Conference 2022: Speakers

Keynote

Sister Norma Pimentel, MJ

Norma Pimentel, a Sister with the Missionaries of Jesus, is Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley. She oversees the charitable arm of the Diocese of Brownsville, providing oversight of different ministries and services in the Rio Grande Valley located along the U.S-Mexico border through emergency assistance, homelessness prevention, disaster relief, clinical counseling, pregnancy care, food programs, and the Humanitarian Respite Center. Sister Norma’s work is one of immediate response to the emerging needs in the community. Her humanitarian work on the US-Mexico border overseeing the provision of a safe space for migrants to rest and regain strength, has been recognized my many organizations across the country. She was named to the 2020 TIME100 list of the most influential people in the world. Sister Norma received her Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from Pan American University, a Master’s Degree in Theology from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas, and a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from Loyola University in Chicago, IL. Sr. Norma will speak about her incredible ministry at the U.S.-Mexico border and no doubt inspire all in attendance. This is a keynote you won’t want to miss.

Plenary Speakers

Sister Jamie Phelps, OP
Becoming Anti-Racist and Developing Racially and Culturally Inclusive Communities

Dr. Phelps has spent the last several decades in public ministry in the Catholic Church and in the wider community as a theologian, scholar, author, educator, pastoral minister, consultant, lecturer, liturgist, preacher, spiritual and retreat director, social worker, writer, editor, and administrator. She has held teaching and other positions at Catholic Theological Union, Xavier University of Louisiana, Loyola University Chicago, the University of Dayton, and the University of Notre Dame. As a theological scholar, her primary research and teaching areas are in the discipline of Systematic Theology. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Siena Heights College, a Master of Social Work from the University of Illinois at Chicago, a Master of Arts in Theology from Saint John’s University (Collegeville, Minnesota), and a Ph.D. in Systematic Theology from The Catholic University of America. Dr. Phelps currently lives in community at the Adrian Dominican Life Center in Adrian, Michigan, where she teaches the Little Rock Bible Study Program to the sisters living there.

Judith Valente
Loving The World: The Art and Vocation of Communication

Author and journalist Judith Valente’s career journey included working for The Wall Street Journal as a foreign correspondent, covering faith and values for national PBS-TV, and doing award-winning investigative reporting for an NPR station in Illinois. She now focuses on writing spirituality books and guiding retreats for busy professionals and spiritual seekers. Her talk “Loving The World: The Art and Vocation of Communication” will explore the changing, but ever critical role religious communicators play in an increasingly fractured and chaotic world that looks to women religious to be what they have always been: cultivators of the human spirit.

Sister Caroljean Willie, SC
Laudato Si’: A Blueprint for the 21st Century

Caroljean Willie, a Sister of Charity of Cincinnati, holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, a Master’s Degree in Reading and a Ph.D. in Multicultural Education. She has extensive experience working with multiple cultures  internationally as a teacher trainer, cultural diversity consultant and retreat director. She is a frequent speaker at local, regional, national and international conferences. She served two terms of office as the NGO representative at the United Nations for the Sisters of Charity Federation and continues to work with microfinancing projects in Africa. She currently serves as the Program Director for EarthConnection, an environmental center in Cincinnati, Ohio, and does freelance work in educational and retreat settings. Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si’, has impacted people in every faith tradition throughout the world. It provides a roadmap and an invitation to all people to an ecological conversion; a conversion that recognizes the earth as our common home and the responsibility each of us has to care for it. He speaks of an “Integral ecology” which shows the intimate connection between our care for each other and our care for the earth. A new initiative, the Laudato Si’ Action Platform is designed to provide a space for institutions, communities and families to journey together towards full sustainability.

Dan Nejfelt
Online Messaging Principles, Best Practices, Applying Them Across Mediums

Dan Nejfelt is Messaging Director at Faith in Public Life, where he has provided media training and message development for a broad range of religious leaders on numerous public policy issues since 2009. He has worked with LCWR, NETWORK, US Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking, and numerous ecumenical and interfaith groups. He resides in St. Paul, Minnesota.

 

Tammy Townsend Denny
Spirituality of Communications: Breath Before Voice

“She cries aloud in the street, in the open squares she raises her voice…” (Proverbs 1:20). As communicators, our mission is to raise our voices and cry aloud in support of Catholic sisters and their ministries. Yet before we can utter a sound, we must have breath. In this session, we will explore ways to connect with the breath of the Divine so that our communication ministries sing with presence and power. Tammy Townsend Denny is the executive director of Theresians International, a Catholic-founded ministry dedicated to nurturing, affirming, and empowering the spiritual growth of women. She served previously as the national director of communications for the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth. In addition to her current ministry with Theresians, Tammy serves on the board of directors for Communicators for Women Religious. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in liberal studies and is currently pursuing a Master of Divinity degree at Loyola University in Chicago. Tammy is a life-long seeker who is always exploring new ways to connect with the Divine and to better understand God’s call in her life.  She and her husband live in the far western suburbs of Chicago with their blended family of four children, ranging in age from 16 to 23. 

Plenary Panel: Communicating for Vibrant Vocation Ministry

A conversation with vocation directors about the vital role communication can play in vocation ministry. What are best practices? What are creative possibilities? How can communicators and vocation ministers collaborate to promote the mission and engage with discerners? We’ll share our ideas, and hopefully it will stir up your own creativity.

Sister Leslie Keener, CDP

Sister Leslie Keener is a Sister of Divine Providence of Kentucky and the director of God Space, a community-building spirituality ministry in Cincinnati. She’s a spiritual director, and she serves as the vocation director for her community as well. She also hosts the Providence Podcast and offers retreats and prayer opportunities. She has a Masters in Ministry and a Certificate in Spiritual Direction and Retreats from Creighton University and serves on the Board of Spiritual Directors International as well as the Board of Trustees at Thomas More University. Leslie is a native of Cincinnati, and she enjoys meaningful conversations, spicy food, and dancing.

Sister Tracy Kemme, SC

Tracy Kemme is a Sister of Charity of Cincinnati who professed final vows in 2020. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, at Visitation House, a community for hospitality and discernment. As the Vocation Coordinator for her congregation and a member of the Sisters of Charity Federation collaborative Vocation Core Team, she has a great love for sharing the beauty of religious life and accompanying young adult women as they seek God’s call. Tracy loves writing and singing, and she also serves as a spiritual minister at Casa de Paz, a transition home for Latina women recovering from trauma. She received her Master of Divinity and Certificate in Biblical Spirituality from Catholic Theological Union, Chicago, in 2021.

Sister Nicole Trahan, FMI

Nicole Trahan, FMI, is a Marianist Sister living and ministering in Dayton, Ohio. Nicole wears many hats in her province including vocations and pre-novitiate director, and head of education on her provincial council. She also serves the Marianist Family on the Marianist Social Justice Collaborative’s Racial Justice Issue Team. She is a member of the National Black Catholic Sisters Conference, the National Religious Formation Conference, and a board member of the National Religious Vocations Conference.

Plenary Panel: Nuts and Bolts of Communications: Moving Toward Closure

Panelists will share personal experiences with internal and external communications as a community embraces the need for working toward closure. Issues this conversation will address include:

  • confidentiality
  • sharing a common story
  • who to contact
  • dealing with various publics
  • what to communicate
  • adjustments along the way

Sister Rita Brink, OSB

Sr. Rita A. Brink is the Director of Development for St. Walburg Monastery in Villa Hills, Kentucky. A professed member of the Benedictine Sisters of St. Walburg Monastery since 1960, Sr. Rita served as the congregation’s Religious Superior from 1998 through 2006. Sr. Rita earlier worked as a teacher, principal and superintendent in the dioceses of Covington (KY), Pueblo (CO), Cincinnati (OH) and Lexington (KY). Sr. Rita earned a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Thomas More College and a master’s degree in Educational Administration from Xavier University.

Sister Patricia Homan, OSU

As an Ursuline of Brown County Sr. Patricia’s ministry has been education at the secondary level; initially teaching Home Economics and then moving into the administrative side for a diocesan high school and three Ursuline Schools. From being in the classroom to administration lead to serving as Co-Director for the national Ursuline Educational Network. Congregational Leadership became the next chapter for eight years during which the Congregation transitioned the educational institutions to ownership boards and stewarded conservation easements for the Community property. The next ministry was Vice President for Mission and Identity for Chatfield College, as well as Site Director and Associate Dean. Congregational Leadership again occupies Sr. Patricia’s time with a focus on preserving and sharing the Legacy of the Ursulines of Brown County with their educational institutions, constituencies, friends, and families.

Workshops

Veronica Brown
Emerging Trends in Social Media

To say that social media is a big part of people’s lives is, well, and understatement. Social media has become an integral part of most people’s daily lives and routines. It’s time to make sure that your content is part of their routine. Join Veronica Brown as she dives into new and emerging social media trends that you can integrate into your content strategies for the upcoming year. Veronica was born and raised in Springfield, IL and has spent a lot of time with Abe Lincoln. After earning a degree from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in Mass Communications, Veronica began her career in nonprofit communications. She’s worked for tiny nonprofits with 2-3 staff and international organizations with offices all over the world. Veronica has always had an interest in new and innovative platforms and has worked to keep up-to-date on all things social media. As the Communications and Advancement Specialist for the Dominican Sisters of Springfield, Ill., Veronica is charged with helping spread the sisters mission in a variety of digital and print media. She enjoys spending her down time at home with her husband reading their manga collection and walking their dog Clark.

Salvatore Camarda
Creating Hybrid Event Experiences

Join Salvatore Camarda, CEO of Ventla North America, as he discusses how to engage your congregational sisters, associates, supporters and friends worldwide through rich hybrid event experiences. Some key takeaways from this session will include: The importance of leveraging event tech in the religious community space; key differences between in-person and virtual audiences and why it’s important to drive consistency across mediums; methods and techniques to boost audience participation and engagement within your community. Salvatore is also Co-Founder of Ventla (formerly MeetApp North America), which is a global event technology company focused on bringing people closer and create more inclusive, genuine interactions for in-person, hybrid, and virtual events. As a 20-year tech industry veteran and expert in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and User Experience (UX) for digital products, Salvatore has conceptualized and developed digital products for organizations ranging from small start-ups to large multi-national corporations. His extensive background in HCI and UX drives his focus on leveraging human behavioral trends with technology to create digital products that enhance experiences and solve problems. In 2016, Salvatore began hosting monthly educational webinars to spotlight best practices in mobile engagement. His educational webinars have been used by organizations like the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) and the Society of Government Meeting Professionals (SGMP). Salvatore has gained recognition and client loyalty from corporations such as United Airlines, SAP, New York Life and more.

Billy Critchley-Menor, SJ
Historical Reckoning & Indian Boarding Schools: Lessons from Red Cloud Indian School’s Truth & Healing Initiative

Billy Critchley-Menor, SJ is the Project Assistant for Truth and Healing and teaches Literature at Red Cloud Indian School. Prior to working at Red Cloud, he completed a Master’s degree in American Studies at St. Louis University where his research focused on the history of racism within American Catholic religious orders. His research centered specifically on the relationship between the National Black Catholic Sisters Conference and the Black Power Movement as well as the history of segregation in the U.S. Jesuit novitiates. Billy has led workshops on antiracism to Catholic audiences and has collaborated on leading sessions about the history and impact of the Catholic Church’s role in running Indian boarding schools. He is on the leadership team for the Jesuit Antiracism Sodality and is currently in formation with the Midwest Province of the Society of Jesus. Red Cloud Indian School, formerly Holy Rosary Mission, was once an Indian boarding school, founded by the Jesuits with the partial intent to eradicate the Lakota culture. This session will explore Red Cloud’s Truth and Healing initiative, begun in 2019, and examine the way our history has negatively impacted indigenous people and culture and resulted in intergenerational trauma. The session will focus on how religious orders can engage in this work, research their own history and move towards a communication grounded in truth, healing, and accountability.

Theresa Flores
Ethical Representation of Human Trafficking in Communications

Ms. Flores has been a licensed Social Worker for over thirty years. She received a Master’s in Counseling Education from University of Dayton and a Bachelor’s of Social Work from Ball State University.
Ms. Flores was appointed to the Ohio Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Commission in 2009 and has testified before the Ohio House and Senate in support of Human Trafficking Legislation. Her efforts were a major part of the success of these bills being passed into laws. The “Theresa Flores Law” was passed in Michigan that eliminates the statute of limitation for children who have been trafficked. Additionally, Ms. Flores was in the Oval Office to witness the signing of SESTA/FOSTA bill (Backpage.com legislation) into law along with other survivors, the creator of the documentary “I am Jane Doe” and US Senator Rob Portman. Flores is a survivor of domestic child sex trafficking and was sold in an underground crime ring in an upper middle class suburb outside Detroit from the time she was 15-17 years old. Now, she is the Assistant Investigator with Global Centurion researching the mental and physical health problems of over 200 domestic trafficking survivors. The study entitled, “The Health Consequences of Human Trafficking” will provide best practices and systemic recommendations for health care providers. She founded The SOAP Project in 2010 and they have given away over a million bars of soap labeled with the National Human Trafficking Hotline number all across the states and assisted in rescuing many victims. She also is passionate about helping to restore survivors and provides them with a free weekend retreat each year as well as a monthly support group. Ms. Flores has received many awards including the University of Dayton’s Alumni Association 2013 Christian Service Award for her work with S.O.A.P. and in January 2012 at the State of the State Address, Ms. Flores received The Courage Award from Ohio Governor Kasich for her work in human trafficking. Ms. Flores was featured by the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center Museum in a traveling exhibit entitled, Invisible Slavery and has published four books, “The Sacred Bath” and “The Slave Across the Street” (in the UK and US) and “Slavery in the Land of the Free- a Student’s Guide to Modern Day Slavery”. The audio version of her memoir was nominated for The 2011 Audie Award, being in the top 5 of all memoirs and biographies and also has been on the Wall Street Journal and USA Today Best Seller list for e-books several times. Ms. Flores was the featured in a short documentary, “The Girl Next Door”, which has won many awards at film festivals all across the U.S. Her story has been seen on The Today Show, MSNBC: “Sex Slaves-The Teen Trade”, the 700 Club, CNN/HLN, Glenn Beck’s “For the Record” as well as many local and national radio shows. Her national rescue mission- S.O.A.P. has been featured on Dateline, Nightline and America’s Most Wanted.

Jay Love
Major Gifts for Small Shops

Major gift philanthropy plays a highly significant role in the nonprofit sector worldwide. But what are the indicators small shops should focus on for the long-term health of their major gifts program? In this session, we will dive into the groundbreaking research on major gift fundraising conducted by Adrian Sargeant PhD Professor of Fundraising and Director at the Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy Plymouth Business School and leading fundraising expert Amy Eisenstein, ACFRE. This research contains survey data collected from hundreds of nonprofits, and illuminates their experience with major gifts. No matter the size of your organization, you will come away with additional insights. The final summary section with 10 Recommendations will allow each workshop attendee to have numerous insights and action steps to implement immediately within their fundraising office. Previous workshop participants have been quite successful creating and/or expanding a major gift program for their institution. Jay B. Love is the CRO and Co-Founder of Bloomerang. He has served this sector for 40 years and is considered the most well known senior statesman whose advice is sought constantly.   He has been the CEO of four companies serving the sector. He is a graduate of Butler University.  Over the years he has given more than 1,500 speeches around the world for the charity sector and is often the voice of new technology for fundraisers. He is former Member of the AFP Ethics Committee and former member of the AFP International Board.  He was a Founding Member of Tech Point Foundation and Founding Member of the AFP Business Member Council.   He is a former board member of The Lilly School of Philanthropy at IU, Conner Prairie Museum and Gleaners Food Bank. Jay currently serves on the Board of Trustees at Butler University, The Philanthropy Centre of England, and The Fundraising Effectiveness Project.   He is also on the board of several technology companies. He and his wife Christie, the former Executive Directive for the Lawrence Township Schools Foundation, served as Co-Chairs for the Indianapolis Fort Harrison YMCA 2011 Capital Campaign and are the proud parents of three children as well as nine grandchildren.

Jan Middleton
Pink Ribbon Girls: How We Grew During a Pandemic

Jan Middleton is the Director of Education and Peer Support for Pink Ribbon Girls. After 29 years in the lighting & electrical industry working as a product manager and being diagnosed with breast cancer at age 39 she was determined to find a way to pay forward the kindness that was shown to her entire family during her treatment.  Jan volunteered for other breast cancer organizations before PRG and in 2012 she was invited to become a member of the PRG Board of Directors.  In 2014 she left her 29-year career to join the staff of Pink Ribbon Girls. Jan has held various roles in the development side of PRG until this new role of Director of Peer Support and Education was created at the end of 2019. Jan plans weekly virtual events for survivors and works with all five PRG regions to host monthly in person events.  She also manages a mentorship program for those newly diagnosed to be able to have a one-on-one connection with a survivor in their area.  PRG strives to support the patient from diagnosis through survivorship with a variety of educational, fun, inspiring and supportive programming. Jan currently resides in Maineville, OH with her husband and she has two children. Jan says the survivors and family members of PRG inspire her every day to remember that we are all dealing with struggles and we all have the power to make someone’s life better!

Amelia Riedel
Cultivating Fruitful Relationships with Catholic Funders

Does your “to-do” list contain the task of “writing a grant proposal?” Many who are given this responsibility agree that this task may seem exciting but daunting, especially with the pressure of acquiring vital funding for your organization. For this reason, it may help to approach this task through the perspective of building a relationship rather than viewing it as a fundraising chore. The benefits of cultivating relationships with grant-making organizations often extend beyond the financial support. This session will explore how the vineyard of charitable needs and charitable gifts weave together in the field of Catholic philanthropy. The types of Catholic funders will be explained, along with practical tips for researching and identifying a funder for your next project. The session will also provide suggestions for developing a grant proposal for a Catholic funder, and helpful advice for nurturing the funder relationship after the grant is awarded. Amelia Riedel has dedicated the majority of her 30-year career toward advancing the mission of nonprofit organizations through her expertise in marketing, communication and philanthropy. Her creative insights and servant leadership have contributed to many success stories, including the rebranding of a university, the start-up of a Catholic high school and the establishment of an innovative grant program.  In 2000, Amelia founded Riedel Creative Group, a strategic communications company that has served numerous Catholic organizations in her hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, as well as national organizations through recent projects with FADICA (Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities), the Catholic Funding Guide, and the NCEA (National Catholic Educational Association). In the fall of 2021, Amelia joined the communication faculty at Xavier University where she teaches undergraduate courses in advertising, communication and digital design. Amelia’s education includes a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership from Mount St. Joseph University, a Certificate in Nonprofit Executive Leadership from Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Communications Design from the University of Dayton. When she is not found in front of a computer or in a classroom, Amelia enjoys sharing adventures with her husband and two daughters, singing with her parish choir, gardening, and painting.

Jessica Rinaudo
Building Communication Relationships with the Archdiocese

How can you grab an editor’s attention with your news? Communications are constantly evolving. And while daily newspapers still exist, in the world of the Church, they aren’t financially feasible. Many dioceses have moved to a bi-weekly or monthly format, with a heavy focus on feature stories. They use digital platforms supplement print with timely news. So you have a story? Where does it fit into these formats and what’s the best way to make sure it gets out there? Learn more about collaborating with diocesan editors and communication teams, and how to share stories in a way that gets your information out there. Jessica Rinaudo is the editor of The Catholic Telegraph, the official magazine of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. She has worked in Catholic press for more than 14 years, previously serving as the editor of The Catholic Connection magazine for the Diocese of Shreveport in Louisiana. During her tenure she has won multiple Catholic Press Awards for writing and editing. Jessica has a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from Centenary College of Louisiana. She and her husband, Mark, live in Cincinnati with their four children.

Jennifer Schack
What to Do with Unexpected Media Calls

The media doesn’t often cold call an organization to share your latest success. What do you do when unexpected calls from the media are coming in? Do you even take the call? The work of public relations involves information gathering and navigating the field of assessing when to respond to the media and when not to respond. How do you “not respond”? This presentation will cover working relationships with media partners, mitigating negative media coverage and working with the media for fair coverage as well as the research and trust building involved in Public Relations within your organization. And how does this relate to our Catholic faith? This presentation will also talk about the ways the media can help us grow in holiness and Christian virtue. Jennifer Schack is the Director of Media Relations for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Jennifer works to serve God and others in her work promoting the Catholic faith and sharing pertinent information to the media.  Her previous career was in TV broadcasting where she worked for 13 years as a meteorologist and reporter (locally at WLWT). Jennifer enjoys spending her free time with her family – her husband, Jason and their 3 children: Weston, Gwendolyn and Isaac. An active and rambunctious family keeps Jennifer rather busy! In addition to Jennifer’s work for the Church, her husband Jason is also a Catholic religious artist (under the name Jason Jenicke).

Workshop Panel: Communications and Development – Collaborating Through Different Mindsets

This panel will address key issues for collaboration between communicators and development professionals, including:

  • Awareness of need is one of the most common triggers for giving – what does this mean for Communications and Development?
  • Different audiences require different messaging
  • Differences in language and messaging between Sisters and Donors, and new prospects
  • Writing:  Differences in donor messaging vs. press releases/reporting
  • How can we ensure the development voice is included in marketing, messaging, and website?
  • How do we share with each other how a donor’s relationship to the organization is based on how we communicate with them?
  • Direct appeals and Social Media
  • Telling the story in a different way
  • Who is responsible? Who approves?
  • Deadlines: Communicating to each other the need to stick to deadlines

Anne Marie Gardiner

Anne Marie Gardiner is the Director of Development for the Sisters of Charity of New York.  Anne Marie has over 35 years of fundraising experience, working primarily with religious congregations. Her expertise in capital campaigns, direct mail, and multi-channel fundraising has helped these congregations exceed their fundraising goals.  She has been involved in mentoring several newcomers in the field of Development over the years and she has served on several nonprofit boards.  Anne Marie has been a presenter at NCDC and The Bridge Conference.  She and her husband Tom have been married 39 years and have an adult son, Matthew.

Caelie Haines

Caelie Haines, Director of Communications for the Atlantic-Midwest Province of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, oversees both internal and external communications for the province, including print and online publications, the province website, social media, public relations and crisis communications. She also handles collaborative communications between her province and the seven other provinces in the international SSND congregation. Caelie was drawn to work for the SSNDs because she had been taught by them in high school at the Institute of Notre Dame (IND) in Baltimore, the first school opened by the congregation in the United States. Caelie was previously the Public Relations Manager for the University of Maryland School of Medicine, where she created the entire social media presence for the SOM from scratch. She also coordinated an annual six-week “Mini-Med School” program where local Baltimore City residents could attend free classes taught by the professors at the SOM on how to improve their health and well-being and that of their families. Caelie started her career working for Soap Opera Weekly and Soap Opera Digest magazines and for America Online (AOL).

Laura Lang

Laura Lang has over 35 years of comprehensive development experience.  She was the Director of Institutional Advancement at The John Carroll School for twenty-four years where she implemented their first annual giving program and first capital campaign, raising more than $5 million.  She served as the Director of Schools for the Healey Education Foundation where she was responsible for training, development, board governance, and marketing for several Catholic elementary schools in the Archdiocese of Baltimore.  She has been Director of Development for the Atlantic-Midwest Province of the School Sisters of Notre Dame since February 2019 where she is responsible for multi-channel appeals, planned giving, events management, major gifts, and foundation relations.  She is married to a college professor and has two twenty-something children, both who are living the dream in Boulder, CO.

Elena Miranda

After freelancing as a communications specialist for the Sisters of Charity Federation and the Ladies of Charity USA, Elena was hired by the Sisters of Charity of New York as Director of External Communications in 2011. In 11 years in her position Elena redesigned the quarterly newsletter and website, expanded social media use, and has taken over 20,000 photographs to document the life of the sisters. Elena holds an AAS in Graphic Design from Parsons School of Design, a BA in Liberal Arts from SUNY Purchase, and a certificate in Strategic Media Communications from New York University School of Professional Studies. She is currently enrolled in an NYU certificate program in storytelling. Elena is also an associate with the Sisters of Charity of New York, as well as with the Sisters of Charity – Halifax, the sisters who educated her in Brooklyn, NY. She spends her spare time with her grandson, taking photos, and learning to play the ukulele.