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Leadership

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Rev. Allison Lanza

Executive Director & Co-Founder

Allison is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) with 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 an Associate Chaplain at Texas Christian University and, most recently, served as Associate Pastor at Ridglea Christian Church in Fort Worth, TX.

Driven by her passion for helping congregations collaborate with nonprofits and activists in their communities to effect positive change, Allison founded Connect Ministries in 2015. This program, initially under Ridglea Christian Church, 
emphasized faith-based action that is relational, sustainable, and dignity-affirming.

In 2022, Connect Ministries joined with Reach Beyond Mission to become Be The Neighbor, aligning their missions and expanding their impact.

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Kristen Jackson

Associate Director

Kristen joined Be The Neighbor in 2023 after spending six years working in community engagement and evaluation at nonprofits in both Dallas and Philadelphia.

 

She has a Bachelor's degree from the University of Mount Union in Business Management and minored in Peacebuilding and Social Justice. 

Kristen is a lifelong member of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). She served as a member of Reach Beyond Mission's staff in 2016 and 2017. During those summers, she gained new insight into the ways that communities can be changed, and everyone can make a difference through love of neighbor. She felt it was serendipitous being able to bring the skills she gained in the nonprofit world back to Be The Neighbor, formed when Reach Beyond Mission joined forces with Connect Ministries, where her passion for the nonprofit sector took off.

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Rev. Mary Lu Johnston

Co-Founder

Mary Lu retired from Be The Neighbor in September 2023. 

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.


In 2022, Connect Ministries joined with Reach Beyond Mission to become Be The Neighbor, aligning their missions and expanding their impact.

Thank you to Mary Lu for her years of service and dedication to make our organization what it is today!

Board of Directors

Theresa Beaton

Beaton's Fine Catering

Washington, D.C.

Mark Dingler

Associate Minister

First Christian Church of

Bentonville and Waterway

Bentonville, Arkansas

Ayesha Hassan

Church World Service

Fort Worth, Texas

Sarah Jones, LMSW

Lena Pope

Fort Worth, Texas

Jennifer Kerr Garza, LPC

Special Education Counselor, 

Eagle Mountain ISD and Counselor, 

Roots to Wings Counseling

Fort Worth, Texas

Kimberly Kofron

Director of Early Childhood Education, Children at Risk

Austin, Texas

Krysia Lynes

Houston, Texas

Joshua Mata

Water Resources Design Engineer,

Freese and Nichols, Inc.

Austin, Texas

Rev. Megan Peglar

Pastor, University Christian Church

Austin, Texas

Rev. Chuck Pickrel

Associate Pastor, Overland Park

Christian Church

Overland Park, Kansas

Rev. Nikki Stahl

UCC Minister, Heart of Texas Association

Austin, Texas

Rev. Alfred Walker

Community Regional Minister for Reconciliation & Anti-Racism

Christian Church in the Southwest

Past Presidents

Cathleen Parsley, JD

Immediate Past President

Former Chief Administrative Law Judge, State of Texas

Austin, Texas

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