VIA’s Executive Director for the past 14 years is Rev. Debbie Ingram, an ordained minister who pastored two successive congregations in California and worked as a freelance communication consultant in Bangladesh for seven years, writing, producing and directing award winning videos for poverty alleviation projects.
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.
Debbie's elected public service has included six years on the Williston Selectboard and four years as a State Senator representing Chittenden County.
Debbie is a graduate of Stanford University and Fuller Theological Seminary and completed a fellowship at Cambridge University, England, in preaching and ethics.
She can be contacted by email at Debbie@viavt.org.
Melissa Battah began organizing in the Barre-Montpelier area in 2010. She has decades of NGO experience focusing on Economic Justice, Housing, Cultural Education 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 and currently serves as Chair of the Board of Directors at the Good Samaritan Haven.
She graduated from Palm Beach Atlantic University (BA Religion) and SIT Graduate Institute (MA Conflict Transformation and Sustainable Development). Melissa lives in Barre Town with her husband and two children.
She can be contacted by email at Melissa@viavt.org.
Upper Valley Community Organizer
Ryan grew up on Long Island as a "Preacher's Kid" in the United Methodist Church. He received his Master of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary in 2011 and was ordained as an independent minister by the small, non-denominational community church. Ryan worked in children's and family ministry in the Triangle area of North Carolina until the beginning of 2019, when he came home to be the stay-at-home homeschool dad so his wife, Aura, could become the primary breadwinner as they began Aura's Apothecary: a (very) small alternative wellness products business that they are very much looking forward to relocating to the Green Mountain State.
Ryan's passion for seeing change in both the church and culture has grown rapidly over the last few years, catalyzed by the increasingly ubiquitous injustices enacted against people, particularly along the lines of race, gender, and sexuality. "Ally-ship" leading to partnership, Ryan's life and faith have grown and been profoundly enlivened as he began to embrace his role in fighting for the needs and rights of the oppressed and working to change the system that supports it. Having recently stepped out of conservative evangelical workspaces, Ryan is eager to fully and freely engage the issues at hand as a Community Organizer in the Upper Valley, and bring his lifetime of experience and education in the local church to serve, support, and encourage other people of faith to do the same.
Ryan and his wife Aura have been married 16 years and are parents to four amazing young people: Jesse, Caleb, Leah, and Micah. They currently live in NC, and are eagerly looking for a place to live (even a temporary place) near the Upper Valley. They are all (despite varying degrees of excitement about the cold) looking forward to becoming Vermonters.
Ryan works with VIA part-time to build a local organizing effort in the Vermont Upper Valley. He can be contacted at Ryan@viavt.org.
Southern 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.