NBA Adds New Staff Members to Aid in Mental Health, Justice, and Development Work

In the last few months, the National Benevolent Association has welcomed a handful of new people into the organization. These new faces have dynamic experience in their respective fields and the ministry is so blessed to have them as part of the staff.

Barbara V. Associate Vice President of Development.

Barbara V. joined the Development and Marketing team at the beginning of September as the Associate Vice President of Development. She has 16 years of experience in faith-based, nonprofit fundraising that includes major gifts, planned giving, foundations and grants, and donor stewardship. With her professional skills and certifications including from the Harvard Executive Education Nonprofit program, Barbara is committed to sharing her skills not just to raise funds yet to actively advocate for transformation so that all communities may equitably flourish.

“The work of connecting and engaging with our NBA donors and supporters is so important. The development skills and experiences that Barbara adds to our NBA team are real strengths and we are even more grateful for her excitement and commitment to the mission of NBA,” reflects NBA Vice President of Development and Marketing, Rev. April Lewton.

Joselyn Spence
Joselyn Spence, Director of NBA’s Mental Health and Wellness Initiative

Late this summer, Joselyn Spence joined NBA as the new Director of NBA’s Mental Health & Wellness Initiative. Since joining the team, Spence has shared resources for those suffering from trauma and PTSD, had a conversation on Mental Health in the Black community with Rev. Lee B. Ivey III and participated in a denomination-wide roundtable about coping with trauma.

“Joselyn comes to NBA with a wealth of experience and passion for ‘mental health care, holistic and communal wellness, and faith,’ making her well suited to deepen and expand NBA’s Mental Health and Wellness Initiative into this new chapter,” says Vice President of Organizational and Leadership Development Rev. Monica Wedlock Kilpatrick. “When asked how she approaches working with such a diverse group of people within a Christian movement where all are welcome, she simply responded ‘care transcends.’ This indeed is at the heart of NBA’s mission to create communities of compassion and care, and Joselyn is the right leader to accompany NBA on this journey.”

Alexis Vaughan (top row, far left) at the first in-person meeting of the Advocacy and Activism Peer Learning & Wellness Group.

As the new Justice Coordinator for NBA’s Community Engagement Program, Alexis Vaughan brings her skills of ministry and community organizing to a role where she will help the organization deepen its advocacy work in addressing the root causes of social injustice.

“Alexis is an outstanding pastor, preacher, leader, activist, community organizer, storyteller, and visionary. She is not new to the NBA Justice work because she has been part of that work through different roles over the last several years,” says Director of Community Engagement Rev. Héctor J. Hernández Marcial. “Alexis was part of NBA’s 2016-17 Disciples Faith and Activism Research and Design Team, whose primary purpose was to help equip a network of Disciples activists to ‘advocate for the well-being of humanity.’ Then she was a member of NBA’s first Advocacy & Activism Peer group in 2018.”

Cindy and Suzanne
Cindy Kim Hengst with former NBA trustee Suzanne Quenette.

Former Trustee Cindy Kim Hengst joins NBA staff as the newest Peer Learning & Wellness Group Convener. Hengst will be the leader for the new Asian-American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) Young Adult Peer Learning & Wellness Group. The peer group will launch later in 2021. Beyond her time as a trustee, Hengst has been engaged with Disciples ministries for 20 years mentoring families with transitional housing concerns, leading preschool programs in her local church, and serving on several governing boards of general ministries across the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

Rev. Rae Karim, Interim XPLOR/Young Adult Leadership Development Coordinator

Lastly, the NBA is thrilled to have Rev. Rae Karim joining us as the Interim XPLOR/Young Adult Leadership Development Coordinator. For the next 18 months, Rev. Karim will play a crucial role in continuing to shape NBA’s leadership development and young adult work. Prior to joining NBA, she served as the interim pastor of First Christian Church in Honolulu, Hawaii. She has also served as pastor of Northwood Christian Church and Chapel Director at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, Indiana, where she received her Master of Divinity degree.

“During this time of transition and upbuilding of our XPLOR young adult leadership program, we need a leader who has a passion for young adult flourishing, alongside the skill to ask the right questions and determine the needs and issues facing young adults today and in the future,” says Vice President of Organizational and Leadership Development Rev. Monica Wedlock Kilpatrick. “Rev. Rae Karim brings to NBA those gifts, as well as a strong commitment to spiritual care, artistic expression, equity, and social engagement. We are delighted she said ‘yes’ to sharing her gifts with NBA.”