This cohort is no longer accepting applications.

2022: Chicago

Join us for Foundations of Christian Leadership in 2022. We we will draw on the rich resources of the Chicago community as we imagine and listen together to how God is stirring in our world, in our church and in our lives.

"What made this program excellent for me were the ways that the learning was a combination of input from different disciplines with the experience and expertise of my peers in the program."
- Participant in Foundations

We will hold our sessions at Canaan Community Church, located at 1701 W. Garfield Blvd. Chicago, Illinois 60636.

Our partners in Chicago will help us explore key themes of the program, such as traditioned innovation.

As with other cohorts of Foundations, participants will have the opportunity to apply for a $5,000 Innovation Grant. Please see the “Grant Eligibility” section of this site to learn more.

Detailed information about applying for Foundations of Christian Leadership is available via the “How to Apply” section of this website.

Key Dates

Application deadline: February 25, 2022

Registration deadline (for accepted applicants): March 4, 2022

Chicago sessions:
Session 1: April 25-28, 2022
Session 2: September 12-15, 2022

Program Cost: $150

A modest registration fee includes all program fees for both weeks including readings and leadership assessments. The program is generously supported by a gift from Lilly Endowment Inc.

There is no cost to apply. Upon acceptance into the Foundations of Christian Leadership program, you will receive an invitation to register. We require the $150 registration fee to secure your spot in the cohort.

Program Format

We will begin and end each day of the program with worship led by participants and set in the Book of Acts. Each day also will include guest lectures, plenary discussion, small group work and time for reflection. Peer groups form an important source of honest sharing, support and encouragement at Foundations.

The first Chicago session week will begin at 1:30 p.m. Monday and conclude at 12 p.m. Thursday. The second session week will begin at 1:30 p.m. Monday and conclude at 12 p.m. Thursday. (All times are Central time.)

María Teresa Gastón, an organizational psychologist, will facilitate our process and help participants understand the results of their self-assessments and draw implications for collaborative ministry. With wit and wisdom from his years of consulting and theological reflection, Dave Odom will guide reflection on some of our readings and experience and promote conversation on themes we grapple with in Christian leadership. Victoria White will introduce ways to think creatively about project options to extend your learning and will accompany participants in what she promises is a “grace-filled” grant process after the completion of the two in-person sessions.

Session 1: April 25-28, 2022 | Session 2: September 12-15, 2022

Our typical day will include the following activities:

(All times are Central time)

8:30 amMorning worship
9:15 amSession
10:45 amBreak
11:00 amSession continued
12:30 pmLunch
1:30 pmGroup exploration or individual reflection time
3:00 pmBreak
3:15 pm Session
4:00 pmSmall group work
5:30 pmWorship
6:00 pmAdjourn


Canaan Community Church, where we will hold our sessions, is located at 1701 W. Garfield Blvd. Chicago, Illinois 60636.

Our suggested hotel is Hyatt Place Chicago - South/University Medical Center, located at 5225 S. Harper Ave., Chicago, Illinois, 60615.

If you prefer, you may make arrangements elsewhere.


During both sessions, lunches and snacks will be provided, as well as dinner on Monday evening. Please let us know of any dietary restrictions or special accommodations you may require on your registration form.


Travel to and from Chicago is the responsibility of each participant. For those flying in, Midway International Airport is close by.

Laura Everett

The Rev. Laura Everett is happiest exploring somewhere new, preferably by bike. Everett is the author of “Holy Spokes: The Search for Urban Spirituality on Two Wheels.” Ordained by the United Church of Christ, Everett is formed by many parts of the church. By day, she serves as the executive director of the Massachusetts Council of Churches, scouting for signs of Christian unity. By night, she’s an unabashed urbanist and a bicycle evangelist. She co-hosted the Faith & Leadership podcast “Can These Bones” with the Rev. Bill Lamar. A moderately competent seamstress, she loves working with her hands. She believes the work of this moment is to notice and dismantle the racism that has divided this nation and the church. She’s convinced that if we’re all not free, it isn’t the gospel truth. Everett lives in Boston with her wife Abbi, who has a far more interesting vocation as a middle school Latin teacher. Everett is a graduate of Brown University and the Harvard Divinity School. She is an alum of Foundations of Christian Leadership.

María Teresa Gastón

María Teresa Gastón is the director of Foundations of Christian Leadership. Originally from Havana, Cuba, Gastón is an organizational psychologist and a certified ICA-ToP facilitator with experience in training and coaching innovative leaders in educational, faith, corporate and community settings. She enjoys researching, designing, and facilitating group processes for collaborative discernment and decision-making. Other research and practice interests include career development, motivation, organizational justice, organizational creativity, teambuilding, program evaluation and immigrant integration. Her ministry experience includes 13 years with agricultural workers in Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Immokalee, Florida, and 13 years directing the Schlegel Center for Service and Justice at Creighton University. Gastón earned a bachelor’s in theology from Marquette University, a master’s in Hispanic/Latino theology and ministry from Barry University, and a master’s and Ph.D. in industrial/organizational psychology from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Victoria Atkinson White

Victoria Atkinson White is the managing director of grants at Leadership Education at Duke Divinity. In this role, she encourages traditioned innovation among Christian institutions and their leaders. Her vocation has included coaching, chaplaincy and seminary administration. Her areas of interest include design thinking, improvisation, wicked problems, strategy and sustainability, and holy friendships. Victoria is a graduate of Duke Divinity School, Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond and Rhodes College. She is an ordained minister affiliated with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

David L. Odom

David L. Odom joined Duke Divinity School in August 2007 to launch Leadership Education at Duke Divinity and now oversees all of its programs and publications, including Faith & Leadership. He regularly teaches and facilitates events and both writes and solicits content for Faith & Leadership. In addition, Odom develops and supervises select initiatives at Duke Divinity School, where he serves as an associate dean. Before coming to Duke, Odom was the founder and president of the Center for Congregational Health in Winston-Salem, N.C., which supported healthy communities of faith through consultation, leadership development, interim ministry training and vocational discernment. Odom, who was an adjunct professor at Wake Forest Divinity School, has extensive experience in program development and evaluation, staff and adjunct faculty development, and strategic organizational management. He also plays a leadership role in the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. He is a graduate of Furman University, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and Princeton Theological Seminary.


Faculty and partners - Chicago Sessions
Jonathan Brooks

Jonathan Brooks is a lifelong resident of Chicago, IL, and serves as Co-Lead Pastor at Lawndale Christian Community Church in the North Lawndale neighborhood. He previously served as Lead Pastor of Canaan Community Church in the West Englewood neighborhood for fifteen years. As an educator on many different levels and a firm believer in investing in your local community, Jonathan has a deep desire to impress this virtue on the students and young people in his congregation, classroom and community. Pastah J, as he is affectionately called, is a sought-after speaker, writer, artist and community activist.  He has contributed to numerous blogs, articles and books and recently released the book Church Forsaken: Practicing Presence in Neglected Neighborhoods.  Jonathan has a Bachelor of Architecture from Tuskegee University, Master of Arts in Teaching from National Louis University and Master of Divinity from Northern Seminary with an emphasis in Christian Community Development. He is married to Micheál Newman-Brooks and has two beautiful children. You can learn more at

Micheál Newman-Brooks

Micheál Newman-Brooks serves as the Project Manager of School Gardens for Chicago Public Schools’ Office of Student Health and Wellness. Prior to that she served as the Program Manager for Urban Agriculture for the Sustainable Division of the Department of Planning and Development with the City of Chicago. She is also an instructor of Business and Agriculture courses offered by City Colleges of Chicago in conjunction with Chicago Botanic Gardens Windy City Harvest Programs. Her passion for environmental and food justice lends to her 15+ years’ experience in non-profit and for-profit businesses include marketing and advertising, project management, construction and escrow, investments, finance and accounting as well as community organizing and engagement not to mention agriculture and horticulture.

She also served as Chief Financial Officer of Canaan Community Redevelopment Corporation in the Englewood Community, Executive Director of 5 Loaves Co-Op and Farm, as well as partnering with several local urban gardens and community organizations in various roles. She sits on the governing boards of Growing Home, LARC (Lead Abatement Resource Centers), and WEROCK for Girls. Micheál earned degrees in Business, Agriculture and Horticulture.

Micheál is married to Jonathan Brooks and they have two beautiful children.

Kusanya Café

Located in Englewood, Kusanya is a nonprofit coffee shop & creative community gathering place. They opened in November 2013 and serve coffee, breakfast-all-day, and lunch. Kusanya is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and is sustained by cafe sales and individual donations and small grants. They exist to “provide the place where great people can come together over great food, and community-born events can take place.” They also provide job training and apprenticeship. We will hear from director Phil Sipka.

Phil Sipka

Phil Sipka is a founding member and current Executive Director of Kusanya Café. Phil has resided in the neighborhood for the past 14 years and sought to start an innovative organizational model that would reimagine economic development and local based employment through the use of hyperlocal empowerment.

Here is an exerpt from an article titled “A Coffeehouse for Englewood” by Stephanie Barto soon, after Kasanya’s opening: “Four years passed between the initial idea of opening Kusanya Cafe and its debut on November 19, 2013. Those years were fraught with multiple instances of absentee commercial property owners backing out of lease negotiations, and banks refusing to lend money for the venture. Kusanya’s eventual success relied heavily upon Kickstarter funding and the rallying of resources within the neighborhood.”

Michael Nicolás Okińczyc-Cruz

Michael Nicolás Okińczyc-Cruz is the Executive Director and a co-founder of CSPL. As a faith-based community organizer with nearly 10 years of experience, he has worked to address issues related to criminal justice, mental health, corporate bank accountability, immigration reform, refugee rights, public transportation, and economic justice on a local, statewide and national level. He has trained thousands of leaders across the country on the methodologies of faith-based community organizing. He is also an adjunct professor at the Institute of Pastoral Studies at Loyola University of Chicago where he periodically teaches courses on Catholic Social Teaching and Christian Ethics.  Michael possesses a BA from the University of California, Berkeley, a Master's in Theology from Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, and a Doctorate of Ministry with a concentration in Latinx studies from Fordham University. Michael is a first-generation American. His maternal grandparents were from Guanajuato, Mexico, and his father is a refugee from Poland. Michael lives in Chicago with his partner Joanna.

Session 2 - September 2022
Stephanie M. Crumpton

Stephanie M. Crumpton joined McCormick Theological Seminary in 2017 from Lancaster, PA, where she was assistant professor of Practical Theology. Prior to that she served as professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling at Hood Theological Seminary and also taught at Chicago Theological Seminary, Candler School of Theology at Emory University, and at Atlanta’s Interdenominational Theological Center. While in Georgia she served as a state court advocate and consultant on the Georgia Commission on Family Violence. Stephanie was ordained with ministerial standing in the United Church of Christ in 2013. She received a Doctor of Theology, Pastoral Care & Counseling, from Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia; a Master of Divinity from Johnson C. Smith Presbyterian Seminary at the Interdenominational Theological Center, Atlanta; and a Bachelor of Arts in Broadcast Journalism from Oklahoma’s Langston University. Her specialty is pastoral theological methodology, theories of personality development, historical and social dimensions of pastoral counseling, pastoral counseling as a specialized form of the church's ministries, family systems theory.

For more information, please email or call 919.613.5323.

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Apply now to participate in the Foundations of Christian Leadership program

Foundations of Christian Leadership is offered twice a year in varying locations.

Questions We Answer

We know that you grapple with many difficult questions as a Christian leader. We want to help. Complex concerns about ministry can’t be fully addressed here, of course, but we provide a starting point for engaging the deep issues.

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