Interfaith Action Board & Staff

Interfaith Action Board    2021

Interfaith Action Board of Directors
The executive committee is listed with the officer roles identified, followed by the names of the board at large. The faith communities listed next to the board members’ names are the communities with which the board members are associated.

Executive Committee

Melissa Appelt, President, a member of First United Methodist Church, is a soup kitchen and emergency overnight shelter volunteer and a member of the Interfaith Action Advocacy team. Within her congregation, Melissa has served on Church Council and led Staff Parish Relations and Mission & Outreach committees. She has participated in a dozen trips to the Appalachia Service Project and hurricane relief efforts in various locations and currently assists Syrian refugees and Bundled Blessings, FUMC’s diaper service for low-income families. Melissa retired from the Chicago Botanic Garden, where she worked in Foundation and Government Relations and continues to volunteer for the Garden’s Windy City Harvest program, helping ex-offenders with resumes and job searches.

Mildred Carter, Vice President, a member of Sherman United Methodist Church, actively participates in the ministries of her church and has held numerous leadership positions Mildred currently serves as chairperson of Interfaith Action’s Human Resources Development committees and volunteers at the Soup Kitchens, the Overnight shelter and the ProduceMobile.  She has also been involved with Connections for the Homeless sack lunch program for many years and plays a supportive role to women and children residing in New Life Interim shelter. She has volunteered as a return preparer and financial coach for the center for economic progress.  Mildred retired from her position as a senior federal tax analyst for a global corporation. She currently serves on the advisory board to the Forrest Powell Foundation’s Work Ethic Program.

Carol Wilson, Secretary, a member of Trinity Lutheran Church, worked for 46 years as a journalist, including 34 years writing about telecommunications technology. At Trinity, she is former Church Council President and a member of the Faith in Action committee. She is a regular soup kitchen and Emergency Overnight Shelter volunteer, as well as a member of the Communications, SNAPGap, Walk for Warmth and Fundraising committees. Her other volunteer work includes teaching adult ESL classes and working at the Misericordia Sweet Shoppe.

Nancye Kirk, Treasurer, is a member of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.  She is serving as co-chairman of the current capital campaign which is funding the renovations to the Hospitality Center at the church, and on the finance and investment committees.  She is a former warden of the vestry and involved in the Wednesday lunch program at the church which was started six years ago by her late husband, John Lucadamo.  She has been a resident of Evanston for over 40 years after moving here from her native Kentucky She has an undergraduate degree from Centre College in Kentucky and an MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School.  She is the Head of Special Projects at the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM), a 501-c-6 not-for-profit professional society headquartered in Chicago.  While at IREM, she has led a number of programs, including international, publishing, academic outreach, ethics and governance, and meetings. Through IREM, she sits on academic advisory boards at several universities.  For a number of years she was executive director of the IREM Foundation, a 501-c-3 organization.  She will be retiring from IREM in April 2021

Board members

Donna Richardson, a member of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, serves as the lay coordinator – Social Justice and Outreach Ministry and since 2018 the IAE delegate.  She is the one of the coordinators for the Wednesday Lunch Ministry sponsored by St. Mark’s and St. Matthew’s Episcopal Churches. Donna is a retired special and school librarian, spending the last 22 years at Chute Middle School in Evanston.  She has served on the Direct Services and Delegate Advisory Committees for Interfaith Action. She has volunteered at the Producemobile and Emergency Overnight Shelter.  Donna is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., actively involved in the local chapter. She has served as an election judge, a volunteer for the Ricky Byrdsong Memorial Race Against Hate, and as a tutor with Books & Breakfast Program. She was honored in 2019 with St. Mark’s Lion of the Year Award. Donna and her husband have lived in Skokie for 30+ years.

Olga Ricketts-Peart, a member of The First Presbyterian Church for 30+ years, has held numerous leadership positions and was a faithful volunteer at the Souper Saturday soup kitchen for many years. Olga co-teaches the Thursday Evening Women’s Bible Study and she is a Commissioner at the Presbytery of Chicago.  She is a retired geriatric social worker and worked at the Inter Faith Action Hospitality Center for 5-years in computer training.

Joey Rodger, a member of the Evanston Friends Meeting (Quakers) and a chaplain for the Evanston Police Department, has served the Friends meeting as Clerk, as a member of various committees, and as their representative to clergy groups in Evanston.  For 18 years she served as CEO of national organizations serving public libraries.  Prior to that she worked as an early childhood librarian, a jail librarian, and an elementary school teacher.  She co-founded Peaceable Cities: Evanston and served as its Executive Director for five years.  She has also served on the Human Relations Commission for the City of Evanston.  Joey is a regular volunteer at the Producemoble.

Vijaya (VJ) Vasista  has worked for over 30 years in the healthcare/life science industry with senior roles in marketing & strategy.  VJ has been a board member for Community Health, Chicago’s largest free, full service, medical care clinic. She is regular volunteer for the Produce Mobile. She is also a mentor for SCORE, a free business advisory service for budding entrepreneurs.  VJ has a Bachelor of Science degree from the Wharton School of University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from the Booth School of the University of Chicago.

Rev. Eileen Wiviott serves the Unitarian Church of Evanston where she has been a member since 2002, was the Membership Director, Social Justice Coordinator, Assistant Minister and has been recently called as the settled Senior Minister.  She graduated from Meadville Lombard Theological School and was ordained in 2017.  She has lived in the Chicagoland area all her life and a Skokie resident since 1998 with her husband, David, and two young adult children – Mable (22) and Grey (18).  Eileen is delighted to serve on the Interfaith Action of Evanston board after many years of involvement including doing a community ministry internship in 2011-2012 at the hospitality center and focusing on interfaith dialogue.

Rev. Michael Woolf is the senior minister of Lake Street Church of Evanston, where he has been since 2019. He previously served congregations in Massachusetts, and completed his Master of Divinity degree at Harvard Divinity School in 2014. He is also a Doctor of Theology candidate at Harvard writing about the Sanctuary Movement of the 1980s and hopes to finish his dissertation in 2021. A native of Alabama, Michael lives in Evanston with his wife, Anna, and daughter, Zofia. He is working on his Polish, as his wife and daughter are Polish citizens, and he is an avid bread baker and vegetable gardener.

Interfaith Action Staff

Executive Director, Susan Murphy

Assistant Program Director, Shawn Iles

Bookkeeper,  Julia Ferguson

Administrative Assistant, Sara L.

Computer Trainers, Jernone Smith

Maintenance Manager, Kim Jefferson