During the close of the I AM Conference, program participants will meet their small group leaders. Here is a list of small group leaders for the 2017 I AM Program.
Ruth Atterberry is a pastor and teacher; a wife, mother and grandmother; a community seeker and builder; a traveler and an OSU fan. For 13 years, she taught “whatever they needed the coach’s wife to teach” in public school and then for 15 years at Southwestern Oklahoma State University.
After retirement from teaching, she received an MTS from Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University, and for 15 years, she served United Methodist congregations across Oklahoma.
In June 2015, she and her husband, David, retired to Stillwater, where they volunteer in community service projects, travel as often as possible, and enjoy time with their two daughters and four grandsons.
Tammy Davis and her family relocated from Kansas to Stillwater in 2002. She teaches English courses at Northern Oklahoma College, where she believes the opportunities to offer hope, encouragement and second chances to students in need are endless.
Tammy believes one of her biggest strengths is asking questions and listening to others, giving them her undivided attention. She and her husband, Ed, have raised two daughters, who have been called into service through their careers of teaching and nursing.
Tammy is devoted to working with children and music at First United Methodist Church, where Ed is the director of music and worship. She and Ed enjoy spending time with their daughters, fishing, preparing meals for others and reading.
Hannah DiPasquale moved to Stillwater two years ago with her husband and dog from El Paso, Texas, where she was coordinating an after-school program and serving as a church youth director. In El Paso, she came to love the unique border life and also developed a better appreciation for the small-town Iowa culture of where she grew up.
Hannah attended a small liberal arts college in the Midwest, where she was challenged to think critically, explore the world and get to know people who were different than her.
In Stillwater, Hannah works with teens and young adults as the prevention program coordinator for Wings of Hope Family Crisis Services. She has never found a solid “career path” for her life, but she knows that part of her vocation is offering a word of hope and safety to those who are lonely, scared or unheard. She’s learned that many, people between the ages of 15 and 25 are experiencing confusion and discovering so much about themselves; so no matter her career, she feels a call to spend her time with young people in whatever capacity she can to listen, learn and try to help out.
Hannah feels that her deepest strength is that she thinks of every stranger as a potential friend — she actually found this out by taking a Strengthsfinder test, and the results rang so true for her. She thinks this strength could also be a weakness because not all people in the world are interested in being her friend.
Elena Ferreira was born and raised in Brazil. She came to America about three decades ago and has lived in Stillwater for two decades. She became a citizen five years ago.
Elena is the proud mother of two wonderful daughters and is about to have the pleasure of becoming a grandmother.
After spending time as a preschool teacher and food director, Elena is now a social worker major and CNA, working in home care. Her vocation is to help people.
Sara Siems is an Oklahoma native and has lived in Stillwater for 14 years. When she’s not working for OSU coordinating educational programs for women and minority farmers, she’s hopefully travelling the world or pedaling around Oklahoma on her bike. Sara shares her adventures in life with her husband, Tyler, a local singer/songwriter and their community at District Bicycles.
Valerie Steele is pastor of Highland Park UMC, Stillwater, Oklahoma.
In ministry, she finds her heart extremely happy when equipping children/youth for a productive future in Christ and strengthening underserved families through intentional, meaningful relationships and education.
She has a strong passion for criminal justice ministry, offering weekly Bible study and a worship opportunities at a women’s correctional facility. She loves to preach, teach the Word and especially loves basking in the presence of God in worship.
Valerie received her M.Div. from Phillips Theological Seminary. She holds an MLA in Leadership/Management and a BA in Music from Oklahoma City University. In her “former life” she worked in nonprofit fundraising.
She is the mother of four young adults. Valerie is the proud “MiMi” of Dominick, 7; Micah, 5; and, Peyton, 4.
Her hobbies include reading, singing, listening to all types of music, watching episodes of Frasier and Sci-Fi movies, roller skating and playing online Scrabble (a.k.a., “Words with Friends”).
Susan Ross grew up in Oklahoma and has served churches as a United Methodist pastor for 40 years. Now, in “retirement,” she teaches as an adjunct professor in Oklahoma State University’s English department, preaches once a month at the Stillwater Unitarian Universalist Church and acts as its pastoral care minister.
Susan has one daughter and three grandchildren, who live here in Stillwater, a son, who lives in Dallas, and two cats. She enjoys reading, gardening, walking, hiking, music, theater and movies, as well as volunteering at the local public library.
Magdalena Vinson grew up in Tulsa and subsequently spent time in Massachusetts, Australia, Russia, New Hampshire and Nebraska before returning to Oklahoma. She is a proud graduate of Smith College, Antioch University and Oklahoma State University, and she serves her community as the church administrator for First Presbyterian Church in Stillwater.
Magdalena has a deep love and appreciation for all of God’s creation — from her fellow human beings to soil-based microbes and everything and everyone in between — and is firmly committed to causes of social and environmental justice. She loves to work in her garden, experiment in the kitchen, play the violin and sing in choral ensembles. She also enjoys knitting; coincidentally, her cat, Pavlov, enjoys the comfortable napping spots that her knitting projects provide.