Listed in order of appearance

Franklin Ishida (he/him)
Director, Asia Pacific - ELCA

Session: Accompaniment in Mission

The Rev. Dr. Y Franklin Ishida serves as Director for Asia and the Pacific with the Service and Justice Home Area of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He was ordained in in 1990 and served parishes in Tinley Park and Elmhurst, Illinois. He worked at the World Council of Churches in Geneva, Switzerland with the communications department from 1984-1986. Prior to his current position, he was director for leadership development with ELCA Global Mission.

Ishida has published devotional materials, Bible studies, Christian education curricula (youth and confirmation in particular), social ministry materials, and sermons. He has previously served as board director for the Centre for New Beginnings (grief counseling); a board member of Love Christian Clearinghouse (social ministry network); and delegate to the General Assembly of the National Council of Churches in the USA. He currently is the ELCA representative to the Asia Pacific Forum (formerly associated with Church World Service) and the Foundation for Theological Education in Southeast Asia. In the past he has served on the board at Heifer International.

Born in Kurume, Japan, Franklin Ishida grew up in Japan, Switzerland, and the United States. He has a B.A. in human rights from St. Olaf College in Minnesota; an M.A. in international relations and strategic studies from the University of Lancaster, United Kingdom; a Master of Divinity from Luther Seminary, St. Paul; and a Doctor of Ministry from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. He also received a Doctor of Divinity -  Honoris Causa from the Academy of Ecumenical Indian Theology and Church Administration. Franklin and his spouse, Emily Demuth Ishida, have three children: David, Hans-Martin, and Louisa.

As director for Asia, he travels extensively, engaging with churches and institutions throughout Asia and Australia, overseeing missionary work, and visiting development projects. In his leisure, Ishida practices Aikijutsu, a Japanese martial art, and enjoys photography and trains.

Jess Schenk, MSW, LCSW (she/her)
Staff Counselor - Washington University in St. Louis
United Kingdom 2011-2012

Session: Harassment & Attention in Other Cultures

Jess Schenk (pronouns she/her) attended Wartburg College and earned a bachelor’s degree in social work and then earned her MSW at the Brown School at Washington University. Jess approaches counseling from a place of mutual respect. She finds it an honor to share in students’ stories and lives. Her approach begins with establishing what students hope to gain from counseling and identifying ways in which those goals can be achieved. Jess prioritizes building authentic and genuine relationships with each student where they can feel safe to begin to explore the issues or challenges that prompted them to seek counseling.

Jess has training in behavioral therapies including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Exposure Response Prevention and Integrative Behavioral Couples Therapy, but is intentional about prioritizing the therapeutic relationship over any specific modality. Her clinical interests include anxiety, panic, phobias, perfectionism, family of origin concerns and religious trauma.

In addition to her role as a social worker, Jess enjoys reading, hiking, traveling and trying (with varying success) to keep her two golden doodles out of trouble.

Aubrey Thonvold (she/her)
Executive Director - ReconcilingWorks

Session: Gender & Sexuality in YAGM Service


Aubrey Thonvold (she/her) is a lifelong Lutheran who is committed to work centered in justice and equity for LGBTQIA+ people and their families within religious and faith communities. With a master’s degree in Transforming Spirituality from The School of Theology and Ministry at Seattle University, she strives to bring people in and invite all to the table. She leads this work at ReconcilingWorks with a sense of call to this holy ministry. Aubrey has worked on marriage campaigns in Washington, Hawaii, and Oregon, organizing outreach, education, and advocacy and encouraging faith communities to support the freedom to marry for LGBTQIA+ couples. Aubrey and her spouse Heather both have a call to ministry, a love of adventures, and enjoy time with family and friends.

Tess Tait (she/her)
Development Assistant, Congregational Generosity - ELCA

Session: Communicating Your Global Experience

Tess is the Development Assistant for the Congregational Stewardship and Generosity team, where she has served for a little over a year. She works in coordination with the Service & Justice and Christian Community and Leadership home areas to implement fundraising strategies for ELCA churchwide ministries, especially in support of global mission personnel. 

She establishes, tends, and nurtures relationships with congregations that sponsor ELCA global mission personnel, including long term missionaries and Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM) volunteers.

Prior to working for the churchwide organization, Tess was an office administrator for an ELCA congregation in Ventura, California and an Administrative Assistant for a Lutheran Outdoor Ministry, Lutheran Retreats Camps and Conferences in Southern California. A first generation Lutheran and college student, she graduated from California Lutheran University with a B.A. in Theology & Christian Leadership. Since starting her new position, she has moved from Ventura County in Southern California and now resides in Oakland in Northern California. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, reading and attending live music shows.

Ben Hogue (he/him)
Director, Mission Funding

Session: Communicating Your Global Experience


Louisa Ishida (she/her)
Program Communicator, Lutheran Disaster Response

Session: Ethical Storytelling


Louisa Ishida is the Program Communicator for Lutheran Disaster Response. She has been in this role since March 2020. Prior to that, Louisa served as a YAGM volunteer in Eswatini from 2018 to 2019. While there, she worked in a Lutheran primary school, assisting with the preschool class and grade 8 English classes. Louisa graduated from Valparaiso University with a degree in Communication in 2018.

Vance Blackfox (all)
Director, Indigenous Ministries & Tribal Relations - ELCA

Session: Blanket Exercise, An Indigenous Orientation II

Vance Blackfox, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, serves the churchwide organization of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) as the Director of Indigenous Ministries and Tribal Relations. An alumnus of Texas Lutheran University (TLU) and the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC), Vance has previously served the ELCA in multiple capacities, from being elected and serving as National President of the Lutheran Youth Organization during his TLU days, to later working as a diversity and cultural education professional for the Women of the ELCA, Augsburg Fortress Publishers, California Lutheran University, ELCA Youth Gathering, and LSTC’s Youth in Mission. In addition to serving numerous ELCA and ecumenical teams and committees throughout the years, he is at present the Indigenous Theologian and Coordinating Team Member for the ELCA’s Theological Round Table, as well as creator and producer of the Vine Deloria Jr. Theological Symposium hosted at LSTC.


Vance is also the founder and director of Other+Wise, a multi-site cultural education and cultural immersion program for youth and student groups from across the country, and also previously served as the Director of Communications at the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition, as the Director of Communications for Native Americans in Philanthropy, and has held executive director positions at the Haskell Foundation, which supports Haskell Indian Nations University, and the Oaks Indian Mission. Vance teaches about many things Indigenous as founder and primary of Blackfox Institute, he has served as the Guest Curator of the Indian Museum at the University of Texas at San Antonio Institute of Texan Cultures, and presently serves as the Indigenous Theologian for the Faith-Based Initiative for the City of San Antonio, where he currently resides.

Ameena Jandali (she/her)
Content Manager, ING

Session: Interreligious Dialogue

Ameena is a founding member of ING. She co-designs and develops ING’s educational presentations and cultural competency seminars. Ameena has delivered hundreds of presentations in schools, colleges, universities, churches, and other venues on Islam and related subjects. She currently team teaches a class on Islam at City College of San Francisco. Ameena received her M.A. in Near Eastern Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, and B.A. in History from the University of Illinois. Read Ameena’s blog here.

Diane Frankle (she/her)
Speaker, ING

Session: Interreligious Dialogue

Diane is a Christian and is an active member at All Saints Episcopal Church in Palo Alto, California, where she serves on the Vestry, or Board of Directors, and in a variety of other leadership roles. Diane also serves as Trustee on the College of Wooster Board of Trustees and on the San Francisco Advisory Board of Facing History and Ourselves. She is a Senior Fellow in the American Leadership Forum — Silicon Valley.   Diane is a founder and Chairman of the Board and COO of Building Bridges Together, a nonprofit promoting interfaith dialogue among Christians, Jews, and Muslims. Diane has retired from her prior career as a corporate lawyer in Silicon Valley where her practice focused on mergers and acquisitions and corporate governance.  Diane lives in the Bay Area with her husband Bob, a Jewish speaker.  

Rabbi Hugh Seid-Valencia (he/him)
Speaker, ING

Session: Interreligious Dialogue

Rabbi Hugh is the Senior Director of Collaborative Leadership and Jewish Engagement at Jewish Silicon Valley. He previously served as Jewish Community Liaison for VITAS Healthcare and prior to that, spent ten years teaching Jewish Studies at Kehillah Jewish High School in Palo Alto. After studying at Deep Springs College, he earned a BA with Highest Honors in English Literature from UC Berkeley and received his rabbinical training from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. He has completed both the Rabbinic Leadership Training Program and the Tikkun Middot Training Program at the Institute for Jewish Spirituality and is a fellow of the Mandel Executive Leadership Program. He teaches and lectures on topics including parenting, Jewish meditation, Jewish perspectives on the afterlife, ethical dilemmas in extending life, and reading and writing ethical wills.  

Dr. Zachary Markwith (he/him)
Deputy Director, ING

Session: Interreligious Dialogue

Zachary is the Deputy Director at ING. He received his PhD in Islamic Studies from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. He also earned an MA (cum laude) in Comparative Religious Studies at the George Washington University and a BA in Islamic and Near Eastern Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His research and teaching focus on Islamic sacred texts, early Sufism, Sunni-Shi‘i relations, and the comparative study of religions. He has taught classes on Islam and world religions at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Santa Clara University, and the Graduate Theological Union. He is the author of One God, Many Prophets: the Universal Wisdom of Islam (2013) and the forthcoming book And When I Love Them: the Hadith al-Nawafil and the Formation of Sufism (2024). Zachary has also worked with other non-profit and community-based organizations, including Hub Foundation, the International Peace Project, and Food Not Bombs. Read Zachary’s blog here.

Jen DeLeon (she/her)

Session: Race, Power, & Privilege

Jennifer DeLeon is director for Racial Justice for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. She began that position in April 2021.


Before that, she served as director for justice for Women of the ELCA from 2018 to 2021, where she designed, developed, evaluated, and implemented justice-related resources and learning opportunities. She also managed and grew a network of individuals interested in learning more about human trafficking, domestic violence, immigration, and racial justice.


Prior to serving with WELCA, she was the director of government relations and advocacy for Lutheran Social Services in Chicago. 


DeLeon has more than 20 years of community organizing experience with several organizations in Chicago. As an employee and volunteer, she has dealt with various social issues, including hunger, immigration, housing, child welfare, and health care. 


Her passion lies in finding faith-based solutions to systemic injustices. 


For more than 10 years, DeLeon has served as a consultant with faith-based and denominational organizations on justice-related leadership issues. Those include multicultural competency, advocacy, and theological reflection on how faith, justice, and culture intersect.


A member of Trinidad Lutheran Church, Chicago, DeLeon has a master’s degree in theology from the Lutheran School of Theology, Chicago. She has a bachelor’s degree from DePaul University, where her concentration was nonprofit management. Fluent in English and Spanish, with some Portuguese.

Venis Hamb (she/her)
Global Services Manager - ELCA

Session: Logistics

Sarah Weaver (she/her)
Innovation Partner, ELCA

Session: Eco-Justice

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 previously 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. She has a certificate for Climate Justice and Faith, is a Level 1 Coach in the ELCA, and has completed courses on Equity Based Design. In her free time you can find her singing, reading, hiking, playing games, and hanging out with her partner and dog!

Mary Campbell
Program Director, AMMPARO

Session: AMMPARO & LIRS Lunch & Learn


Giovana Oaxaca
Program Director, Migration Policy

Session: AMMPARO & LIRS Lunch & Learn