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Organizations

About the organizations

Witness: 
Spiritual Leadership in Rural America

A Virtual Gathering

June 22 + June 29

1 p.m. - 3 p.m. ET

The Rural Assembly, in collaboration with Faith Matters Network, The On Being Project, and Interfaith Youth Core will host a two-part virtual gathering for rural & Native spiritual leaders on June 22 & 29, 2021, to connect, share, and support one another across diverse traditions and geographies.

Why we're inviting you ...

As a nation we are at an inflection point, struggling to align our professed values with the messy reality of doing life together. In rural, tribal, and small towns, spiritual practice has always been an important touchstone for navigating those realities. Our spiritualities are reference points for how we perceive our neighbors and a proving ground for how we show up for one another in difficult times. READ MORE 

Who is this for?

We welcome all rural & Native spiritual leaders, both those who carry a formal title and those who do not.

Spiritual leadership takes many forms of seeking and facilitating the renewal of inner life, outer life, and life together.

If you are engaged in social healing work in your community, organization, or network, or if you are a rural leader rooted in a spiritual practice or faith community, this gathering is for you.   

Why do we gather?
  • To connect practitioners with one another, across geographies, experiences, and organizations;

  • To create a space that nourishes and shores up our bodies, minds, and souls;

  • To engage in storytelling to acknowledge and seek to understand the challenges/opportunities rural & Native spiritual leaders face, particularly during this time of pandemic, political division, and movements for racial justice and healing;

  • To demonstrate/Share practices learned from ongoing faith-based collaborations, i.e. Disciplines of Welcome

How much does it cost?

This gathering is free to attend. 

Who is this for?

We welcome all rural & Native spiritual leaders, both those who carry a formal title and those who do not.

Spiritual leadership takes many forms of seeking and facilitating the renewal of inner life, outer life, and life together.

If you are engaged in social healing work in your community, organization, or network, or if you are a rural leader rooted in a spiritual practice or faith community, this gathering is for you.   

Why do we gather?

  • To connect practitioners with one another, across geographies, experiences, and organizations;

  • To create a space that nourishes and shores up our bodies, minds, and souls;

  • To engage in storytelling to acknowledge and seek to understand the challenges/opportunities rural & Native spiritual leaders face, particularly during this time of pandemic, political division, and movements for racial justice and healing;

  • To demonstrate/Share practices learned from ongoing faith-based collaborations, i.e. Disciplines of Welcome

Organizations

Organizers

Jen Bailey

Rev. Jenn Bailey

Founder and Executive Director, Faith Matters Network

Named one of 15 Faith Leaders to Watch by the Center for American Progress, Rev. Jen Bailey (she/her) is an ordained minister, public theologian, and national leader in the multi-faith movement for justice. She is the Founder and Executive Director of the Faith Matters Network, a Womanist-led organization equipping community organizers, faith leaders, and activists with resources for connection, spiritual sustainability, and accompaniment. Jen comes to this work with nearly a decade of experience at nonprofits combating intergenerational poverty. Rev. Bailey is an ordained itinerant elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church and serves locally on the staff of Greater Bethel A.ME. Church in Nashville, Tennessee.

An Ashoka Fellow, Nathan Cummings Foundation Fellow, Aspen Ideas Scholar, On Being Fellow and Truman Scholar, Jennifer earned degrees from Tufts University and Vanderbilt University Divinity School where she was awarded the Wilbur F. Tillett Prize for accomplishments in the study of theology. Her work  has been featured on OnBeing with Krista Tippett, CBS This Morning, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and dozens of other publications. 

Her new book, To My Beloveds: Letters on Faith, Race, Loss and Radical Hope will be published by Chalice Press in September 2021.

 Rev. Bailey serves on the boards of the Fetzer Institute, the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, and the Healing Trust. She enjoys good food, dancing like no one is watching, and road trip adventures with her husband, psychotherapist and religious studies scholar Ira Helderman.

Ben Katt

Ben Katt

Associate Director of Religious Life & Social Healing, The On Being Project

Ben Katt is the Associate Director of Religious Life & Social Healing at The On Being Project. He has spent over 15 years working at the intersection of spirituality, community, and social healing. After completing his M.Div, Ben moved to Seattle where he spent a decade launching and leading Awake, a contemplative-active faith community, and co-created the Aurora Commons, a supportive space for unhoused neighbors and committed to radical hospitality and mutual transformation. His deep engagement in community development in his own neighborhood inspired him to help other congregations and organizations serve their local contexts in his work as co-founder of the Parish Collective, creator and host of the 99-episode RePlacing Church podcast, and denominational agency leader. In addition to his work with The On Being Project, Ben teaches meditation and curates mindful community experiences with Still Life. After 14 years in the Pacific Northwest, Ben recently returned to his hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin with his wife and three children.

Whitney Kimball Coe

Whitney Kimball Coe

Director, Rural Assembly

Whitney Kimball Coe is the director of National Programs at the Center for Rural Strategies. In that role, she leads the Rural Assembly, a nationwide movement striving to build better policy and more opportunity for rural communities across the country. 

As an organizer, speaker, moderator, and writer, Whitney has shared her perspectives on community and civic courage with audiences around the world. She has been featured on stage at the Aspen Ideas Festival and the inaugural Obama Foundation Summit, and as a guest on the radio program On Being with Krista Tippett. Whitney is a member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and a committee member of Love, Period, a ministry that provides free period products to menstruating individuals in her small town. 

She writes a regular column for her local newspaper, the Daily Post Athenian, and has participated in Citizen University’s Civic Saturday Fellowship program. She holds a M.A. in Appalachian studies from Appalachian State University and an undergraduate degree in religion and philosophy from Queens University. She lives in her hometown of Athens, Tennessee with her husband Matt, and daughters, Lucy and Susannah.

Tyler Owens

Tyler Owens

Program Associate, The Rural Assembly

Tyler Owens (she/her) is from the Gila River Indian Community in Southern Arizona where she was born and raised. Owens currently attends Chandler-Gilbert Community College where she is studying Finance. Prior to joining the Rural Assembly, Owens worked with the National Congress of American Indians where she took on various roles, such as: Membership Coordinator, Youth Program Associate, and Administrative Assistance. Since graduating high school, she has had opportunities to grow and learn through internship opportunities with the Department of Justice and the Arizona Coyotes (NHL). As an Afro-Indigenous Latina, she has a strong drive to create a better environment for young people and the communities where she has roots. When she isn’t working Ms. Owens enjoys spending time with her loved ones and playing volleyball.

Lillie Benowitz

Pastoral Engagement Associate

Lillie Benowitz (she/they) is a relationship weaver and space builder. She is energized by cultivating relationships on their own terms, creating containers for connection, and fostering innovative expressions of spiritual practice, ritual, and community. Lillie is currently the Pastoral Engagement Associate at The On Being Project where they nourish, accompany, and embolden religious and spiritual leaders in the work of social healing. Professionally and in community, Lillie has convened art sharing spaces, facilitated groups across different perspectives, and guided organizational culture change to center equity. She works, from a deep commitment to tikkun olam (repairing the world), at the intersection of racial justice, environmental justice, and LGBTQ+ liberation.

Lillie holds a bachelor’s in Africana Studies and Politics from Mount Holyoke College, was a 2019 New Leaders Council Fellow, and currently serves on the board of Shir Tikvah Congregation. They are based on Dakota Land in so called Minneapolis, MN and feel most grounded connecting with beloveds, practicing Jewish ritual, or curled up with a book and her morning coffee. 

Jenan Mohajir​

Senior Director of Leadership, Interfaith Youth Core​

Inspired by faith and family to work for change at the intersections of gender, sexuality, race, and religion, Jenan has served in a leadership position at IFYC for thirteen years. She currently directs overall strategy, design, and implementation of the organization’s programs focused on alumni and student leaders, including the annual Interfaith Leadership Institute. For over a decade, Jenan has trained hundreds of young people from both religious and secular backgrounds to foster a vision and practice of civically engaged interfaith leadership. Featured on National Public Radio and participating in interfaith conference panels across the country, Jenan holds a BS in elementary education and Islamic studies from DePaul University, and is currently pursuing her MA in religious studies at Chicago Theological Seminary. She also volunteers with Sirat Chicago, a neighborhood space that fosters a healthy community by supporting initiatives centered upon service and worship, education and arts, and family life. Living on the south side of Chicago with her husband and three children, Jenan is an enthusiastic collector of old children’s books.