Bishop John Stowe (Kentucky) – Bishop President
Bishop Stowe is a Conventual Franciscan friar and has served as the bishop of Lexington, KY since May 2015. Currently, for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, he serves on the committee for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the bishops’ anti-poverty initiative. He has a history of working on social justice and peace concerns including as a Pax Christi USA local leader in California. Prior to his appointment by Pope Francis as bishop, he was rector and pastor of the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation in Carey, Ohio and a vicar provincial for the Conventual Franciscan Province of Our Lady of Consolation. Bishop Stowe also served in El Paso, TX as moderator of the curia and vicar general for the diocese. During that time, he worked on border issues and was present with the immigrant community.
Charlene Howard (Maryland) – National Council Chair
Raised in the District of Columbia to a nurse who worked in a community clinic and a draftsman who was an active member of Blacks in Government and the local labor union, Charlene Howard’s faith was cultivated in both the Baptist and Catholic traditions among family members who were actively involved in a variety of ministries and leadership of their respective faith communities. From 1st grade through graduate school she attended Catholic institutions and has actively participated in the catechetical, liturgical and evangelical ministries of her parish, including serving as a liaison to the Office of Black Catholics and the National Black Catholic Congress. Professionally, she has worked as a teacher and advocate for children with disabling conditions and as an educator for the Archdiocese of Washington on the elementary and high school level in addition to facilitating catechist formation courses for adults.
Sherry Simon (Arkansas) – Vice Chair
Sherry Simon has worked as a clinical psychologist in private practice in Little Rock, AR for the past 30+ years. She is the founder and current president of Pax Christi Little Rock. One of the most important lessons she has learned in her training and therapy practice is that building positive, healthy relationships plays a critical role in personal, relational and intercultural growth.
Fr. Fred Thelen (Michigan) – Treasurer
Fr. Fred Thelen brings the perspective of cross-cultural work with twenty-five years as pastor of the Hispanic/Latino parish of Cristo Rey Church in Lansing, Michigan and five years as a Maryknoll Associate Priest working in the southern Andes of Peru among the Aymara people and on the team of the Vicarìa/Human Rights Office. He established the first Office of Peace and Justice Ministry of the Lansing Diocese, re-founded of Action of Greater Lansing (community organizing) as a Gamaliel Affiliate, founded the Greater Lansing Network Against War and Injustice in the run-up to the Iraq War, and helped to rejuvenate Pax Christi Michigan in the early 1980s. He wrote the small group process, “At the Heart of Faith” which was used nationally as a follow-up to the 1986 U.S. Bishops pastoral letter “Economic Justice for All.”
Ivone Guillen (Washington) – Secretary
Ivone Guillen currently serves as the Immigration Outreach Manager for the Broetje Family Trust. Ivone is a first-generation Latina immigrant who was raised in Washington State, where she has served the Hispanic Latino immigrant community to foster community building and leadership development. Prior to joining the Broetje Family Trust, she lived in Washington, D.C. for a decade, working in the movement for social change that embraces, protects, and equips marginalized and underserved communities in the United States. Her work began with Bread for the World as an Immigration Policy Fellow. Ivone then served on the staff of Sojourners, where she directed their immigration campaign and related communications efforts. Her journey then took her to the position of Catholic Social Teaching Education Coordinator for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Department of Justice, Peace, and Human Development. Ivone holds a bachelor’s degree from Gonzaga University and a Masters of Public Administration with a concentration in public policy analysis from American University in D.C. Ivone’s experience and background include pastoral and social ministry, leadership formation, public policy development, legislative advocacy, and community organizing, among others.
Vic Doucette (Illinois)
Vic Doucette has a Master’s degree in Pastoral Studies from Loyola University in Chicago and has spent most of his career working for the church. Most recently, he was the Director of Programs & Publications for the National Federation of Priests’ Councils (NFPC) and the Executive Director of the Volunteer Missionary Movement (VMM-USA) where he recruited long-term volunteers from across the country to work with marginalized people in Central America. He founded the Social Justice Resource Center, has been active in his local parish community, and has facilitated numerous JustFaith groups. He teaches classes for returning citizens, has helped welcome refugee families to the Chicago area, and has participated in service trips to developing countries. He is the former president of the local interfaith organization and serve on several other national boards, including the Parish Evaluation Project and Maryknoll Lay Missioners where he serves on the Mission Advancement committee.
Josephine Garnem (Maryland)
Josephine Garnem is an advocate, and grassroots community mobilizer with over 23 years of extensive international and domestic experience. She is passionate about racial equity and justice and immigration. Josephine was born in Sierra Leone and has lived and worked in the Middle East, Sweden, Nigeria, Uganda, Cameroon, Haiti, Pakistan and Afghanistan before moving to the U.S. Josephine organizes and leads diaspora-led free surgical training and medical missions to Sierra Leone and Cameroon. She is a 2020 Cohort of the Center for Action and Contemplation’s Living School (Theology and Social Justice). Josephine and her family live in Maryland.
Madeline Labriola (Rhode Island)
Madeline Labriola raised five wonderful children and has 11 grandchildren and two great grandchildren. As a retired teacher and school administrator since 2000 she has used her time to continue studying and teaching peace. From 2000-2012 she was one of the NGO delegates to the United Nations in New York for Pax Christi International where she served on several committees including HIV/AIDS, human rights, and sustainable development. While living in New York, she was coordinator for Pax Christi Hudson Valley for more than 20 years; she currently belongs to Pax Christi Rhode Island and Westerly RI Area Peace and Justice Group.
Kathy O’Leary (New Jersey)
Kathy O’Leary is a graduate of St. Elizabeth University, where she studied art, which she incorporates often in her work as a peacemaker. In the early 2000s, she founded a local Pax Christi group and began helping to organize regular peace vigils in Summit, NJ. In 2007, she began focusing on the issue of immigration detention: writing and contributing to reports, articles, and op-eds on ICE detention; organizing local, state-wide, and regional protests and vigils; and offering testimony to state legislative committees. She served as Vice President of the board of First Friends, an organization that visits people in ICE detention and advocates for humane immigration policy. She has represented Pax Christi New Jersey in a number of coalitions including New Jersey Advocates for Immigrant Detainees, New Jersey for the Philippine Human Rights Act, and New Jersey Prison Justice Watch. She currently serves as the regional coordinator for Pax Christi New Jersey.
Manuel Padilla (Oregon)
Manuel Padilla grew up in Portland, Oregon and is currently a project manager with Oregon Solutions, a program of the National Policy Consensus Center at Portland State University. He has spent much of the last 10 years traveling, working with displaced communities (domestically and internationally), and facilitating community and restorative dialogues toward transforming conflict and healing. Now he has turned his focus to bringing government, communities, businesses, and others together to collaborate on solving difficult problems. Manuel was a program associate with Pax Christi USA between January 2010 and December 2013, helping open the D.C. office and creating a special partnership between Pax Christi USA and Pax Christi Port-au-Prince (SAKALA) in Haiti. He can’t wait to get back on a plane, but he has also loved the chance to get to refocus on the beautiful region where he lives by hiking, adventure biking, and supporting local community spaces and projects.
Sr. Diane Smith, CSJ (California)
Diane Smith, CSJ is a native Californian who grew up on a farm instilling in her a lifelong care of the Earth. Observing the braceros who came through to harvest crops, an awareness and empathy developed for immigrants struggling to provide for their families. As a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet, she presently responds to the call of nonviolently being a voice for the voiceless through advocacy and education.
Jeff Sved (Oregon)
Jeff was commissioned as a Franciscan lay missioner through Franciscan Mission Service (FMS) in 2012, living and serving in Cochabamba, Bolivia for four years. While there, he spent most of my time in the prisons, working and learning alongside talented carpenters, leather-workers, and artisans in the prison workshops, as well as integrating restorative practices through Las Escuelas de Perdón y Reconciliación (ESPERE). Since returning to the U.S., Jeff has worked for social change in campus ministry, and most recently in non-profit development and fundraising.
Honorine Uwimana (California)
Honorine Uwimana, originally from Kigali, Rwanda, is an MPH candidate at the University of San Francisco. She credits her faith in a peaceful and just world from her lived experience of social and political unrest in East Africa, the direct consequences of the genocide in Rwanda, and the positive impact of intergenerational mentorship, dialogue spaces, forgiveness and reconciliation programs towards true healing and reconstruction. Honorine is a global health champion and stands where social justice and health intersects: health equity. She is a member of the Pax Christi Young Adult Caucus and serves as its representative on the Pax Christi USA National Council.
James Watts (Alabama)
James Watts is the current Director of the Office of Black Catholic Ministry for the Diocese of Birmingham, Alabama. He has earned a BS in Economics and a Masters in Management and has attended Summer Institutes at Loyola Marymount University and Catholic Theological Union before completing the “Building Intercultural Competence for Ministers” program with the Southeast Pastoral Institute. He works with people to accomplish their goals through community service and board involvement. He has served as an educator with experience in the classroom from kindergarten to college instruction as well as serving as the Youth Minister of Holy Family Catholic Church. His service to the community spans serval boards including Urban Impact, Birmingham Storm Water Appeals Board, Diocese of Birmingham Hispanic Social Service Board, and the FBI Multicultural Advisory Committee. In addition to board commitments, he has given back to the community through many youth initiatives such as basketball and the Boy Scouts of America.