IWC logo

IWC 2019

Saturday, March 9, 2019
8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Curtis Jr. High School
University Place, Pierce County, WA

View pictures from the 2019 conference on our Flickr page!

Join us Saturday, March 9, 2019 for the 2nd Biennial Interfaith Women’s Conference, “Seeking Peace: Our Journey”, an event for women of all faiths and goodwill throughout the entire Puget Sound region. Together, we’ll experience the power of unity and discover new ways to strengthen our communities.  As we learn from and grow with one another at the Interfaith Women’s Conference, we will explore ways we can work together to assist more people in need.

This one-day conference was designed for women who are interested in exploring the potential and power of interfaith collaboration, renewing their personal spiritual life, and engaging with their community to spur positive change. In an often-divisive world, the Interfaith Women’s Conference will emphasize that which unites us—the desire to understand one another and support each other as we seek peace along our journey.


Keynote Speaker

Melannie Denise Cunningham

Who better to speak to our theme “Seeking Peace: Our Journey” than the 2018 Tacoma Peace Laureate Melannie Denise Cunningham!


Hear from Melannie and read the TNT Article as she headed to Oslo, Norway to attend the Nobel Peace Prize Awards!

We look forward to seeing you at the 2nd Interfaith Women's Conference!
Prepare yourself for a moving, fun and enriching day!

Register Here!


$49 (includes lunch)

Curious what the day's flow will be?  Click here to view the event timeline.

To ensure a smooth registration process, please jot down your three workshop choices so you can select them from the drop-down list during the registration process.
All workshop and presenter information is further down this webpage.

Limited scholarships are available.  To request a scholarship, please contact
Sandy Windley at or 253-426-1506.

(Please note that registrations are non-refundable but are transferable.)

If you have sponsorship questions or have already decided to sponsor, please contact
Kayla Kim at 253-426-1510 or

Click here for IWC Sponsorship Package 2023


Thanks for your interest in supporting this conference!  The Interfaith Women's Conference has several sponsorship packages available, providing sponsors with a choice of exposure related to financial commitment.

Participating as a sponsor provides you and your organization direct access to your target market and demonstrates your level of support and commitment to good social causes.

The Interfaith Women's Conference provides you and your organization with:

  • Exposure at a regional event devoted to bringing women together.
  • An opportunity to build and reinforce relationships and partnerships.
  • A cost effective way to reinforce your organization's brand and build brand awareness among a relevant audience.
  • Access to a broad network of partners.
  • Increased marketing opportunities including visibility on the conference website and marketing materials.

Our vision for this gathering of women is to promote understanding, respect and cooperation among women of all faiths and to facilitate opportunities for dialogue.  Through the celebration of the power of unity, we aim to strengthen our communities and explore ways to work together to serve the most vulnerable.

(Click on the button above to register as a vendor for the 2023 IWC.)

The 2023 Interfaith Women’s Conference will take place on Saturday, October 21, 2023.  “The Beauty of Us: Stories of Resilience and Hope” will be the focus – what our workshops/events are designed around. Anticipating 350 participants, we are hoping to make the 2023 conference even better than its predecessor and we want to formally invite you to be play a part in making that happen!  We invite vendors from non-profit and service organizations, faith communities and women-owned businesses to participate. PLEASE NOTE, SALE OF MERCHANDISE WILL NOT BE ALLOWED ONSITE. PROMOTION OF BUSINESSES ONLY, NO SALES.

Important info:

Vendor booths will be filled on a first-come, first served basis. Space is limited!

Booths fee is $50 for all vendors.

Each booth will include an 8-foot table and two chairs.


Current registered vendors

Associated Ministries - Tell Your Story booth
Associated Ministries
Christian Cultural Center
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
City of Tacoma Human Rights
Family Search Genealogy Library
House of Matthew Permanent & Supportive Housing
Islamic Center of Tacoma
IWC Photo Booth
Jenkins Real Estate
Just Serve
Leaders in Women's Health (Tacoma Urban League)
Madrona Journey
Muslim Community Resource Center
Sorsum Corda Retreat Center

If you have questions or need further information, please contact Crystal Jenkins at

Thank you so much for your time and interest in the 2023 Interfaith Women’s Conference, and we hope to see you there!


Download flyer here.

The abduction of Elizabeth Smart was one of the most followed child abduction cases of our time. Elizabeth was abducted on June 5, 2002, and her captors controlled her by threatening to kill her and her family if she tried to escape. Fortunately, the police safely returned Elizabeth back to her family on March 12, 2003, after being held a prisoner for 9 grueling months.

Through this traumatic experience, Elizabeth has become an advocate for change related to child abduction, recovery programs, and National legislation. Elizabeth triumphantly testified before her captor and the world about the very private nightmare she suffered during her abduction, which led toa conviction.

The Founder of the “Elizabeth Smart Foundation”, Elizabeth has also helped promote The National AMBER Alert, The Adam Walsh Child Protection & Safety Act and other safety legislation to help prevent abductions.

Elizabeth has chronicled her experiences in the New York Times best-selling book, "My Story." In addition, she and other abduction survivors worked with the Department of Justice to create a survivors guide, entitled, “You're Not Alone: The Journey From Abduction to Empowerment.” This guide is meant to encourage children who have gone through similar experiences not to give up but to know that there is hope for a rewarding life.

Elizabeth has recently released a new powerful and inspiring book about what it takes to overcome trauma, find the strength to move on, and reclaim one’s life. "Where There’s Hope" is the result of Elizabeth’s mission: It is both an up-close-and-personal glimpse into her healing process and a heartfelt how-to guide for readers to make peace with the past and embrace the future.

Elizabeth’s abduction and recovery continue to motivate parents, law enforcement and leaders worldwide to focus on children’s safety. She emphasizes vigilance by "everyday" people and the belief that hope always exists to find every missing child.
Smart attended Brigham Young University, studying music as a harp performance major. She married her husband Matthew in 2012, and they now have two beautiful children. Elizabeth’s example is a daily demonstration that there really is life after tragedy.

At the 2019 Interfaith Women's Conference, we are proud to bring two service opportunities that you can dive into before, after or during the conference. 

Add your helping hands to this effort to improve our community!  We will be tying quilts for the YWCA domestic abuse shelter, knitting caps for those experiencing homeless, and cutting and sewing kits for menstrual health for the non-profit organization "Days for Girls".  Whether you sew or knit, or NOT, your hands are needed and there is lots to do.  Come and enjoy the company of great ladies as you do good for others in our area and beyond! 

ALSO, we will be collecting NEW bras and women's underwear for local shelters.  So we can collect a variety of sizes (you know, how women naturally and beautifully are!!), we are asking that you purchase the size that you wear. 


Thank you for your interest in volunteering at the 2023 Interfaith Women’s Conference “The Beauty of Us: Stories of Resilience and Hope".  This event is not possible without volunteers so we thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

Please complete the volunteer application by clicking the orange button above. We are looking for people to help with setup (evening before), greeting, registration tables, workshop room hosts, and cleanup. Many hands makes light work!

Full-day volunteers will receive free lunch.

Part-day volunteers can access a $20 registration fee to attend either an afternoon or morning workshop with lunch. (Let’s say you volunteer for a morning role, you can get admission to an afternoon workshop (with lunch) for $20 (and vice versa if you volunteer for an afternoon shift).

Questions? Feel free to send an e-mail to




Workshops 2019


Speaker:  Suzy Green

Tap deeper into your spiritual core and feminine spirituality as you learn to meditate for greater calm in the midst of the chaos of life.  Learn the physical and mental benefits of meditations and find out how to make time for this crucial spiritual practice.  No experience required!

Speaker:  Mary Aongo

Writing can be a transformational tool for expressing your values and your faith both to yourself and to future generations.  Learn how to begin, organize and share the most important story of all – your own, using narrative and poetry.

Speaker:  Rev. Farishta Karen Lindsay

Dance and sacred movement have brought people of faith together since the beginning of time.  This is a participatory experience of joyous multi-cultural dances from many spiritual traditions to promote peace, understanding and connection with others.  It was a standout workshop in 2017!

Speaker:  Dr. Emily Mackelprang

Women have so many roles – and at the end of the day, sometimes forget to care for themselves.  Dr. Mackleprang, a forensic psychologist, will lead a discussion on recognizing burnout, and allowing yourself to care for the one person keeping it all going – you!

Speaker:  Victoria Woodards

Find ways to lead effectively in a fractured world– in your workplace and in your home.  Using compassion, peacebuilding and empathy, create the workplace and home that is optimal for peace and fulfillment for you and those around you.  Victoria Woodards, Tacoma’s mayor, will share her insights on faith based leadership in a workshop you won’t want to miss!

Speaker:  Pamela Higley

So many roles to fill – wife, mother, sister, caregiver, aunt, friend – that sometimes we can become overwhelmed, stressed and unhealthy.  Learn ways to cope with mid-life health changes, and lots of self-love strategies.

Speaker:  Amanda Littleton

Are you looking to improve your health, but not quite sure where to start?  Join Amanda , Holistic Health Coach, as she helps us gain control and understanding of our relationship with food.  Amanda will give strategies for stress management, anxiety, depression, and help us turn to joy and strength.

Speaker:  Kerri Pedrick

There are certain signs that parents and youth should be aware of to prevent sex trafficking.  Learn how to talk to young people and to empower them to end sex trafficking in their schools and neighborhoods.  This is an important discussion for parents and teens!

Speaker:  Polly MacLean

Learn how a unique strand of beads can be powerfully symbolic and can be a personal totem for prayer wherever you go.  Join Polly in creating a prayer bead that is yours alone and represents the sacred you want to think of every day.

Speaker:  Kate Fontana

Oftentimes, grief can appear so enormous and overwhelming that we do all we can to hold it out. It can also be a deeply isolating experience, and none of us can truly know the true nature of grief each other carries.

This session will be an experiential and ceremonial dive into the felt sense of grief, a practice of locating it in our bodies, naming it for ourselves with loving witnesses, and metabolizing it for our own and collective healing.

Speaker:  Dr. Marilyn Loy Every

Our culture idealizes youth, yet there are 630 million women age 50+ on the earth today!  This workshop will help you challenge society’s view of aging.  You will learn how to honor this amazing time in your life, claim your unique wisdom, and re-envision your future.

Speaker:  Tracie Davis

Most of us will face discouragement, disappointment, sorror or true grief at some point in our lives.  Join Tracie as she uses her unique humor and life experience to share how we can strenghthenour spiritual reserves to face the challenges of life.

Add your helping hands to this effort to improve our community! We will be tying quilts for the YWCA domestic abuse shelter, knitting caps for the homeless, and cutting and sewing kits for menstrual health for the non-profit organization "Days for Girls". Whether you sew or knit, or NOT, your hands are needed and there is lots to do. Come and enjoy the company of great ladies as you do good for others in our area and beyond!


Speaker: Cari Palmer

We don’t always get the perfect family, the perfect life – we get what we are given.  Join Cari as she uses examples from her own life to illustrate how we can turn a “rotten old lemon into a fine lemonade.”  You are sure to love her engaging personality!

Speakers: Linda Bird (moderator), Martha Davis, Rev. Abigail Vizcarra Perez, Rev. Linda Hart

A community is knit together by it’s citizens.  We can care for one another, lift one another, and strengthen one another by becoming involved right here among our neighbors.  See how strong women are making a difference – and how you can too.

Speaker: Rev. Farishta Karen Lindsay

Dance and sacred movement have brought people of faith together since the beginning of time.  This is a participatory experience of joyous multi-cultural dances from many spiritual traditions to promote peace, understanding and connection with others.  It was a standout workshop in 2017!


Speaker: T'wina Franklin Nobles

T’wina Franklin, CEO of Tacoma Urban League and leader of LadiesFirst, works with young women to lift and strengthen them to become the leaders of tomorrow.  Join with her (and bring your mother!) to this inspiring workshop as she shares her success story and encourages girls and women to create their own leadership story.

Speaker: Becky Gehring

Many cultures put great value in family history.  Find yourself through finding your ancestors – begin with you and work back through time to find and know your family.

Speaker: Melissa Jorgensen

Join Melissa, owner of Sweet Beets wellness coaching, as she describes her journey to wellness through plant-based eating.  Identify lifestyle habits that are not serving your well-being, and replace them with life enhancing habits, including diet and exercise. 

Speakers: Maggy Delaney and Rhonda Schimon

In this era of #metoo, it is more important than ever for women to be able to deny consent and protect themselves.  Maggy and Rhonda and be prepared to learn strategies to keep you safe and strong.

Speaker: Shalisa Hayes

In 2011, Shalisa Hayes received the phone call that no parent ever wants to get - her son was fatally shot while at a party with a friend. Through her grief, Shalisa was lifted by young people who knew her son and wanted to honor him by opening a center for youth on the east side.  In this workshop, Shalisa will share how she turned crippling grief into joy and hope for the future as she found focus and purpose through her son's death will be a life-affirming, uplifting and energizing workshop!

Speakers: Rev. Julie Scheer Johnson (moderator) Jaminah Shannon, Rev. Evette JacksonKay Robbins, Dr. Erica Martin

Learn how faith practices of four Abrahamic traditions (Judaism, Islam, Christianity and Baha'i) can deepen our faith and celebrate our diversity.  Join in a lively discussion with our fabulous panel!

Speaker: Elise DeGooyer

Our conference will be held the weekend of International Women’s Day, 2019.  Elise will explore how international women’s movements are protecting the dignity and human rights of women and girls, and the important role faith traditions have to play.  She will be bringing updates from the 2018 Toronto Parliament of World Religions and sharing important benchmarks that will be sure to spark interesting dialogue.

Speaker: Sara Corbishley

Sound has been used for as long as humans have existed to bring about a state of balance, harmony and holistic equilibrium.  Join Sara for a Mind-Body-Spirit recalibration, bathing in sound and light and energy.

Speaker: Sonja Hopkins

Most of us have had experience with a family member or friend who has faced the spiral of addiction.  Sonja Hopkins, a life and addiction coach, will share some emotional and faith based skills to conquer addiction, and help those who love an addict to feel hope and peace. 

Speaker: Aneelah Afzali

There are many stereotypes and misconceptions about Islam and women's rights, making this one of the most misunderstood topics in our country.  So what does Islam actually teach about women's rights?  And Prophet Muhammad as a feminist?  Really?!  Come hear this dynamic presentation from a proud American Muslim woman, and you decide.  With time to get all your difficult questions answered too.  You won't want to miss this!

Add your helping hands to this effort to improve our community! We will be tying quilts for the YWCA domestic abuse shelter, knitting caps for the homeless, and cutting and sewing kits for menstrual health for the non-profit organization "Days for Girls". Whether you sew or knit, or NOT, your hands are needed and there is lots to do. Come and enjoy the company of great ladies as you do good for others in our area and beyond!


Speaker: Cari Palmer

We don’t always get the perfect family, the perfect life – we get what we are given.  Join Cari as she uses examples from her own life to illustrate how we can turn a “rotten old lemon into a fine lemonade.”  You are sure to love her engaging personality!

Speaker: Barbara Henderson

We experience conflict everywhere: at home, at school, at work.  This workshop will provide a guide and specific skills for reframing how we express ourselves while hearing others with compassion, empathy and grace. 

Speaker: Dr. Judith Kay

Many of us have strong opinions about the issues of today – but don’t know how to express them and use that passion for social change.  Join UPS Professor Emeritus Judith Kay for insight on how to constructively share your thoughts, and then use that energy to change our world.

How can we really hear others, with true compassion?  When we understand and acknowledge the needs and passions of others, we transform ourselves and others into advocates for peace - in our families, workplaces and communities. This workshop has been presented all over the world, including in war-torn countries, to bring opposite sides together and build bridges of common understanding.

Speaker: Karol Whealdon-Andrews, Attorney

Learn what to do when your spouse or partner dies unexpectedly – and how to prepare so your loved ones can handle your affairs in the best way possible.  This is a workshop for all of us, no matter our age!


Speaker: Pamela Higley

Find harmony by using unique Ayurvedic practices that bring you strength, energy and balance.  Pamela believes all of us are on a journey, and knowing our bodies is crucial to navigating the journey successfully.

Speakers: Maggy Delaney & Rhonda Schimon

In this era of #metoo, it is more important than ever for women to be able to deny consent and protect themselves.  Maggy and Rhonda and be prepared to learn strategies to keep you safe and strong.

Speaker: Erin Guinup

Using music as an expression of our heart and faith can bring strength and unity.  Music brings personal connections, healing and joy to us all – and sharing it can be powerful.  Join Erin as she shares her experiences with the Tacoma Refugee Choir, and ways we can integrate music of our faith into our lives.

Speaker: Aneelah Afzali

Hate crimes and bigotry against American Muslims are at an all time high in our country.  Many have drawn comparisons between American Muslims today and Jews in 1930s Germany or Japanese-Americans in World War II.  Where did all this hate against Muslims come from?  This highly informative workshop will help you understand Islamophobia and how it is a threat to us all.  You'll walk away with concrete action you can take to combat Islamophobia, promote our shared American values including religious freedom, and choose facts over fiction and faith over fear.

Speaker: Sara Corbishley

Sound has been used for as long as humans have existed to bring about a state of balance, harmony and holistic equilibrium.  Join Sara for a Mind-Body-Spirit recalibration, bathing in sound and light and energy.

Speaker: Terri Conger

The relationship between money and values is often blurred.  Learn how we can express our faith through the way we manage our earthly resources in this interesting discussion on money and faith.

Speakers: Sherry Bernklau, Juanita Contreras, Teona Kelley

Did you know that women represent the fastest growing group of the homeless population nationally? Learn how homelessness uniquely affects women, through real-life stories of women in our area who have experienced homelessness and who are working to rebuild their lives. What resources are available in our area? How can we help?

Add your helping hands to this effort to improve our community! We will be tying quilts for the YWCA domestic abuse shelter, knitting caps for the homeless, and cutting and sewing kits for menstrual health for the non-profit organization "Days for Girls". Whether you sew or knit, or NOT, your hands are needed and there is lots to do. Come and enjoy the company of great ladies as you do good for others in our area and beyond!

Presenters 2019

Abigail Vizcarra Perez worked as a teacher for private and public schools in California until moving to Washington State, where she learned that a Masters in Divinity from The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology would allow her to blend her love for poetry with her talent for preaching and teaching.

When she moved to Washington, she and her partner became the denomination’s local experts on making church closures a natural part of the church planning process. She was the Founding Director for ConnexionTacoma, a nonprofit connecting churches with city agencies and small businesses for social change. She currently works for Metro Parks Tacoma as the Diversity Outreach Specialist working to increase equity, diversity and inclusion throughout the district.

In 2016 she became the first person of Latin descent to be ordained by the United Methodist Church in the Pacific Northwest. She currently lives and loves in Tacoma with her partner, Nathan.  Abigail will be participating in the workshop, “The Vital Role of Women of Faith in Our Community.”

All of us have a turning point, and mine happened when my marriage fell apart.

My main focus was my career. Going through my divorce I told myself I could push through the painful emotions while also keeping up with long hours at work.

I’m so grateful to my mom for dragging me to the doctor, a shell of myself. The doctor took one look at me and said if I didn’t take a break from work, my health would only get worse.

I took a break to heal emotionally and physically. For the first time, I truly realized how critically important my mental and physical health are to living a life I love.

I was drawn to a career to fill my heart and give me purpose.  Being a health and wellness coach is my way to help others use health as the vehicle to propel them to be their best and live a life they love.

Join me at the Interfaith Women’s Conference on March 9, 2019 to learn more about how we can integrate mental, physical and emotional health to be whole and live a fulfilling life at my workshop, “Holistic Health: Taking Care of the Whole You”.

I was drawn to a career to fill my heart and give me purpose.  Being a health and wellness coach is my way to help others use health as the vehicle to propel them to be their best and live a life they love.

Join me at the Interfaith Women’s Conference on March 9, 2019 to learn more about how we can integrate mental, physical and emotional health to be whole and live a fulfilling life at my workshop, “Holistic Health: Taking Care of the Whole You”.

Aneelah Afzali is the executive director of the Muslim Association of Puget Sound’s newly launched American Muslim Empowerment Network (MAPS-AMEN). In this role, she works to combat injustice, provides education to counter Islamophobia, empowers future leaders, and encourages the media to challenge negative Muslim stereotypes. When Aneelah speaks, you can’t help but listen.

That’s a tall order in an era of escalating hate rhetoric, but Afzali is energized by the work. “I’m an optimist,” she explains. “My faith teaches me that, and it’s in my nature. It’s exhilarating to be able to do the work we do. We have the opportunity to influence history.”

Daily demonstrations that love is stronger than hate give Afzali hope, as does the arc of history. “If l lose hope, it would be insulting to people like Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela,” she says. “They endured much worse.”

In her workshop “Faith Over Fear”, Aneelah shares a compelling view that we can coexist through confronting our fears and embracing the truth that each of us hold sacred.  Her message of respect and kindness, as well as her illuminating view of Islam through the eyes of a woman, will help you see a whole new side of faith.

Barbara is currently the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Director at Bellarmine Preparatory School in Tacoma. She has been at Bellarmine since 2006, and enjoys her interaction with all of her students.

Barbara earned her BS in Criminal Justice from Seattle University.  She received her MA in Human Development at Pacific Oaks College, and a School Library Media Endorsement from the University of Washington.

Before coming to Bellarmine, Barbara was a middle school Language Arts Teacher and Librarian at St. Therese School in Seattle.  She has also worked in the criminal justice system for over ten years. She attends St. Leo Parish and is involved in the Nonviolent Communication ministry.

Barbara is committed to peaceful resolution of the divisiveness we see all around us.   Her workshop, “Peacemaking – Conflict Without Hurt” will open your mind to ways to communicate constructively, even in the face of strong opposition or differences.

Becky Gehring comes from a family that loves to find out about their ancestors, how they lived, what they did, and where they come from. It was an unwelcome shock to her parents when they discovered that her dad's grandparents at the time leading up to the American revolutionary war were English loyalists who move to Canada for a time to escape the persecution from patriots who wanted separation from England.

Learning about your family history is a discovery that will enrich your life as nothing else can.

Becky is co-director of the Tacoma Family History Center, next door to the North-end of the YMCA at South 12th and Pearl Streets in Tacoma. The entrance to the center is on the side of the building, facing 12th street, and has a separate entrance with a bell that will alert the staff that you are there. We are open on Saturday, from 10am to 3pm, and on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings from 6 to 8:30, as well as during the day on those days. Bring your laptop and what information you know about your parents and grandparents and we will help you get started.

Cari is above all, a survivor.  As a child, she experienced abuse and neglect.   It was her normal. When her mom married her fifth husband and moved her into her 26th home in sixth grade, she then was given a "normal" life.   For many years, she felt “you could take the girl out of abuse, but you can’t take the abuse out of the girl.” Most victims of abuse have a difficult time “letting go” and finding peace and happiness.

Over the course of her life, Cari Palmer has managed to not only let go of the chains of childhood that bound her, but she has also gone from abused to zen, powerless to powerful. 

Her life's mission now is to help others who have experienced any form of abuse, abandonment, neglect or anything else that may have created deep and painful wounds.  

Cari is now a wife and mother with a successful career.  You will love getting to know this woman, beautiful inside and out.  Her message is one you won’t soon forget!

In her workshop, “Transforming Your Life,” she will share how to turn a negative and abusive past around by using some of the skills she has mastered over the years.  You will learn how to stop living as a victim, but as an empowered soul ready to claim your life. 

Elise DeGooyer serves as Co-Director of Faith Action Network, a statewide, interfaith organization working for just and sustainable social change. She has worked for three decades in mission-driven human services and advocacy. As a lifelong resident of Washington State, born in Yakima and educated by Tacoma Dominican sisters, she completed undergraduate education in Spokane at Gonzaga University, and has made the Puget Sound area home since the 1980s. Her graduate studies at Maryknoll School of Theology focused on liberation theologies in a global context, and she also studied pastoral leadership at Seattle University. She lives in South Seattle with her spouse in a quieter nest as their son recently launched to college!

As we celebrate this International Women’s Day, the question we will explore in this workshop is how international women’s movements are protecting the dignity and human rights of women and girls, and the important role faith traditions have to play. Elise will bring to this workshop some updates from international women who gathered recently at the Parliament of World Religions in Toronto in 2018 and in Salt Lake City in 2015. We’ll look at some of the benchmarks for women laid at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Millennium Development goals. How do we integrate these values and take action in our own lives, work and faith traditions? This will be a chance to reflect and dialogue with others.

Dr. Emily Mackelprang is a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in forensic psychology.  She received her bachelor's degree from the University of Washington and both her master's and Ph.D. from the University of Arizona.  She is now with Western State Hospital, where she works as a forensic evaluator. Dr. Mackelprang has provide phychotherapy to a variety of clients, and has taught undergraduate human sexuality courses.  In her spare time, she enjoys being with her husband and adorable 5-year-old, playing music, running, cooking, and listening to podcasts.

Her presentation, “Taking Care of You, Mental Health and Self Care for Women”, includes a discussion of the pressures and psychological stressors common to all women as well as those specific to women of faith.  Dr. Emily will address possible methods for combating "burnout" through self-care and self-compassion, and will speak to warning signs that may signify more serious mental health problems.

Erin Guinup is a conductor, soprano, voice teacher, corporate voice specialist, author, and public speaker. Erin is the founding Executive and Artistic Director of the Tacoma Refugee Choir, a nonprofit dedicated to building a more welcoming community through song.  The choir has performed at many events in our community and beyond.

A frequent concert soloist, Erin’s internationally performed one-woman show has been praised as “an amazing tour-de-force.” Other career highlights include conducting the world premiere of Orson Scott Card and Mark Mitchell’s He is There, speaking at Seattle’s Tedx, annual performances of Rob Gardner’s Lamb of God and Handel’s Messiah, and witnessing her students achieve success on Broadway, regional theatre and operatic stages, and television.

Erin feels that music brings personal connections, healing and joy.   Her presentation, “Music for the Soul”, will help us to see the power of sharing music as an expression of our hearts.  

Rev. Evette, as she’s affectionately called, earned Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management in 2002.  Prior to her call to ministry, she was the Director of Professional Services for a software development company.  

In 2002, she accepted her call to ministry, and was licensed and ordained at Greater Heights Christian Church in Snellville, Georgia, where she served as Assistant Pastor and Executive Assistant.

In 2007, Rev. Evette earned a Master of Divinity degree with a concentration in Psychology of Religion and Pastoral Care and Counseling from Morehouse School of Religion in Atlanta.  Upon graduation, she completed 6 units (over 3,000 hours) of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), where she worked as a chaplain in the Emergency Department and Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston.  

Rev. Evette has a no-nonsense approach to ministry, and although there are many things to know about her, the most important point to note is that she loves God and her family and has a heart for people.  She is a panelist in the workshop, “Work, Pray, Study: How Faith Practices Strengthen Us” and will share how her faith profoundly shapes her everyday life.

Dances of Universal Peace (DUP) are a world-wide spiritual practice connected to Sufis from the lineage of Hazrat Inayat Khan.  Farishta stumbled upon them at Conference in Portland in 1992 and her life has not been the same. The founder of the dances, Murshid Samuel Lewis, said that if the people were to “eat dance and pray” together—using chants from other’s traditions—this might go a long way to effecting inner and outer peace.

Farishta’s spiritual journey includes a foundation in the Episcopal tradition, a period of Agnosticism, and then spiritual exploration which led her to Unitarian Universalism and Western Sufism.

Being involved in interfaith work since the early ‘90’s has been a focus for Farishta.  She recently retired from Group Health Cooperative where she was a Hospice Chaplain.   Farishta is  ever a mom, a grandma; she loves to read, garden and travel. She will be leading us in Dances of Universal Peace, and hopes that the experience will be fulfilling for all.

As the Founder of HIJABtivist my superpowers are prayer, service and love. A woman of many hijabs; I am a consultant, teaching artist, and wellness coach. Using a social justice framework, I have keynoted events, facilitated, and co-lead experiential workshops across the Pacific Northwest, since 2009. Visual artistry and storytelling are my tools in accessing the beauty and light of our hearts, both as a homeschooling parent and teaching artist. Through song, I've performed in the East and West coasts showcasing creative storytelling, since 2004. Why HIJABtivist? We thrive when we create the world we want to see and be in, together. When we have the resources to be our full and brightest selves, held & nurtured by healthy communities and families and are true caretakers of the earth, we all make room to shine harmoniously. My vision is for accurate narratives and visuals of all underrepresented people's and all of creation, with a hyperfocus on Muslim communities and individuals, to be celebrated, honored and uplifted in every space so that my children and generations to come will never have to ask, "Why HIJABtivist?". In Shaa Allah (God willing), I look forward to being in commUnity with you. In Service with Love, JaminahShannon

Jaminah will be participating as a panelist in the workshop, “Worship, Pray, Study:  How Faith Practices Strengthen Us.”


My husband was deported in 2006 and left my family homeless. After his deportation I had to figure out how to support my family and find housing. I decided to go back to college and earn a degree so I would be able to support my children. I am a single mother of 5 and 2 grandchildren. I have learned that you never know when something can happen and leave you homeless.

I currently work as a Coordinated Entry Specialist II at Associated Ministries. Earned a B.A. in Liberal Arts at Evergreen State College Tacoma Campus.

Judith Kay is a scholar of both religious and philosophical ethics. She is a professor emerita at University of Puget Sound. Her publications deal with the moral responsibilities of wrongdoers and injured parties. Her book, “Murdering Myths: The Story Behind the Death Penalty,” grew out of her decade of involvement with the men on Washington’s death row. She has done research regarding the death penalty, and the stories behind the prisoners and their families.

A founding member of the Race & Pedagogy Institute at the University of Puget Sound, she also works with United to End Racism based in Seattle. Her recent articles investigate the dynamics of race under colonialization, focusing on Rwanda, as well as the relationships between American Jews and Blacks. Her classes at Temple Beth-El about building coalitions to end racism and anti-Jewish oppression are open to the community.

Judith lives in Tacoma with her husband. Her workshop, “Your Voice, #MeToo and the Issues of Today” will help all of us understand the most constructive way to express ourselves and channel our passion into becoming an agent for change.  

Kate Fontana is a Queer Catholic yogi, interspiritual midwife, musician, energy medicine practitioner, and sacred activist. Her journey has been a weave of music, yoga, therapy, friendship, ecology, and contemplative practice.  Raised on the Beatles, Broadway and church songs, music has always been a great source of healing and self-expression. She has practiced yoga since 2002 and has taught yoga, meditation, chanting, and yoga philosophy since 2009. 

From 2010-2017, she studied the integration of contemplative embodiment practice with social justice through her work with the social-profit yoga studio in Tacoma, Samdhana-Karana Yoga.  In 2014 she began leading feminine-divine and nature-based women’s spirituality circles and retreats. 

Kate is currently a Master of Divinity student at the Seattle School of Theology and Psychology, and is discerning a call to the priesthood with the Roman Catholic Women Priests.  Kate is deeply informed by Catholic social teaching; Sacred Feminine traditions of Christianity and Yoga; an unexpected friendship with Jesus; and a theological blend of Harry Potter, the Bhagavad Gita, Battlestar Galactica, and the Gospels.  Check out more: 

Grief can seem enormous and overwhelming. Kate’s workshop, “Grief – A Singular Journey” will help us define and name our grief and use it as a healing power.

Kay is a 3rd generation member of the Bahá’í Faith. She feels fortunate to have grown up near the National Bahá’í Center and House of Worship in the Chicago area. She has served in a variety of capacities such as chairperson of a Local Spiritual Assembly, statewide coordinator of the Ruhi Institute program, and assistant to an Auxilliary Board member, as well as children’s class teacher and curriculum developer. She currently works as an Occupational Therapist in Tacoma Public Schools.  Kay will be participating in a panel workshop entitled, “Worship, Pray, Study: How Faith Practices Strengthen Us.”

Kerri Pedrick has passion and experience in empowering and directly supporting young people, refugees and those who serve them. For the last seven years, Kerri has served in different areas of leadership at Peace Community Center in Tacoma, WA. Kerri's education is in community-based social work with a master’s degree in Social Enterprise Administration from Columbia University School of Social Work in New York, NY. She grew up in rural eastern Washington but has called Tacoma home for the last 13 years, where she lives with her husband James and daughters Penny and Parker. 

For the past year, Kerri has been serving as the Executive Director for Washington Trafficking Prevention (WTP), an organization that aims to prevent human trafficking in WA state by equipping the vulnerable and engaging communities. WTP approaches anti-human trafficking efforts through legislative advocacy, professional engagement, primary prevention and community grassroots partnerships.

Her workshop, “Sex Trafficking,” is meant for parents and youth.  Kerri will share certain signs that we all should be aware of to prevent sex trafficking.  Parents will learn how to talk to their youth about this issue, and teens will realize how prevalent it is, and how to prevent it.  This is an important discussion for all!

Linda is a retired teacher and librarian who is constantly involved in her community.  She served for 14 years as a City Council Member in University Place, and served two terms as mayor.  She worked tirelessly as a manager of the “Cityhood for University Place Committee”, and was Chairman of the Playground by the Sound “community built” playground committee.  This means she organized dozens of volunteers and donors to make the playground area at Chambers Bay Park a reality. She has served on many committees, including the UP Planning Advisory Commission Chairwoman, Puget Sound Regional Council Executive Board and the Transportation Policy Board.  

Linda has been married to her husband Albert for 48 years, and they have five adult children and seven beautiful grandchildren.  She will be a panelist in the workshop “The Vital Role of Women of Faith in Our Communities.”

The Rev. Dr. Linda Hart is in her 5th year at Tahoma Unitarian Universalist Congregation.  Dr. Hart has served congregations in Vermont, Connecticut, London, and around Washington state.  Throughout her life and ministry, she has been an activist and advocate for social justice causes.  

Reverend Hart will be participating in the workshop “The Vital Role of Women of Faith in Our Community”.  This will be a very thoughtful discussion, so please join her there!

Warrior Princess Maggy Delaney is a retired 4th Degree Black Belt and Warrior Princes Rhonda Schimon earned her high color belt. Maggy and Rhonda trained together in Kenpo Karate at Life Christian school where they worked together for a time. They both attend church together and have taught self-defense classes and workshops off and on in the last 15 years and have been friends for about 18years.

Maggy works for Associated Ministries as the Resource team lead; she is very active in her church with her church celebrate recovery ministries, she mentors ladies and writes a devotional blog called Warrior Princess Attitude. She is single with 1 adult child.

Rhonda has been teaching elementary and middles schools students for over 20 years, loves science, has coached basketball, swimming and fastpitch.  She took Kenpo Karate for three years and earned a blue belt. She is married to a wonderful husband and has 4 adult children.

These two strong women will be leading a “Self Defense for Women” workshop that you will not want to miss!

Marilyn Loy Every is visionary and founder of Sagessence, LLC, a company dedicated to providing programs to inspire, guide and prepare women and men to in live with passion, purpose and fullfillment in the second half of their lives. She holds a Doctorate of Ministry in Wisdom Studies with a focus on aging, a M.A. in Counseling Psychology, and a M.S. in Audiology. Marilyn is a certified Spiritual Director, and an International Certified Sage-ing Leader.

Dr. Loy Every specializes in aging issues, sage leadership training, affirmative aging guidance, life visioning and spiritual companioning.   She will be sharing her insight on aging in her workshop, “Aging with Grace and Wisdom: Re-Think the Second Half of Your Life!”

Martha is the Executive Director of the Toy Rescue Mission, a non-profit dedicated to providing children with quality toys for birthdays, Easter and Christmas.  Martha’s business management career helped her to organize serves thousands of disadvantaged children and seniors each year. Volunteers gently restore used toys to like new condition. Martha’s upbeat personality has brought together many volunteers on behalf of others – true kindness in action!

Martha is a panelist in the workshop, “The Vital Role of Women of Faith in the Community” and will share her story of faith and hard work as she has made the Toy Rescue Mission a key part of our Tacoma and families in need.

My family emigrated to the U.S. from Uganda over ten years ago. Due to civil unrest in Uganda and the surrounding countries, families were forced to flee for safety.  This resulted in widespread family separations and internal displacements. For me, growing up without a father left a dent in my heart that was difficult to express. Through writing poetry, I found my voice to give light to the pains and tragedies that young people often grow up with and hold within.

I currently work as a Housing Specialist with the Rapid Rehousing at Associated Ministries. Earned my B.A. in Sociology with an emphasis on Health Care Social Issues, at the University of California, San Diego and M.A. in Counseling at Covenant Bible Seminary, in Lakewood, WA.

My workshop, “Writing Your Story” will help you express your values, strengthen your faith and share with future generations.  Learn how to tell your own story, your way.

Melannie Denise Cunningham’s professional and volunteer service spans several decades and industries including federal, city and state government, non-profit, radio, television, higher education and entrepreneurship.  She has served with the Department of the Navy, Department of Commerce, City of Tacoma and Washington State Department of General Administration in progressively responsible capacities including Equal Employment Opportunity, Materials Management and Community Partnership.  In 2006, she joined the Office of Admission team at Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) as Director of Multicultural Recruitment.  She recently moved to the PLU Campus Ministry team as Director of Multicultural Outreach and Engagement with a dedicated focus on student of color success.

In April 2018,  Melannie received the Greater Tacoma Peace Prize for her exemplary work in promoting racial reconciliation.  The Greater Tacoma Peace Prize was founded in 2005 and the area is the only one with a laureate recognized by the Norwegian Nobel Institute. As Tacoma’s Peace Laureate, Melannie receives a trip to Oslo, Norway, to attend Nobel Peace Prize events in December 2018.

She holds a B.A. from Washington State University, Certificate of Training in Broadcast Production Technology from Bates Technical College, an M.B.A. from Pacific Lutheran University, and is currently a doctoral student at Fielding Graduate University pursing a PhD in Organizational Development and Change with a concentration in Inclusive Leadership for Social Justice.  Melannie expects to graduate in 2021.

I'm Melissa--owner of Sweet Beets.  Sweet Beets is an integrative wellness coaching program specializing in plant-based nutrition and dedicated to wholehearted wellness.  After 20 years of struggling with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and a decade of being ruled by disordered eating, I found my home with plant based living and long-distance running.  Changing my diet changed my life.

I integrate diet, exercise, career, relationships, and spirituality to support clients on their journey toward wholehearted wellness.

My workshop, Plant-based Eating for Health and Healing”, will guide you to by identifying lifestyle habits that are not serving their greatest well-being and replacing them with life enhancing habits.  It will literally change your life!

Pamela is dedicated to the practice, study, and teaching of yoga and its sister science, Ayurveda. Her yoga journey began when she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at the age of 25.

​The diagnosis was the primary driver that helped to make yoga a daily part of her life. Seeing the positive effects that yoga had on her health, Pamela decided to become a certified yoga teacher and Certified Ayurveda Yoga Specialist.

Pamela is an Experienced Yoga Teacher, Registered with Yoga Alliance, ERYT500HR.

She teaches weekly classes, leads 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training, workshops, and retreats. 

​Pamela is a teacher of flow, incorporating the teachings of Vinyasa Krama, Ayurveda, and Pranayama. Pamela's approach to teaching is joyful and light and you will most likely find yourself laughing now and again in her classes. Pamela is leading two workshops for our conference:  “A Little Love: Self Care for Mid-Life” and “Your Body Is a Temple,”.  She draws on Ayurvedic practices and life experience to delve deeply into how to care for ourselves as we fulfill the many roles of life.

Polly has worked professionally as an American Sign Language Interpreter for more than 35 years.  Prayer using a rosary was part of her spiritual upbringing, and as an adult, she has sought learning from many faith traditions to enhance this early teaching.  Prayer has always been a meaningful part of her life.

Polly feels that nature gives us true art – and seeks to use the beauty in nature to enhance the connection to peace and a higher power.

In her workshop, we will be creating our own individual  prayer beads. Inspired by the book “A String and a Prayer”, Polly will share with us a way to use prayer beads to keep us grounded in the present moment, become more meditative, and honor the intuitive spirit in us all.

Sara is a Usui Shiki Ryoho Reiki II practitioner, certified Sound Healer, Shamanic Energetics practitioner and a 500 hr. Registered Yoga Teacher. Many of her classes include vibration (mantra, music, gong or singing bowls) and meditative visualizations with movement and breath woven in. Both a shadow worker and a light weaver, she’s not afraid of the depths and is honored to light the way and hold space for this work. In recovery from disordered eating and addiction she is continuously gathering tools to help herself and others on this path. 

We are thrilled to have Sara lead “Singing Bowls,” an experience in sound and healing that you will never forget.

“When he died, he gave me purpose”

Shalisa Hayes is no stranger to grief.  At the age of 5 her father became a victim of homicide. From that point on she was raised by her single mother and encountered much of what our youth see today, both good and bad. As a result, she focused her free time as an adult on volunteer projects that focused on at-risk youth.

After experiencing the loss of her 17 year old son to gun violence in August of 2011, Ms. Hayes formed The Billy Ray Foundation ( in his honor with hopes of seeing her son’s dream of having a community center built on the eastside of Tacoma come true. As a stimulating speaker, she has become the motivation for many to act on change as she shares her courageous story of dealing with life after the death of her teenage son.

Shalisa will share her story in the workshop “Triumph For the Soul.”  She will help us realize that good can come from grief, and that we can all help create better communities within a better world.

I am a single mother of a teenage son still living at home, and three adult daughters living outside of the home. I work at Associated Ministries (AM), where I have the opportunity to learn and grow on a daily basis through contribution to different programs that are important to me. My expertise in data and programming has allowed me to contribute to AM’s Coordinated Entry Program, Representative Payee and Homeless Mail, Paint Tacoma Pierce Beautiful and VITA programs while studying Human Services at Tacoma Community College.

Prior to returning to school, I worked thirteen years in the real estate industry. Towards the end of housing market crash in 2012, I was laid off. In the four years since, my son and I have experienced both sheltered and unsheltered homelessness three times. My experiences as a student, an intern, and a mother have provided me an understanding of homelessness from the perspectives of program development, service delivery, and its impact on families and communities. As an unsheltered homeless woman, I experienced the significant toll homelessness takes, physically, mentally, and spiritually.  I learned a great deal about needs within the homeless population and am happy to share my experience, as well as what helped and what did not.

Sonja Lorrigan Hopkins is a certified professional coach, and a personal/professional development trainer.  Sonja received her coaching certification from Academy for Coach Training, Bellevue, WA.

She is an accomplished motivational speaker, writer and poet. For the past 5 years she has been a group leader for an Addiction Recovery Program focusing on pornography and sex addiction, working with addicts, spouses and families of addicts. Her focus is working with clients who experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from childhood trauma/abuse, emotional and sexual abuse, domestic violence, and substance abuse disorders.

She was a staff analyst with the Boeing Company (Seattle, WA) for 15 years and did contract training for Bates Technical College, Business & Management Training Center (Tacoma, WA) providing communication training for Dept. of Internal Revenue. She trained employees who work and live internationally and those who interface with multi-cultural teams.

For 15 years, Sonja served on the research and development team of the Rapid Eye Institute (Salem, OR). They developed a unique method of working with stress management and the collapsing of emotional toxins. She was a curriculum developer and trainer for Life Skills Classes to assist clients in implementing choices that would lead them to a more productive lifestyle. She is a Master Rapid Eye Technician (MRET).

Sonja’s workshop will focus on helping to overcome addictions and the consequences of addiction through spiritual and emotional skills that strengthen our minds and hearts.

Suzy received her mindfulness training through the UCSD Center for Mindfulness, she is one of 5 certified yoga therapists in the State of Washington, is the Director for Work Well NW, a company that provides on-site mindfulness and yoga classes to employees and executives of various corporations and is one of the owners of Three Trees Yoga.  She has found mindfulness practice to be an anchor during life's challenges and has connected her to a deeper sense of joy and gratitude in her every day.  She feels profoundly blessed in being able to share this practice with others.

Suzy will be leading the pre-conference meditation session, as well as a workshop entitled, “Deepening Your Meditation.”

As a youth I lived a hard and traumatic life experiencing homelessness and addiction. Over time I managed to get myself out of homelessness and addiction with little support because only beacuse I refused the help as I was lost in my life and my own mind. I later learned that all along I had the strength to make a change and a better life for myself. It was an uphill battle but I am now in the best place I have ever been. I am now a single mother of a beautiful 2 year old little girl living a healthy happy life doing great work within our community.  

I feel as though my past battles and defeats lead me to my employment here at Associated Ministries as a Coordinated Entry Specialist II Team Lead. I came to this organization as an intern in 2012 in the development office. I have worked my way up in this agency into the direct service line of work. I never thought this career path would be where I landed. Coming here I have gained a passion for this work and serving our community.

Terri Conger, CFP

Terri is a lifelong resident of the Pacific Northwest.  She is a Certified Financial Planner, and an Advisory Representative at Merrill Lynch in Federal Way.   She has a passion for helping others achieve their goals, especially financial ones.

Terri loves the outdoors, and does plenty of hiking, snowshoeing, running, biking and anything else that gets her outdoors.  She is on the Board of Directors for the John Volken Academy, a live-in addiction recovery program for young men.  Working with these men, who are determined to change their lives in a positive direction, brings her tremendous joy and satisfaction.

Terri has four grown children, and six grandchildren.  Her workshop, “Women,   Faith and Money”  will help all of us use our values and faith principles define the way we look at money, both saving and spending. 

If Tracie is in the room, somebody’s laughing….WHY???

Because Tracie Davis truly believes God wants His children to laugh and definitely knows He has gifted her to make that happen. This native North Westerner has presented her brand of fresh and positive humor throughout the country.

Tracie Davis is brilliant at creating comedy tailor-made for each of her audiences. Whether opening for national recording artists Mary Mary, Angela Spivey and Pastor Hezekiah Walker or relaxing executives at the Boeing Company and Alaska Airlines, TRACIE DAVIS is on target. But if you think her routine is structured and predictable, think again.

Tracie a quick-witted, multi-tasking mother of one is also multi-dimensioned. She recently shared her gift of laughter at the15th Annual Celebration of the Gospel Today Magazine in Atlanta. Tracie Davis recorded her DVD to a sold out crowd in Atlanta, in November. Tracie also has done a guest spot on BET’s Lift Every Voice and Sing Television show.

Tracie will be leading a workshop entitled “Laughing Through the Journey”, and will help remind us how to have joy in the face of adversity.

T’wina Franklin Nobles is President & CEO of The Tacoma Urban League, a School Board Director of University Place School District, TEDx speaker, and was selected as a ParentMap Superhero for Washington State Families. She is a graduate of The University of Puget Sound and has her Master of Arts in Teaching and a degree in U.S. Politics.

In 2007 she began teaching middle school science and recently taught a high school college preparation course at Lincoln High School and Stadium High School. By 2013 T’wina gained experience consulting political campaigns for candidates including current Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards, Tacoma School Board Candidate Dr. Dexter Gordon, and Congressman Denny Heck.

T’wina describes her workshop:   “I want to show you what can happen when you dream up the life you want to live, create an open space in your heart ready to connect with women & girls in your community, and then pursue opportunities to be a go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, and leader. Spoiler alert...your outlook on life will change.”   Workshop:  “Become Super You: Be a Leader, Starting Now.”

Victoria Woodards was elected to the Tacoma City Council in 2010 and served as the deputy mayor in 2014. She began her professional career by serving as a member of the U.S. Army and is a proud veteran.   She was elected to Tacoma’s Metropolitan Parks Board of Commissioners in 2004 where she served until 2009 as its president. Currently, she serves as president and chief executive officer of the Tacoma Urban League.  

Victoria was raised in Tacoma and is a graduate of Lincoln High School. She lives in the South End of Tacoma and, in her free time, serves as choir director of Allen AME Church.

Mayor Woodards’ workshop, “The Wise Leader”, will explore ways to lead effectively in a fractured world that is often divisive and hostile.  Victoria shares her own life experience serving in the US Army, and in our community to this discussion to mentor present and future woman leaders.

Thank You to our Generous Sponsors

Individual Sponsors

Chris & Pat Ferguson
The Hewitt Family

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