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Deb DeMeester

Director of Leadership Development
Synod of Lakes and Prairies
Deb DeMeester
  • Deb DeMeester
    Rev. DeMeester is Director of Leadership Development for the Synod of Lakes and Prairies. In this work, Deb provides training in presbyteries on a number of topics, facilitates strategic conversations, and supports committees that support congregations and pastors. She directs Synod School each year and provides resourcing to the Transforming Communities: Vital Leaders Committee. Prior to being called to the Synod, Deb was Director of the Masters Program for Public Safety Leaders (both in person and online programs) and taught regularly in the doctoral program for Leadership Development at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis. Her pastoral service includes serving congregations of all sizes as an installed pastor, interim pastor, and stated supply, all in Minnesota. Deb’s education includes BA in political science from Westminster College, MA in College Student Services, Bowling Green State University, M.Div. from Yale Divinity School, and Ed.D. from the University of St. Thomas in Educational Leadership.
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SanDawna Ashley

Executive Presbyter
Minnesota Valleys Presbytery
SanDawna Ashley
  • SanDawna Ashley
    Rev. Ashley is the Executive Presbyter for the Minnesota Valleys Presbytery. She has served as Assistant Stated Clerk, Manager for Call Process Support and Teaching Elders Ministries in the Office of the General Assembly. In her work, she provided training, consultation, coaching, and resources for presbyteries in support of congregations, COMs, call seekers and calling organizations. Additionally, her experience includes serving as the denomination’s Associate for Leadership Development with direct responsibility for equipping adaptive pastors, working with committees and assisting call seekers in vocational discernment. As the Associate for Gender and Racial Justice, Rev. Ashley, facilitated ministries and programs at all levels of the church that assisted the PC(USA) in becoming an inclusive, diverse, and racially just denomination. Her pastoral service includes serving as senior pastor and solo pastor of congregations in Pennsylvania, Delaware and Illinois. She has served as faculty for Transitional Ministry Training for five years. SanDawna holds degrees from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Doctor of Ministry (DMIN) with a concentration in leadership development and congregational transformation, Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary Masters of Divinity in the Psychology of Religion and Pastoral Care (MDIV) and Georgia State University Bachelor of Social Work (BSW).
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Jeff Japinga

Executive Presbyter
Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area
Jeff Japinga
  • Jeff Japinga
    Jeffrey Japinga is executive presbyter for the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area. In this work, he provides strategic and transformational leadership to a presbytery increasingly focused on turning itself outward by supporting its congregations and equipping its leaders to do the ministry God is calling them to do in the places God is calling them to be; and by governing effectively in support of those ministries. He has served the church for 33 years, beginning on the national staff of the Reformed Church in America (as editor of its denominational magazine; as director of its work in discipleship and faith formation; and as executive coordinator for the office of the general secretary); and then on the faculty of McCormick Theological Seminary, a PCUSA seminary in Chicago, as dean of the doctor of ministry program, assistant profession of church leadership, and founder of a non-degree program in leadership. He holds degrees from Northwestern University (in journalism); New Brunswick Theological Seminary (M.Div.); and McCormick Theological Seminary (D.Min.)
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Rachel Yates

Executive Presbyter
Presbytery of Milwaukee
Rachel Yates
  • Rachel Yates
    Rachel Yates is the Presbytery Executive for the Presbytery of Milwaukee. In this role, she helps the leadership of the Presbytery to implement its vision through innovative and strategic initiatives. She began in this role in January 2018, after serving Presbyterian World Mission as its Associate Director for Program and a Church Support Associate. Yates is a ruling elder who practiced law in Colorado for 23 years. She and her husband have one daughter, who also lives in the Milwaukee area with her husband and children. 
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