Staff & Board

Crossing Staff

Mallory Yanchus
she/her
Executive Director

I am so excited to be a part of The Crossing! I began as Executive Director in November of 2017 and am thrilled about what The Crossing stands for and all the passion I see in the staff and students. I love being a transplant to Madison, where there is so much to do all year round. My husband Dan and I love exploring the city, and sometimes our pup Nora gets to tag along. I grew up in a suburb of Chicago then moved to central Illinois for college at Illinois State University. It was at my campus ministry, ISU Wesley, in undergrad that I realized God’s call for me to be in ministry. After a few years of work in youth ministry, I moved to Evanston, Illinois for seminary at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary where I received my Masters of Divinity in 2015. Life seemed to go full circle when my campus minister at ISU Wesley hired me as the Campus Minister/Associate Director.  I am grateful I have the privilege of navigating life with the UW community through all the amazing ministry at The Crossing.

I am passionate about campus ministry and creating space for college-aged people to be authentically who they are. I believe that we need each other to ask questions, talk about the hard topics, learn how to love the way God calls us to love, and of course laugh and have so much fun along the way.

I can’t wait to meet you- please come say hi! Even better, let’s go for coffee or lunch at your favorite local spot! Contact me at mallory@crossingministries.org

 

Karla Schmidt
she/her
Campus Minister

I have been with The Crossing since 2001 and feel so blessed by the many students who have enriched us with their presence.  I grew up in the Midwest (a small town in southern Illinois) attending Illinois State University majoring in History (Middle East focus) and Anthropology.  After graduation from Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis, I served in several other ministry settings until 2001 when I discovered the joy of campus ministry at The Crossing!

Here at the Crossing we seek to offer a ‘space for grace’ where your own faith journey can be nurtured (even as you encounter questions, doubts, and challenging life situations).  It has been exciting to work with the various traditions which support The Crossing.  I find myself embracing each tradition and their convictions of:

  • “God is still speaking”  (United Church of Christ, the tradition in which I am ordained)
  • “Open minds, Open hearts, Open doors”  (United Methodist welcome of everyone)
  • “Soul Freedom” (American Baptist belief that we each have our own faith experience and understanding beyond dogma)

I also embrace the Quaker understanding of the ‘inner light’ and the value of contemplative practices to open our hearts and minds more deeply to the Christ within.  As I grow in my own spiritual journey, I more and more embrace FR Richard Rohr’s understanding of God when he writes:   “God’s life of love is being lived within you, and you must simply learn how to say yes to that life. If you exist on a level where you can see how ‘everything belongs,’ you can trust the flow and trust the life.”

It is my hope that you will find The Crossing a community where you are known and loved.  I am excited to meet YOU!  If you have questions or would just like to visit, please contact me at karla@crossingministries.org.

 

 

Benjamin Coakley
they/them
Director of Worship//Office Administrator

Welcome! I have been on staff at the Crossing since the fall semester in 2018, first as the Director of Worship, and later as the Administrator as well. I am a Wisconsin native and I am so happy to call Madison home! In 2017, I graduated from Spring Arbor University in southern Michigan. I have a bachelor’s degree in Pastoral Ministry; my academic focus was on worship arts and queer theology.

I’ve always been enamored by the various traditions of Christian worship. At the heart, our timeless rituals are made up of everyday, human practices: singing together, eating together, and sharing in one another’s joys and burdens. I hope The Crossing can be a place where you can bring your whole self to worship and take a seat at the table that God offers to everyone — with no exceptions.

I am also a proud queer, non-binary person (I use they/them/theirs pronouns!) and get excited thinking about the ways our generation is creating a more just, welcoming world – both within the Church and the world at large.

Though many of my roles involve planning and behind-the-scenes work, I love meeting new people, so don’t be afraid to say hi! Let me know what music you’ve been jamming to, the best coffee shops to hit up, or what classes you’re loving (I’m a huge nerd at heart). You can contact me at: benjamin@crossingministries.org

Crossing Board of Directors

We are thankful for the thoughtful guidance and oversight that we receive from our talented Board of Directors. Each of our Board members brings something special to our ministry, and we treasure their ongoing investment of time, wisdom, and support.

Edmond Ramly, President
I have been connected with The Crossing in a number of ways since I lived in its international housing cooperative in 2007, when I moved to Madison. I grew up in Beirut, Lebanon, and still visit my parents there every year. My two younger brothers both live in the US too, working on the east and west coasts, while I hold down the fort here in the midwest with my wife Claudia. I value learning and love engaging my imagination and creativity in various ways. I am a healthcare systems engineer on faculty at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, where my research and teaching focus on improving preventive care processes. During the rest of my time, I am an organizational development facilitator and improvisational theatre actor and coach. I enjoy painting, writing, dancing, hiking, and cooking with friends.

 

Sue Dixon, Vice President
For more than 10 years I’ve been inspired by the stories that UW-Madison students have shared about their spiritual, leadership and Quest journeys through The Crossing. I believe that faith is a life-long journey and that faith grows through questioning and learning from others. I believe that The Crossing is a place where ALL are welcome to share their faith questions and to journey together. I am excited to be joining The Crossing Board of Directors in 2020.

I recently retired from TDS, Inc. as a Senior HR Business Partner. I worked for the TDS family of companies for 25+ years in various positions in internal audit, business process improvement, leadership development, and human resources. I grew up in the United Methodist Church and have recently joined Orchard Ridge United Church of Christ. Through my career and spiritual journey I have learned that my calling is to support and serve others; to be a listener, a coach, a mentor, and a trusted advisor. As a new board member, I am excited to bring this calling, along with my people and business skills, to serve the students at The Crossing.

 

Melissa Chan, Treasurer

I am a Data Visualization Developer for UW-Madison. My experiences as a student with The Crossing and living in Wayland have shaped a large part of who I am today. I am honored to give back now as an alumni and Board member.

 

Julie Luecke, Secretary
Dr. Julie Luecke in an associate professor and associate dean for Graduate Programs in the School of Education at Edgewood College. She was an elementary classroom teacher for nine years before moving into higher education. She is a member at Orchard Ridge United Church of Christ, involved for many years in children’s programming and serving as a trained Our Whole Lives instructor for middle school youth. She received her BS in Elementary Education from the UW, an M.Ed. in Curriculum from the University of Illinois, and a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the UW (including an inspiring course in Spiritually Centered Leadership).  During her graduate studies she took a year off to volunteer at Ongwediva College of Education in Namibia.  Julie currently teaches children’s literature at both undergraduate and graduate levels, and undergraduate courses in wellness and gender in education, which grows out of her research interest in building support structures for gender expansive students and their peers  through educational policy and practice. She has also participated in the Madison/Dane County Courage to Teach yearlong series of professional development and renewal retreats. Julie is honored to be a member of The Crossing community through serving on the Board.


Anna Walther, Student Liaison
As of May 2019, Anna will be a senior, studying Community and Environmental Sociology with a concentration in analysis and research. She spends most of her time working and volunteering with the Badger Volunteers program, Morgridge Center for Public Service, Institute for Research on Poverty, and, of course, The Crossing. She loves birds, black coffee, sitting in the sun, and cooking vegan food.

 

 

Dan R. Dick
Dan R. Dick currently serves as Assistant to the Bishop with the Wisconsin Annual Conference. He served as the Director of Connectional Ministries (2009–2015). Dan worked for the General Board of Discipleship in Nashville, TN for 15 years: providing resources in stewardship, leadership development, spiritual formation, congregational and conference planning, spiritual direction, spiritual gifts discovery, and conflict transformation. He continues to author the blog, United Methodeviations (doroteos2@wordpress.com), and has been a speaker and teacher around the world. Author of fourteen books and hundreds of articles, Dan is also an avid reader and loves to play with new ideas. He and his wife, Barbara, live in Sun Prairie.

 

Rhiannon Tibbetts
Rhiannon Tibbetts is an author, a human rights activist and a community volunteer. She has published a half a dozen books in a variety of genres in recent years. Rhiannon is a longtime resident of Madison and is also a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She worked in a supervisory capacity for nearly twenty years for the largest cleaning company in Wisconsin. Rhiannon has been an active member of the First Baptist Church in Madison for about a decade.

 

 

Kory Douglass
Rev. Kory Douglass is a provisional deacon in the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the Coordinator of Adult Ministries and Congregational Care at Bashford United Methodist Church on the east side of Madison. Kory is also studying to be a marriage and family therapist, enrolled in Edgewood College’s MFT program. As an undergraduate Kory was very active in the Crossing. He lives in Prairie du Sac with his wife Claire, who is also a clergyperson, and their animals. Other interests include video games, the Enneagram, board games, and podcasts.

 

Phil Kollmeyer
In the fall of 2001, I was a freshman at UW-Madison and joined The Crossing, which was a brand new organization at the time.  I quickly got involved and ended up leading ten student trips to Florida on which we built twenty-three houses for Habitat for Humanity.  I applied what I learned on these trips while serving on The Crossing’s visioning committee, which led an extensive remodeling of the historic building which houses The Crossing and created the framework to lead and fund The Crossing well into the future.  I currently live in Buffalo, New York, with my wife Pinar, and work to develop transportation electrification technologies to combat climate change as a senior principal research engineer at McMaster University.  As a board member, I am looking forward to continuing to make The Crossing a great place for students and the community to come together and reflect and do good in the world.

 

Kythie Boyd
I have been a member at Orchard Ridge United Church of Christ in Madison for over 20 years and first learned of The Crossing through my father, who participated in several Quest trips to Israel. I am drawn to and invigorated by The Crossing’s mission to nurture the faith of young people that embodies radical inclusiveness, extravagant welcome, and compassionate living and fostering a safe space for students to ask honest questions. The Crossing embodies a community that I searched for as a young adult and I am excited to join the Board and be part of this ministry! In my daily life, I am an elementary school psychologist working with students, teachers, and families to support learners with diverse needs. I am passionate about education and challenging the system to change so it is accessible and meets the needs of all students. In my spare time, I enjoy cooking and baking, playing the piano, singing, hiking, and staying connected with friends and family.

Jen Bloesch
Rev. Jen Bloesch is an interim pastor at Middleton Community Church. She is a former student of the Crossing, and for three years she worked as a part of the Crossing staff. Jen first fell in love with the Crossing through Quest trip adventures to the Badlands, and later as a staff member she led Quest trips to Costa Rica (2013, 2014, 2015) and to the Badlands (2014, 2015). As a student, Jen was also the director of Slow Food UW, and so she had many close interactions with the Crossing in that role as well.
Jen has recently moved back to the Madison area after living in Massachusetts for five and a half years. She attended seminary at Boston University School of Theology and was ordained in 2019 as a minister in the United Church of Christ. Her first call was to a very unique role with an Episcopal Church, in which she managed a 2-acre farm alongside youth. In this role Jen was able to combine her two passions for local and sustainable food as well as Christian ministry.
Jen is excited to be back in town and reconnecting with her Madison roots. She loves all the work that the Crossing does, and is thrilled to take on the new role of board member. In her spare time, Jen loves to cook, garden, and go birdwatching.