2013/2014 YAVA Alumni Leadership Council
Left to Right: Aaron Stauffer, Luke Rembold, Emily Miller, Emily Brewer, Maggie Leonard, Jason Cashing
(Not pictured: Stephen Speakman, Sarah Leer, Caroline Unzaga)
Jason Cashing – YAVA Moderator
A YAV alum of eleven years now, having served two years at the turn of the century…Currently a husband, a minister in Virginia (a new experience as of the beginning of April), an avid appreciator of the outdoor world, campfires, clear skies, and good beer. I love the fact that I am permitted to continue working with the YAV program, and with the Alumni Network!
Emily Miller – YAVA Vice (co)-Moderator
Emily Miller is the Associate Pastor for Campus and Family Ministry at The Presbyterian Church of Radford. As a YAV in Miami, Emily fell in love with the people of the YAV program through the message that it sought: justice, love, and peace for all people, no matter who you are or where you live. With the ability (or gumption) to talk to anyone she meets, Emily is thrilled to be a vice co-moderator this year after being Team Lead for Recruitment last year, hoping to continue to reach out to lots of people about the brilliance of God’s work through Young Adults.
Maggie Leonard – YAVA vice (co)-Moderator
Maggie Leonard served as a YAV in Guatemala 05/06. Influenced a great deal by her time in the Guat helping lead Bible studies to help increase women’s self-esteem, she now works as the Associate Pastor for Mercy Community Church in Atlanta. While the church is diverse and organically formed, it is comprised primarily of homeless and poor women and men. It is a place where people living on the margins come together as a community and offer one another unconditional love and support. Together they share meals, prayer, Bible study (with a recovery focus), class time (writing, art, and music), and times of trouble and of joy.
Caroline Unzaga – Hospitality Team Lead
Caroline Unzaga served in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2003-4, as a Chaplain’s assistant in a nursing home and as a youth advisor for the local youth group. Something must have stuck, because ten years later, she is still serving in these capacities both in the hospital and church contexts in the global north. She is also happily a wife and mother of two. She loves the YAV program for the amazing and life-changing experiences it provides and still drinks Yerba mate and speaks spanish with an Argentine twist.
I am thrilled to be on the YAVA LC, serving one of my favorite PCUSA programs. I am originally from Fort Smith, Arkansas, and I went to college in Winton-Salem, NC at Wake Forest University. After graduating from Wake in 2003, I moved to Louisville to work at the National PCUSA Headquarters as a Higher Education ministries intern. After my internship, I attended Columbia Theological Seminary, where I earned an M.A.T.S. and a Th.M., with a concentration in Theology. After leaving CTS, I felt called to serve the church through the YAV program in New Orleans. During my YAV year, I led a touring theatre production centered on stories of those affected in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. This tour raised money for rebuilding efforts with the organization Project Homecoming in New Orleans. MY YAV year was a year of exploration, renewal, and discernment. After my YAV year, I felt the call to continue a life of service, which led me to the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock, Arkansas. I earned my Master of Public Service in 2011, and then took a position as the Managing Director for a non-profit theatre for youth in Bentonville, Arkansas, Trike Theatre. I am grateful for my time as a YAV and even more grateful for the relationships that have been built as an alum.
Luke Rembold – Recruitment Team Lead
Hi friends! My name is Luke Rembold, and I was a YAV 2010-2011 in Tucson, AZ. I served a nonprofit that did emergency home repair for low-income residents of the area, and it was fantastic! Every day of work I had something to look at, tangible proof that I’d changed someone’s life that day. I credit the YAV program for transforming my idea of community–encouraging me to think differently, organically, broadly. Now, I work to try to bring that broad community to the youth of Oregon. I am a youth director at a small church in Eastern Oregon, which gives me ample opportunities to do many of the things I love, including music, backpacking, playing tennis, and being barefoot.
Emily Brewer – Social Media and Communication Team Lead
I am grateful to be a part of the YAVA Leadership Council as a way to stay connected to and give back to a program that changed my life and continues to give me life. I served as a YAV in Guatemala 2009-2010 and in Nashville 2010-2011 where I learned that community and family comes in many forms and takes a lot of work and communication. I also found out along the way that advocacy and political activism is often a spiritual experience for me. My experiences as a YAV helped lead me to Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York where I am a student and seeking ordination in the Presbyterian Church (USA). I love writing, running, and cooking with other people and am excited to get to connect with even more YAVA through the Leadership Council.
Stephen Speakman – Advocacy Team Co-Lead
My name is Stephen Speakman. I grew up in Western Pennsylvania, and currently I live in Atlanta, Georgia, where I’m a student at Candler School of Theology (Emory University). I served as a YAV in 2006/07 in Nairobi, Kenya, where I worked as the communications staff for Church World Service East Africa. During my year as a YAV, I felt especially supported by other volunteers, those in Kenya and across the globe. As a member of the alumni council, I’m excited to find ways that YAV alumni can continue to support one another after their year of service.
Aaron Stauffer – Advocacy Team Co-Lead
Aaron Stauffer is a second year MDiv student at Union Theological Seminary in NYC with a focus in Ethics. Passionate about developing communities and building power in civic society, Aaron worked as an IAF organizer through the Young Adult Volunteer of the PC(USA) program in 2010-2011, is currently doing his Field Education with the Poverty Initiative at Union and works for Religions for Peace USA, while remaining active with the Student Christian Movement NYC. He finds himself continually drawn to local, organized responses to deep economic, political disenfranchisement and oppression. He blogs regularly at aaronkstauffer.tumblr.com
Lead Staff Member: Monisha Smith
Adjunct Staff Member: Rob Fohr
Hi! My name is Rob, I’m originally from Tucson, Arizona (where I first became aware of the YAV Program). Currently, I live in Louisville, KY where I work for the General Assembly Mission Council of the PC(USA) in the office of Theological Education & Seminary Relations. I was a YAV in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2005-06, where I served at a human rights organization and a community development center in Greater Buenos Aires. I met my wife, Christine Coy Fohr (Belfast 05-06), through the YAV Program, so I owe a great deal of my happiness to this wonderful program! In addition to serving as a staff resource for the YAVA Leadership Council, I also serve as the treasurer for the Board of Directors of South Louisville Community Ministries (a faith-based social service agency).