Introducing our Speakers for The Gathering 2017

We are delighted to introduce this year’s speakers. We will add more to this list as the planning continues.

One thing we like to point out is that The Gathering’s own participants play a vital role in the conversations and classes that are offered during the event. Part of our core mission is to educate — and this always includes an emphasis on peer learning.

Steve Beck

Steve is a Gathering participant and co-founder and Managing Partner of Novastar Ventures, a venture capital fund manager backing early-stage businesses in East Africa  that widen access, improve quality, and lower cost of basic goods and services for the aspiring mass market. Prior to Novastar, Steve founded SpringHill Equity Partners, an angel investor circle backing start-ups in East Africa. He was previously CEO of the philanthropy advisor Geneva Global, and managing partner of two strategy consulting firms: Monitor Company and Gemini Consulting. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree with Distinction from Stanford University and a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics. With his wife Dot, Steve lives in Nairobi.

Dave Blanchard

Dave is the CEO and co-founder of Praxis, where he works to equip a generation of entrepreneurs motivated by their faith to create cultural and social impact. Prior to co-founding Praxis, he was a principal business designer at IDEO, an innovation consultancy. He also co-founded DiscLive, a company working at the intersection of music and technology. Dave graduated from Babson College with a concentration on entrepreneurship and also completed graduate work at Northwestern University, earning an MBA and an MEM. Dave’s social enterprise experience includes four years on the Board of Governors of Opportunity International and the One Acre Fund Governing Board. He and his family live in Manhattan and are part of the Trinity Grace Church community.

Micah Bournes

Micah Bournes — creative writer, poet, songwriter, bluesman and performer — is most known for his passionate presentations of spoken word poetry. Hip-Hop is his native tongue, and his creative expressions are full of stories and self-reflection. Micah invites us to think critically on issues of culture, faith and justice. Micah firmly believes that each and every person is creative, and he hopes to inspire the inner artist that dwells in us all. Micah was born and raised in Long Beach, California.

We should always choose our books as God chooses our friends, just a bit beyond us, so that we have to do our level best to keep up with them. Oswald Chambers

Cynthia Bauer

Cynthia Bauer has a master’s degree in biology and ecology and a bachelor’s degree in wildlife conservation. In 1998 that work took Cindy to Kenya for the first time, where she became acutely aware of the needs of the disabled, especially children. (Cindy was born without a left hand so these children tugged at her heart.) While in Kenya she was introduced to 15 children at The Gede Home for the Physically Disabled, and by 1999, her friends and family had donated enough money to cover school fees for those children. The project continued to grow, and by 2003, Kupenda for the Children was born. In the last 14 years, Kupenda has helped thousands of children to achieve their God-given potential, and families and communities have been changed by learning what is possible when opportunities are made available to everyone.

David Brooks

David Brooks has a gift for bringing audiences face to face with the spirit of our times with humor, insight and quiet passion. He is a keen observer of the American way of life and a savvy analyst of present-day politics and foreign affairs. He became an op-ed columnist for The New York Times in 2003 and is also currently a commentator on The PBS Newshour, NPR’s All Things Considered and NBC’s Meet the Press. He teaches at Yale University, is a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and is a The New York Times best-selling author, most recently for The Road to Character.

Barry Corey

Dr. Barry H. Corey is the eighth president of Biola University. Since assuming the role in 2007, Dr. Corey has led Biola into its second century with the launching of an ambitious 10-year University Plan and the largest comprehensive fundraising campaign in university history. A native of Boston, Dr. Corey previously served as vice president for education at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He received a B.A. in English and biblical studies from Evangel University and an MA in American studies and a Ph.D in education from Boston College. As a Fulbright scholar, he lived in Bangladesh, where he researched educational programs for children of the landless poor. Dr. Corey is the author of the book  Love Kindness: Discover the Power of a Forgotten Christian Virtue and his writing has been featured in publications like  The Washington Post, The National Review, Relevant,  and  Converge, among others. He and his wife, Paula, have three children: Anders, Ella, and Samuel. 

Shannon Sedgwick Davis

Shannon Sedgwick Davis is a Gathering participant and is the CEO of Bridgeway Foundation, a philanthropic organization dedicated to ending and preventing global mass atrocities. As an attorney, activist, and passionate advocate for social justice, Shannon has guided Bridgeway Foundation in pioneering solutions to these seemingly intractable issues. More recently, she and the Bridgeway Foundation have been credited for their pivotal role in mobilizing awareness, civilian protection and recovery efforts against the Lord’s Resistance Army and its leader, Joseph Kony, the first-ever indictee of the International Criminal Court. Prior to joining Bridgeway Foundation, Shannon served as vice president of Geneva Global, and was the director of public affairs at International Justice Mission (IJM). Shannon is an honors graduate of McMurry University and Baylor Law School. She also sits on the board of several organizations including The Elders, Humanity United, TOMS and charity: water.

Todd Deatherage

Todd Deatherage spent 16 years in senior positions in both branches of the U.S. government including four years as chief of staff in the Secretary of State’s Office of Policy Planning and two years as senior advisor in the Office of International Religious Freedom, where he specialized in religious freedom in the Middle East. In 2009 he co-founded the Telos Group. Telos equips American leaders and their communities to become fearless peacemakers. For American engagement in Israel/Palestine, the Telos Group resources individuals with the requisite drive, expertise and relationships to effectively and relentlessly wage peace using their signature pro/pro/pro blueprint for peacemaking (Pro-Israeli, Pro-Palestinian, Pro-American).

Sam Dharmapala

Sam created Regenesys BPO, an outsourcing company based in the Philippines that employs survivors of slavery in technology-centric jobs. He started his career in the Australian outback as an engineer optimizing furnace reactors. He then worked in financial services for 14 years with global banks including JP Morgan and Deutsche Bank across Europe and Asia. He has had a lifelong passion to find innovative ways to help the poor and four years ago was inspired by anti-slavery movement to start Regenesys BPO, which harnesses technology and corporate digital supply chains to help survivors walk the last mile of their restoration. 

Sam works together with his wife Mindy, a medical doctor who shares the same passion for working with adolescents and young adults from disadvantaged backgrounds. Their lives are continually enriched by their two children, Benjamin and Grace. 

Rod Dreher

Rod Dreher is a writer and journalist whose latest book, The Benedict Option: A Strategy For Christians In A Post-Christian Nation, was described by David Brooks in The New York Times as “the most discussed and most important religious book of the decade.” He is a senior editor of The American Conservative and writes frequently on issues of religion and culture. He is an Eastern Orthodox Christian who lives in Baton Rouge, La., with his wife and three children.

Dave Evans

From saving the seals to solving the energy crisis, from imagining the first computer mice to redefining software — Dave Evans has been on a mission, including helping others to find theirs. After three careers in the high-tech industry Dave started his fourth career teaching in the Stanford Design Program in 2007. The class where one could learn “how to apply innovation principles of design thinking to the wicked problem of designing your life” quickly became a campus favorite. Dave advocates thoroughly integrating soul and role. He is the co-founder of the Life Design Lab of the Stanford Design Program, and co-author with Bill Burnett of the book Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life. Dave lives with his wife, Claudia, and their dogs, Jack and Daisy, on the coast in Santa Cruz, where they enjoy sailing the Monterey Bay on their sailboat, “The Good Ship Lolly-Pop.”

Michael Gerson

Michael Gerson is a nationally syndicated columnist who appears twice weekly in the Washington Post and in nearly 100 other newspapers. He is the author of Heroic Conservatism and co-author of City of Man: Religion and Politics in a New Era. He appears regularly on the PBS NewsHour, Face the Nation and other broadcasts. Gerson serves as senior advisor at ONE, a bipartisan organization dedicated to the fight against extreme poverty and preventable diseases. Until 2006, Gerson was a top aide to President George W. Bush as assistant to the President for policy and strategic planning. Prior to that appointment, he served in the White House as deputy assistant to the President, director of presidential speechwriting, assistant to the President for speechwriting, and policy advisor.

Alisa Grace

Alisa Grace earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from Biola University. She serves as consulting director to Biola’s Center for Marriage and Relationships where she also co-teaches a class on Christian perspectives of marriage and relationships with her husband, Chris. She previously served as director of women’s ministries at Redemption Hill Church, director of public relations at Far East Broadcasting, and director of internal communications and university events at Biola. With professional training and practical experience, Alisa has taught and counseled thousands of couples, sharing foundational and practical insights on enhancing intimacy, as well as providing seminars and couples retreats at colleges, universities and conferences nationwide.

Chris Grace

Chris Grace serves full time as the director of Biola University’s Center for Marriage and Relationships and is also a professor of psychology at Rosemead School of Psychology. Chris received a Ph.D. in social psychology from Colorado State University. He began his career at Biola in 1988, serving as undergraduate psychology department chair for six years and as vice provost for faculty development and university assessment for six years, while continuing to teach “Introduction to Psychology.” (Recorded in 2010 and again in 2013, this course became an international hit on YouTube.) Chris has numerous publications and presentations in psychology and speaks regularly at conferences, churches, colleges and universities on the topics of dating, marriage and relationships. He writes a popular blog on relationships and co-hosts the podcast “The Art of Relationships.”

Patrick Gray

As a former high school teacher, former registered nurse, and former health care administrator, Patrick Gray is a lover of people. He believes that who we are on a day-to-day basis is the greatest testament to what we believe. His life as a husband and father of three children provides him with daily joy, and his recent adventure across Spain with best friend, Justin Skeesuck, has opened his eyes to a whole new world of people hungry for hope and purpose. Leaving his career in healthcare behind, Patrick’s new-found passion is writing and public speaking with Justin, where they challenge others to live their lives more fully regardless of the limitations they might face. He is the author of The Push: A Children’s Story of Friendship (Spring, 2018). Patrick lives in Meridian, ID, with his wife, Donna, and their three children Cambria, Joshua and Olivia.

Peter Greer

Peter Greer is president and CEO of HOPE International, a global Christ-centered microenterprise development organization serving throughout Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe. Before beginning his role at HOPE, Peter worked as a microfinance practitioner in Cambodia, Zimbabwe and Rwanda and earned a master’s degree from Harvard. He has co-authored eight books, including The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good, Mission Drift, 40/40 Vision, and The Giver and the Gift. Peter and his wife, Laurel, live in Lancaster, PA, with their three children.

Os Guinness

Os Guinness is an author and social critic. Great-great-great grandson of Arthur Guinness, the Dublin brewer, he was born in China in World War II where his parents were medical missionaries. Os completed his undergraduate degree at the University of London and his D.Phil in the social sciences from Oriel College, Oxford. He has written or edited more than 30 books, including The Call, Long Journey Home, Unspeakable and Fool’s Talk. His latest is Impossible People – Christian Courage and the Struggle for Civilization. Before moving to the United States in 1984, Os was a freelance reporter with the BBC. Since then he has been a guest scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Studies, a guest scholar and visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution, and senior fellow at the Trinity Forum and the EastWest Institute in New York. He has also served as executive director of the Williamsburg Charter Foundation where he helped to draft “The Williamsburg Charter” and later “The Global Charter of Conscience” (published at the European Union Parliament in 2012). He is currently a senior fellow at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics in Oxford, though he still lives with his wife, Jenny, in the Washington DC area.

Michael Gulker

Michael Gulker is president of The Colossian Forum – an organization equipping leaders to engage today’s most divisive cultural conflicts as opportunities for discipleship instead of division. Author of the upcoming book Learning to Fight Like Jesus, he is committed to sharing the good news that conflict need not be a threat, but can be received as a Christ-given opportunity for spiritual formation, cross-generational relationship building, and witness to a fragmented world that can no longer imagine what it means for “all things to hold together in Christ” (Colossians 1:17). A native of West Michigan, Michael studied philosophy and theology at Calvin College, has a divinity degree from Duke Divinity School, and is an ordained Mennonite pastor. Before coming to The Colossian Forum, he served as pastor of Christ Community Church in Des Moines, IA. Michael and his wife, Jodie, have two young children.

Steve Haas

Steve Haas serves as Catalyst for World Vision, a position he has held over the last seven years after joining World Vision 15 years ago. He has earned degrees from the University of Kansas, Fuller Seminary and coursework at the University of Edinburgh. His work before world Vision includes Asia refugee work in Thailand to serving on the staff of Willow Creek Church, serving as a U.S. voice for the persecuted Church to facilitating Socratic forums for the Trinity Forum. An ordained pastor, Steve uses his varied experiences, research and leadership networks to raise awareness of some of the world’s most pressing issues. Steve has three grown children and lives in Tacoma, WA.

John Inazu

John Inazu is the Sally D. Danforth Distinguished Professor of Law and Religion and Professor of Political Science at Washington University in St. Louis, MO. He teaches criminal law, law and religion, and various First Amendment seminars. His scholarship focuses on the First Amendment freedoms of speech, assembly, and religion, and related questions of legal and political theory. John is also a senior fellow at the Institute of Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia. He has written two books, Liberty’s Refuge: The Forgotten Freedom of Assembly and Confident Pluralism: Surviving and Thriving Through Deep Difference. He has written broadly for mainstream audiences in publications including USA Today, CNN, The Hedgehog Review, The Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post.

Josh Kwan

Josh Kwan finds joy in helping entrepreneurs build businesses and nonprofits that create enduring value. Josh is co-founder, partner and nonprofit portfolio lead for Praxis. Josh was the director of international giving for the David Weekley Family Foundation, where he divided his time between conducting due diligence on innovative social enterprises and helping portfolio organizations scale their impact on reducing poverty; he continues to advise DWFF on grantmaking and impact investing. Josh is a founding board member of Village Schools International. He also served on the founding executive committee of the Big Bang Philanthropy Group, whose members focus on social entrepreneurs tackling global poverty. Josh also co-founded and serves on the board of Carpenters Code, a startup that’s creating a mobile app to encourage the practice of prayer. He graduated from Harvard and earned an MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. Josh lives with his family near San Francisco.

Greg Lernihan

Greg Lernihan is a Gathering participant and the co-founder of Convergint Technologies, an electronic security, life safety, and building management company which was started in a basement in 2001 with two colleagues. It has grown into a workforce of more than 2,500 with 45 offices throughout the world. Greg has refocused his life by committing himself to making a difference in the lives of others by dedicating his time to mentoring budding entrepreneurs and supporting Christian-led ministries and companies focused on the underserved. Greg is married and has been blessed with three children and two grandchildren.

Alex Lerza

Alex Lerza is Co-Founder and CEO of R|TRIBE, an innovative online counseling platform that smart-matches clients to counselors. He is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and Certified Sex Addiction Specialist by training. Alex developed the most successful private practice in the 30-year history of the largest outpatient provider in the Silicon Valley. His innovative practice included the first ever porn addiction program for teens and families in the Bay Area.

It was this early success that allowed Alex to consider how to scale the transformation of addiction recovery through technology. Prior to becoming an LMFT, Alex did campus ministry with InterVarsity for six years at several Bay Area universities including Stanford University. His current mission is to build technology that willequip this generation with the science and wisdom that heals addiction.

Sally Lloyd-Jones

Sally Lloyd-Jones is a children’s book writer. Born in Kampala, Uganda; raised in East and West Africa; and also at a boarding school in the New Forest, the first book she ever remembers reading all the way through was The Complete Nonsense by Edward Lear. Sally worked in children’s book publishing for several years before leaving in 2000 to write full-time. She has written many books for children including the critically acclaimed The New York Times Bestseller, How To Be A Baby… By Me, The Big Sister and also the classic The Jesus Storybook Bible—Every Story Whispers His Name. Sally says, “I wrote this book so children could know that God loves them-with a Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.” She lives in Manhattan and likes to divide her time between the front half of her apartment and the back.

Fernando Ortega

At times categorized as a contemporary Christian artist, Fernando Ortega’s approach to music breaks those boundaries. One is as likely to hear elements of folk, classical, Celtic, Latin American, world and rustic hymnody. The depth of his music springs from his heritage as the product of eight generations of family hailing from Chimayo, NM, to time spent in Ecuador due to his father’s work with the US Department of State and his formal training at The University of New Mexico. He plays “the music of his heart.”

Jason Russell

As co-founder and chief creative officer at Invisible Children, Jason Russell led the company’s creative vision with an emphasis on the power of storytelling for more than a decade. In 2016, Jason launched Broomstick Engine, a creative agency that is dedicated to using storytelling to inspire movements and real action. Jason is both a work and life partner to his childhood sweetheart Danica and recently released their book A Little Radical: The ABC’s of Activism. He believes the greatest stories he gets to co-direct are those of his two children, Gavin Danger and Everley Darling.

Ben Sasse

Ben Sasse is a United States Senator, representing the great state of Nebraska. A fifth-generation Nebraskan, Ben grew up walking beans and detasseling corn, experiences that taught him the value of hard work. A graduate of Fremont High School, he was recruited to wrestle at Harvard and then earned a PhD in American history at Yale. Ben comes to the Senate having spent the last five years as a college president. When he was recruited to take over the failing Midland University, Ben was just 37 years old, making him one of the youngest college presidents in the nation. The 130-year-old Lutheran college was on the verge of bankruptcy when he arrived, but became one of the fastest-growing higher education institutions in the country by the time of his departure. Most of his career has been spent guiding companies and institutions through times of crisis with straight talk about the core issues. He has worked with the Boston Consulting Group and McKinsey and Company, as well as private equity firms and not-for-profit organizations, to tackle failing strategies across a broad array of sectors and nations. Ben believes that we have a moral obligation to pass along a country as great and free and opportunity-filled to the next generation as we were blessed to inherit from our grandparents. This will require a more serious Congress, committed to reforming entitlements, telling the truth about fake federal budgets, modernizing national security for the age of global terror networks, and helping the next generation recover a sense of optimism about the American Dream for everyone of every race in every neighborhood.

Scott Sauls

Scott Sauls is husband to Patti, dad to Abby and Ellie, and senior pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville, TN. Prior to Nashville, Scott was a lead and preaching pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian in New York City after planting two churches in Kansas City and Saint Louis. Scott has authored three books, Jesus Outside the Lines, Befriend, and From Weakness to Strength, and blogs regularly at scottsauls.com. His work has also been featured in Christianity Today, Relevant Magazine, Qideas, Catalyst, Leadership Magazine, aholyexperience, OnFaith, The Gospel Coalition and more.

Gabriel Schulze

Gabriel Schulze is a Gathering participant and founder and chairman of Schulze Global Investments, an American private equity firm headquartered in Singapore. The firm was originally founded as a platform to deploy capital into the most attractive frontier markets across Asia and Africa. Today, Schulze Global manages capital on behalf of some of the world’s leading international financial institutions. Schulze Global also makes important contributions to the local economic development — providing much-needed capital to grow businesses, create jobs, and lift incomes. Gabriel serves on a number of business, governmental and NGO boards, including EMPEA’s Impact Investing Council. He has been featured prominently in publications such as Forbes, The Financial Times, and The Economist. Mr. Schulze resides in Singapore with his wife, Julie, and their children.

Justin Skeesuck

Justin Skeesuck enjoyed a prolific career as a graphic designer until a progressive neuromuscular disease finally robbed him of the use of his arms and legs. Never one to dwell on the struggles of life, he has pursued adventure despite living life from a wheelchair. His world travels with his wife and children have done nothing but fuel his desire to experience other cultures. When Justin discovered the Camino de Santiago while watching Rick Steeves on Public Access TV, he knew he had to attempt the 500-mile journey across Spain, but knew he couldn’t do it alone. When Justin asked his best friend, Patrick Gray, his thoughts about the journey, the story of I’ll Push You came to life. Justin left graphic design behind. Along with Patrick, Justin now speaks and writes words of hope. Together, they share stories about their struggles in life, challenging people around the world to look at their own limitations differently; as something to overcome. The book and documentary, I’ll Push You, is recently released and will be featured at The Gathering.

Connor Skelly

Connor Skelly is a senior associate at The Bridgespan Group, a global nonprofit organization that collaborates with mission-driven leaders, organizations and philanthropists to break cycles of poverty and dramatically improve the quality of life for those in need. At Bridgespan, Connor has worked with a range of nonprofit organizations and foundations pursuing initiatives focused on improving education and healthcare for underserved populations. Prior to Bridgespan, Connor was the 7th Grade Dean and Math Teacher at KIPP Bayview Academy in San Francisco. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, Kristy.

Wendy Smith

Gathering participant Wendy Smith is a well-known solo harpist residing in Southern California. She worked with Disney Entertainment for 12 years. Wendy’s performances are enhanced by the beauty of her custom-made Lyon & Healy harp and French Camac Harp. Wendy trained privately for 12 years under Grace Follet, former harp department chairperson at Syracuse University in New York. Follet was a student of the renowned French-born harpist Carlos Salzedo, whose enduring technical approach is referred to as the “Salzedo Method”. In addition, Wendy received instruction under Susan McDonald, senior harp director at Julliard School of Music.

John Townsend

John Townsend is a The New York Times-bestselling author, business consultant, leadership coach and psychologist. He is also the founder of the Townsend Institute for Leadership and Counseling, which offers graduate degrees and credentialing in organizational leadership, executive coaching, and counseling. He has written or co-written 27 books, selling 10 million copies, including the Boundaries series; Leadership Beyond Reason; and his newest book, The Entitlement Cure, which was a 2016 finalist for Book of the Year. For more than 20 years, John has engaged with leaders, organizations and individuals around the globe, offering them life-changing solutions to their problems. Dr. Townsend works with families, businesses, leaders and organizations by providing team and executive coaching, corporate consulting, and by speaking at countless conferences. A resident of Newport Beach, CA, Dr. Townsend and his wife, Barbi, have two sons.

Benjamin C. Warf, MD

Dr. Benjamin Warf is currently Professor of Neurosurgery at Harvard Medical School and holds the Hydrocephalus and Spina Bifida Chair at Boston Children’s Hospital, where he serves as Director of Neonatal and Congenital Anomalies Neurosurgery. He also serves on the CURE International Board of Trustees and is the Medical Director of CURE Hydrocephalus.

Ben grew up in the Appalachian Mountains of Eastern Kentucky, where his father was a pastor. After graduating from Harvard Medical School in 1984, he trained in neurosurgery at Case Western Reserve University and was subsequently the first Fellow in Pediatric Neurosurgery at Boston Children’s Hospital. He then served as Chief of Pediatric Neurosurgery and Director of Surgical Education at University of Kentucky Medical Center until 2000, when he and his wife, Cindy, moved their family to Uganda as full-time missionaries with CURE International.

Ben was the founding Medical Director of CURE Children’s Hospital of Uganda (CCHU) from 2000 to 2006. During those years he developed and validated a new surgical treatment for infant hydrocephalus (the ETV/CPC procedure) that avoids the life-long risk of shunt dependence. He began the CURE Hydrocephalus training and treatment program based at CCHU that has trained and equipped surgeons in more than 20 developing countries to perform this operation, which he has subsequently introduced into North America where it is becoming widely used. He was also responsible for characterizing neonatal infection as the most common cause of infant hydrocephalus in Uganda and has worked to raise awareness about the previously unrecognized global burden of this disease, including testimony before the US House of Representatives Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights. In 2012, Dr. Warf was named a MacArthur Fellow for his work. Aside from his pediatric neurosurgical practice at Boston Children’s Hospital, his current work focuses on increasing global access to optimal evidence-based treatment for children with hydrocephalus and spina bifida, hydrocephalus-related research, and advocating for children with disabilities in the developing world.

Ben and Cindy, his wife of 38 years, have six adult children (one of whom has significant disabilities) and four grandchildren. They reside in Lincoln, Massachusetts, and are members of Park Street Church in Boston.