meet the...

Young Adult Ministry Team

Mae Helen Jackson

she/her
Program Director, YAGM Leadership Formation

South Africa '14 - 15

Mae Helen Jackson currently serves as the  Director for Young Adults in Global Mission. A life long Lutheran, she has had the pleasure of working for the ELCA in an official capacity since 2017. She was a YAGM herself, serving in the Southern Africa program in 2014-15. Working with young adults is her way of living out her faith and she is so excited to accompany you on this journey. She is the mom of an awesome 2 year old and loves astrology and all things Marvel.

Email: maehelen.jackson@elca.org

Jenna Leazott

she/her
Manager, Young Adult Networks and Alumni Engagement

Mexico '18 - 19

Jenna is the Manager for YA Networks and Alumni Engagement, so she is your go-to now for all things YAGM! She studied Sociology, Political Science, and Women's and Gender Studies at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin and her parents are very surprised that she is gainfully employed. She spent her YAGM year in Mexico City accompanying migrants at a shelter and eating more tortillas than man was meant to consume. She loves to connect young adults with what they're passionate about and thrives in holy troublemaking. Jenna considers herself to be a fanny pack aficionado and loves reading, embroidering, cross-stich, and generally any other old lady activity. Her favorite activity is napping, butterflies are her #1 enemy, and she will talk your ear off about nuclear proliferation, asylum law, and Marvel. Jenna lives in Orlando on unceded Seminole land with her two coworkers (cats), Oliver and Beanbag.

Email: jenna.leazott@elca.org

 Brooke Helfers

she/her

Brooke Helfers (she/her) does anything from contracts to social media to booking flights! In her free time, she loves to read, explore new coffee shops and scout out vintage vinyls at thrift shops. She lives in Dallas, Texas with her cat Johnny who both happen to be Aries.

Email: brooke.helfers@elca.org

Daniel Kirschbaum

they/he
Senior Director, Young Adult Communities

Daniel Kirschbaum is a strategic dreamer, a board game player, and finds joy in being fiercely present. They love to be in and near the water and hates all comedy. Daniel likes to create charcuterie tables and is afraid of cranes (the bird). They serve as the Senior Director for Young Adult Communities and as a young adult representative of North America to the Global Young Reformers Steering committee partnered with the Lutheran World Federation.  In his spare time, he walks alongside several congregations as they reimagine and reshape faith community. Daniel grew up in Wisconsin but calls Colorado Springs home with his husband Jonny. They both love to be hiking or skiing in the mountains.

Email: daniel.kirschbaum@elca.org

Alumni Small Group Leaders

Renee Roeber

they/she
Mexico 2018 - 2019

Renee was a YAGM in 2018/19 in Mexico. Since serving in Mexico they have gone on multiple cross country road trips and is an aspiring dirt bag living out of her van they’re currently building out by themself. Passionate about all things outdoor, queer, and homemade you can find her out hiking with her cat or crocheting a blanket that is probably bigger than anyone needs. 

Justin Perkins

he/him
Argentina/Uruguay 2016 - 2017

Justin Perkins is a 2016-2017 YAGM alum of the Argentina/Uruguay program, where he served with the nonprofit Claves in Montevideo, Uruguay. He obtained his Master of Divinity at the University of Chicago Divinity School in 2023. He is now Deputy Editor & Publisher of Barn Raiser, an independent magazine for progressive voices in rural and small town America. He is originally from Nebraska and got his start as a writer with his hometown newspaper the Papillion Times. He has contributed reporting for The Daily Nebraskan, Rural America In These Times and In These Times and has previous editorial experience at Prairie Schooner and Image.

Mercedes Lee

she/her
Senegal 2017 - 2018

Mercedes Lee (she/her/hers) is a Philadelphia native who has spent her career working in DEIB spaces and with leaders of faith, youth, and young adults. She is currently the Program Coordinator for the Vice President’s Office of Social Equity and Community at The University of Pennsylvania. In her previous role as Coordinator for Congregational Vitality & Discipleship Ministry at the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod - ELCA, she provided administrative support to the Bishop’s office and helped lead various ministries including domestic missions, the anti-racism team, and the youth leadership team. She spent time in Fatick, Senegal as a YAGM in 2017-2018 working with the Lutheran Church of Senegal. Mercedes has a B.S. in Mass Communications/Broadcast from the First HBCU, Lincoln University and a M.A. in Religion with a specialization in Public Leadership from The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. 

Emily Shane

she/her
United Kingdom 2019 - 2020

Emily (she/her/hers) served in the 2019-2020 UK cohort. She was placed in a Church of England parish in southeast London where she helped out in the church office, sang in the choir, held youth events, made many cups of tea, and baked lots of pizza for kiddos. Some themes of her year were: accepting that people still love you and want you around even when you’re not the most “useful,” learning that church office drama is a worldwide phenomenon, listening way more than talking, developing a meaningful prayer practice, and having the humility to ask for help. Upon returning to the Seattle area, she went to grad school at University of Washington for a Master’s in Library and Information Science. Ask her about her favorite bridges in London and tell her which British tea brand you think is best (Yorkshire? Tips? Tetley? Twinings?)!

Worship Team

Nate Crary

he/him
Jerusalem & the West Bank 2013 - 2014

Nate Crary (he/him/his) serves as Director of Worship at Christ the King Lutheran (New Brighton, MN) and as the musician at Lutheran Campus Ministry on the University of MN campus. He loves to curate seasonal liturgies and write original worship music that helps connect what we do on Sunday mornings with our daily journey as followers of Christ in the world. Nate is a lifelong musician, beginning violin at the age of four, and has always found a way to use his gifts of music and art in the church.


Since graduating Concordia College (Moorhead, MN) in 2007 with degrees in music and art, Nate has led worship in a variety of settings from Juarez, Mexico to Denver, Colorado to Spicer, Minnesota to Bethlehem, Palestine. Along the way, he has helped people find their voice when singing their prayers to God.


Nate and his spouse, Chelsey (she/her/hers), were YAGM in 2013-14, and volunteered together with the Lutheran schools in Bethlehem.

Sarah Weaver

she/her
Senegal 2019 - 2020

Sarah Weaver (she/her) works as an Innovation Partner for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. She lives in Denver, Colorado on the stolen lands of the Cheyenne, Ute, and Arapahoe nations. Originally from Texas, Sarah received a degree in Choral Music Education from Baylor University. A large part of her identity was formed through working at 3 Lutheran Outdoor Ministry camps and volunteering for a year in Senegal through the Young Adults in Global Mission program. She also worked at the ELCA Churchwide Office as the Special Projects Coordinator for Young Adult Ministry, specializing in the development and implementation of new programs. Sarah is passionate about innovation, equipping and empowering young people, and proclaiming justice in the church. In her free time you'll find her hiking, playing board games, embroidering, singing, and spending time with her partner and dog.

Chaplain

Sharei Green

she/her

Sharei Green (she/her) is a Womanist theologian currently pursuing her MDiv at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.  Sitting at the intersection of fat, Black, queer and neuro-spicy, Sharei has committed herself to creating spaces of community healing and sabbath, especially for Black women/ femmes and all their intersections. She is the co-author of God’s Holy Darkness, a children’s book that deconstruct anti-Blackness in Christian theology by celebrating instances in the story of God’s people when darkness, blackness, and night are beautiful, good, and holy.

Phone number: 

Speakers

Judith Roberts

she/her
Senior Director for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Session: Advocates, Allies, and I

Judith E.B. Roberts serves as Sr. Director for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) within the ELCA churchwide office.  The Sr. Director for DEI is responsible for articulating and championing a comprehensive approach and vision for diversity, equity, inclusion within the ELCA.

Judith is the former ELCA, Director for Racial Justice and co-convener for the National Council of Churches (NCC), Joint Action and Advocacy working group and a task force member of the NCC’s Truth and Racial Justice Task Force.

Judith is an alum of Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts and a graduate of the University of Mississippi. She was raised in the Lutheran faith and worships at Grace Lutheran in Evanston, IL.

In her free time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, visiting museums, cooking and travel adventurous.

Percy Mercer

he/they
Session: Resume & Cover Letters

Percy Mercer is a Florida Man through and through, and has spent years of their life reporting on other, more prolific Florida Men for newspapers like the Orlando Sentinel and the USA Today Network. Now studying Art History at the University of Central Florida in the hopes of conducting deeply nerdy research for a living, Percy works as the Coordinator at Daytona State College’s Writing Center. He loves all things having to do with writing and hopes to spread its many exasperating joys with the world around him.