Why These Conference Speakers

A Letter from the Executive Director

Last month, we announced our two keynote speakers for Many Rays, One Rising, the 2019 National Conference on Faith-Based Service. Now that you have learned a little about who they are, I want to share why we invited them.

Speakers were invited because their stories and strategies are relevant for our story and strategy.  Each leader offers an experience and perspective addressing one of two vital and intertwined areas of focus for our community: 1) expanding the community of people who serve in faith-based programs by incorporating diversity and equity into our work; and 2) sharing a unified story of faith-based service with the world at large. Many Rays, One Rising will focus heavily on these areas.


As the Church and the world change, we must change as well, and bring as many as possible along on our journey. During this time, we will explore changes to our models, approaches, and partnerships that respond to changes in the Church, young adults, and society at large, including those that increase diversity and make faith-based service more attractive to a broader range of volunteers. We will discern how to authentically appeal to marginalized groups by linking service and economic opportunity and experimenting with service program components.

Because of her commitment to social justice, service, equity and allyship, Whitney Parnell was a clear choice to address this focus. Service Never Sleeps began with the goal of helping young professionals make deeper commitments to service in their communities. It transitioned its mission to diversity and allyship a few years later. Her journey is one of discernment informed by empowering others – and responding to pressing needs of the times. That approach is very relevant for us.


We are positioned to reach new audiences – including younger audiences and the broader service community – but we must be strategic. We will explore how to tell the evolving story of faith-based service and our work by thinking creatively about how to grow the appeal of our service opportunities, foster relationships with new partners, and share our mission more broadly.

Kerry Alys Robinson helped found Leadership Roundtable in response to major challenges facing the Catholic Church and to promote leadership, accountability, and best practices. It was an effort to take challenges to identity, structures, and relationship seriously; to offer support for changes that can help the Church witness more successfully. She understands the connections between leadership, change, and mission – and how to share that more effectively with the world.  We need that perspective to help our communications about faith-based service. Leadership Roundtable also recently added a fellowship opportunity that is a CVN member program, further connecting our missions.

These leaders will help us focus on big questions and nurture creative ideas.  Please stay tuned for information on other speakers and sessions! AND, get ready for registration to open in late July!   

With you in service,

Yonce Shelton
Executive Director

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