Annual Meeting Featured Speakers

We are fortunate to welcome these distinguished speakers to our virtual annual meeting.

  • Keynote Speaker - Mr. Brian Bond

    Executive Director, pflag

    Brian Bond is a former Obama Administration official and LGBTQ advocate with an extensive background in constituency outreach and coalition bridge building. Brian most recently served as the Coalitions Director for the Climate Action Campaign in Washington D.C., working to protect clean air and promote action to limit climate change. Prior to that, he was the Deputy CEO for the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


    During the Obama Administration, he served as Deputy Director for the White House Office of Public Engagement and primary liaison for the LGBTQ community, the first to serve in that role. After the successful re-election of President Obama in 2012, he moved to the Environmental Protection Agency to work on the Administration’s climate initiatives as Associate Administrator for Public Engagement and Environmental Education. Prior to these roles, he served as the Executive Director of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, and is credited with expanding the success of the organization and support for LGBTQ candidates during his six-year tenure, which began in 1997. 


    Brian is a Missouri native and has a degree in Public Administration from Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri.

  • Ms. Sarah Adams-Cornell

    Sarah Adams-Cornell is an advocate for Native American culture, education and rights. She is a citizen of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and serves on the Board of Directors for Sovereign Community School where she focuses on community engagement. Sarah co-created an inter-tribal, empowerment organization called Matriarch that serves indigenous women in central and NE Oklahoma. Sarah is the President of the Board of Directors for the ACLU of Oklahoma. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Live Indigenous OK and worked alongside other Native

    advocates to see Indigenous Peoples’ Day recognized in OKC.


    Sarah is a board member of The Auntie Project, Not Your Mascot, proud ally member of Central Oklahoma Two Spirit Society, serves on the OKC Citizens Committee for Community Development and was Activist in Residence at the University of Oklahoma.


    Sarah has worked alongside other advocates to eliminate Land Run Reenactments and Native mascots in OKC Public Schools and co-created a program called Oklahoma History Day, a diverse and accurate account of Oklahoma history through statehood.


    She attended Cottey College and the University of Oklahoma and has two daughters, Bella and Gabbie. Sarah works for her parent’s company, RedLand Sheet Metal and lives in Oklahoma City.

  • REV. JULIAN DESHAZIER

    Rev. Julian DeShazier became senior minister in 2010 of University Church in Chicago, Illinois (a United Church of Christ and Disciples of Christ Congregation). For nearly a decade, Julian’s ministry has explored the relationship between music and faith. As an artist, he has used his unique rhythm to tell stories of deep meaning, inside and outside the church. He is a 2007 Holy Hip Hop Award winner, and has been celebrated as “Living Black History” by Urban Ministries International, while sharing stages at every major gospel music festival.


    As a national speaker, advocate and emcee, Julian “J.Kwest” DeShazier has appeared on ABC, FOX, NPR and Dr. Maya Angelou’s “Oprah & Friends” radio program. J.Kwest is also an Emmy Awardwinning musician, featured in the video “Strange Fruit,” a commemoration of the Billie Holiday song and a meditation on racial violence. The Chicago native and graduate of Morehouse College and the University of Chicago Divinity School is a 2020 Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow and was also recognized by Crain’s Chicago Business as one of “40 Under 40” leaders in Chicago. Working with the community, Julian was instrumental in bringing a Level-1 trauma center to the Southside of Chicago.


    Named by the Center for American Progress as one of “10 Faith Leaders to Watch” in 2018, he serves as the inaugural chair of the Community Advisory Council for University of Chicago Medicine; as associate director of the Office of Experiential Education at McCormick Theological Seminary; and is a former adjunct professor at the University of Chicago Divinity School. Julian is a regular contributor to On Scripture and Sojourners, where he is also a board member. He and his wife, Mallorie, have two fierce daughters, Dania and Genevieve. // all social media: @PureKwest.

  • Rev. Rebecca Anderson

    Rebecca Anderson is co-pastor at two Chicago churches. You can find her on Sunday mornings at Bethany UCC in Ravenswood (BethanyChicago.com), and Sunday evenings at Gilead, a queer, storytelling, bar church on Chicago’s north side — now a queer, storytelling, mostly-online church — that she planted with friend and colleague Vince Amlin (GileadChicago.org).


    Rebecca’s been on Snap Judgment (radio), and podcasts including The Broad Experience, Broccoli & Ice Cream. Active in the Chicago storytelling scene, she’s performed with events like RISK!, 2nd Story, The Moth, and This Much is True. As a comic (back in the day), she was featured in The Boston Globe and The Christian Century. She's head honcho of Earshot (EarshotStories.com), running storytelling workshops across the country (and, now, internationally. Thanks, Canada!). She's always looking for the least crowded forest preserves, her biscuits are unparalleled, and she knows the best places to pick juneberries.


    Rebecca is ordained in The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). She has a Masters in Divinity from the University of Chicago and a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Playwrighting from Hampshire College (Amherst, MA).

  • Rev. Eleanor McCormick

    In March of 2019, Reverend Eleanor B. McCormick became an Ecumenical Pastor in the Protestant Church of Baden (Baden-Württemberg, Germany) and a Global Ministries Fellow. She splits her time between serving a local congregation and working in the Department for Mission and Ecumenism in the Baden church headquarters. As the first UCC clergyperson to hold this position her efforts will strengthen and support the long-standing partnership between our two churches.


    Eleanor grew up in Connecticut and graduated from Smith College. She holds a Master of Divinity from Yale University Divinity School, and also had the opportunity to study theology at Heidelberg University in Germany. She is a current participant in the United Church of Christ’s Next Generation Leadership Initiative (NGLI) - a leadership development initiative that equips, energizes, and empowers younger UCC local church pastors to build vibrant congregations.


    Eleanor is published in the area of environmental economics and holds a particular interest in the intersectional field of environmental racism. For several years, Eleanor’s ministry has explored how to engage congregations and individuals in substantive anti-racism work in the United States and now in Germany.


    For the next two years she is an appointed member of the Local Worship Planning Committee for the World Council of Churches General Assembly 2022. While serving abroad she maintains her ordination standing in the Kansas-Oklahoma Conference.

    She and her husband, Stefan, live in Karlsruhe with their Kansas farm cat Geranium.