In 2019, The JUSTICE Conference is excited to continue our deep dive into important sectors of justice with another series of JUSTICE Institute events. We are convinced that pursuing justice requires us to join our passion with practical, immersive education.

The Women’s Empowerment Justice Institute is an opportunity to gather and give voice to the experiences that women have in the world, to name the injustices and systems that are designed to disempower and prevent women from moving forward, both externally and internally; and to call every woman to live into the full potential that God has created her for.

We will speak to the historical and sociological realities that women experience, and name those things that keep women silent in the face of abuse, disempowerment and injustice.

We will explore why it’s theologically important for women to contribute and to show up in their full selves. We will explore intersectionality and nuances that come from our racial realities, cultural backgrounds, stages in life, and marital status. We hope to give one another the gift of learning from one another’s embodied lives.

We will talk about what it looks like to stand together in proximity and solidarity in our distinctives, and where choices and opportunities may not look the same. We will address how mutuality can be achieved through understanding and partnership thus communicating tangibly that we need one another.

In particular we will learn from those who society puts on the margins because of their social status, and gain practical tools for how to live in ways that create spaces and structures that foster empowerment of other women in our community.

Check Out What Past Participants Had to Say!

There's a lot I didn't know, even when I consider women’s issues to be my passion. Without the conference I would have been disheartened by that fact, with the conference I now feel inspired to continue learning and starting conversations with people. Thank you so much!

“Equality is more multi-faceted than one would ever know living here in a conservative, mostly white social location. I learned that I have much to learn and undo.”

“My biggest takeaway is that the Bible is full of examples of how Jesus saw women, empowered women, and believed women. Jesus was the first person ever for women.”

“The JUSTICE Institute helped me realize that women can have a voice and we have a long way to go to be heard well.”

“I think my biggest takeaway from The JUSTICE Institute is to use my space, privilege and voice to empower other women. To always be looking for ways to give away my power. I should not be silent out of my fears.”

Register Today

The JUSTICE Institute | Chicago May 16-17

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The speakers for this year’s JUSTICE Institute Chicago will be speaking on the topics of Women’s Empowerment. More dynamic speakers and experts for The JUSTICE Institute in Chicago will be announced soon. Stay tuned!

Sandra Van Opstal

Sandra Maria Van Opstal, a second-generation Latina, pastors at Grace and Peace Church and lives on the west-side of Chicago with her husband and two boys. She is a preacher, liturgist and activist reimagining the intersection of worship and justice. Sandra served with Urbana Missions Conference, Chicago Urban Program, and Latino National Leadership Team (LaFe) of InterVarsity. Sandra’s influence has also reached many others through preaching globally on topics such as worship and formation, justice, racial identity and reconciliation. Sandra is a board member for CCDA and holds a Masters of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Her most recent books include Still Evangelical and The Next Worship.

Kathy Khang

Kathy Khang is an author, speaker, freelance writer, activist, and yoga teacher.
She is the author of Raise Your Voice: Why We Stay Silent & How to Speak Up
(IVP, 2018), a columnist for Sojourners magazine, and a coauthor of More Than
Serving Tea (IVP, 2006) and brings more than 21 years of ministry experience
with expertise in issues of gender, race, ethnicity, justice, and leadership
development. She blogs at www.kathykhang.com , tweets and Instagrams as
@mskathykhang, and posts at www.facebook.com/kathykhangauthor .

Sharon Irving

I take a deep breath and step out on faith.” Those words have been a mantra for South Side of Chicago Native, Sharon Irving, songstress/songwriter/spoken word artist, worship leader and actress, since she was a little girl, performing in front of the congregation at the south side church in Chicago where her grandfather was pastor. Her first tenous steps as an artist were shaped by the influences of his powerful baritone singing and eloquent sermons, and the mind blowing artistry of her father, famed jazz musician and composer, Robert Irving III. With loving encouragement from her mother and grandmother, Sharon has cultivated and shaped her own creative persona. She is an inspiring ‘voice for the voiceless’, a passionate wordsmith spewing truth and inspiration, singing songs of life and love motivated by her personal experiences, and undergirded by her Christian beliefs. Sharon has been a part of the worship team at Willow Creek Community Church in Barrington, Illinois for several years, has contributed songs and words of hope before thousands at liturgical and corporate events, youth conferences, including the popular “CHIC”, (‘Covenant High in Christ’), in small clubs and intimate settings all over the country, at the Angola Prison in Angola, Louisiana, and even entertained millions while a participant on Season Ten of “America’s Got Talent”, where she received the coveted “Golden Buzzer” at her first televised audition, and was chosen by America to compete in the Semi-Finals. “We are all walking art”, Sharon has stated as she fuses her love of fashion and music into a whimsical symmetry of sound and visual esthetic. She also lends her talents to the popular Chicago-based band, “Pocket Radio”, which blends soul, hip hop, funk and fusion. Over the past two years, Sharon has poured her spirit into her debut album, ‘Bennett Ave’, which premiered September 29,2017.. “I like to blend different art forms when I’m writing songs and, with this album, I’ve drawn inspiration from every genre and I mean every genre. I have a passion for shaping words and everyday phrases to melody. ‘Bennett Ave’ is an expression of my thoughts on issues of justice, love and redemption in the darkest situations. It's about what it means to be human when we’re at our lowest and highest points. It’s been challenging, but my heart is to pursue new methodologies in worship music, and reach people through mainstream music. Life is messy and broken. So many people are hiding, living for others, dying on the inside, holding onto unhealthy narratives out of fear but Gods strength is made perfect in those messy places. I'm learning this, daily. There's an unlikely and beautiful story of redemption waiting to unfold in our lives. I want my art to be transparent, raw, uplifting and healing.”

Dr. Elizabeth O. Pierre

Dr. Elizabeth O. Pierre is an assistant professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling and Counseling Psychology at North Park University (Seminary and School of Professional Studies). Her research interests are in the area of care for sexual violence survivors and how contextual factors such as race, culture, and gender impact the experience of trauma and recovery. She has worked as a counselor for women recovering from drug abuse and families going through the adoption process. Elizabeth holds an PhD from Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary in pastoral theology. She also received her counseling training from Boston College and the Center for Religion and Psychotherapy. She travels abroad to teach, to research, and to learn how to provide care in communities affected by violence. She is grateful to God for the many opportunities to see God’s gracious and loving hands at work during the arduous journey of healing.

Luz Canino-Baker

Luz’s professional career spans 35 years where she gained leadership experience that has made her an influential leader. She also attributes her grit and determination to her years as a single mother of three children while going to school part-time for her undergraduate degree in management, and later earning an MBA from The University of Chicago’s Booth Graduate School of Business while working full-time as a banking executive. She became a vice president at JPMorgan Chase during her 28-year career where she worked with leading Fortune 100 companies. Moreover, it was her passion and emotional intelligence that allowed her to manage high-performing teams who brought their best to work everyday. Today, Luz transforms emerging leaders and executives with assessments, coaching and leadership workshops

Amy Reynolds

Amy Reynolds is an associate professor of Sociology at Wheaton College. Along with Gordon College provost Janel Curry, she led the Women in Leadership National Study, which analyzed over 1400 Christian nonprofits and academic institutions for gendered leadership patterns. Her research and writing focuses on issues of religion, international economics, development, and gender inequality. Amy previously worked with World Relief in El Salvador and continues to work alongside NGOs in the global development sector. Amy is a graduate of Harvard (AB), Georgetown (MPP) and Princeton (PhD).

Angelina Iliana Zayas

Pastora Angelina Iliana Zayas is the CEO and Co-Founder of GAP Community Center. It is a vibrant and caring community center that is reaching out to the poor, widow and the orphans in the Northwest side of Chicago.
She has been serving as Executive Director for 20 years in the Hermosa Community. Her vision is to see Children of all ages success in school, to help families that are under recourse and to provide wellness services to her community.
The Mission of the GAP Community Center to unlock the potential in and with our community by providing services to the Greater Chicago area through Education, Health Awareness, Advocacy, and providing community linked services. The purpose of the community center is to provide a variety services to families and youth in the northwest side of Chicago in order to build on individual, family and community strengths and develop the individuals’ and families’ capacity to thrive.
She has been serving the Lord for over 28 years and has been serving under the leadership of Grace and Peace Community for 28 years and currently holds a pastoral position at Grace and Peace Community.
Pastora possesses a passion for women’s ministry. Her aspiration is to teach women that they are important to the plan of God. This may seem like an unnecessary statement of the obvious, yet this important message gets clouded by our culture. Her desire is see women saved and transformed reach out to save the lost and is committed in providing necessary services to the community. As she shares her life, she often makes others understand that her life accomplishments are based on a life committed to God and His purposes.
Pastora Iliana resides in the Northwest side Chicago with his wife Angelina of thirty-one years and two children, John Eric and Anais (spouse) and Erica Zayas-Martinez Alfredo (Spouse).

Belinda Bauman

Educator turned advocate, Belinda Bauman seeks to bring hope to women in crisis. After living internationally for a decade in conflict and post-conflict zones, Belinda experienced what she calls a “beautiful collision” with brave women who survive in the most dangerous places in the world. Belinda is the founder of One Million Thumbprints, a movement of peacemakers advocating with women in the world’s worst conflict zones, and co-founder behind #SilenceIsNotSpiritual, a campaign calling churches to break the silence on violence against women. Belinda is a speaker and contributor to Newsweek’s The Daily Beast, Red Tent Living, Huffington Post and Christianity Today. Her first book, Brave Souls: Experiencing the Audacious Power of Empathy was published by InterVarsity Press, April 2019 . Belinda completed a Masters in Curriculum Development from Covenant College, a Bachelor’s in Education from the University of Wisconsin, and a certificate in trauma counseling from The Allender Center of Seattle School of Theology and Psychology. Belinda and her husband, Stephan, and their two sons, Joshua and Caleb, recently traded the hub-bub of greater Washington DC for Grand Rapids, MI where they hope to raise chickens, star-gaze and have many a late-night conversation with friends about hope and change.

Ramelia Williams

Pastor Ramelia is passionate about creating environments for stimulating racial reconciliation and inner healing through the Church. She lives this out as the church-planting pastor of New Creation Covenant Church, a multicultural church plant on the Westside of the city of Chicago. Before church planting herself, she was a preaching pastor at another multiracial church plant in Chicago where she was a founding member. In her previous work as a hospital chaplain in San Diego and Chicago, she offered short-term pastoral care to families experiencing death, trauma, and loss. This work prepared her for the ministry development of a network of spirituality groups that focus on inner healing for women who have survived physical, sexual and emotional abuse. Pastor Ramelia earned a Master of Divinity and Certificate in Spiritual Direction from North Park Theological Seminary. At the Seminary, she is an adjunct professor and serves on a team of Spiritual Directors who facilitate spiritual formation groups for students. Pastor Ramelia experiences deep joy when running, hiking, riding horses or taking in breathtaking views of God’s creation.

Hannah Gronowski

Hannah Gronowski is the Founder and CEO of Generation Distinct (www.GenerationDistinct.com), a nonprofit that exists to empower young adults to discover the wrong they were born to make right, leading them to experience who Jesus really is. Hannah is also an author, with her first book to be released in 2020 with NavPress Publishers. She has spoken at Conferences, Churches, College Campuses, and Youth Events around the country. She has a passion to use her voice to empower others to become leaders God can use to create real change in the world.

Esparanza 'Nancy' Rosario

Esperanza Rosario, Community Outreach and Safe Harbor Director, is better known in the community as Nancy. She is thrilled about the equipping and restoration of those in her community, serving as a catalyst in connecting people to resources that address their needs. She has been in ministry for over 20 years, serving in different capacities as a leader and mentor. She oversees the GAPC food pantry ministry, coordinates volunteers and community outreach events, and directs Safe Harbor/Puerto Seguro, a domestic violence prevention and intervention ministry. Nancy presently lives in the Logan Square neighborhood, has been married for 31 years to her husband Carlos, is a mother to three lovely daughters, and grandmother to 6 energetic grandchildren.

Lina Sanchez Herrera

Lina Sánchez-Herrera Born in Colombia, Master in Statistic, Master in Christian Ministry, Certificate as Spiritual Direction and as Supervisor for Spiritual Directors. Former Professor of Statistics at the National University of Colombia, and with her husband Wilson she served the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students as National Advisor for 20 years.

For the last 22 years in the US, Lina has been Professor at Wheaton College, IL. and Staff Worker with Intervarsity Christian Fellowship College, Grad and Faculty Ministry in Spiritual Formation and Developing Leaders. She serves as Spiritual Director, and Supervisor for Spiritual Directors for people in IL and other places in USA.

Kimberly Whetstone

Kimberly Whetstone, M.Div., is a speaker, leadership coach with Lead Stories Media
and a volunteer advocate and ambassador with World Relief DuPage. Currently she
serves on the leadership team of the Ezer Collective, a ministry founded by Jo
Saxton, which seeks to empower women and elevate the organizations they serve.
Prior to joining the Ezer Collective, Kimberly served as the Discipleship Pastor at
Parkview Community Church in the Chicago suburbs. In her eight years there,
Kimberly served as the first female member of the teaching team, the first female
pastor of adult ministries, the first female appointed to the senior leadership team,
and she relentlessly advocated for a change in church polity. In 2018, in partnership
with her male colleagues, the advocacy resulted in a change in the church
constitution opening the doors for women to serve at all levels of leadership. With
over 20 years of ministry experience in the areas homelessness, refugee ministry,
care and recovery, teaching, coaching and advocacy, through her ministry Kimberly
seeks to empower leaders, cultivate hope and advocate change.

Micheál Newman-Brooks

Micheál Newman-Brooks serves as the Project Manager of Urban Agriculture for the Sustainable Division of the Department of Planning and Development with the City of Chicago. She is also an instructor of Business and Agriculture courses offered by City Colleges of Chicago in conjunction with Chicago Botanic Gardens Windy City Harvest Programs. Her passion for environmental and food justice lends to her 15+ years’ experience in non and for profit businesses include Marketing and Advertising, Project Management, Construction and Escrow, Investments, Finance and Accounting as well as Community Organizing and Engagement not to mention Agriculture and Horticulture. She also serves as Chief Financial Officer of Canaan Community Redevelopment Corporation in the Englewood Community, Executive Director of 5 Loaves Co-Op and Farm, as well as partnering with several local urban gardens and community organizations in various roles. She sits on the governing boards of Growing Home, LARC (Lead Abatement Resource Centers), and WEROCK for Girls. Micheál earned degrees in Business, Agriculture and Horticulture!

Micheál is married to Jonathan Brooks (Pastah J) and they have two girls Jasmine and Jade.

Women’s Empowerment Experience

Women do it all. We lead, we work, we mother, we neighbor. What we don’t do is stop! We rarely take time for ourselves, especially those of us who are leaders, activists, or working professionals because the cost of stopping feels too great.

Come and spend the day attending to your mind, body, and soul at The JUSTICE Institute Women’s Empowerment Experience. The morning will start with a yoga practice led by Kathy Khang, followed by a guided retreat to deepen concentration and spiritual discernment led by trained spiritual director, Lina Sánchez Herrera. Following lunch, participants will receive a specialized enneagram training facilitated by Pastor Sandra Van Opstal. The enneagram is a tool for transformation that addresses desires, dreams, sin, and stressors in our lives.

Strong sustainable leadership is nurtured by self-reflection and soul care. We invite you to join us for this special experience where you will be refreshed, refueled and empowered in community with women of faith to journey onward in the calling God has for you.


Your guide for when you arrive in Chicago

8:00 AM – 9:00 AM
9:00 AM - 10:30 AM
General Session 1
10:30 AM - 11:00 AM
11:00 AM - 12:30 PM
Breakouts A
12:30 PM - 2:00 PM
2:00 PM - 3:30 PM
Breakouts B
3:30 PM - 4:00 PM
4:00 PM - 5:30 PM
General Session 2


9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
  • Special GROUP HOTEL RATE (limited time)
    Holiday Inn Express

    811 E. Grand Avenue, Bensenville, IL 60106

  • $119 Refundable Rate:
  • $109 Non Refundable Rate:
  • Or CALL
    (630) 475-8181
    Mention “The Justice Institute group room rate”

Register Today for The JUSTICE Institute Chicago


Grace and Peace Church

1860 N. LeClaire
Chicago, IL 60639
Website: https://www.thegapc.org/home

Google Maps

Find information on the O’Hare International Airport or Midway International Airport

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Register Today for The JUSTICE Institute Chicago

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