PERKINS | SOERENS | FULGHAM | DONLON | BUSH
John M. Perkins is a sharecropper’s son who grew up in New Hebron, Mississippi amidst dire poverty. Fleeing to California at age 17 after his older brother’s murder at the hands of a town marshal, he vowed never to return. However after converting to Christianity in 1960 he returned to Mendenhall, Mississippi to share the gospel of Christ. While in Mississippi, his outspoken nature and support and leadership in civil rights demonstrations resulted in repeated harassment, beatings and imprisonment.
In 1983, Perkins and his wife, along with a few friends and other major supporters, established the John M. Perkins Foundation for Reconciliation & Development, Inc for the sole purpose of supporting their mission of advancing the principles of Christian community development and racial reconciliation throughout the world.
For the past seven years, Matthew Soerens has lived in a neighborhood in suburban Chicago where most of his neighbors are immigrants, representing more than twenty different countries of origin. His passion—and his job as the US Church Training Specialist for World Relief—is to challenge the church to respond to the challenges and opportunities of immigration in ways consistent with biblical values. He speaks and consults with local churches and denominations throughout the country and is the co-author of Welcoming the Stranger: Justice, Compassion & Truth in the Immigration Debate. He’s also written about immigration issues for Christianity Today,PRISM, The Gospel Coalition blog, and Living with Teenagers.
Matthew earned his bachelor’s degree from Wheaton College and his Master’s Degree from DePaul University. He and his wife Diana are expecting their first child in June.
Nicole Baker Fulgham is the founder and president of The Expectations Project, a non-profit organization creating faith-motivated advocates to help close the academic achievement gap in public schools.
A native of Detroit, Nicole graduated from the University of Michigan and joined Teach For America where she taught fifth grade in Compton, California. Nicole received her doctorate from the University of California at Los Angeles, with a focus on urban education policy and teacher preparation. She then joined the national staff of Teach For America, where she held several key leadership roles, including Vice President of New Site Development, Vice President of Teacher Training and Support and Vice President of Faith Community Relations.
Nicole regularly speaks at faith-based and education conferences and has authored several articles about educational equity. She has appeared on CNN and ABC News and was cited by Christianity Today as ‘Who’s Next: One to Watch.‘ Nicole is the recipient of an Education Entrepreneur Fellowship with The Mind Trust and serves on the board of several non-profit and community organizations, including the National Association of Evangelicals and Faith in Public Life. She is the author of the upcoming book: Educating All God’s Children: What Christians Can do to Help Improve Low-income Public Schools for Kids (Baker Publishing/Brazos Press, March 2013).
Nicole and her husband have three children and live in the Washington, DC area.
Rick Donlon grew up in New Orleans and graduated from Texas Christian University in 1986. He completed medical school at LSU-N.O., and a combined Internal Medicine and Pediatrics residency at the University of Tennessee, Memphis. In 1995 he and three medical school classmates opened Christ Community Health Services (CCHS), a primary-care health center for the poor in Memphis’ most medically under-served neighborhood. Over the last 17 years, CCHS has grown to six locations, with twenty-five full-time physicians and fifteen nurse practitioners, providing over 125,000 patient visits and delivering 1000 babies annually. Over the last nine years CCHS has sent medical missionaries to Afghanistan, India, Sudan and Somalia. Dr. Donlon serves as CCHS’s Associate Executive Director and the Clinical Director of HIV/AIDS Services. He and his wife Laurie and their seven children live in the Binghampton neighborhood of Memphis, where he works and serves as an elder in their house church network.
Stephen C. Bush is the architect of The Jericho Project, one of the most innovative jail diversion programs in the country for people with serious mental illness and substance abuse disorders. Bush is a national expert on the topic and has spoken at numerous conferences in the decade since Jericho began.
Born in Brooklyn, Bush grew up in the South the son of an Episcopal priest and a public school teacher. After graduating from the University of Memphis School of Law, he joined the Shelby County Public Defender’s Office, where he has served for more than 20 years. In 2010, Bush was appointed the 10th Public Defender of Shelby County and now leads the largest criminal defense law firm in Tennessee.
He is married to the Rev. Katherine M. Bush, the chaplain at St Mary’s Episcopal School. They attend Grace St Luke’s Episcopal Church and have been active in several Memphis congregations including Calvary, the Church of the Holy Communion, and St. Mary’s Cathedral. Bush was active in parish and diocesan youth ministry for more than a decade and led numerous mission trips for youth to live and work among the Lakota in South Dakota. They have two children and live in Midtown Memphis.