Staff Bios

 

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Marc Andrus

 

Job Title: Bishop of California

 

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Marc Handley Andrus is the eighth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of California. He was installed as bishop in 2006 — a position of oversight for a diocese comprised of 24,000 communicants in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, and San Mateo Counties, and the cities of Los Altos and part of Palo Alto. Prior to his election as Bishop of California, Andrus served as Bishop Suffragan in the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama.

Marc Handley Andrus was born on October 20, 1956, in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, to Mary Frances and Francis Andrus, and was raised in Kingston, Tennessee. He received his Bachelor of Science in Plant Science from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 1979, and a Masters in Social Sciences from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg in 1982. After receiving his master’s degree, Andrus went to work as a regional planner for the Accomack-Northampton Planning District Commission on Virginia’s Delmarva Peninsula.

In 1987, Andrus was awarded a Master of Divinity degree from the Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Virginia. After being ordained deacon on June 20, 1987, Andrus became senior associate at Church of the Redeemer in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. While at Church of the Redeemer, Andrus was ordained priest on April 25, 1988. In 1990, Andrus became Chaplain at Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Virginia, until 1997 when he became Rector of Emmanuel Church in Middleburg, Virginia. He remained rector of Emmanuel until his consecration as Bishop Suffragan for the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama on February 7, 2002.

His leadership has focused on key issues related to peace and justice, including immigration reform, civil rights for LBGTQ+ persons, health care, and climate change. Early in his tenure at the diocese, Bishop Marc co-chaired a community coalition that paved the way for the rebuilding of St. Luke’s Hospital in San Francisco. More recently, his climate advocacy work has taken him to the UN Climate Conferences in Paris (COP21), Marrakesh (COP22), Bonn (COP23), and Katowice, Poland (COP24), as well as the Dakota Access Pipeline demonstrations at Standing Rock, North Dakota. Bishop Andrus is a member of the We Are Still In Leaders’ Circle, a diverse group of ambassadors for American climate action. He also serves on the boards of the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, California Pacific Medical Center, the Episcopal Impact Fund, the Episcopal School for Deacons, Episcopal Community Services, and the American Bach Soloists, among other foundations.

Andrus is married to Sheila Andrus, Ph.D., former director of the Sparkman Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s School of Public Health, and they have two adult daughters: Chloé and Pilar.

Canon Christina Alvarez

Job Title: Executive Director, Episcopal Impact Fund

 

Christina Alvarez joined Episcopal Impact Fund as Executive Director in March 2022. Prior to this, she managed fundraising, communications, public relations, and media relations as Senior Director of Development at Episcopal Community Services (ECS), San Francisco’s largest non-profit provider of services for people experiencing homelessness, extreme poverty, and food insecurity in our city.

Before ECS, she served as the Executive Director of The Gubbio Project, which provides space and sanctuary for unhoused people in need of safe, compassionate respite during the day. She serves on the Board of Trustees for Cathedral School for Boys and was recently installed as the Canon for Social Ministries for the Diocese of California.

Amy Cook

Job Title: Canon for Formation and Working Group Head for Faith Formation

 

Originally from Virginia, Amy graduated from James Madison University with a degree in communications. After 8 years of mission service she went to Gordon-Conwell Seminary and earned a Masters in Christian Education. For 18 years Amy worked in the area for Christian formation, first in a parish and later for the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. Amy is married to Ron Cook and they both have a passion for the church as well as community theater, acting and directing.

 

Contact Amy for:

  • Adult Formation
  • Diocesan-Wide Learning Events
  • Retreats
  • Young Adult Ministry
  • Lay Discernment
  • Training Programs
  • Eucharistic Minister and Eucharistic Visitor Training
  • Wellness ministries
  • Personal Spiritual Resources
  • Church and the Arts
  • Teacher Training
  • Family Ministry
  • Curriculum Selection
  • Whole Church Formation
  • Scholarships for Lay Leader Training
  • PNEUMA conference for Christian Education
  • Seasonal resources

Sarah Crawford

Job Title: Payroll and Benefits Coordinator

 

Sarah is a San Francisco Bay Area native and a life-long Episcopalian. As a child she was active in her family’s home church, St. Paul’s, Oakland, and participated in DioCal youth ministry programs and summer camps. Sarah earned a BS in Recreation Administration with a concentration in Public / Non-Profit Management from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. In 1996 she joined the Diocesan House staff as the Administrative Assistant to the Departments of Missions, Education, and Social Ministries. In 2000 she took over the position of Payroll and Benefits Coordinator. When not processing paychecks, insurance enrollments, or bills, Sarah enjoys long distance cycling, brewing beer, pretending to be an urban farmer, volunteering with youth ministry, camping, seeing live music, testing out recipes in the slow-cooker, and road trips to visit family and friends. Sarah and her wife, Kieran, are members of All Souls, Berkeley.

    The Ven. Gary Wm England

    Job Title: Archdeacon & Director of School for Deacons

     

    The Ven. Gary England was appointed by Bishop Marc Andrus to the position of Archdeacon in January of 2024. He serves as one of the diocese’s two Archdeacons, along with the Ven. Canon Nina Pickerrell. The Archdeacons coordinate the work of the diocese’s deacons, help active and retired deacons stay connected, and serve as chaplains for the Bishop of California. Archdeacon Gary also serves as Director of the School for Deacons, a Diocese of California-based institution dedicated to diaconal formation.

    The Ven. Gary Wm England was ordained Deacon in the Diocese of Kentucky on August 12, 2011, and became canonically resident in the Diocese of California in 2020. He lives in Leona Heights in the Oakland Hills with his husband, John Reliford. Archdeacon Gary has three adult children Ana, James, and Adrian, and one grandchild Theodore.

    Archdeacon Gary is a native of Alabama and before his relocation to the Bay Area in 2018, he lived in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Tennessee. As an attorney, he is admitted to the bar in all the states mentioned and is currently Registered In-House Counsel in California. Gary retired as General Counsel of a large private investment firm in June 2018 but continues to work as an arbitrator and as GC and HR Consultant for a few long-term clients, including the Diocese of California.

    In addition to his continued liturgical duties at St. Paul’s, Oakland, Archdeacon Gary is involved in various ministries for DioCal and General Convention.

    J. Davey Gerhard

    Job Title: Canon for Stewardship and Director of Development

     

    Davey brings more than two decades of experience in fundraising and development in the Bay Area to the role of Director of Development for the Diocese of California, marrying two of his great passions: fundraising and the Reign of God. He is a faithful member of Holy Innocents’ Episcopal Church, volunteers with several nonprofits in the Bay Area, and loves shopping at the many great farmers’ markets in the City. A Michigander by birth, Davey has made San Francisco his home for the last twenty years. A life-long student of economics, policy, and theology, Davey seeks to make connections between money and meaning. In his spare time, he picks banjo, enjoys cooking for friends, and is always dreaming of his next camping trip.

     

    Contact Davey for:

    • Congregational stewardship pep talks, new ideas, or training
    • Consulting on event planning for outreach or other fundraising events for congregations and DioCal institutions
    • Consulting, planning, and implementation of congregational capital campaigns
    • Retreats and meetings with vestries and boards on fundraising, stewardship, and outreach

    Shari Gonzales

    Job Title: Administrative Manager

     

    Shari Gonzales was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and has worked with Episcopal Impact Fund as administrative manager for 15 years. She loves seeing how many people are being helped in her job. She also works part-time for the diocese assisting the Development Working Group. When not busy with spreadsheets, accounting, and managing events, Shari enjoys time with family, friends, and her two cats, Howie and Smokey.

     

    Contact Shari for:

    • Donor address change for DioCal Development/Gift Planning
    • Donation Status
    • Account Payable
    • Other assistance with Development and Gift Planning

    Kieran King

    Job Title: Communications & Brand Director  

     

    Kieran King joined Episcopal Impact Fund, where she oversees the brand and leads communications and design initiatives, in September 2020. Kieran received a B.S. from the University of California, Berkeley and has more than twenty-five years experience in marketing, communications, and design. This is her first foray into the non-profit arena and is thrilled to be making an impact.

    The Rev. Cn. Debra Low-Skinner

    Job Title: Canon to the Ordinary

     

    The Rev. Canon Debra Low-Skinner was appointed to serve as the Diocese of California’s permanent Canon to the Ordinary in October 2021, after serving as Canon to the Ordinary Pro Tempore since June of that year.

    Upon accepting her newest appointment, Canon Debbie said, “I am honored and delighted that Bishop Marc has decided to make my appointment as Canon to the Ordinary permanent. Over the past four months, this position has proven to be challenging and at times all-consuming. Yet I appreciate that this is a unique opportunity to serve my fellow DioCal family members and to serve the Church, as it is poised on the threshold of redefining what it is to be the Episcopal expression of the Jesus Movement in the mid-to post-pandemic world.”.

    Rev. Debbie represents the Bishop, serves as secondary Diocesan spokesperson, and oversees Diocesan work related to congregational development and vitality for the missions and parishes of the Diocese. She supports the work of the Bishop related to the Standing Committee and Executive Council; serves as a liaison to the Chancellor; and sits on the Personnel Practices Committee, and the Deanery Coordinating Committee. She assists the Bishop in the pastoral care and support of clergy and lay leadership.

    Prior to joining the bishop’s staff, Rev. Debbie served as the vicar of Christ Episcopal Church Sei Ko Kai in San Francisco, which included representing her congregation in the Japanese American community at the local level and in the Episcopal Church, most recently in speaking in response to anti-Asian hate speech/violence. She is a Clergy Deputy of the 2022 General Convention Deputation and Chair of the Diocesan Liturgical Commission. Previously, she served in parishes of all sizes, in urban and suburban settings, in the Dioceses of California, El Camino Real, Long Island, and Massachusetts.

    She received her MDiv from Church Divinity School of the Pacific, an M.S. in Engineering Management from Santa Clara University, and a B.S. in Mathematics (with minors in physics and organ) from University of San Francisco. She was ordained a priest in 1997. She is an Associate of the Order of the Holy Cross.

    Prior to ordination, Rev. Debbie worked for 20+ years as a senior communications systems engineer at Lockheed Martin in Silicon Valley. A native San Franciscan and third-generation Chinese American, Rev. Debbie has a love of reading, classical/ragtime/jazz music, British history, choral singing, Celtic spirituality, current events, and cats.

     

    Contact Canon Debbie regarding:

    • Mission Congregations
    • Congregational Vitality
    • Multicultural and AAPI Issues
    • Assessment Appeals
    • Title IV Issues
    • Congregation/Clergy Conflict Resolution and Crisis Management

    Stephanie Martin Taylor

    Job Title: Canon for Diocesan Communications and Working Group Head for Communications 

     

    Stephanie Martin Taylor has directed the Diocese of California’s Communications Working Group since 2017. She was installed as Canon for Diocesan Communications in May 2022 at a special Evensong service at Grace Cathedral. Stephanie’s diocesan leadership roles also include heading the bishop’s Sustainability Core Team, producing the annual Diocesan Convention, and serving on the Diocesan COVID-19 Response Team. Prior to her arrival at the diocese, Stephanie spent eleven years as a news anchor and reporter for KQED-FM in San Francisco and previously worked at several other television and radio news outlets around the country. Over the course of her broadcasting career, she won numerous awards for her coverage of topics that included politics, housing, religion, and Iraq, where, in 2005, she reported from the war zone. Originally from Dallas, Texas, Stephanie holds an M.S. in Journalism from Columbia University and a B.A. in History and French from Colgate University. She and her husband, David, live in San Francisco, where they attend St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.

    Contact Stephanie for:

    Caren Miles

    Job Title: Associate for Faith Formation

     

    Caren Miles was born in California but grew up in Texas. She’s served in the Diocese of Dallas, the Diocese of New York, and ran the Children’s Program at General Convention in 2012 and 2015. Caren has a BA in Political Science from the University of North Texas and over 15 years of life lessons learned in ministry helping children and youth find their identities as beloved children of God. She loves that her job ranges from sitting on the floor to read Bible stories with preschoolers to sitting in a coffee shop waxing theological with teenagers to helping adults find the best ways to work with all ages. Caren also enjoys spending time in the kitchen, but prefers if someone else does the dishes.

     

    Contact Caren for:

    • Children’s Ministries
    • Youth Ministry
    • Retreats
    • Diocesan Wide Training Events
    • Confirmation
    • Safe Church Training and Guidelines
    • Teacher Training
    • Family Ministry
    • Curriculum Selection
    • Whole Church Formation
    • Scholarships for Lay Leader Training
    • PNEUMA conference for Christian Education
    • Seasonal resources

    Max Remele

    Job Title: Accountant

     

    Max was born and raised in Orange County California. Later he moved north and graduated from Chico State then lived in San Francisco while working at the Diocese for ten years. In 2011 he left the Diocese and moved to Massachusetts where he resides with his husband Eric. In his spare time, he enjoys walking his two Italian Greyhounds and cycling. Max has been fortunate to have biked around New Zealand, India, and Vietnam. Max returned to the Diocese in 2021 as a remote worker.

    Elizabeth (Ellie) Simpson

    Job Title: Communications Associate

     

    Elizabeth Simpson was raised in the Evangelical church and began attending an Episcopal Church in the Fall of 2019. She works for the Diocese of California (bay area) full-time from her home in Chicago, Illinois. She is an active member along with her spouse Joshua (they, them) at their home church, Church of the Ascension. Elizabeth serves as a Vestry member, the co-lead for the Usher ministry, and a volunteer in the Alter ministry and Flower guild at her home church, as well as a delegate to Convention and a representative at various training sessions for her home church.

    Elizabeth has a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and a faith-driven passion for working with the people of God. Her career in the Marketing & Communications has mainly been in the religious non-profit sector, with a short stint in other work.

    Elizabeth’s passions include environmental and justice focus work! As such, you’ll find she is an avid advocate for LGBTQIA+ rights and a promoter of Veganism. She was a founding member of the LGBTQIA+ ERG in her previous place of employment. One of her passion projects is Urban Gardening, to provide food and combat poverty in her neighborhood, Rodgers Park. She’s a member of the nearby church’s community garden and also works with local company “Rise Gardens” to promote and product-test hydroponic growing solutions that fit inside everyday apartments. She also enjoys teaching people the joys of urban foraging and has begun utilizing Instagram to provide tips at tricks for cooking, foraging, and gardening (@chiurbanhomestead).

     

    Contact Elizabeth for:

    Denise Obando

    Job Title: Canon for Transition Ministries

     

    A cradle Diocese of California Episcopalian, Denise has a lifetime of experiences in our diocese. An employee at DioHouse since October 2008, she has helped with over 80 rector/vicar searches. At the 78th General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Salt Lake City in 2015, Denise was appointed to the Board for Transition Ministry.

    Denise manages all aspects of clergy transitions throughout the Diocese, assuring that opportunities for transition are communicated, that policies and processes are understood and followed, and that desired outcomes for clergy and congregations are attained. Relationship building with lay leaders and clergy is an ongoing integral component of this work. She supports major diocesan events such as Diocesan Convention; is the Ordination Officer for the Diocese in compliance with the Office of the Recorder of Ordinations; monitors clerics and their duties as defined by Canons; and maintains clergy records, including database.

    The Ven. Cn. Nina Pickerrell

    Job Title: Archdeacon

     

    The Ven. Canon Nina Pickerrell was ordained in June 1996 in the Diocese of California.  Nina graduated from School for Deacons in 1996 with the St. Stephen’s Award. 

    Nina lives in the Bayview Hunters Point district of San Francisco. Her home has been in her family for the past 67 years. She served in the military, raised two daughters, and served at Grace Cathedral for the past 23 years. Her ministries have included: Children’s Ministry including annual Vacation Bible School, Senior Programs, Pastoral Care, Eucharistic Visitor, Funerals/Committals, and Columbarium. Outreach Programs have included: Physician’s Organization, Stitching Ministry, Rise Against Hunger, Crab Feed and Thanksgiving Dinner, Mothers’ Day and 50+ Wedding Anniversary Events and Winter Interfaith Shelter Program. Nina is owner and operator of Bayview Mission, a special mission of the Diocese of California. With strong support from many faithful volunteers, Bayview Mission serves its community in a variety of ways including: a Family Infant/Toddler program; Senior, Veteran, and Homeless programs; Annual Christmas Events and Giving Tree; Abundance Community and Foster Home. Bayview Mission has built solid relationships with Cathedral School for Boys, St. Matthew’s Day School, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, St. Francis Episcopal Church, National Charities League, Service Corp, and with many other organizations. On a Diocesan level, Nina has served on the Department of Elders’ Board and the Standing Committee. She is currently a member of the Commission on Ministry. In a pinch, Nina can be found answering the phones at the Cathedral’s receptionist desk. A little humorous? “Yes!”

    As a Deacon in the Episcopal Church serving at Grace Cathedral and Bayview Mission has given me the opportunity to spread the Good News of the Gospel. Giving thanks for my presence and my prayer is to remain open to healing for all of God’s children.

    The Rev. Michele Racusin

    Job Title: Canon for Diocesan Finance and Chief Financial Officer

     

    Michele is an ordained priest and a Certified Public Accountant. She started her career in “Big Four” accounting, where she worked for about two decades. Her ordained life has called her to serve as a rector, deputy to convention, member of the Episcopal Church Audit Committee, the Program, Budget and Finance Committee, and Assessment Review Committee. Most recently she served as the CFO in the Diocese of Los Angeles. Michele is also a Credo finance faculty member. When not crunching numbers, she loves to hike and has walked two pilgrimages— the Camino de Santiago and the Via Francigena. Michele and her husband Samuel have four sons.

    Dr. Travis Stevens

    Job Title: Vocations Officer

     

    Originally from Texas, Travis moved to California to attend the University of Southern California, where he studied music and French. It was at USC where he first participated in campus ministry and found other Christians interested in queer inclusion. “My church community’s radical welcome made me realize how critical the study of theology could be,” Travis says.

    Travis moved to Massachusetts to attend Harvard Divinity School, where he earned an MDiv and went on to receive his doctorate in the history of Christianity, specializing in mystical theologies of suffering and love. Travismoved to the Bay Area in 2009 to be with his partner, Kerry, and worshiped at Holy Innocents in San Francisco before serving as a cantor and section leader at St Luke’s.

    Travis has held teaching positions at Santa Clara University, Seton Hall University, and Pacific School of Religion. He also has experience in the diocese in guiding others discerning a call to ordained ministry; he served on the Commission on Ministry, the Board of Examining Chaplains, the board of the School for Deacons, and as a consultant on diaconal formation. Travis is thrilled to be able to accompany others in practices of spiritual discernment, both as the vocations officer and as a university chaplain.

    Michael Stroup

    Job Title: Archivist

     

    Michael has enjoyed living in the Diocese of California for more than half his life. In addition the ministry of Archivist/Historiographer for the Diocese of California, Michael is an iconographer. He studied icon writing with Fr. Patrick Doolan and Aleksandr Kharon. Michael has a B.A. in History and an M.Div. from the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology at the Graduate Theological Union.

     

    Contact Michael for:

    • The history of the diocese, bishops, and congregations
    • Records of baptisms, confirmations, marriages, and ordinations

    Matt Duke

    Job Title: Executive Assistant to the Bishop

     

    Matt was born and raised in Michigan and attended Michigan State University, graduating with a B.A. in English. He has more than two decades of experience as an administrative and executive assistant. In his spare time he enjoys traveling, reading, and watching British crime dramas.