White House announces new appointees to faith council
February 4th, 2011
05:54 PM ET

White House announces new appointees to faith council

By Dan Gilgoff and Eric Marrapodi, CNN

The White House announced a dozen appointments to its faith advisory council on Friday, with the leader of the nation’s largest evangelical group and the head of the nation’s leading Christian denomination serving lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people are both on the list.

National Association of Evangelicals President Leif Anderson and Nancy Wilson, head of the and Metropolitan Community Church - the nation’s largest denomination expressly serving LGBT Americans - are among the appointees to the panel, which was launched by President Barack Obama in 2009.

Lynne Hybels, wife if megachurch pastor Bill Hybels – who leads the Willow Creek Community Church outside Chicago, Illinois – is also on the list.

The White House also named Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, Executive Vice President of the Rabbinical Assembly and prominent Jewish organizational leader Susan Stern to the advisory council, which is officially called the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Stern was appointed to serve as chair of the council.

United Way CEO Brian Gallagher is also on the list.

Two other notable appointees are The Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori and Archbishop Demetrios Trakatellis.  Jefferts Schori is the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church and the first woman to hold that role.  Trakatellis is the head of the Greek Orthodox Church of America.

In a statement released by the White House the President said, “I am pleased to announce that these experienced and committed individuals have agreed to join this Administration, and I look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead."

The appointments come late by some estimations. The previous Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships finished and released their report in March 2010. A new council had been expected to come on soon after and continue the work they had begun. In November 2010 the President signed an executive order to implement many of the recommendations of the original council.

Here's the full list of the appointees and brief biographies released by the White House:

Susan K. Stern, Appointee for Chair, President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
Susan Stern currently serves as Special Advisor on Government Affairs to the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), which is a humanitarian assistance organization helping Jews and non Jews in Israel and in more than seventy countries around the world. Ms. Stern also serves as Chair of the New York State Commission on National and Community Service and represented the agency on the Cabinet of Governor David Paterson. Additionally, she sits on the Executive Committee of the Jewish Federations of North America. Prior to her gubernatorial appointment, Ms. Stern was Chairman of the Board of UJA-Federation of New York and President and Chairman of National Women’s Philanthropy of United Jewish Communities. She has also been active in other organizations, including the Leadership Council of Repair the World, the Board of Trustees for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the Dean’s Advisory Committee for the University of Michigan, the Board of Directors for the Schneider Children’s Medical Center of Israel, the President’s Advisory Committee for Hebrew Union College, the Board of Directors of the Peter J. Alderman Foundation, and serves as an Alumni Fellow to the Wexner Heritage Foundation. Prior to her involvement in philanthropic causes, Ms. Stern was the first Director of Quality Assurance at the American Dental Association. She holds a B.A. from the University of Michigan and an M.P.H. from the University of Illinois Medical Center.

Leith Anderson, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
Leith Anderson is the President of the National Association of Evangelicals, an organization formed to facilitate Christian unity, public witness and cooperative ministry among evangelical denominations, congregations, educational institutions and service agencies in the United States. Mr. Anderson has also served as Senior Pastor at Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, Minnesota since 1977. Mr. Anderson is the host of the radio programs, “Faith Matters” and “Faith Minute,” which are broadcast in cities across the country. Mr. Anderson holds a B.A. in Sociology from Bradley University, an M.Div. from Denver Seminary, a D.Min. from Fuller Theological Seminary, and a D.Div. from Cornerstone University.

Andrea Bazán, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
Andrea Bazán is President of Triangle Community Foundation, a philanthropic organization dedicated to building a prosperous and culturally rich region across North Carolina. Ms. Bazán’s career has included work in state government, academia and the nonprofit sector. Prior to joining the Triangle Community Foundation, she was the Executive Director of El Pueblo, a Latino advocacy and public policy organization. Additionally, Ms. Bazán served as a community advocate before the North Carolina General Assembly for several years and held positions at the University of North Carolina School of Public Health and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. She currently sits on the boards of various entities, including Meredith College, the Nasher Museum of Duke University, the Hispanics in Philanthropy Leadership Council, and the North Carolina Institute of Medicine, to which she was appointed by Governor Hunt. For many years, Ms. Bazán served as a member and was Chair of the National Council of La Raza, the nation’s largest Hispanic civil rights organization. Her community and student mentoring work have been recognized by the YWCA, who inducted Ms. Bazán to the Academy of Women in 2010, and by Working Mother Media in New York as well as Bennett College for Women. In 2008, Ms. Bazán was named one of the 100 Most Influential Hispanics by Hispanic Business magazine. She holds a B.A. from Millsaps College in Mississippi, an M.S.W. and an M.P.H. from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Angela Glover Blackwell, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
Angela Glover Blackwell is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Policy Link, a nonprofit organization that strives to advance economic and social equity, improving access and opportunity for all low-income people and communities of color, particularly in the areas of health, housing, transportation, education and infrastructure. Prior to founding PolicyLink, Ms. Blackwell served as Senior Vice President at the Rockefeller Foundation, where she oversaw the Foundation’s Domestic and Cultural divisions. Previously, she founded the nationally-acclaimed Oakland Urban Strategies Council, where she pioneered new approaches to neighborhood revitalization. From 1977 to 1987, Ms. Blackwell was a partner at Public Advocates, a public interest law firm. She serves on numerous boards and was co-chair of the Task Force on poverty for the Center for American Progress. Ms. Blackwell is a frequent commentator on some of the nation's top news organizations. She holds a B.A. from Howard University and a J.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.

Brian Gallagher, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
Brian Gallagher is currently the President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of United Way Worldwide, which is the largest privately supported NGO, has 1,800 local affiliates in more than 40 countries and territories, and engages 2.5 million volunteers. From 2002-2009, Mr. Gallagher served as President and CEO of United Way of America. Under his leadership, United Way focuses its attention on education, income, and health; inviting people and organizations everywhere to give, advocate and volunteer. Mr. Gallagher began his career with United Way in 1981 as a management trainee and progressed to various United Way leadership positions throughout the United States. He holds a B.A. in Social Work from Ball State University and an M.B.A from Emory University.

Bishop Mark Hanson, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
Bishop Mark Hanson is the Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Bishop Hanson was elected to this position in 2001 and re-elected in 2007. Before being elected presiding Bishop, he served as bishop of the Saint Paul Area Synod from 1995 to 2001 and before that as pastor of three Minnesota congregations: Prince of Glory Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, Edina Community Lutheran Church, and University Lutheran Church of Hope in Minneapolis. From 2003 to 2010, Bishop Hanson was the 11th President of the Lutheran World Federation, where he represented the global communion of Lutheran churches. Bishop Hanson is on the Executive Council of the Executive Board of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. He holds a B.A. in Sociology from Augsburg College, and was a Rockefeller Fellow at Union Theological Seminary in New York, where he received an M.Div. Bishop Hanson was also a Merrill Fellow at Harvard University Divinity School and has been the recipient of honorary degrees from several colleges and universities.

Lynne Hybels, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
Lynne Hybels is co-founder and Advocate for Global Engagement at the Willow Creek Community Church, a religious organization committed to maximizing individual life-transformation as well as encouraging effective leadership of local churches. For two decades, Mrs. Hybels has been involved in Willow Creek's ministry partnerships in under-resourced communities in Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East. She has written inspirational books and articles focusing on global poverty, HIV/AIDS, and Israeli-Palestinian peace. Under her leadership, Willow Creek is establishing an Advisory Board on Middle East Engagement. Mrs. Hybels is currently a board member of the Africa Advisory Board at Willow Creek Community Church and recently served on the U.S. Board for World Vision. She holds a B.A. in Social Sciences from Bethel College.

The Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
The Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori is the 26th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, where she serves as Chief Pastor and Primate to the Episcopal Church’s members in 16 countries and 110 dioceses. Bishop Jefferts Schori is the first woman to head any of the 38 member churches of the world-wide Anglican Communion. From 2001 to 2006, she served as Bishop of Nevada. Between 1994 and 2000, she served as a priest in Oregon, working closely with the Latino community. During this time, Bishop Jefferts Schori was a hospice chaplain, and taught at Oregon State University. Before she pursued her studies for the priesthood, Bishop Jefferts Schori was a research oceanographer. She holds a B.S. in Biology from Stanford University, an M.S. and Ph.D. in Oceanography from Oregon State University, an M.Div. from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, and several honorary doctorates.

Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
Rabbi Julie Schonfeld is the Executive Vice President of the Rabbinical Assembly, the international association of Conservative and Masorti Rabbis, founded in 1901. Rabbi Schonfeld is a leader in world Jewish affairs and an advocate for religious freedom and pluralism. She serves the Jewish and broader religious communities in a number of capacities including as a member of the Global Initiative for Faith, Health and Development of the Center for Interfaith Action on Global Poverty, as a member of the Summit on Religious Leadership in Response to HIV and as a board member of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies. From 2001-2009, Rabbi Schonfeld served as Director of Rabbinic Development for the Rabbinical Assembly. In this capacity, she spearheaded numerous landmark initiatives on behalf of the Rabbinical Assembly in areas such as career mentoring, mediation, dispute resolution, women’s advancement, professional boundaries and ethics. From 1996 to 2001, Rabbi Schonfeld served as the rabbi of the Society for the Advancement of Judaism, an historic congregation on the Upper West Side of Manhattan where she was known for her dynamic preaching, innovative approaches to experiential education and community leadership. She holds a B.A. in history from Yale University, and an M.A. in Hebrew Letters from the Jewish Theological Seminary.

Archbishop Demetrios Trakatellis, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
Archbishop Demetrios Trakatellis is currently the Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Church of America, the Exarch (plenipotentiary representative) of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in the U.S.A., and the permanent President of the Assembly of 65 canonical Orthodox Bishops in North and Central America. In 1999, Archbishop Demetrios was elected by the Ecumenical Patriarchate to lead the Greek Orthodox Church in the United States. He is the spiritual leader of more than 1.5 million Greek Orthodox faithful in the United States and holds leadership and advisory positions in organizations which promote dialogue and reconciliation. Additionally, Archbishop Demetrios is active in interfaith and intercultural dialogues, in religious freedom and human rights advocacy, and in providing Church assistance in national and international cases of major catastrophic events, such as 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and the Tsunami in Indonesia. From 1983 to 1993, he served as the Distinguished Professor of Biblical Studies and Christian Origins at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts and as Visiting Professor of New Testament at Harvard Divinity School from 1984 to 1985 and 1988 to 1989. Having been elected Bishop of Vresthena in 1967 in the Archdiocese of Athens, Greece, Archbishop Demetrios served in this position with special responsibility for the education of the clergy until 1999. In 1968, he was elected Metropolitan of Attika and Megaris, but he did not accept the post for reasons related to the canonical order of the Church. Archbishop Demetrios graduated with distinction from the University of Athens School of Theology in 1950. He also received a Ph.D. (with distinction) in New Testament and Christian Origins from the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in 1972, as well as a second doctorate, namely a Th.D. in Theology, from the University of Athens in 1977.

Sister Marlene Weisenbeck, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
Sister Marlene Weisenbeck is a member of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. Sister Weisenbeck is an officer and past president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, a canonically approved membership organization which exists as a support system and corporate voice for leaders of religious institutes of Catholic Sisters in the United States. She also serves as Chairperson of the Catholic Health Association’s Sponsorship/Canon Law Committee and is a consultant in religious law. Sister Weisenbeck was president of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration from 2002-2010. She is also past president of the National Conference of Vicars for Religious and Chancellor for the Diocese of La Crosse. Sister Weisenbeck holds a B.M. Ed. degree from Viterbo University, an M.M. from George Peabody College of Vanderbilt University, a J.C.L. in Canon Law from Saint Paul University-Ottawa, and a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Reverend Elder Nancy L. Wilson, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
Reverend Elder Nancy L. Wilson is currently the Moderator (Global Leader) for the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches which has hundreds of churches in 38 countries. Rev. Wilson is also one of the nation's leading LGBT pastors. She has been a pastor in multiple Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) congregations including congregations in Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, and California. Rev. Wilson is the former senior pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church of Los Angeles, considered the founding church of the Metropolitan Community Church movement. For twenty years, she served as MCC's Chief Ecumenical Officer, representing the congregation at the National Council of Churches and World Council Churches. Rev. Wilson has been an active voice on HIV issues, prisoner treatment programs, LGBT issues, and women's rights. She holds a B.A. from Allegheny College and an M.Div. from SS. Cyril and Methodius Seminary.

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