish home in Brooklyn celebrating the Jewish holy days, keeping kosher, and attending Hebrew school. During college she met Jewish people who believed Jesus to be the Messiah. Robynne argued but the things they said continued to reverberate in her mind. One Jewish believer read her Isaiah 53. She thought the reading was from the New Testament because it was clearly talking about Jesus. Robynne looked at other prophecies of Messiah, and it became clear that Yeshua/Jesus is the Messiah.
Robynne has served on staff with Intervarsity and World Vision, and she is now on staff with Chosen People Ministries. She lives in Tel Aviv, Israel. Her focus is sharing Messiah with Israelis. Along with sharing with Israelis in Israel she leads short term teams to reach the large groups of Israelis living or traveling outside Israel in New York, Los Angeles, New Zealand, South America, and India. Robynne is excited about reaching her people in creative and relational ways.
Genevieve Smith is a believer, daughter, sister and friend. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Genevieve and her family relocated to North Carolina when she was in high school to avoid homelessness. Through the ministry of YoungLife, Genevieve responded to God's pursuit of her heart during high school. She seeks to make Him known to everyone she encounters. Genevieve currently works as the Area Director for Young Life in Red Hook, Brooklyn, where she has the privilege of sharing Jesus Christ with teenagers. Red Hook is home to the largest housing projects in Brooklyn. Gee, as her friends affectionately call her, is passionate about making sure that every teen there has had the opportunity to hear the Good News of the Gospel. When she is not building relationships in Red Hook, Genevieve enjoys reading, writing, listening to Underground Hip Hop, and exploring her love for her hometown of Brooklyn.
Genevieve holds a BA in English and Africana Studies from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte as well as a certificate in Urban Youth Ministry from Urban Youth Workers Institute at City Seminary.
Esther Stilwell, Worship Leader
Esther was born in Texas and raised in Fayetteville, Arkansas. She came to NYC via the University of Oklahoma, Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (Shakespeare programme) in London, and 6 years of touring the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Japan and the Caribbean as an actor. During her years touring and performing on Broadway, she developed a deep passion for worshiping through music. She and her husband, fellow Texan and Actor, are grateful to be putting down roots in their beloved neighborhood, Southwest Harlem. She is overjoyed to be serving Trinity Grace Midtown as Worship Director.
Carrie Louer, Emcee
Carrie Louer’s roots are planted in the soil of rural southern Ohio and her wings experience flight in the urban center. She has an undergraduate degree from Miami of Ohio in Communication and a Master’s of Global Urban Leadership from Bakke Graduate University. She loved working among the Buckeyes at Ohio State for 15 years on staff with Cru. She then helped give leadership to the Campus Ministry of Cru as an Executive Director of Campus Field Ministry.
Her love for cities compelled her to live among the diverse people of New York City where she helped launch a ministry to recent college graduates. She loves talking about Jesus, authentic relationships, crossing cultures, strong coffee, fresh flowers, a great novel and a hard run. She is a middle-aged newlywed and loves the story God is unfolding for her. She lives in New Jersey with her husband Bob.
Destinee Rea, emcee
Destinee Rea is a lover of all things creative who has found a home in one of the most creative cities in the world! After graduating from college in 2011, with a degree in Musical Theatre she set out to find a way to live out her passion for theatre and bringing people closer to the holiness and love of Jesus. This pursuit landed her in NYC working for the faith based non-profit CRU Millennials. With a strong conviction that black women will change the world, she is pioneering a non-profit called, BOLD, in order to come alongside black women in theatre to cultivate “whole-hearted” community and contribute creatively to the telling of our stories. Follow her @destineerea
Suzy Silk, founder
Suzy has lived in NYC for the past 9 years, serving on staff with CRU in various roles while also completing her MA in "Bible and Ancient Semitic Languages" from Jewish Theological Seminary. During these nine years, Suzy has helped church planters and been involved in teaching Christians about the Jewish roots of their faith (both in the US and abroad). Suzy preaches on a monthly basis and is in the process of writing her first book and co-authoring a children's Bible curriculum. She and her husband, Sergio, enjoy celebrating the Jewish holidays together and living in Washington Heights – a thriving and diverse neighborhood where they can converse with their neighbors in English, Spanish, and occasionally Hebrew.
Caitie Sangalis, director
Caitie Sangalis is from Colorado and earned her BA in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics from The King's College NYC. She is a freelance editor, event planner, and writer. Prior to embarking on her freelance career, Caitie worked at Q as the content editor. As an ENTJ, Caitie is passionate about trauma, books, buzzfeed, and kickboxing. To de-stress, Caitie likes to organize and write lists. She lives in Long Island City with her husband Ted and their son Augustine and many neatly arranged piles of lists.
Deb Christensen, Chairwoman
Deb Christensen serves in New York City with Cru City. She is a graduate of the University of Nebraska and joined Campus Crusade staff in 1974. She and her husband led the ministry at Dartmouth College for 15 years before assuming the leadership role of Metro Campus Directors for New York City in 1995. They led the NYC Metro Campus ministry until 2007, when Larry and Deb were asked to provide leadership for a comprehensive plan for New York City involving all of the various Cru ministries located in NYC. Larry and Deb now work closely with pastors and other organizations in NYC to find avenues to implement City Serve activities to bless the City.
Beverly Quinlan, Board Member
Beverly is a native New Yorker, who enjoyed a career as a Computer Systems Analyst, Consulting for ADT and Avon Products, but always with a heart for urban ministry. While working full-time, she joined her husband, Sean in a teen evangelism ministry with Youth for Christ in Manhattan and Long Island City. They ministered with YFC for nearly twenty years. Now Sean and Beverly lead the Three Cord Fellowship (married ministry) at Calvary Baptist Church seeking to strengthen marriages and support couples. Beverly also serves as part of Calvary’s Women’s ministry team as coordinator of Women of Influence a Mentoring Ministry. She founded “The Bridge,” a ministry to impact Queensbridge housing projects with the life-changing message of Jesus Christ. She has a passion for unchurched people in NYC especially in underserved communities.
Stacy Clemons, Board Member
Stacy (Gomez) Clemons was born and raised in Bushwick, Brooklyn in NYC. She and her husband planted a church with Trinity Grace Church in Crown Heights. They have four boys and have been married for eleven years. During that time, she has supported her husband in different ministry opportunities in FL, CA, PA, RI, and now NY. Stacy is a first generation college graduate. She has an undergraduate degree in Speech Communications and a Master's Degree in Higher Education. Stacy is currently the Program Manager for Higher and Postsecondary Education at Columbia Teachers College.
liza louw, Board Member
Liza Louw has been involved in church planting and church leadership in South Africa, Brazil, and Madagascar, as well as the United States, for the last 17 years. She is part of the third generation of pastors in her family and God has given her the opportunity to speak in countries all over the world. Liza and her husband moved to New York City in 2011 with their 3 children and are now based at Trinity Grace Church in Brooklyn -- developing leaders and church planters who passionately love The Lord and the city.