Jonathan E.L. Brooks serves as Senior Pastor of Canaan Community Church in the West Englewood neighborhood on the south side of Chicago. He is a firm believer in churches investing in their local community. Canaan provides youth development, holistic health options, college scholarships, adult education and support to the incarcerated and their families. Pastah J, as he is affectionately called, is a speaker, artist, community activist and the author of the book “Church Forsaken: Practicing Presence in Neglected Neighborhoods.” He lives in West Englewood with his wife and two daughters.
Andrea Davidson serves as Senior Pastor of Hartzell Memorial United Methodist Church in Chicago, IL and has served in pastoral ministry in New York and California for over fifteen years. Known for her down-to-earth style, engaging delivery, and musical gifts, she is a pastor with a passion for spiritual development, a strong advocate for social justice and an ecumenical leader. She has distinguished herself as a faith-based community organizer focused on violence reduction, ending mass incarceration, educational equity, economic development and jobs for the hard to employ.
William Anthony Ellis Jr. (Bill Ellis) is the Pastor of Apostolic Pentecostal Church of Morgan Park. He’s a graduate of King’s Academy (Destiny Christian School) in San Antonio. Growing up a “PK” (preacher’s kid), he had many experiences that challenged, strengthened and developed his faith.
Bill currently holds a certificate from Los Angeles Recording Workshop and the Musicians Institute of Technology. He has also studied at Trinity International University and Moody Bible Institute.
Bill Ellis is the loving husband of Kellen Denise Ellis and father of two adorable daughters, Eden and Amry Ellis.
Robert Johnson Mr. Johnson is the Managing Partner of The Solomon Group LLC, a management-consulting firm that provides business management, individual and organizational transformation and business intelligence. Prior to becoming Managing Partner, Robert was the Franchise Relations Officer for McDonald’s Corporation’s Central Division. He was responsible for being an advocate for the McDonald’s System and providing leadership to strengthen the relationship between McDonald’s and its Owner/Operators representing the Black McDonald's Owner Operators. Mr. Johnson received his Juris Doctorate for the University of Illinois College of law and dual Bachelor of Science degrees in Economics and Business Administration, and Sociology and Anthropology from Knox College.
Paul David Smith is an educator and Criminologist.. He has been honored as A Distinguished Educator by the National Society of High School Scholars. He has received the Educator of Distinction Award by Rotary Club chapters. The Georgia State Council has honored him with its Leader of Excellence award. He is also listed in the Who’s Who of American Educators.
Paul currently serves as Director for Chicago Bureau of the National Network Safe Communities at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City.
His organizational goals are unity and excellence. He has two children from his marriage. Paul is a member of the ALPHA PHI ALPHA Fraternity.
After graduating from high school and serving three years in the Illinois Air National Guard, Tillmon faced an impossible choice: testify against drug dealers in his community — thereby putting his family at risk for retribution — or face 20 years in prison.He chose prison. While incarcerated, Tillmon had an epiphany. “I realized what was going on in our community. Most of the people in these communities are just in survival mode, and I saw how their responses were not only impulsive, but also reactive. So when I came home, I wanted to do something to change the trajectory of the community.”And do something he did — first as an outreach worker for Ceasefire, the same organization that his predecessor at YSVP, Eddie Bocanegra, worked for when he was featured in The Interrupters. Today, he’s a few months away from a PhD in Criminology, Law and Justice Studies, and he’s the new Executive Director of the Y’s Youth Safety and Violence Prevention
Teny Gross is the executive director of the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago, a new support to reduce violence in some of the city’s neighborhoods most impacted by violence. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Force who also worked with a variety of Israeli and Palestinian groups in support of peaceful coexistence and dignity for all. Teny began his career in ending violence in the United States as a Senior Street Worker for the City of Boston and later was recruited to found and be the CEO of the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence in Providence, RI. Teny has a B.F.A. from Tufts, an M.T.S. from Harvard and a fellowship in Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management from Harvard Business School.
Rev. Dr. Jacque Conway
Jacques A. Conway is an ordained Elder and has served in both associate and senior pastor positions in the Northern Illinois Conference. He was raised on Chicago’s South Side, a member of Rust Memorial United Methodist and, while in college, serving as its Youth Leader and Lay Speaker. He is the first African-American to retire from the Oak Park Police Department, Oak Park, Illinois, as the Senior Sergeant of Patrol, after twenty-four years of service.
Bishop Dyck celebrates Rev. Conway’s experience in ministry and his rich and varied experience. “Rev. Conway brings a passion for justice and mercy through his experiences with people who are in need. He has worked with a diversity of people that will serve him well in the Chicago Southern District,” said Bishop Dyck.
Rev. Dr. Calvin Morris
Minister, historian and human-rights advocate the Rev. Dr. Calvin Sylvester Morris was born in 1941 in Philadelphia. He attended Lincoln University in Oxford, Pennsylvania graduating cum laude in 1963 with a B.A. in history. At Boston University, he earned an M.A. in history in 1964 and an S.B.T. in theology in 1967, when he was also ordained in the United Methodist Church. Morris earned his Ph.D. in American history from Boston University in 1982.
Rev. Morris has served with distinction in leadership roles throughout his career with such notable organizations as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s Operation Breadbasket (now the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition); the African American Studies Program at Simmons College; Atlanta’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Non-Violent Social Change; Howard University’s School of Divinity; the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta and Chicago’s Community Renewal Society.
Rev. Dr. Reggie Williams Jr.
Reginald W. Williams, Jr. was born in Blue Island, IL, and was raised in Chicago, IL. He is a product of the Chicago Public Schools, and holds a B.S. in Business Administration from Florida A&M University School of Business & Industry, a Master of Divinity from the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University, and a law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School. From 2002-2008, he served as Associate Pastor for Justice Ministries under Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. Since 2008, Reginald Williams, Jr. has served as the proud pastor of First Baptist Church of University Park, in University Park, Illinois.