FOR National Council
Shaina Adams-El Guabli
Shaina first connected with FOR in 2005 through an Interfaith Peace-Builders delegation, and previously served as a National Council member from 2006-2009. Drawing on her extensive international service — from rural Morocco to Israel, Palestine, and Jordan, and on to aboriginal communities in Australia — she is passionate about global and intercultural education and the ways in which we can leverage learning spaces toward the greater good.
Shaina currently works as associate director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate Student Center, implementing programs, trainings, and workshops. Since 2009 she has served on the university’s Intercultural Leadership Program coordinating team, designing and implementing curriculum. She has previously worked at the Penn Women’s Center, Penn Abroad, and as an AmeriCorps volunteer with Project SHINE, a service-learning organization that supports older immigrants.
Shaina received her B.A. in sociology and religion from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, and her M.S.Ed. in intercultural communication from Penn’s Graduate School of Education. Through her studies, Shaina focused on discourse and communication across and within diverse communities, and is particularly interested in the intersections of identity and community-building. Originally from the Gulf Coast of Texas, Shaina now resides in Philadelphia where she is involved in several local organizations, including Christian-Jewish Allies and Philadelphia Jews for a Just Peace.
Isaac Beachy (Vice Chair)
Isaac Beachy, originally from Harrisonburg, Virginia, has been an activist since he first traveled to Colombia in 2002. He now lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and has also lived in Jamaica, Northern Ireland, Cambodia, and El Salvador.
Isaac has organized around Latin American issues in the United States including labor rights, immigration, military funding, and trade agreements. In 2008, he graduated from Goshen College with a bachelors degree in peace, justice, and conflict studies, and soon after left to Colombia on a two-and-a-half year term as a part of FOR’s human rights accompaniment team.
Will Bontrager is founder of Partners in Restorative Initiatives, a non-governmental organization based in Rochester, New York. He has worked in the areas of agriculture and community development for almost a half-century, starting in the mid-1960s in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where he did his alternative service to the Vietnam war. From 1969-71, Will worked in the Biafra region of Nigeria, and for the next 25 years he ran a dairy farm in upstate New York.
Rooted in his faith as a Mennonite/Quaker, throughout the 1980s Will assisted Latin American refugees fleeing political violence in their home countries, who were headed to Canada. In the late 1990s he pursued graduate studies at Eastern Mennonite University, earning a masters in restorative justice and conflict transformation. His efforts as an FOR National Council member have been particularly focused on the impact of U.S. militarism in Latin America.
Laurie Childers (Chair)
Laurie Childers is an artist, ceramics instructor, and singer/songwriter in Corvallis, Oregon. In the 1980s, she worked around the world with artisans building fuel-efficient cookstoves and learned much about the effect of policies upon the lives of real people as well as the land. Her web site is www.lauriechilders.com. [Photo: (c) Mina Carson]
Informed by many spiritual traditions, Laurie attends Quaker meeting and appreciates the 400-year-old commitment to nonviolence and justice, and the openness and shared responsibility of the process. Her first project for the Fellowship of Reconciliation, at the national level, was organizing a music video to help inspire the nonviolent Green Movement in Iran:
Lily Tinker Fortel
Lily Tinker Fortel is a 2015 Master of Divinity graduate of Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York. Lily brings a depth of experience in collaborative and community-rooted civic and societal engagement, her commitment to synthesizing big-picture analyses with compassionate understandings of lived experiences, and a deep passion for nurturing holistic wellness and healing at all levels [individual, communal and societal] to the work for realizing visions for a peaceful and socially and economically just world.
Prior to her graduate studies, Lily was a community organizer at GRO – Grass Roots Organizing in central Missouri; and peace educator and community outreach coordinator at Mid-Missouri Peaceworks. Holding a B.A. from Earlham College’s Peace and Global Studies program, Lily was also awarded a Luce Foundation Fellowship toward interreligious and cross-cultural studies at Gadjah Mada University in Jogjakarta, Indonesia in 2013. She co-coordinated the April 2013 International Buddhist Christian Conference: A Dialogue Between Engaged Buddhists and Liberation Theologians and co-organized the Martin Luther King, Jr. Symposium on Community Economic Empowerment in April 2014.
In April/May 2008, Lily was part of a 19-member civilian diplomacy delegation to Iran, organized by the Fellowship of Reconciliation. Lily has planned direct actions, facilitated workshops, and spoken locally, regionally, and nationally. A third-generation member of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, Lily is thrilled to serve as a member of the National Council.
Max Hess is an attorney in private practice. Originally from redwood country in Northern California, with later sojourns in Germany, Washington State, Israel, New York State, and Texas, he now resides in Atlanta, Georgia.
Since the 1980s, he has been involved in issues pertaining to the death penalty and, more recently, in criminal justice reform efforts to find alternatives to incarceration. Beginning in the 1990s, he has represented numerous religious organizations on amicus briefs in the effort to bring LGBT people within the protections of the U.S. Constitution. He was a plaintiff challenging voter ID requirements, and involved in other efforts to assure fair elections.
Remembering those redwoods, he’s always been fascinated by ancient conifer species and now sings with the choir of St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in DeKalb County, Georgia.
Rev. Jeff Hood
Rev. Jeff Hood is a theologian (MDiv and ThM), historian (MA) and bioethicist (MS) by academic training. Presently, Jeff is constructing a queer theology in completion of a doctorate at Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University. A graduate of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Jeff is an ordained Southern Baptist minister.
A passionate activist, Jeff serves as the executive director of Center for Theological Activism and as a pastor to a multitude of persons. In conjunction with his work at the Center, Jeff serves as a member of the board of directors of the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, convener of the North Texas Fellowship of Reconciliation, as North Texas area director of Pastors for Texas Children and as a spiritual advisor on Texas’ death row.
In 2013, Jeff’s work as an organizer and activist was recognized by PFLAG Fort Worth’s Equality Award. A visionary writer, Jeff has written three books: The Queer: An Interaction with The Gospel of John, The Queering of an American Evangelical and The Sociopathic Jesus, and writes regularly at revjeffhood.com.
Jeff is married to a brilliant artist named Emily and has three beautiful young sons — twin toddlers, Jeff and Phillip, and infant, Quinley. Throughout his life and work, Jeff lives and works prophetically out of the juxtaposition of being a Southern queer Christian. You can follow him on Twitter @revjeffhood.
La Trina P. Jackson
Trina, a Georgia native, has been waging peace with the Atlanta FOR chapter since 2008. Through this connection she became a delegate for the inaugural African Heritage Delegation of Interfaith Peacebuilders to Israel and Palestine in 2011. Additionally, Trina serves as a board member and community leader for her local mosque, Muslims for Progressive Values.
She teaches high school science in Atlanta, where her other community activating/agitating work is human rights and education oriented, including: growing justice in the US criminal justice system, raising awareness about Palestine/ Israel, inter-religious peacebuilding, and local food security.
Trina lives with her spouse on an urban farm raising food, goats, chickens, and bees.
Doug’s move toward activism started in quiet ways in the weeks surrounding February 15, 2003. The policy of “Shock and awe” affected him deeply, and as they affected countless people in very real ways Doug began to work to honor the lives being lost. With support from the Fellowship of Reconciliation, starting in 2008 Doug worked with others to place markers for civilian Iraqis, Afghans, and Pakistanis (killed by drones) in a number of cities through the Iraq Memorial to Life initiative.
Doug is part of a team of international supporters of the Afghan Peace Volunteers encouraging participation in Global Days of Listening and the 2millionfriends.org campaign. He traveled to Afghanistan in September 2011 through the auspices of a clean water delegation sponsored by FOR. Doug lives in Olympia, Washington, with his spouse Jody.
Mark Meade is the assistant director of the Thomas Merton Center in Louisville, Kentucky, which is the official repository of Merton’s manuscripts. Thomas Merton was a peacemaker and an influential member of FOR in the mid-20th century. Mark has lectured on Merton in the United States and Argentina, and published in Spain and the United States.
Mark is a member of the steering committee of the Louisville FOR chapter. He also serves as a board member of the Kentucky Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.
Jim Murphy served in Vietnam in 1966 and again in 1968 as a 1st MOB Radioman (AF). After returning home, he joined Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) while attending the University of Maryland. After Dewey Canyon III in Washington, D.C., Jim became very active in protesting the war and helping addicted and homeless Vietnam veterans. He participated in VVAW’s Statue of Liberty demonstration at Christmas of 1971.
After the war, Jim was director of education at Shon Tai Wilderness School (an alternative to lockup for juvenile delinquents). Following graduate school at Indiana University, Jim became dean at Westside Alternative High School in New York City, where he spent 25 years working with at-risk youth. He started New York Vets Speak Out, providing truth-in-recruiting to 50-plus schools per year. Currently Jim provides counseling and outreach to Iraq and Afghanistan vets in need through Veterans Sanctuary, near his home in Ithaca, New York.
Bill Northrup is a certified pastoral counselor who holds a doctorate of ministry from Vanderbilt University and was a fellow in the American Association of Pastoral Counselors. He joined FOR’s National Council in 2011, upon retiring from his counseling practice after four decades of professional service, at age 71.
Bill moved to Nashville, Tennessee, in the early 1980s from Rochester, New York, having spent most of his life in upstate New York. In Nashville, he has been active in the local peace and justice center, several church congregations, his neighborhood association, and in housing issues, especially Section 8 housing for low-income families. Over the years, Bill has travelled and worked in several countries in West and Central Africa and Latin America. He is planning a forthcoming hiking trip to Western Wales and Germany along the North Sea.
Dr. Tashi Rabten is a Tibetan in exile from his native land and a citizen of the United States. In the early 1990s, when fleeing Tibet, he worked with the Tibetan exile government in Dharamsala, India.
Dr. Rabten did his medical training in Tibet and received his degree of medicine there. Since 2005, he has served as executive director of Tibetan Home of Hope, a nonprofit organization based in the United States that works to support orphaned children in his homeland. He lives in New York.
Bill Scheurer (Treasurer)
Bill Scheurer is executive director of On Earth Peace, a Living Peace Church ministry. He holds degrees in religious studies and law, and has worked as a lay minister, lawyer, and technology entrepreneur. Bill and his wife Randi were involved with the peace movement as college students during the Vietnam war, and have been full-time peacebuilders since 2001. They are co-coordinators of the Peace Garden Project — a place for peace in every community.
Bill also was the editor of the PeaceMajority Report — a window on the peace community in America, and is a founding board advisor to Save-A-Vet — dedicated to providing retirement care for military and law enforcement dogs and other service animals. He is active in the intersection of peace with faith and politics, is the author of us & them: bridging the chasm of faith, and has been a peace candidate for U.S. Congress several times.
Sam Smith (R.I.P.)
Reverend Sam died suddenly in December 2014, after several years of distinguished volunteer leadership in FOR at local as well as national levels. Sam was an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren who was deeply engaged with many peace, social justice, and faith-based causes.
Based in Chicago’s western suburbs, Sam chaired FOR’s Chicago chapter and was a member of the Historic Peace Churches/ Fellowship of Reconciliation Consultative Committee. He was a champion of the I Will Not Kill campaign and worked with DePaul University student service learners on this FOR-led national counter-recruitment campaign.
Dr. Rolanda Spencer is an instructor in the justice studies department of Northeastern Illinois University and the co-founder and executive director of Alternative Education Research Institute. She co-founded the organization to assist local community organizations in the research and development of programs that would provide educational opportunities for populations that have been overlooked. For the past decade, Dr. Spencer has worked as an instructor, program consultant and community activist for underrepresented populations, primarily formerly incarcerated youth and adults.
Dr. Spencer has previously taught courses at Loyola University Chicago’s School of Education and has worked with south- and west-side community-based organizations in the research, development and evaluation of programs designed for underrepresented populations. Recently, Spencer accepted the nomination for FOR’s National Council and continues to serve as a board member for the Renaissance Collaborative in Chicago’s historic Bronzeville neighborhood.
Outside of teaching, Spencer has worked as a consultant for Los Angeles Unified School District and the federal Department of Probation District Courts in Inglewood, CA developing empowerment education and reentry programs for the formerly incarcerated. As a consultant, Spencer has worked with organizations in the U.S. and Latin America providing staff development training and program research and development for underserved communities. Dr. Spencer holds an Ed.D. in curriculum and instruction from Loyola University Chicago along with an M.A. in teaching and Instruction as well as an advanced research credential in sociological research from California State University, Dominguez Hills.
Ariel Vegosen is a professional dialogue facilitator, youth educator, interfaith community organizer, public relations expert, writer, performer, activist, and world traveler. Ariel is proud to serve on FOR’s National Council and has traveled to Iran, Israel, and Palestine as part of FOR peace-building delegations. Some of Ariel’s most inspirational work includes the Community of Living Traditions, the Shomer Shalom Network for Jewish Nonviolence, Jewish Voice for Peace, the Teva Learning Center, Jewish Funds for Justice, public relations for Dr. Bronners Magic Soaps, and working to get GMO food banned.
Ariel is committed to nonviolence, liberation, growing organic vegetables, and creating safe spaces where people can share their stories. Ariel is the founder of the Gender Blender Collective – a group designed to address how gender impacts and affects our lives. Ariel is available for speaking tours and facilitating workshops and can be reached by email here. [Photo: (c) Daniella A. Rascón]