Monday, April 20, 2015

Meet our Spring Young Adults

A Celebration of Service Learning, Spring 2015

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.)

Salome Boyd (Spring 2015) joined the OPW staff in January 2015 as an intern after completing studies in Regional Development and Innovation from Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands. She came to D.C. with “the hope of learning more about how civil society can influence U.S. policies, and the approach the PC(USA) takes to achieve such social change. After only a week, [she] caught [her]self wishing [her] internship were longer than four months!” During her time in the OPW, Salome is focusing on issues of economic justice and is currently working with Publish What You Pay, as they research and push for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to implement a strong regulation for transparency within extractive industries. Next year, Salome will start a Master’s program in Public Administration in the Netherlands, after which she hopes to support grassroots movements to promote economic justice and increase corporate responsibility around the globe.

Nora Leccese (Spring/Summer 2015) is serving the policy placement portion of a Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellowship* through the Congressional Hunger Center. Originally from Boulder, CO, Nora graduated from the University of Colorado in 2014 with a degree in economics and a minor in ethnic studies with a focus on community leadership. Nora helped found Boulder Food Rescue, a national organization that uses bicycle power to redistribute produce that would otherwise go to waste from grocery stores to homeless, food insecure, and low income individuals. She has conducted research on worker-owned cooperatives in Argentina and was a lead organizer in a campaign to divest Colorado University from the fossil fuel industry.

In her capacity as an Emerson Hunger Fellow, she served the first part of her Fellowship in a field placement at the Center for an Agricultural Economy in Hardwick, VT, where she assessed how local food infrastructure, such as cold storage and processing facilities, might better serve the needs of emergency food organizations (e.g. food banks, pantries, and congregate meal sites), with the goal of increasing access to fresh food for low-income Vermonters. In the OPW she is working to increase awareness of the root causes of poverty and to provide resources to congregations who want to deepen their knowledge about access to education, mass incarceration, and economic inequality.

Jenny Hyde continues to serve as a PC(USA) Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) through the National Capital Presbytery’s DC YAV site (2014-2015). Jenny hails from Massachusetts and is a recent graduate of Gordon College with a degree in International Affairs with a concentration in International Development. She is a member of Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church in Easton, MA, and was a Young Adult Advisory Delegate to the 2010 General Assembly. At college, she was very involved in Gordon’s Residence Life program and the college’s Model United Nation’s team. In the OPW, she works on international issues, primarily focused on trade policy. When asked what led her to serve at the Office of Public Witness, she responded that she was “intentional in seeking a ministry in a new context, to see how the church wrestles with public policy issues and advocacy. I feel very blessed to be here.”

AmyBeth Willis also continues to serve as a PC(USA) Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) through the National Capital Presbytery’s DC YAV site (2014-2015). She grew up in Murfreesboro, TN, and graduated May 2013 from Emory University in Atlanta, GA, where she studied Sociology, Religion, and Spanish. She spent the 2013-14 year as a YAV in the desert of Tucson, AZ, working at Southside Presbyterian Church. Of her choice to pursue a second YAV year at the DC site, she said, “After a year of providing ‘direct services’ to people in immediate need, I wanted an opportunity to
engage in policy work and understand how policy impacts the day-to-day lives of people. How do we move from mercy to justice ministries? Here, I have learned about the amazing justice-driven and prophetic work of this office and our ecumenical partners. Our power is in our faith, the mobilization of people, and our commitment to do justice. The voice for justice and righteousness on the Hill would be so much smaller without people of faith. I have learned that this work is an uphill battle, but is worth the climb. It was hard for me to leave Tucson, but I knew this was an important next step for me. I have felt affirmed that God is calling me to this work as I discern where God is calling me next. I don’t know how this will manifest itself, although I could see myself doing more community organizing.”

For more information on Service Learning Opportunities at the Office of Public Witness, or to learn how to apply, please visit or email

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 receives a modest stipend to help defray the cost of living expenses, which are considerable in DC . We need your help to continue 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.

*The Emerson National Hunger Fellows Program is a social justice program that trains, inspires, and sustains leaders. Fellows gain field experience fighting hunger and poverty through placements in community-based organizations across the country, and policy experience through placements in Washington, D.C. The program bridges community-based efforts and national public policy, and fellows develop as effective leaders in the movement to end hunger and poverty.