Tasha Morrison is a bridge-builder, reconciler and a compelling voice in the fight for racial justice. Ebony Magazine recognized her as one of their 2017 Power 100 for her work as a community crusader and in the fall of 2018 she was named one of 115 Changemakers by Facebook who will work with their Community Leadership Program to bring the world together.
Tasha has taken her message to audiences across the country at events that include: IF: Gathering, Justice Conference, Youth Specialties, Catalyst, Q, Barna's State of Pastors Conference, Orange Conference, MOPS International and many others.
A native of North Carolina, Tasha earned degrees in human development and business leadership. After excelling in corporate positions, she began working on staff at churches in Georgia and Texas. At the heart of this incredible woman is encouraging racial reconciliation among all ethnicities, to promote racial unity around the world, and to develop others to do the same.
To this end, in 2016 Tasha founded Be the Bridge to inspire and equip ambassadors of racial reconciliation. Her team has developed curriculum, discussion cards, and other resources. It is her desire to build a community of people who share a common goal of creating healthy dialogue about race. In addition to equipping more than 600 groups around the country, Be the Bridge hosts a closed, moderated online community of bridge-builders on Facebook with more than 15,000 members. The group has been a forum for learning, as members from different ethnicities practice the BTB values of grace, humility, truth-telling, respect, repentance, reconciliation.
Be the Bridge builds partnerships with organizations who have a similar heart for diversity, racial justice, restoration and reconciliation. This collaboration includes speaking, training and consulting work with churches, para-churches, and ministry leaders in their work of reconciliation within their organizations.
When not captivating audiences with her dynamic presentations and conscious-raising workshops, Tasha can be found drinking tea, laughing with friends and watching Christmas movies year-round.
SANDRA VAN OPSTAL
Sandra Van Opstal, a second-generation Latina, is the Executive Pastor at Grace and Peace Community on the west-side of Chicago. She is a liturgist and activist who is passionate about re-imagining worship that mobilizes for reconciliation and justice.
In her fifteen years with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Sandra mobilized thousands of college students for God’s mission of reconciliation and justice in the world. Sandra served as Director of Worship for the Urbana Missions Conference, Chicago Urban Program Director, Latino National Leadership Team (LaFe), and Northwestern University Team leader (Multiethnic fellowship).
Sandra’s influence has also reached many others through her leadership and preaching on topics such of justice, poverty, racism, racial identity, reconciliation, and global mission. She has been featured at Wheaton College, North Park University, The Justice Conference, Evangelical Covenant conferences, Willow Creek Association conferences, and various churches. Sandra serves as a board member for Evangelicals for Justice and the Christian Community Development Association. Sandra is also the Worship Director for the Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering in Jarkarta, Summer 2016.
In addition to her ministry experience, Sandra holds a Masters of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Illinois and has been published in multiple journals. She has authored Small Group Leader’s Handbook, God’s Graffiti Devotional, The Mission of Worship and The Next Worship.
Kevin Palau is president and CEO of the Luis Palau Association. Kevin joined the Palau Team in 1985 and began directing the day-to-day operation of the ministry in the late 1990s. Under his leadership, LPA has partnered with tens of thousands of local churches to produce large Christian gatherings in cities around the globe, including major evangelistic campaigns in Washington DC; New York City; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
In 2008, Kevin pioneered the Festival 2.0 model that includes a citywide service initiative preceding the festival event. Designed for long-term sustainability well after the festival, this service initiative also gave birth to Palau’s City Gospel Movement effort which is now focused on celebrating, accelerating, and inspiring hundreds of Gospel Movements in cities around the world. Kevin's unique passion, and the focus of the City Gospel Movements Team, is to inspire leaders to keep evangelism as a central focus in their ongoing gospel movement.
Kevin also helped develop Palau’s Next Generation Alliance, which exists to serve up-and-coming evangelists through mentoring and equipping. The experience and resources that have grown out of decades of work with other evangelists have also helped birth a new movement, working with organizations around the world to create a global network of evangelists.
Kevin holds a degree in religious studies from Wheaton College. He lives in Beaverton, Oregon near LPA’s headquarters with his wife, Michelle. They have three grown children.
BECOMING A RACIAL JUSTICE ALLY
KAREN REECE & HARRY HAWKINS - NEHEMIAH
This breakout will help people understand how Justified Anger, a Black-led initiative, is mobilizing community members of all backgrounds to build a stronger Madison for all. We will discuss the key role non-Black community members play in the fight for racial justice, but it may be different than you expect. Learn how you can leverage your skills and network to maximize your impact as an ally. Harry Hawkins is the Executive Vice President of Nehemiah Community Development Corporation. He brings with him over ten years of management experience in the business world, with a specialization on implementation in the workplace. Mr. Hawkins offers consulting services and training for businesses seeking to improve equity and inclusion for their workforce and programming.Karen Reece is the Vice President of Research and Education, at Nehemiah Community Development Corporation. Dr. Reece is involved in strategic planning and manages a continuous/dynamic evaluation program to ensure forward progress and quality control. She runs an annual public education workshop series on the criminal justice system highlighting racial disparities and delivers training upon request for churches, businesses, and other community organizations. Dr. Reece is the course administrator for Justified Anger's nine week course, Black History for a New Day, and assists with development of racial justice training for white allies.
Jerry Hancock entered the ministry after working for more than 30 years in the criminal justice system. In February 2006, Jerry became the director of The Prison Ministry Project at First Congregational Church, a pastoral ministry of word and sacrament for prisoners inside the walls. Its challenge is to serve prisoners and their families, engage the wider church in prison issues and to be an advocate for prison reform. Additionally, Jerry maintains one-on-one pastoral visits with inmates in several prisons. Jerry is a 1969 graduate of Colorado College with a BA in Political Science, 1972 graduate of the University of Wisconsin Law School and a 2005 graduate of the Chicago Theological Seminary.
MOVING BEYOND EMPOWERING WOMEN TO ELIMINATING RACISM
VANESSA MCDOWELL - YWCA
Vanessa McDowell is YWCA Madison’s Chief Executive Officer, having previously served as the Chief Programs Officer for YWCA and their Director of Support Services. Vanessa is deeply committed to offering programs and services that support women and social justice, help families and strengthen communities. She has a passion for serving others by leveraging voices that have been silenced as well as empowering others to live out their purpose. She works from an empowerment model which aligns with the mission of YWCA Madison which is to eliminate racism and empower women. Prior to joining YWCA, Vanessa worked for UW-Madison’s Wisconsin Equity and Inclusion Laboratory and was the Executive Assistant to the Pastor for Mt. Zion Baptist Church.
Vanessa is born and raised in Madison, WI. She attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology. She has made a commitment to stay and work in the Madison community because of her dedication to this community. In 2016 BRAVA magazine selected Vanessa as one of the 22 “Women to Watch”. She was also selected to participate in the 2015 class of Leadership Greater Madison.
LED BY LOCAL HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS
This breakout is exclusively for high school students and will be moderated by a local community leader.