Staff & Board

Rev. Lisa Cole Smith, Founding Pastor/Artistic Director

Lisa received her BFA in Drama from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA and worked as a professional actor for many years before attending seminary and seeking a way to merge her calling as an artist and a person of faith. Lisa received her MTS degree from the John Leland Seminary in Arlington, VA. She has taught classes at the John Leland Seminary, Wesley Theological Seminary, and Virginia Theological Seminary on the subjects of worship, theology and arts and is currently working on curriculum to equip artists to serve as prophetic critics and imaginative visionaries in the world.

Dan ABH, Director of Communications and Digital Media

Dan founded abitterhello in 2005 to help build a stronger and more communal music scene in Northern Virginia by using DIY ethics with positive results. In 2009 he collaborated with Jay Smith to create the Lab All Ages at Convergence and has since launched a series of regular showcases featuring local bands, an open mic, a recording studio/rehearsal space and Fest Too, a Do-It-Together Festival to celebrate a thriving and safe community thru music, workshops, and art. Dan studied Music Production at the Levine School of Music (2005-2007). Dan serves on the Board of Directors for Howard Gardner School in Alexandria, VA and is the drummer and producer for DC based band, flowerbomb.

Rita Hadley, Office Assistant

Elise Edwards, Ph. D., Theologian in Residence

Elise Edwards is a native of Maryland, but she moved to Waco, TX to begin her teaching career at Baylor in fall 2013. Dr. Edwards teaches courses in Christian ethics and theology in Baylor’s Department of Religion. She earned her Ph.D. in Religion at Claremont Graduate University in California, where she studied Theology, Ethics, and Culture. Prior to pursuing a Ph.D. in theology, Dr. Edwards worked as an architect in Washington D.C. and she still maintains her license to practice architecture. She earned her Bachelor of Science and Master of Architecture degrees at Florida A&M University, and a Master of Theological Studies at the John Leland Center for Theological Studies, a Baptist seminary. She is working on her first book, Building Justice: Theological Commitments in Architectural Design, which is about Christian values in architecture.

Elise Edwards, Ph.D., Baylor University Department of Religion

Karen Swenholt, Artist in Residence

Karen Swenholt is a figurative sculptor who lives and works in Northern Virginia. After attending MICA and California College of the Arts, she continued her studies at various studio schools including New York City’s New York Studio School, under Bruce Gagnier, Virginia’s Art League, and the Art League. Karen Swenholt is currently Artist in Residence at Convergence in Alexandria, Virginia where her large scale sculptures are on view in their Sculpture Garden. She served as Artist in Residence at Washington Shakespeare Company from 2002-2011 and at Wesley Theological Seminary throughout 2010. Her work can be found in many public and private collections including the home of Bono (U2), The Vladmir Romanov Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia and public institutions including Cairn University in Philadelphia, Wesley Theological Seminary and other public institutions across the United States.

Ronya Dones, Artist in Residence

Ronya Dones, Artist in Residence

Ronya is a visual artist and creator of Re-Deme Studio in in New Jersey. Throughout her work as an artist and educator, she has seen how learning to create and repair can flow into sculpting an improved life and world.  In 2019 she opened Re-Deme Studio to help inspire creativity while caring for people and our earth at the same time. What birthed out of her training in psychology, inner healing, and studio art was a community studio that inspires all ages to get curious, confident, and compassionate.

Stewards Council (Board):

Rodney Blake, Chairman; Mary Harris, Treasurer; Kenneth Hadley, Clerk; Bruce Wiljanen; Jim Cole; Anita Breitenberg Naylor.