Leadership

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Mary Lu Johnston

Co-Executive Director

Mary Lu loves supporting youth leaders! She has worked with youth as an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for 35 years. Mary Lu has directed, keynoted, and/or written curriculum for many youth retreats, camps, and mission trips. She has led weekly multi-congregation youth ministries that included Disciples of Christ, United Church of Christ, Presbyterian USA, United Methodist, and Alliance Baptist youth.

 

Unable to find open and affirming, justice and education-focused youth mission trip opportunities centered in progressive theology, Mary Lu and her colleague, Rev. Tim Tutt, founded Reach Beyond Mission in 2012. "Be the neighbor" was the central message of a Reach Beyond Mission week, and Mary Lu believes it is the crux of what it means to follow Jesus.

Mary Lu is married to Ted, an attorney who is passionate about children and families issues. Mary Lu and Ted love spending time with their two adult children: Virginia, a PhD student at the University of Chicago Divinity School; and Madeline, a Social Worker and law student at the University of Texas.

 

Mary Lu holds a bachelor's degree from Texas Christian University (Go Frogs!) and a Master of Divinity from Brite Divinity School. She served Disciple congregations in Texas, most recently at University Christian Church Austin for over 16 years.

Mary Lu is an accomplished pianist, takes a weekly tap class, and enjoys popcorn and a good movie. 

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Allison Lanza

Co-Executive Director

Allison loves walking alongside and cheering on congregations as they discover new ways they can partner with neighbors to ensure that everyone in their community can thrive.  

 

Allison is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). She holds a bachelor's degree from Trinity University and a Master of Divinity from Vanderbilt Divinity School. She has served congregations in Kansas and North Carolina, as Associate Chaplain at Texas Christian University, and most recently served as Associate Pastor at Ridglea Christian Church in Fort Worth, Texas. 

 

Allison has always felt a call to help congregations better connect and work alongside non-profits and activists in their community so that they might be a force for change and love in their neighborhoods.  She believes that when we work together and do ministry "with" and not "to" our neighbors we can be a part of making our communities more like the places God dreams of- places where everyone is loved and has what they need to thrive.  With this passion she founded Connect Ministries in 2015 as a program of Ridglea Christian Church to provide service-learning opportunities to congregations and college groups that they might put their faith into action through service and justice in ways that are relational, sustainable and dignity-affirming.  

 

Allison is the mom to 4 year old Spencer who has her whole heart!  She serves as Board President for West Aid Pantry with a Purpose and serves on the boards of KWC Performing Arts and Operation Book Bag.  She loves spending time outside and on patios eating chips and salsa with family and friends!

Board of Directors

Cathleen Parsley, JD

Board President

Former Chief Administrative Law Judge

State of Texas

Theresa Beaton

Beaton's Fine Catering

Washington, D.C.

Mark Dingler

Master of Divinity Student

Yale Divinity School

Ayesha Hassan

Church World Service

Fort Worth, Texas

Sarah Jones, LMSW

Lena Pope

Fort Worth, Texas

Kimberly Kofron

Director, Early Childhood Education 

Children at Risk, Texas

Rev. Virzola Law

Pastor, Northway Christian Church

Dallas, Texas

Joshua Mata

Water Resources Design Engineer

Freese and Nichols, Inc. Austin

Rev. Megan Peglar

Pastor, University Christian Church

Austin, Texas

Rev. Chuck Pickrel

Associate Pastor, Overland Park Christian Church, Overland Park, Kansas

Meredith Pogson, SLP

North Elementary School, WSISD

Fort Worth, Texas

Rev. Nikki Stahl

Heart of Texas Association UCC Minister

Austin, Texas

Rev. Dr. Timothy Tutt

Pastor, Westmoreland Congregational UCC

Bethesda, Maryland

Rev. Alfred Walker

Community Regional Minister for Reconciliation & Anti-Racism

Christian Church in the Southwest