BPFNA ~ Bautistas por la Paz is pleased to welcome three new members to our board of directors: Jason Smith (Arkadelphia, AR), Karen Turner (Toronto, ON) and Roxanna Wright (Philadelphia, PA). Voted on and approved by the BPFNA membership, all three will begin their terms at the Fall 2019 board meeting in September.
We also welcome Isai Altamirano (Mexico City, Mexico) as our newest Youth and Young Adult representative. These representatives are nominated and elected by the youth and young adults present at the BPFNA ~ Bautistas por la Paz annual Summer Conference.
At the Summer meeting in Cali, Colombia, the board approved new officers whose terms will also begin with the Fall 2019 meeting. New executive committee officers are: Gail Hill: President (Chico, CA); Verónica Garibay-Bravo: Vice President (Querétaro, México); Anita Peebles: Secretary (Seattle, WA); Jaime Escobar: Treasurer (New York, NY).
See the end of this release for bios of our newest members, and click here to learn more about all of our current board members.
This fall we will also say goodbye to several members who will be completing their time on the board: Mayra Picos-Lee (President 2016-2019), Michael Ware (Vice President 2016-2019), Fela Barrueto (Secretary 2016-2019), Rick Harris (Treasurer 2018-2019) and Asaf Vera (Youth and Young Adult Representative 2017-2019). Please join us in thanking them for their leadership, vision and service to this organization.
Meet our new members
Jason (he/him/his) serves as Congregational Engagement Specialist with the Alliance of Baptists, focusing on development and fundraising strategy. He is also an Adjunct Professor in the Sutton School of Social Sciences with Ouachita Baptist University. He grew up as a missionary kid in Costa Rica, a place he called home until age 14, and continues to be involved in special projects collaborating with communities of faith in Latin America. He and his wife Myra live in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, where Myra is Assistant Professor of History at Ouachita. They are currently in the process of adopting two children from Bogotá, Colombia and hope to be completed with the process by the fall 2019. And just for fun, they share their home with three lively dogs.
Karen (she/her/hers) has a Baptist history but is currently an active member of the Church of the Redeemer, a wonderfully diverse and progressive Anglican parish in downtown Toronto. It was here where she and her partner, Heather Steeves, had a full church wedding in 2016, shortly after the Diocese of Toronto “got its act together” on same sex marriage. Karen has a MSW degree and worked as a social worker for many years in the health care sector in the suburbs of Toronto. Karen and her partner have been active members of BPFNA - Bautistas por la Paz for many years and faithfully attend Peace Camp. In January 2011, Karen joined the BPFNA Friendship Tour to Chiapas to celebrate her retirement. Since then, she has returned to Chiapas several times, and travelled in other parts of Mexico. She has been involved with some BPFNA-supported peace initiatives there and also took part in a Conflict Transformation training in 2011. Karen was on the BPFNA – Bautistas por la Paz Board of Directors from 2010-2016 and served in a variety of committee responsibilities. Karen’s previous experience on the Board was satisfying and challenging, not only because of the opportunity to be involved in overseeing the important work of BPFNA but also because of the deep and lasting relationships formed with committed people with whom she worked. She understands and supports the transition that BPFNA is currently undergoing and feels it is important to reconsider the role of Canada in the organization’s mandate. She sees BPFNA - Bautistas por la Paz as a prophetic organization of people enthusiastically joining the worldwide work of bringing in the Kingdom of God.
Roxanna Wright (she/her/hers) – mother, grandmother, retired educator, songwriter, social justice worker and Zumba dancer! A woman of color, Roxanna grew up in an African American community, attended a predominately white school system and was affected by discrimination and racism. Her heroes were her parents; civil rights activists who were strong advocates for education. Roxanna received her Bachelor’s Degree in music education from an HBCU, Central State University (Wilberforce, OH) and her Master’s Degree in education from Cabrini College (Rosemont, PA). She is an accomplished musician and has released a CD called Courage to Fly with the single Oops…Fake News, which she hopes is an inspiration to encourage human dignity, justice and human compassion. As a songwriter, she began composing while teaching vocal music and directing musical plays for over 30 years in the Philadelphia School System. Inspired mostly by her students and other young people she directed in youth church choirs and summer camps, her direction in life began to broaden. She traveled to Haiti and with God’s help, founded and directed Project Compassion: To enrich the lives of children, Inc. The organization was comprised with Haitians, Haitian Americans and African Americans who educated and financailly supported children living on the streets primarily in Jacmel and Demas, Haiti. It also financially aided a Haitian principal while educating over 300 children and supporting an orphanage in Mariani Carrefour from 1997 to 2010. In 2007, Roxanna retired from teaching full-time and became a substitute teacher in the private sector. In this role, she was able to realize that the issues affecting private school children were basically the same issues affecting children attending public schools. The only differences were systemic and economic. As a member of Central Baptist Church, Wayne, PA, Roxanna became a member of BPFNA - Bautistas por la Paz through working in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina and meeting (then Program Coordinator) LeDayne McLeese Polaski. From there, she became involved in other interfaith social justice groups such as the New Sanctuary Movement (supporting undocumented immigrants) and POWER Metro (dedicated to economic and racial justice).
Isai Altamirano was born and raised in Tijuana, Baja California (Mexico). He grew up in a Christian family and first got involved in peacemaking through the church where he went to school as a young child. At the age of 19, he decided to study theology in Mexico City. He first attended the Baptist Theological Mexican Seminary, but moved to the Baptist Seminary of Mexico after two years. While there, he met longtime BPFNA ~ Bautistas por la Paz member and friend, Javier Ulloa, and former Youth and Young Adult board representative Asaf Vera, who introduced him to the organization. At the time, they were the only Baptists he knew who were working for peace. Isai’s journey with with BPFNA ~ Bautistas por la Paz continued from there. In March 2019, he had the opportunity to work as a translator at the organizational staff retreat in Mexico City. That experience changed his life for good, and he knew that BPFNA was an organization he wanted to work with and get to know better. Isai believes that peace is something possible, not just a dream. He thinks that the church, Christian organizations and many others can do the work of peace and inspire more people to become peacemakers. By becoming part of BPFNA ~ Bautistas por la Paz, he hopes to gain the tools to encourage more people to believe in peace and justice. Isai looks forward to meeting more people in the BPFNA ~ Bautistas por la Paz network and starting this new chapter in his life.