Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Summer Fellows 2014

Meet our 2014 Summer Fellows

The Office of Public Witness believes that the formation of servant leaders and advocates is vital to the public policy ministry and witness of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

2014 Summer Fellows (left to right) Anne Fyffe, David Clifford,
Alissa Rashid, and Kyle Cristofalo wait in Georgetown to hear
President Obama speak.

Kyle Cristofalo recently received his Master of Divinity from Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, GA. He spent his last semester participating in Wesley Theological Seminary’s National Capital Semester and interning with us in the Office of Public Witness. Upon graduation, Kyle stayed on as a Summer Fellow. With a M.Div. concentration in Justice, Peacebuilding, and Conflict Transformation, he has spent much of his time thinking through how religious communities can engage in creative practices of peacemaking that work to overcome systems of injustice. Kyle hopes to serve the church through work in the non-profit or private sector in organizations committed to peace and justice issues. Of his time with us, Kyle said, “I am beyond grateful for my six months of service to the Office of Public Witness. From my start in January until finishing my service, I had the chance each day to be immersed in the world of faith-based justice and political advocacy--work that is at the heart of our Reformed faith. As I embark on the next part of my journey, I am confident that my time at the OPW has equipped me with the skills and resilience to serve the church and all of God's creation. I am honored to be a member of a denomination so committed to bringing God's justice and wholeness to our society and the world.”

Anne Fyffe hails from Dayton, OH, and finished her OPW Summer Fellowship just in time to return home and graduate from The Ohio State University with a degree in Public Affairs, with a specialization in Community Organization and Civic Engagement. Anne’s Summer Fellowship was the capstone project for her Public Affairs major. She plans to spend the coming year working and traveling before beginning seminary in 2015. Anne is particularly interested in issues surrounding poverty and inequality, including hunger, housing and homelessness, incarceration and recidivism, and education. During her time in the office, she worked primarily on domestic policy issues with a special focus on childhood hunger. She says, “I am thrilled to have had this experience to combine my faith and my passion for public policy. I have so enjoyed learning more about how the faith community advocates for change in Washington, DC, and how the PC(USA) is part of that.” This summer has also been an opportunity to discern further God's call on her life.

Alissa Rashid is originally from Neenah, WI, and is entering in her third year at Vanderbilt University. She is pursuing a major in Cognitive Studies. At school, Alissa is very involved in campus life serving on UKIRK council (Presbyterian campus ministry), Alternative Winter and Spring Breaks, Alternative Gift Fair, and is looking forward to serving as Head Resident of a first-year residence house beginning in August. Alissa was led to OPW thanks to the encouragement of Alan Bancroft, her UKIRK campus minister at Vanderbilt. During her Summer Fellowship, Alissa primarily worked on environmental and immigration issues while continuing to learn about the magnitude of work and issues the OPW covers. Alissa is extremely grateful for this opportunity to work and learn alongside the OPW staff this summer and for opening her eyes to honestly speaking truth in love to power.

A native of Louisville, KY, David Clifford is entering in his third year at Maryville College in Maryville, TN. He is a Political Science major with a History minor. David also plays baseball for Maryville and is a Bonner Scholar, a service-based scholarship. David met OPW Director Reverend J. Herbert Nelson when he came to speak at Maryville, inspiring him to pursue a Summer Fellowship with the OPW. Service in the OPW helped him fulfill commitments to his Bonner Scholarship and provided the financial support for him to serve. While at the Office of Public Witness, David worked on the issues of disability, labor rights, campaign finance reform, and immigration, gaining valuable experience as well as exposure to everything that the OPW does to advocate on behalf of the PC(USA) and speak truth in love to power.

For more information on Service Learning Opportunities at the Office of Public Witness, or to learn how to apply, please visit or email opw (dot) intern (dot) info @ pcusa (dot) org.

Our fundraising efforts for service learning are ongoing. YAV Placements contribute a portion of Volunteers’ living expenses to the Presbytery. In addition, each Summer Fellow receive a modest stipend to help defray the cost of living expenses, which are considerable in DC. We need your help to continuing offering these opportunities! Your gift could make the difference between a vocational dream and a lived reality. Please give generously to support our YAVs, Interns, and Summer Fellows. Give online here.