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Introducing...Melissa Stek!

Melissa is the newest member of the Office of Social Justice team. She joins our team this week as the Justice Mobilization Specialist, and will work to network and encourage justice seekers as they take next steps on their justice journeys. Melissa was a Legislative Assistant to Representative Luis Gutierrez where she wrote sign-on letters, internal memoranda, and various materials for the Congressman's work in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. She has a Bachelor of Social Work from Calvin College and a Master of Social Work from the University of Michigan.  

We are thrilled to welcome Melissa to the team!

1. Who is one of your social justice heroes?

It's hard to come up with just one. I tend to go through different phases of topics, genres, and communication mediums. Most recently, I have been immersing myself in works on racial justice and the Church, so I've been reading and following Austin Channing Brown, Daniel Hill, and Latasha Morrison (Be The Bridge) on social media, among others.

I can't say I have one particular hero because I've read about, watched, listened to, and met so many inspiring movers and shakers—from big names that make headlines to everyday folks that may never get a shout-out—and I believe they are all necessary and instrumental in moving the needle on pressing issues. It wasn't only MLK that championed the civil rights movement—it was also countless numbers of organizers, thought leaders, and activists whose names we rarely hear.

2. You studied social work. What has been one of the most formative experiences or lessons learned from either your education or work in that field?

I've had a variety of micro- and macro-level social work experiences, so here too, it's difficult to pick just one.

As a Community School Coordinator for Kent School Services Network, I connected students and their families with community resources. I walked alongside many families directly impacted by our country's broken immigration system and fought to keep them together.

Some years later, I had the opportunity to work as a legislative staffer for a Member of Congress in Washington, DC, whose main priority was immigrant rights and immigration reform. I learned so much from working in both the micro and macro realms, gaining a greater appreciation for the direct interplay between direct service, grassroots efforts, and policy-making.  

3. Tell us about a time you have been inspired by your congregation or church.

Fostering and maintaining a genuinely diverse and honest community was a strength of my church in Washington, DC. They were not afraid to lean into difficult topics because they knew their call to growth and unity in the Spirit was more important than avoidance of discomfort or clumsiness. We talked about sex, recovery from addictions, racial reconciliation, gentrification, the #MeToo movement, immigration and the separation of families, and other pertinent issues. We prayed for our president, members of congress, teachers, prisoners, neighbors, and faith leaders. I found these efforts to be very brave, inclusive, and inspiring. 

4. Which TV show character best embodies you and why?

I've been told I look like Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) from Friends but that my personality is more like Ann Perkins (Rashida Jones) from Parks and Rec. In all honesty, this means very little to me because I don't keep up with TV shows much, so hopefully it means something to whoever reads this, and hopefully it doesn't give you a totally inaccurate portrayal of who I am! Anyone who knows me knows that I am horrible at pop culture knowledge, and that more likely than not, I will not know who or what you are referencing. But you can try me!

Welcome, Melissa!

The Reformed family is a diverse family with a diverse range of opinions. Not all perspectives expressed on the blog represent the official positions of the Christian Reformed Church. Learn more about this blog, Reformed doctrines, and our diversity policy on our About page.

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