VIA’s Executive Director for the past is 16 years is Rev. Debbie Ingram, an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. Debbie pastored two successive congregations in California in the 1990's. Since moving to Vermont, Debbie has preached at or served as temporary pastor for numerous United Church of Christ congregations. She has also served as the Chair of the Board for the UCC's statewide entity, and as the Moderator of the statewide UCC Annual Meeting.
Prior to ordination, Debbie worked in film and television production and development, including as part of the team that brought "The Wonder Years" to the air. Debbie also worked as a freelance communication consultant for NGOs and businesses in Bangladesh for seven years, writing, producing and directing informational and promotional videos.
Debbie's elected public service has included six years on the Williston Selectboard and four years as a State Senator representing Chittenden County. During her time in the Senate, she introduced the successful bill to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples' Day and the successful amendment to the state constitution to abolish slavery without exception. Debbie also championed numerous bills in the education and health care sectors as well as legislation regarding gun safety, racial equity, and judicial reform.
Debbie is a graduate of Stanford University and Fuller Theological Seminary and completed a fellowship at Cambridge University, England, in preaching and ethics. She has lived in Williston for 20 years.
She can be contacted by email at Debbie@viavt.org.
Melissa began organizing in the Barre-Montpelier area in 2011. She has decades of NGO experience focusing on Economic Justice, Housing, Cultural Education, Immigration and Gender/Ethnic/Racial Equity. Prior to beginning her work with VIA, Melissa mentored middle school students in Florida; coordinated prayer journeys in Thailand; and managed resource development for a community organizing group in Nazareth, Israel.
Melissa has worked at the Barre Community Justice Center, was a founding member of the Vermont Ethnic and Social Equity in Schools Coalition, served as Chair of the Board of Directors at the Good Samaritan Haven and is a vestry member at Good Shepherd Church (Episcopal) in Barre.
She graduated from Palm Beach Atlantic University with a BA in Religion and from SIT Graduate Institute with a MA in Conflict Transformation and Sustainable Development. Melissa lives in Barre Town with her husband and two children. When not organizing, she can be found reading, digging in the dirt or traveling with her family.
She can be contacted by email at Melissa@viavt.org.
Southeastern Vermont Community Organizer
For the past 35 years, Mike has been a member of the Putney Friends Meeting (Quakers), drawn to the congregation by the shared belief that our faith comes alive with actions that affirm our values and beliefs.
Mike brings to VIA, decades of experience organizing, working directly with, and advocating for children, families and all of our "Neighbors In Need." His work with children and families includes work in Child Protection, and most recently as a volunteer Guardian Ad Litem in the Family Court System, advocating for children in cases of abuse and neglect.
In recent years, his work has included the Town Affordable Housing Committee and help with those seeking asylum in the US, especially through CASP, (Community Asylum Seekers Project). Mike has also been a long time volunteer with the Putney Food Shelf, since its inception in the old Brethren Church building in Putney, way back in the last millennium.
In 2007, Mike's public service grew beyond his hometown of Putney, when he was elected to the part-time Vermont House of Representatives. There, his work expanded to Justice Issues, whether Economic, Environmental or Social / Racial Justice.
Mike shared: "Joining VIA feels like a short sidestep, to continue advocating for Vermonters, and those Vermont values of living together in community, and seeking justice for all -- or in the words of Micah 6:8: Do Justice, love Mercy, and walk Humbly."
Mike lives in Putney, Vermont with his beloved wife, Amelia. They have 3 grown daughters, and one growing granddaughter (Lillian, class of 2019). They enjoy singing together (Vermont Timbre) being outdoors in all seasons with their dog, Layla and cat, Sparrow, and can't imagine a better place to live than Vermont.
He can be reached at Mike@viavt.org.
Southwestern Vermont Community Organizer
Martha was raised in a conservative Christian community in Upstate NY and since adulthood has been trying to find a way to balance her evolving faith and progressive worldview. In recent years, she’s come to understand that faith can be an important and formative part of living a life of love, justice, and mercy.
Prior to joining VIA, Martha studied Philosophy at Eastern University in Pennsylvania, and then completed an MSc. in Social and Cultural Anthropology in Belgium. She then interned with UN Habitat, focusing on promoting social, economic, and environmental justice.
Through all the phases of her life, her passion has always been to better understand the world, people, and their place within the world–and, most importantly, how to make the world a better place for everyone.
She can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.