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BPFNA Board Member Bios

Isai Altamirano • Jaime EscobarVerónica Garibay-Bravo • Gail Hill • Anita Peebles  Michelle Schellinger Gutierrez • Jason Smith • Jessica Torres TorresKaren Turner • Roxanna Wright

President

Gail Hill ('21)
Chico, CA USA

Rev. Gail Hill (she/her/hers; ella) is currently serving as pastor of Chico First Baptist Church in Chico, CA. She comes with a business background; being part of ABC life and has also attended several Peace Camps throughout the years. Gail is seeking Board membership because 2018 Election: Board of Directors she has a desire to become more involved with the work of peacemaking and social justice. Prior to becoming an ordained minister, Gail spent 20 years in the advertising and marketing industry. From there, she entered SMU Perkins School of Theology in Dallas, TX. During her time there, she was mentored by Dr. Isabel Docampo, who led her to Park Road Baptist Church for her internship in Charlotte, NC and the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America in 2009. Since that time, Gail has enjoyed pastoring a church near Rochester, NY, attending Peace Camps, and marrying the love of her life, Tom Hill. Her current areas of interest include creating a new program with the Interfaith council in Chico regarding “Fear of the Other” and getting involved with immigration concerns on our borders with Mexico.

Vice President

Verónica Garibay-Bravo ('21)
Querétaro, México

Verónica Garibay-Bravo (she/her/hers; ella) lives in Querétaro, México, with her husband Rubén and their two children Mateo and Paula. After attending the 2017 Peace Camp at Campo Mazahua, Verónica became very keen in joining BPFNA ~ Bautistas por la Paz to learn how to foster peace and justice in her community among children and teenagers; to offer her skills and experience to serve God by contributing to the achievements of BPFNA’s mission and vision. Verónica holds a degree in Chemical Engineering and an MSc in Environmental Technology. She has 20+ years’ experience in environmental policymaking, both with the Mexican government and the private sector. Her professional experience includes working with trans-disciplinary teams in projects of diverse complexity and scale. In doing so she has cultivated her leadership, teamwork, as well as management and writing skills, both in Spanish and English. Starting August 2017, Verónica embarked on a PhD in Science Communication to enhance communication processes between scientists and stakeholders towards improved, evidence-based environmental policymaking. Verónica and Rubén joined Shalom Church, a Mexico City-based church led by Baptist pastors Javier Ulloa and Rebeca Montemayor, in 2003. In 2008, she and Rubén became teachers in the preschoolers Sunday school group and in 2010 the couple was invited to become advisors to the youth group. At the end of this year (2018) the Garibay-Bravo family is planning to start a Bible Study in Querétaro (where they live since 2012) sponsored by Shalom Church and guided by the pastoral staff.       

Secretary

Anita Peebles ('21)
Seattle, WA USA

Rev. Anita Peebles (she/her/hers; ella) grew up in Eaton Rapids, Michigan, exploring the beautiful Great Lakes through camping and kayaking and attending First United Methodist Church of Eaton Rapids. Anita attended Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, where she earned a B.A. in Religion and a B.A. in Environmental Studies. During her education there, she attended Peace Community Church in Oberlin (ABC-USA and Alliance of Baptists). Anita graduated from Vanderbilt Divinity School in Nashville, Tennessee with a Master of Divinity in 2018. In April 2018, Rev. Anita was ordained by Glendale Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee, a congregation affiliated with the Alliance of Baptists and pastored by Rev. Dr. Amy Mears and Rev. April Baker. Pastor Anita is humbled to be serving as Associate Pastor for Next Generation Ministries at Seattle First Baptist Church, where she works accompanying children, youth, young adults and families at SFBC along their faith journeys. 

Treasurer

Jaime Escobar ('21)
New York, NY USA

Rev. Jaime Escobar (he/him/his; él) was born in Chile but had to relocate with his family during the Pinochet regime. He now lives in New York and serves as Associate Pastor at the Spanish American Baptist Church in Union City, New Jersey. He learned about BPFNA ~ Bautistas por la Paz through friends (Cheryl Dudley, Amaury Tañón-Santos, Fela Barrueto) as they are involved in the good and necessary work of the organization. Jaime is bi-vocational and also works as an optician in New York City. Jaime acknowledges his gifts as a talented administrator with good organizational skills. He is a teacher and also a conflict resolution facilitator.   

Youth and Young Adult Representatives

Michelle Schellinger Gutierrez ('20)
Boston, MA USA

Michelle Schellinger Gutierrez (she/her/hers; ella) was raised in Tijuana, a city along the US/Mexico border, and became aware of the impact and devastation of borders and how they affected entire families and communities. This understanding, rooted in her experience and faith, led her to pursue a degree in Social Work from Eastern University in Philadelphia, PA, in 2015. Since she concluded her studies, she has worked as a counselor to unaccompanied minors and as a case manager and advocate for children and families in the Philadelphia Child Welfare System. Currently, Michelle is pursuing a Dual Masters degree in Divinity and Social Work at Boston University. She hopes these degrees will help her in the varied and diverse work to further peace and justice around the world. Michelle has long standing ties with BPFNA ~ Bautistas por la Paz and the Baptist faith and tradition. Her parents, Ray and Adalia, are deeply tied to the Baptist world. They have worked for International Ministries as missionaries for over 25 years. Michelle, along with her family, has also attended several Summer Conferences since she was in high school, and in the past three conferences she has been part of the leadership for the children’s program. Michelle is extremely excited to be joining the Board. She looks forward to this as a learning opportunity and hopes to contribute to the incredible work of BPFNA ~ Bautistas por la Paz.


Isai Altamirano ('21)
Ciudad de México, México

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.


Board Members

Jason Smith ('22)
Arkadelphia, AR USA

Jason (he/him/his; él) 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.


Jessica Torres Torres ('21)
Scottsdale, AZ USA

Rev. Jessica Torres Torres (she/her/hers; ella) is a pastor, currently serving in the area of hospitality at First Baptist Church of Scottsdale and gave workshops in Hispanic Baptist Church in Glendale, AZ. She grew up, and pastored several years in Puerto Rico. She also graduated from Evangelical Seminary in Puerto Rico. Her ministry interests are creation care and social justice. Jessica learned about BPFNA ~ Buatistas por la Paz through her professors while in seminary (Dr. Doris García, Dr. Guillermo Ramírez, Rvdo. Ricardo Mayol). She also participated in two BPFNA ~ Bautistas por la Paz sponsored events; The Conference of the Network of Churches for Afro Indigenous, Latin American and Caribbean Peace; and an event at the Mayense Intercultural Seminary in 2014. In 2016, Jessica submitted a proposal for sponsorship to BPFNA ~ Bautistas por la Paz for the First Encounter with Creation event, which was developed by the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico. Jessica possesses varied gifts including organizational, teamwork, coordinating and writing skills.


Karen Turner ('22)
Toronto, ON Canada

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 ('22)
Philadelphia, PA USA

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). 


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