Class of 2019-2020

EMMAUS FELLOWS

Emmaus Fellows are second-year fellows based in the greater Boston area. This cohort is focused on capacity building. Fellows either continue work in their first year site placements, building on the initiatives started and relationships built in year one, or they pursue a new site placement, which enables them to broaden their skill set. Emmaus Fellows work at non-profit organizations and churches, focused on social and structural change. In addition to site work, Emmaus Fellows serve in a programmatic leadership role with Life Together and live in intentional community.

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Erica Beavers

My name is Erica Beavers (yes, like the animal) and I am so excited to dive into another year with Life Together! I hail proudly from East Hartford, Connecticut, but whole-heartedly call Boston home these days. My passion for social justice was ignited during my four years at Gordon College- a chaotic and messy point in the history of the college. Thanks to those formative years, I was led to this amazing program. 

This past year with Life Together stretched me so immensely that it still leaves me speechless sometimes. In spite of the challenges, Life Together filled me with spaciousness to grow as a person and inspire me to help carry others through this program. I look forward to using my social work degree and the teachings that I have gained from Life Together to do good in the world and allow the Divine to speak through me. My hope is to continue to spread healing love, fierce compassion, a listening ear, and baked goods everywhere I go throughout this year.

A few of my favorite things are taking midday naps, painting with watercolors, lettering modern calligraphy, collecting books that I don’t have time to read, and hoping that one day I’ll finish the piano piece that I wrote. Talk to me about the best lasagna you’ve ever had, hand embroidery, Grey’s Anatomy, and my top secret favorite communal activity!


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Eva Ortez

Hello everyone!  Mi nombre es Eva Maria Ortez,  I am a Honduran immigrant who grew up in Miami and now calls Boston home. I am so blessed and excited to be a second year fellow! I attended Sewanee: The University of the South in Tennessee and received a BA in International & Global Studies and French.

My first year with Life Together was the most transformative and challenging experience of my life. One phrase I can use to describe it is that I have become more fully myself. Weird, I know, but that is exactly what happened. I have been challenged by my friends, colleagues and God to simply show up as me, this has happened by being a part of the most beautiful and supportive communities in Life Together and at my work site MANNA, a ministry of and for the homeless community in downtown Boston. These communities have taught me more about myself and the Divine than any other experience ever has. I look forward to continue being enriched by spiritual practices, asking challenging questions, growing in intentional community and exploring my vocational call. As well as continue becoming more fully myself and supporting everyone in my life to do so as well. 

Some of my favorite things are a warm cafecito in the morning, chanting, working out and spending time with my loved ones!


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J. Wu

J. Wu is a two-year fellow, long-haired human. All of his teeth are intact. He arrived as a friendly stray without a microchip. His preferences are simple: Eating, napping, and staring out of high windows. He takes time to warm up to people, so we recommend an experienced home that builds trust over time. If you are easily discouraged, you may interact with one of the other fellows of this program; we have plenty. Currently, he is living under the care of a cat named Marco Brisket, pictured here. Make an appointment with Marco Brisket to visit J. Wu.


MICAH FELLOWS

Micah Fellows are first-year fellows based in the greater Boston area. This cohort is focused on training leaders who want to pursue a career in ministry or non-profit management. Micah Fellows work at non-profit organizations and churches, focused on social and structural change. During their year with Life Together, Micah Fellows: work for social justice, grow as leaders, and live in community with other fellows. In addition to working four days a week, these fellows will participate in about eight hours a week of leadership training and spiritual reflection, and they live in community with one another.

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Joyce Chae

Hey! My name is Joyce Chae, and I'm a 2nd-generation Korean American born and raised in the San Fernando Valley in California (who knows where that is??). It's 40 minutes from LA's Korea Town on a good day, but also a good road trip away from UC San Diego where I graduated. Being a Communication major there has taught me the role that technologies and institutions of communication mediate the human experience, and shape our everyday lives. It's helped me draw from a number of social science disciplines to dissect my own experiences with the Church, and the Korean Diaspora. The more critical awareness I gain, the more I realize how much this coming post-grad season calls for a dramatic centering on God's call for social justice. I'm ever-hungry for intentional discussions, teachings on different theologies and healing counseling sessions. My free time mostly consists of cooking-eating, spontaneous sessions of getting lost, and journaling in the meantime. 


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Eva Dalzell

Hi, I’m Eva! I’m thrilled to be starting this year with Life Together— a cradle Episcopalian, I’ve always been interested in the intersection of faith, justice, community, and service. I’ve had the privilege of seeing and standing with faith communities speaking truth to power at protests, write-ins, and town halls, in St. Louis and my hometown of Washington, D.C., and I can’t wait learn more about faith-based justice.

This year, I graduated with a BA in Classics from Washington University in St. Louis. I loved wrestling with difficult works and difficult concepts (not the least of which was the legacy of classics, historically a racist, classist, and misogynist field that, with the loving effort of dedicated scholars, is trying to get better). Of course, I also loved getting to geek out about the languages and stories that I love for four years. 

Though, like all introverts, I value my “alone time” to recharge and re-center, I believe that some things— cooking, eating, storytelling, and music-making— are best done with other people. Talk to me about queer historical fiction, church music, sci-fi, baking bread, and dungeons & dragons.


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Sky Gavis-Hughson

Hi, my name is Sky and I use they/them pronouns. I just graduated from Yale where I studied Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and wrote my thesis on the history of trans community building at Yale over the last 15 years. This was a topic that particularly interested me as someone who helped create and lead the student organization Trans@Yale. I also worked as a Peer Liaison for Yale’s Office of LGBTQ Resources, a position in which I mentored first years, and as a Communication and Consent Educator. As you might expect, I’m pretty invested in community building and community wellness. As such, I’m very excited to be living in intentional community next year and also to be working with Creche, an organization that supports the formation and thriving of intentional communities in the Boston area. 

 In my free time I love cooking and painting. In college I played rugby, and I’m hoping to take up martial arts once I’m settled in Boston. This summer I am walking the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage through France and Spain, and I’m so excited to bring the self-reflection and growth I’ve had here into a year with Life Together.


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Eliza Gorra

Hi everyone! My name is Eliza and I hail from the Shenandoah Valley of central Virginia. I graduated this spring from the University of Lynchburg (not to be confused with Liberty) with a BS in psychology. My years in college were a technicolor whirlwind of love and friendship, singing a Capella, studying abroad, conducting psychological research, and spending late nights paralyzed with laughter. My time there, however, was largely void of a close-knit spiritual community, which is one of the reasons I am so grateful and thrilled to be joining the Life Together team. I was drawn to this program, and the Episcopal Church itself, because of its allegiance to acceptance and compassion without borders, similar to the Catholic church in which I was raised. I hope to grow in Jesus' transformative and revitalizing radical love alongside you all this year, and am happy to provide a listening ear, Shakespearian insult bandaid, or dad joke to whoever is in need. 

In the tradition of providing a hobby list, I will end by saying that I love musicals, hippos, social justice, all types of noodles, advocating for children, ingesting memes by the spoonful, and avoiding exercise. I immensely look forward to getting to know you all in August!


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Allison Lewis

Hi, friends. My name is Allison Lewis. I recently graduated from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville with a degree in Mass Communications. During my time at Life Together, I’ll get to put the experience I’ve gained interning in the communications field to use for The Family Van. 

I’ve lived in the St. Louis area my whole life, and I’m excited to venture out of the Midwest and start a new chapter on the east coast. I’m sure living in an intentional community will be an enriching experience that will challenge me and help me grow in ways I won’t expect.

In my free time, I like going to concerts, reading, writing, and re-watching John Mulaney’s stand-up specials. I also love having long chats over coffee, so join me in my search for Boston’s best coffee shops.


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Natalia Marques

My name is Natalia Marques and I recently graduated from Wellesley College with a B.A. in Political Science. I am lucky that the past few years have brought many adventures, and many opportunities to practice politics at grassroots organizations and outside of more “formal” political spheres. These adventures, have included working at a prisoner advocacy organization in San Francisco, studying gender-based violence in Cape Verde, and working with the staff union back in college as part of a labor-oriented student organization. They have strengthened my belief that politics are an essential part of the lives of those whose life and livelihoods are threatened, not just something that happens on senate floors. I am super excited to start work at St. Mary’s church in Dorchester, where I hope to foster my love of community organizing and relationship building on the grassroots level. I am also excited to learn more about Boston immigrant communities as a whole and expand my knowledge of immigration in this country far beyond what I’ve experienced as a 2nd generation Brazilian. 

Outside of my political interests, I am actively learning Spanish and desperately trying to learn to run better. I love eating vegan burritos (and thinking about eating them!) and finding good science fiction/fantasy to read.


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Mary ellen Murray

Hey everyone! I’m Mary Ellen. I originally grew up in central Connecticut but have lived in different locations across the state of Massachusetts for about ten years now. I’m a few years out of college, where I graduated with a BA in Sociology, and had the opportunity to travel to Northern Ireland as part of a sociology course on conflict and social movements. I still like to approach social and structural concepts from a sociological framework and find my educational background has been a great help as I try to increasingly channel theory into action.


My professional journey has taken a winding path, with roles in politics, healthcare, education, consulting, and nonprofit work. My accumulated experiences have taught me much about the challenges we face as a society, and the areas I would most like to have an impact. I’m excited to join with Life Together to learn more about fighting to advance social justice and how to integrate those efforts with a deeper spiritual practice.

Outside of activism and politics, I love movies (I co-host a moderately successful movie podcast), media analysis, stand-up comedy, enjoying quality time with my enormous family, embroidery, writing, spending way too much time on twitter, and befriending animals.


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Tomoni Mwamunga

Hey everyone! My name is Tomoni Mwamunga and I’m a Kenyan immigrant who has been living (mostly) in Lynn, MA for the past 15 years. I am very happy and excited to be joining the Life Together program. Living in intentional community, being exposed to the varying spiritual perspectives of my peers, and facing the challenges of social justice work are some of the things I’m most looking forward to. I’m confident the program can help bring about the inner transformation that I’m seeking in my life. One of my major goals is to use this transformative experience to discern how I can best use my skills and talents to be a vessel for the Divine.

A few things I like to do in my free time are writing, reading, listening to music, eating food, making food (mostly eating it), exploring the local food scene (mom-and-pop joints especially), walking and watching metaphysical/esoteric documentaries on YouTube. This year, I hope to meet some gym goals and get lost around the city a bit.


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Calvin Swindal

Hi everyone! My name is Calvin. I graduated in May 2019 from Fordham University in the Bronx majoring in theology and Spanish with a minor in philosophy. I hail from Pittsburgh, PA where I grew up with three amazing siblings and my wonderful parents who met in Boston! With joining Life Together, I'm able to begin my post-grad life in a city so important to my parents' formation in love and spirit. I am sure it will be just as fulfilling for me.

I am beyond excited to join the Life Together cohort as a Micah fellow. I am certain that this is where God would like me to be. My faith journey has been a long and winding road. As a born and raised Catholic, the tradition is very important to me. However, since I have felt the call to ordination for the past few years, I would like to explore the Episcopal tradition. Thus, I hope to spend this year at Life Together finding my feet in this tradition and to continue listening to God. My favorite prayer, the Romero prayer, calls us "prophets of a future not our own," and I am excited to continue work towards justice for the marginalized that sows the seeds of the future and to learn how I can be a better citizen of this world. 

In my free time, I love to listen to music, eat candy and re-watch comedy sitcoms I basically have memorized at this point. I am hopeful to explore the city, eat new food, and have laughs with new friends!


ESPERANZA TEACHING FELLOWS

The Esperanza Teaching Fellowship is a partnership between Life Together and Esperanza Academy, located in Lawrence, MA. Esperanza Academy is a tuition-free, independent day school in the Episcopal tradition for low income girls in grades 5-8. The EA Teaching Fellows all teach classes, work, and coach in the extended day program of the school. This cohort is focused on training teachers and leaders who want to work for change through the education system. No pervious teaching experience is required. In addition to working as full-time teachers, EA Teaching Fellows join the Boston fellows for monthly leadership trainings, and they live together in intentional community.

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DOUGLAS KENNEDY

Wanderer, Wordsmith, Storyteller, Dreamer: Those are a few of the words that I use to describe myself. Like most paths I’ve taken, the trail to Life Together and Esperanza Academy has been a wandering one, but looking back from there to here, it doesn’t seem to meander at all. 

After growing up in Mobile, Alabama, I attended Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi, where I studied art history and business. Drawn to the intersection of those two disciplines, I helped aspiring entrepreneurs open businesses before I leapt full-time into the nonprofit world. After a few years of developing audiences, communicating about missions and visions, and even bringing a Triceratops skull through the back door of a museum (I have photo evidence), The lessons were many, but I’m thrilled to be returning to a community where I’ll have the opportunity to pursue justice and equity through education.

A few of my favorite things: On Being with Krista Tippett, Mountain Ranges, Yoga, Piles of books, hiking, and dancing like no one is watching.


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Alexandra Weisse (Sasha Oliveira)

 Hello all!  My given name is Alexandra but I go by Sasha. I was born and raised in Schenectady, New York (upstate). I lived in Somerville for a couple of years while I studied at Harvard Divinity School, and earned my Masters of Theological Studies there.  I chose to study religion because I wanted to learn the best stories in the world, the ones that give us purpose and both empower and comfort us. Stories, storytelling, and the power the art of stories contains within it is what motivates nearly everything I do. In keeping with the story theme, in my spare time, I can usually be found reading, playing, or planning for a tabletop RPG like Dungeons and Dragons.

I started Life Together as a Micah Fellow for Life Together working at The Crossing, a church in downtown Boston, and this year will be my second year teaching humanities at Esperanza Academy in Lawrence. I’m always down to talk books, gaming, and other artforms in the realm of speculative fiction, especially regarding POC and Queer representation in these fictions. My favorite genres are science fiction, magic realism, and fantasy. I also do my best to remain active and enjoy climbing and dancing.

While most of my study of religion has been academic, I personally identify as a Gnostic pagan, which basically means I like to burn incense and ritually call for the fall of capitalism. It’s hard work for a witch when “Imperial Wizards” are on the march.