Meet the Innovation Vitality Team!

Kristina Gonzalez, Executive Director for Innovation and Vitality
Email | 1-800-755-7710 ext. 309

Kristina develops curriculum and offers leadership development opportunities with a specialty in intercultural competency. She works to instill a culture of innovation among lay and clergy for the work of the church in the world.  

Ms. Gonzalez is a Qualified Administrator in the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) and an Associate with the Kaleidoscope Institute for leadership in a diverse changing world. She has served as faculty of the annual school for United Methodist supervising clergy for 15 years and consults and trains ecumenically in the field of intercultural competency.

Ms. Gonzalez has professional experience in the public and non-profit sectors working in the arts and human services.  Her community service work includes 8 years on the Curriculum Committee of Leadership Tomorrow, a community leadership program serving the greater Seattle area, and a term on the Board of Trustees.

She served on the UM Connectional Table, the denomination’s global leadership body from 2004-2008 and chaired the Washington Association of Churches for two terms. She serves on the Boards of Directors for Bayview Retirement Center in Seattle and Project Transformation in Vancouver.

Kristina resides in the Seattle area, where she takes advantage of the breathtaking beauty.

Rev. Dr. Leroy Barber, Director of Innovation for an Engaged Church
Email | 503-802-9204

Leroy Barber has dedicated 30 years to eradicating poverty, confronting homelessness, restoring local neighborhoods, healing racism, and living what Dr. King called “the beloved community.”

Leroy starts projects that shape society; in 1989, burdened by the plight of Philadelphia’s homeless, he and his wife Donna founded Restoration Ministries, to serve homeless families and children living on the streets. In 1994 he became Director of Internship Programs at Cornerstone Christian Academy. Leroy was licensed and ordained at Mt Zion Baptist Church where he served as Youth Director with Donna, and also served as Associate Minister of Evangelism.

In 1997, he joined FCS Urban Ministries, working with Atlanta Youth Project to serve as the founding Executive Director of Atlanta Youth Academies, a private elementary school providing quality Christian education for low-income families in the inner city. Leroy also helped found DOOR Atlanta, Community Life Church, South Atlanta Marketplace, and Community Grounds Coffee shop in Atlanta, as well as Green My Hood and The Voices Project.

Leroy is the Co-Founder of the Voices Project and Adjunct professor at Kilns College and Multnomah University. Rev. Barber is on the boards of, The Simple Way, Missio Alliance, The Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN), and the Former Board Chair of the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA).

He is the author of four books:

  • New Neighbor: An Invitation to Join Beloved Community(2008, Mission Year)
  • Everyday Missions: How Ordinary People Can Change the World(2012, Intervarsity Press)
  • Red, Brown, Yellow, Black and White: Who’s More Precious In His Sight? (with Velma Maia Thomas, 2014, Faith Words/Hachette Book Group)
  • Embrace: God’s Radical Shalom For A Divided World(2016, Intervarsity Press)
Rev. Dr. Jess Bielman, Associate Director of Innovation for an Engaged Church
Email 

Jess Bielman has successfully become a pastoral presence for a generation of people who have said “no” to pastors in a traditional sense. He is a mentor to those who minister in the name of Jesus to a church that historically has not valued their perspectives. Jess prepares leaders to engage community in ways that honor the dignity of all people and cultures.

He has been mentored and engaged leaders in cultural work and developed initiatives that center the voices on the margins. He has worked with scholars and practitioners to co-constructed programs, curriculum, and content that analyzes theological and cultural issues impacting the thriving of church and community.

A Northwest native who converted to the Christian faith as a teenager, Jess has long been interested in the intersection faith community and local culture. These interests have driven his personal explorations, ecclesial life, and academic interests. Jess is always looking to discover the next iteration of the church in the world

Jess earned his doctorate in ministry with a dissertation exploring contextualizing ministry training to the Pacific Northwest. As a college professor, he has taught bible, historic Christian spirituality, faith and culture, community engagement, and preaching, among other subjects. Jess has developed programs and curriculum to train pastors and students to engage in ministry at the margins of cities, neighborhoods, and society.

Jess is an ordained minister and pastor by calling who has done campus ministry and house church ministry. As a campus pastor he oversaw the evolution of ministry programs to a religiously and culturally diverse college campus always looking toward meeting the needs of students. He is a trusted partner with those who are navigating ‘dark night of the soul’ experiences and other faith transitions.

Jess is a skilled administrator having worked on strategic planning, systems and structure change, and creative initiative implementation. He is an innovator committed to changing institutional culture to enact more equitable processes. Jess has often been called upon to rethink and restructure systems designed to serve the core values of the organization.

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