2017 Ziegler Young Religious Leadership Fellows
Jean Carlos Arce completed a bachelor in finance at the University of Puerto Rico and is completing a Master of Divinity with emphases in Urban Studies and Christian Ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary. JC has been a bank executive, pastor, and church planter; today he serves a youth pastor at Iglesia del Pacto in Eagle Rock. During his free time you can find him speaking about social justice and advocating for immigrants. Currently, He lives in Pasadena with his wife, Yaditza, and two sons, Enrique and Lucas.
Sarah Bedore was born in Colorado, and grew up in a little town called Erie. She moved to Los Angeles at 18 to attend Azusa Pacific University, where she is now in her final year of her Bachelors in Social Work. After this, she plans to pursue a concurrent Masters in Social Work and Law Degree (MSWJD). Sarah was raised in an Evangelical Christian faith tradition, but is currently content in not ascribing to any particular faith. She enjoys hearing the viewpoints, beliefs, and opinions of others while also understanding where her own heart is leading her. She believes in a God who loves all of us equally and dearly, and that is enough for her.
In her free time, Sarah enjoys surfing, hiking, climbing, yoga, and long drives. She has a passion for travel as a means to to gain beautiful insights into other cultures, viewpoints and ways of life. She practiced her passion for activism as a CLUE intern last Spring, as well as joining with the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) in Sacramento to advocate for specific bills and policies which would create change for our communities. She has a passion for policy-level advocacy and believes strongly that this is a key way in which we can change our society to be more accepting, caring, and compassionate toward one another.
Lucero Garcia is a student at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), and lives in Orange County. She will be graduating this June with a Bachelors of Arts in Global Cultures and a Bachelors of Arts in History. Her faith is rooted and grounded in God’s love for justice. Therefore, she believes in social justice for everyone regardless of their ethnicity, race, age, gender, religion, and how they identify themselves.
While participating in the Young Religious Leaders Fellows program, Lucero hopes to develop leadership skills and engage in the fight for social justice issues regarding labor and economic rights, immigrant rights, and racial justice. Additionally, she is interested in community outreach and learning more about how to help eradicate these injustices. Ultimately, she is passionate about creating a change and helping to promote equality.
Edgar Gonzales is the son of two immigrants from Nayarit, Mexico, and is privileged to have been born and raised in Long Beach, CA. His mother raised him Catholic and instilled in him the concepts of justice, love, and compassion; while he no longer identifies with a particular religion, he will never let go of what she taught him. Edgar recently graduated from California State University, Long Beach with a BA in Political Science and a legal studies certificate. His focus was on law, politics, and policy; he sought to understand how institutions could be used to better the lives of those in underserved communities. He is excited to take the theory he learned in the classroom and apply it in a way that makes a difference in the lives of people.
Eliana Mastrangelo is a rabbinical student at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at American Jewish University. Before entering rabbinical school, she was a Lead Organizer at Together Colorado, a statewide multi-faith, multi-racial organization committed to building power with everyday people of faith. Over the course of her organizing career, Eliana has worked on tuition equity, immigration reform and mental health care funding. She also led Together Colorado’s work on access to healthcare and organized refugee parents from five countries, speaking eight languages to win school transportation. Organizing for justice in a faith context is Eliana’s vocation and she is excited to spend the summer with CLUE! She looks forward to learning CLUE’s model of faith rooted organizing and deepening her personal integration of learning Torah and pursuing justice. Eliana graduated Magna Cum Laude from New York University where she studied urban political economy and (post)colonial history and literature.
Originally from Atlanta, Adam Overton has lived in Los Angeles since 2003, and in both communities was active for many years as an artist, musician, and arts organizer. After grad school Adam taught multimedia and experimental arts between multiple colleges in Los Angeles. The poor teaching conditions, however, led him to become a union organizer, and so has spent the past 3 years working with faculty, fast food workers, hospital workers, and county employees as they fight for dignity and rights in the workplace.
Adam is a Dabbler who over the years has found inspiration and strength in a variety of religious, spiritual, and healing modalities. His spiritual practice has been deeply influenced by the Zen-ist philosophies of composer John Cage, as well as the Deep Listening of composer Pauline Oliveros, and he has written and spoken extensively about the relationship between experimental music and experimental religion. Currently he has been deepening his understanding of the historical struggles of the peoples of Central America, and the accompaniment work of Monseñor Óscar Romero, Juan José Gerardí, and Ernesto Cardenal.
Leanette Pokuwaah has lived in a lot of places but would say she is from Chicago because she has grown up and lived in Chicago for the longest. She is first generation Ghanaian and graduated from North Park University with a B.A. in Biology.She grew up in the Methodist Church but has been a part of many different denominations throughout her life. Through her diverse faith experiences, she has been able to grow deeper in her relationship with Jesus. She would also say that her faith fuels her passion for serving people and working for justice and equality. In the future, she seeks to become a physician that advocates for adequate healthcare for people in under-served communities through healthcare policy and working in these communities. Currently, she works and volunteers has an EMT and ministry leader at the University of Illinois at Chicago. In addition, she serves her community through social justice initiatives by being involved with organizations like the Community Renewal Society and The People's Lobby. She is very eager to join this amazing community that is CLUE and to grow in understanding on a deeper level on how to better make social change in the LA community.
Amanda Zeidner is originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota. She is an Urban and Environmental Policy major and Education minor at Occidental College and will be a senior this fall. Amanda studied abroad last semester in Australia where she was studying sustainability and environmental action. While in Australia she completed research on sustainable urban planning and liveability. Previously, Amanda worked with CLUE during the fall semester of 2016 helping to organize the P♀WER (people organizing for women's economic rights) group and assisting with work around the HHH ballot measure. She is passionate about equity for women and worked with P♀WER on their efforts to support legalization of street vending in LA. She has also worked on issues regarding youth homelessness and trafficking in Minnesota.
Amanda grew up going to an Episcopal school and has done work for the Episcopal Church in MN. Her family attends a Congregational Church that is dedicated to social justice organizing around the twin cities. Last year Amanda participated in the Values and Vocations Fellowship at Occidental College that explored the intersection of spirituality and social justice work. This summer she is excited to continue learning about faith rooted organizing and looks forward to seeing how the YRLF program allows her to further develop her personal understanding of faith and spirituality.