2011 Faith & Justice Symposium

Speaker Profiles

Dan Kosten, Vice President for U.S. Programs, World Relief

Mr. Dan Kosten is the senior vice president of U.S. programs for World Relief.  He has been with World Relief since 2001, and is responsible for all of World Relief’s work in the U.S.  He also oversees the technical support for a number of programs involving refugees and immigrants. World Relief is the humanitarian arm of the National Association of Evangelicals.  World Relief has worked for 64 years with local churches to create sustainable solutions that help the desperately poor. Operating in 17 countries, including 25 cities in the U.S., World Relief's programs include disaster response, refugee assistance, immigrant assistance, trafficking victim protection, HIV/AIDS, maternal and child health, child development, agricultural, and microenterprise development.

Mr. Kosten was born in Taipei, Taiwan. His parents were missionaries doing church planting work there.  He lived in Taiwan until he was a freshman in high school. Mr. Kosten worked for nearly 10 years in Africa, predominately in the Democratic Republic of Congo and in Cameroon.  He began in Africa as a member of the U.S. Peace Corps, and then worked with Christian Blind Mission International. He has had a variety of responsibilities including project administrator, project director, country coordinator and regional advisor.

He received his Master of Arts in missions and intercultural studies from Wheaton College, and his Bachelor of Arts from Calvin College.  He and his wife, Holly, live in Maryland with their two daughters, Hannah and Martha Nadine.

Dr. Jose Velazquez, National Council of La Raza

José Velázquez is vice president for Affiliate Member Services (AMS) at the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States.

His work focuses on Affiliate outreach and support, with a particular emphasis on strengthening NCLR’s partnership with its nearly 300 community-based organizations throughout the nation.  In addition to managing the Affiliate Network, José supervises AMS staff and their efforts to enhance Affiliate engagement and development nationwide.

Prior to joining NCLR, José served as executive director for Latino Memphis Inc., an NCLR Affiliate, and was also one of two southeast representatives to NCLR's Affiliate Council.  Under his leadership, Latino Memphis became the mid-south’s leading Latino advocacy organization—quadrupling its staff, budget, and community outreach to serve more than 10,000 individuals through its various programs and events each year.  José has also played a crucial role in bridging relationships with other ethnic groups, most notably by working with the National Civil Rights Museum in highlighting the contributions of Latinos to the movement.

During his 15 years in education, José served as department chair and dean at various universities and as the Latin America specialist for the Tennessee Governor’s School for International Studies.  He has lectured nationally and internationally on topics related to the Spanish language and Hispanic culture.  José serves on a number of boards and commissions and has been widely recognized for his leadership and community contributions. 

José is a proud 1988 graduate of Houghton College with a bachelor’s degree in psychology.  After graduation José returned to his alma mater to teach in the Spanish department for five years.  He married Jennifer Kess, a 1991 Houghton College music major, and together have a daughter, Elena Isabel, who is currently a music education major at Houghton.

Anna Ireland, Jericho Road Ministries

Anna Ireland is a graduate of Houghton College.  She completed her Master of Arts in cultural anthropology from the University of Buffalo where she is currently a doctoral candidate.  She spent two years in Kenya, East Africa as a Peace Corps volunteer working with a local nongovernment organization to develop an HIV/AIDS curriculum.  After her service was complete, she returned to the United States and began working at Journey's End Refugee Services as a case manager.  In 2008 she co-founded Hope Refugee Services to develop programming for post-resettlement refugees.  In 2009 Hope merged with Jericho Road Ministries, and Anna now serves as the director of health and family services. 

Anna has a unique role in the refugee communities in Buffalo, working with the refugee communities to develop innovative programs to address the areas of greatest need as defined by the various refugee communities.  Her doctoral work is focused on examining the role of post-resettlement services in the Somali Bantu and Burmese Karen population.

Rev. Joan Harrell, Chicago Theological Seminary

Joan R. Harrell is a public theologian, an ordained American Baptist clergywoman, and award-winning journalist. She holds a Master of Divinity degree from the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Ga., a Master of Science in journalism degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York City, and she is currently a doctoral student at Chicago Theological Seminary. Her scholarly investigation explores how the intersecting of media, religion, race, alterity, xenophobic constructs and politics perpetuate oppression in the public sphere. She is currently the producer and host of Empowering Voices, a weekly podcast episode featured on ITUNES, Kinetics Faith and Justice Network at www.Kinetics.net.org, Trinity United Church of Christ’s website at www.TrinityChicago.org, and Trinity's blog at www.TrinityChicagoblog.org.

Nicole Wood, Faith Alliance Against Slavery and Trafficking

Since February 2009, Nicole has led as the coordinator of Faith Alliance Against Slavery and Trafficking (FAAST).  In this role, Nicole manages and serves as a liaison in fostering all communication and overseeing programs focused on the eradication of human trafficking and the restoration of survivors in the United States and internationally. Nicole organizes and coordinates all Faast activities internally and externally, including  FAAST-sponsored trainings and the FAAST publication Hands That Heal: International Curriculum to Train Caregivers of Trafficking Survivors.

Throughout Nicole’s career she has demonstrated visionary leadership and expertise among at-risk, victimized, underserved, uninformed and the unexposed.  Nicole is a consummate professional, dedicated and committed to serving disadvantaged women, children, and their families, who are often marginalized, multiethnic and among interreligious communities.  She is an effective communicator in the United States and internationally while working for members of congress, the federal government, nongovernmental organizations, educational institutions, religious communities and health institutions. 

Nicole has a Master of Arts in urban ministry from Wesley Theological Seminary, a Master of Public Health in international community health and health promotion from Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health, and a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology and environmental studies from Adelphi University.  Nicole has served and/or lived in Switzerland, Senegal, Brazil, Spain and Jamaica.  Presently Nicole resides in Maryland with her supporting husband and twin toddlers.

Molly Short, Journey’s End

Molly Short is the executive director of Journey's End Refugee Services, a nonprofit organization serving the refugee community of Western New York. Prior to her work in Buffalo, she served as a field office director for the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants in Albany, N.Y., also a refugee resettlement agency, and was legal services coordinator for Vive Inc., a 118-bed shelter serving asylum seekers in the United States and Canada. Since 2004 Molly has been a Board of Immigration Appeals accredited representative, allowing her to practice in the area of immigration law. She holds a master’s in organizational leadership and a bachelor’s in urban studies and political science.

Bob Lynch, BOCES Geneseo Migrant Center

Robert Lynch’s work on behalf of migrant farm workers and their families spans over forty years.  Beginning his career as an undergraduate at the State University College at Geneseo, Bob currently serves as Director of the Geneseo Migrant Center and National PASS Center.  While involved in all aspects of the Migrant Education Program, infants thru adults, he has focused his work in the area of services to secondary-aged migrant students, both in-school and out-of-school.  He has conducted numerous trainings, workshops, and other presentations for professional and educational staff and groups throughout the country, and has been recognized for his work on behalf of farm workers at the local, state and national levels by his peers.