Board & Staff

Staff

Cheryl Leanza

Policy Advisor

Cheryl A. Leanza is the President of her consulting firm, A Learned Hand, LLC, www.alearnedhand.com. In this capacity, she serves as policy advisor to the United Church of Christ, Office of Communication, Inc. — the church’s historic media advocacy arm. Her other clients include National Federation of Community Broadcasters, Public Knowledge and Native Public Media.

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Ms. Leanza’s prior positions include Principal Legislative Counsel for telecommunications at the National League of Cities where she was lead lobbyist for local elected officials. She also spent six and one-half years as Deputy Director of Media Access Project. Ms. Leanza has been a leader in public interest advocacy, advocating for diversity in ownership, low power community radio, children’s media, and other policies furthering First Amendment principles, including network neutrality. She has represented non-profits before the Federal Communications Commission and in the U.S. Appellate courts, and has been widely quoted in the trade and mainstream press on these issues.

Ms. Leanza is an Adjunct Professor at GeorgetownUniversity, Dept. of Communications, Culture and Technology and is Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors of the Media & Democracy Coalition. A cum laude graduate of the University of Michigan Law School and the Ford School of Public Policy, Ms. Leanza has served on the Executive Committee and the Foundation Board of the Federal Communications Bar Association.

Board of Directors

Sara Fitzgerald

Treasurer

Sara Fitzgerald, treasurer, is retired following a career in journalism and public policy that included 15 years at The Washington Post as an editor and new media developer.

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She is the author of three recent books: “Elly Peterson: ‘Mother’ of the Moderates,” “Conquering Heroines: How Women Fought Sex Bias at Michigan and Paved the Way for Title IX,” and “The Poet’s Girl: A Novel of Emily Hale and T. S. Eliot.” She helped found, and served as vice president, communications, of Funds For Learning, LLC, a consulting firm that specialized in the federal E-rate program and school technology funding. She also served as director of member services for the Interactive Services Association in the mid-1990s.

She has written widely on such topics as online safety for children, Internet marketing and privacy, online taxation and Total Cost of Ownership of technology for K-12 schools. A longtime member of Rock Spring Congregational United Church of Christ in Arlington, VA,, she served as president of the board of directors of the United Church of Christ’s Central Atlantic Conference from 2007-09.

Rev. Hyo-Jung Kim

Member

Rev. Hyo-Jung Kim, member, currently serves as pastor of Morsemere Community Church UCC in Ridgefield, NJ. Born in Seoul, Korea, and raised in Boston, MA, she is a graduate of Boston College and Yale Divinity School where she studied theology and religion.

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She also has a master’s in education, which focused on human development and psychology with an emphasis on cultural identity formation and adolescent psychology, from Harvard Graduate School of Education. Commissioned by the Common Global Ministries Board of the UCC and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the USA and Canada, she served with the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea, a partner church (1993-1999), in the General Assembly Office.

For seven years, she lived in Dublin, Ireland and worked as Communications Officer at the Irish School of Ecumenics, Trinity College Dublin, responsible for general communications and marketing, digital media and events management. She served as a member of the UCC’s Executive Council (2009-2013), the Board of Directors of the Central Atlantic Conference (2010-2016)), and has been a member of the UCC’s Pacific Islander Asian American Ministries (PAAM). She is currently a member of the UCC’s New Jersey Association Council.

Brian Lapis

Secretary

Brian Lapis, secretary, is a professional communicator, employed as the Chief Meteorologist and evening weather anchor at WWLP TV, the NBC affiliate in Springfield, Mass. Like many professional broadcasters, he has worked at a variety of stations, both radio and television, in a variety of cities, predominantly in southern New England.

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Mr. Lapis is a past member of the UCC Executive Council and Office of General Ministries Board of Directors. He is active in the UCC’s Massachusetts and Connecticut Conferences. Mr. Lapis holds a BS in Television, Radio and Film Management from Syracuse University and a Broadcast Meteorology Certificate from Mississippi State University.

Rev. Jon Gilbert Martinez

Member

Rev. Jon Gilbert Martinez, Gilbert as he prefers, is a multi-generational Tejano (Texan) and Chicano (Mexican-American) who’s lived in Chicago since 2015. He is a 2019 Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary graduate with a Master of Divinity.

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He holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology, a minor in psychology from the University of Texas-Pan American, and two associate degrees from South Texas College. Rev. Gilbert serves as senior pastor at Christ Church UCC – Des Plaines, IL. He is the Chicago Metropolitan Association’s (CMA) vice-moderator, with a seat on the Illinois Conference Council.

He also serves on the Church & Ministry Committee of the CMA, Advocate-Aurora Health’s Mission & Spiritual Care committee, The School for Ministry Board of Directors, and Council for Health & Human Services Ministries’ (CHHSM) Welcoming Diversity Group. Additionally, he works as the communications consultant for The Colectivo de UCC Latinx Ministries.

Gilbert also served as a board member and vice-chair for the UCC Mental Health Network Board of Directors. As an advocate for mental health, Gilbert has completed Mental Health First Aid and Companionship training. Part of his self-care includes spending time with his family, consisting of his toddler son, teenage nieces, sister, husband, and fur babies.

Jessie Palatucci

Member

Jessie Palatucci, member, is the senior digital communications manager for the Friends Committee on National Legislation, a Quaker Lobby in the public interest. In that capacity she oversees FCNL’s digital advocacy program and web communications.

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Prior to joining FCNL, Jessie spent more than a decade working in online communications and public policy advocacy for the United Church of Christ’s Justice and Witness Ministries and with the D.C. interfaith advocacy community.

She holds a M.A. in Communications from Johns Hopkins University and a B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communications from Saint Michael’s College. Jessie lives in Washington, D.C. and is a proud Vermonter.

Marti Pascale Weston

Member

Marti Pascale Weston, member, is retired after a longtime teaching career at schools in the Washington and Chicago area. In 2015, she was recognized as an Outstanding Educator by the International Society of Technology Educators (ISTE).

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Currently, she maintains two blogs, “Media! Tech! Parenting!: Timely Topics on Teaching & Parenting Digital Learners,” and “As Our Parents Age: Timely Topics for Adult Children.” The daughter of a UCC clergyman, she is currently a member of Rock Spring Congregational United Church of Christ in Arlington, VA.

Earl Williams, Esq.

Chair

Earl Williams, Esq., chair, is a graduate of the Cleveland State University, Cleveland Marshall School of Law and Ohio University Scripps School of Communication. Mr. Williams served as a legal intern with Citizens Communication Center, Washington D.C. and as an undergraduate intern at WGN Radio Television, Chicago, IL.

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He is a member of the Ohio Bar. He has served as an Assistant County Public Defender and Assistant County Prosecutor. He currently serves as a city council member of the City of Shaker Heights. Married with three children, he is a member of Euclid Avenue Congregational Church UCC, Cleveland, Ohio.

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