Friday Night Banquet Speaker
Founder and director of the Oakland Peace Center, a collective of 40 organizations creating access, equity and dignity for all in Oakland and the Bay Area
Raised in an interracial and multi-faith family and witness to the sometimes subtle (and sometimes obvious) ways that racism and xenophobia show up in our society, it is not surprising that Sandhya's career has been marked by work to effect public policy change (working in the office of Congressman Thomas C. Sawyer from Akron, Ohio), religious liberty and an alternative voice to the religious right (at The Interfaith Alliance) and around the issues of housing for all (at East Bay Housing Organizations) as well as her work to build what Dr. Martin Luther King called Beloved Community (at the Oakland Peace Center).
She serves as an anti-racism/anti-oppression trainer with Reconciliation Ministries for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). She is a faith-rooted organizer with Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity (formerly Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice CA) and with the Emerging Leaders Program at the Leadership Institute at Allen Temple. Sandhya is particularly proud of her podcast, Hope from the Hood, available on iTunes and at sandhyajha.com.
A passionate reader and writer, Sandhya is the author of Room at the Table, the history of people of color in the Disciples of Christ, and Pre-Post-Racial America: Spiritual Stories from the Front Lines on the subject of race and spirituality in America. Pre-Post-Racial America was listed as one of the top five books on race and religion in 2015 by Publishers Weekly. Sandhya's newest book, Transforming Communities: How People Like You are Healing Their Neighborhoods, focuses on concrete ways that regular people are creating change community-by-community in an era where positive change can feel impossible. (You'll find links to those books below.)
Ordained at National City Christian Church in 2005 as a Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) minister, Sandhya is pretty proud to have received both a Master of Divinity and Master of Public Policy from the University of Chicago, where her joint thesis was on the subject of Public Goods, Public Bads, the Common Good and the Common Burden: Environmental Racism as a case study on the intersection of Public Policy and Theological Ethics. She gets far more excited about urban policy than a normal person should, and she loves to sing folk, jazz and gospel even though she was trained in classical music.
Saturday Closing Worship Speaker
Associate Dean of the Disciples Divinity House, University of Chicago
Reverend Yvonne Gilmore has been Associate Dean of the Disciples Divinity House, Chicago, since 2013. As Associate Dean, she collaborates with and assists Dean Kris Culp in furthering the educational work of the Disciples Divinity House and interpreting that work to key constituencies in ways that support DDH's mission over the long term. This involves fostering educational opportunities, vocational development, and transformative conversation among current students, alumni/ae, and friends as well as in wider venues.
"Profound scholarship, service, and creativity abounds at the Disciples Divinity House," she notes. "In concert with a great cloud of witnesses and a vast array of faithful and disciplined stewards of God's grace in its midst, I am excited to be part of a grand constellation."
Associate Dean Gilmore is committed to the preparation of "thought leaders," and her ministry exemplifies such leadership. In 2007, she became the founding pastor of New Song Community Church, a diverse urban congregation in Northeast Columbus, Ohio, that was dually aligned with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ. From 2010-13, she served also as staff chaplain and decedent care coordinator for Mount Carmel West Hospital in Columbus. She previously served in the Capital Area Region as an interim pastor, associate pastor, and a chaplain.
She is in demand as a speaker and preacher and as an anti-racism trainer with Reconciliation Ministry. She has team taught in the Divinity School's Arts of Ministry sequence, and she is a member of the Board of Directors of Higher Education and Leadership Ministries (HELM) and former member of the General Board of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
Yvonne Gilmore is also a poet and a spoken word artist. She has preached, lectured, and/or performed at varied educational institutions and denominational events, including the University of Chicago, Louisville Presbyterian Seminary, Christian Theological Seminary, McCormick Theological Seminary, and, within the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), at the Ohio Regional Assembly, the National Convocation, and the General Assembly. As a member of the Cornel West Theory, she has performed in a number of venues, including on on college and university campuses and she been interviewed on the radio.
A member of the 2001 entering class of Disciples Divinity House Scholars, she is a 2005 MDiv graduate of the University of Chicago Divinity School. She also holds a BA in International Relations from The American University. She has two daughters, Assata and Kharis.