Alumni Awards

2015 Annual Alumni/ae Awards Banquet

Iliff hosted the 2015 Annual Alumni/ae Awards Banquet, Feb. 12, 2015, at the University of Denver, Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management where alumni/ae were honored for their contributions to Iliff and the greater community. Read (below) about the 2015 honorees and view photos from the event on Iliff’s Flickr page. Plan to join the Iliff community in February 2016 for our annual celebration of alumni/ae and the work they are doing in the world. Share your story with us by contacting Alumni Director Caran Ware Joseph, cwarejoseph@iliff or 303-765-3111. Nominate a fellow graduate (or yourself) so Iliff can honor our graduates and the world-changing work they/you are doing at next year’s awards banquet.

2015 Honorees 2015 Alumni Award Honorees

  • Rev. Dr. John Paul Davis, DMIN ’08: Outstanding Contribution to Specialized Ministry
  • Rev. Dr. Kristina Lizardy-Hajbi, MDIV ’06: Outstanding Contribution to the Academy
  • Rev. Tisa Roberts, MDIV ’10: Outstanding Recent Alumna
  • Rev. Nancy Rosas, MDIV ’09: Outstanding Contribution to Parish Ministry

Rev. Dr. John Paul Davis, DMIN ’08 – Outstanding Contribution to Specialized Ministry

Rev. Dr. Paul Davis has been an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ since 1997. In 2010, he was called to engage in an ecumenical ministry with St. Stephen’s Episcopal Parish in downtown Portland, Oregon, serving as their first (UCC) Minister for Outreach and directing their meals program.

At the time, the program known as St. Stephen’s Table served two meals per week to people experiencing homelessness. But the small and aging parish feared it was no longer able to provide the volunteers and funding needed to sustain the program that provided about 10,000 meals annually. Four years later, in 2014, the program provided over 100,000 meals of food and groceries to its neighbors, serving meals six days per week, including a dinner for young people living outside, and providing a monthly food pantry. 500 people are served by the meals program each week. 4,000 meals are served each month. 350 households of people, mostly living in nearby subsidized housing, come for groceries from the Pantry.

The combined meals program and food pantry, now called Clay Street Table to emphasize the community at 13th & Clay, has become a major source of food for people living on the margins. Under Davis’ leadership – which he credits to some transforming conversations with Iliff’s Cathie Kelsey – the Table has become a network of partnerships drawing together hundreds of volunteers from other churches and religious communities, civic groups, schools, colleges, and, very importantly, from the community being served. More than just providing food, it is a ministry that uses cooking and serving meals, and the staffing of its pantry, as avenues to build a caring community with and for its vulnerable neighbors who often feel isolated and alone. It feeds those who are hungry in body or in spirit by drawing together people of different ages and walks of life into a diverse community united in a common purpose.

Prior to serving at St. Stephen’s, Davis served 13 years as Minister for Congregational Life at First Congregational UCC in Portland. During this time, he came to Iliff to earn his Doctor of Ministry. He has also served as Chapel Coordinator at Princeton University and Acting Assistant Dean at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a graduate of Stetson University (B.A. ’86), Princeton Theological Seminary (MDIV ’90), and Iliff (DMIN ’08).

Rev. Dr. Kristina Lizardy-Hajbi, MDIV ’06 – Outstanding Contribution to the Academy

Rev. Dr. Kristina Lizardy-Hajbi is the Director of the Center for Analytics, Research and Data (CARD) for the United Church of Christ. Kristina’s personal and organizational mission is to gather, provide, and interpret information and trends for the purposes of illuminating the past, realizing the present, and envisioning the future of the UCC within the larger social context.

Rev. Dr. Lizardy-Hajbi received a MDIV from Iliff in 2006 and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership, Research and Policy from the University of Colorado, 2011. In her three years of ministry in the UCC’s national offices, she has undertaken several research projects that have shaped ministry and practice for the denomination, including an in-depth evaluation of Christian education and faith formation and an exploratory study of the mission priorities

of the national setting. Lizardy-Hajbi also authors the annual UCC Statistical Profile which presents membership,
congregational, and ministerial trends within the denomination.

In the past year, she was a faculty member for the Nollau Institute, a leadership development program for executives of the denomination’s health and human service organizations. She is also a re-accreditor for the Association of Theological Schools and was most recently on the re-accreditation team for a UCC’s related seminary.

Prior to her current ministry, Rev. Dr. Lizardy-Hajbi served as director of the Office of Minority and International Students at Colorado College. She was also an on-call chaplain at Saint Anthony Hospitals and a program coordinator for Iliff’s Lilly Endowment-funded FaithTrek program. She has taught Vocation and Orientation and Basic Colloquium courses at Iliff and was a guest lecturer for the UCC History and Polity course. She has also led webinars and taught courses for the Center for Progressive Renewal in Atlanta.

She is an active member of the Religious Research Association, the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, and the American Academy of Religion. She is on the steering committee of the Faith Communities Today (FACT) Project, one of the largest and longest running multi-faith surveys of congregations in the United States. She lives in Denver with her spouse, Ali, and commutes regularly to Cleveland.

Rev. Tisa Roberts, MDIV ’10 – Outstanding Recent Alumna

Rev. Tisa Roberts is ordained to a ministry of peace and justice outreach in the United Church of Christ. She is a church planter, pastor, environmental/food justice activist, and coach. She is cultivating pastor of Chadash Community UCC, a new church in Aurora, Colorado. Chadash, which means “to restore and renew” in Hebrew, speaks to the heart of the community’s mission to cultivate peace and embody justice in, on, and under the ground. “We are a rich mix of spiritual seekers, urban farmers, immigrants, refugees, activists, teachers, and students practicing our faith in visible, tangible, and even taste-able ways.” In 2014, Chadash Community launched their ¾ acre Sanctuary Garden in “original” Aurora.

Tisa Roberts infuses her ministry with her experience as a professional horticultural therapist and has been cultivating food and community in school, jail, community, and church gardens for over 20 years. In 2009, she founded Spirit & Garden Encounters, a ministry helping communities articulate, reflect, and embody their distinctive identities and missions through contemplative and active engagement with the land.

In 2011, she began imagining a faith community that begins in a garden. While attending a National Church Leadership Institute Conference, her call to help midwife new models of church as a planter, pastor, and coach became clear. She earned her certification as new church developer from the Center for Progressive Renewal and recently became an ICF Affiliate Certified Coach. In her private practice, she loves helping clients clarify their vocation and actualize their vision. She is a founder of Denver’s Food & Faith Summit, leads contemplative labyrinth walks, and serves on Iliff’s Alumni Board.

Rev. Roberts’ multi-faceted ministry is grounded by a central commitment to the joyful and intentional practice of radical compassion. “Radical compassion calls us to be tender in the presence of suffering, fierce in the presence of injustice, and imaginative in the presence of resistance.” She is a Second Generation Holocaust Survivor and spent her youth “on the move” and “in hiding.” After living all over Europe, Africa, and the Middle-East, Tisa settled in the United States. She is a graduate of Boston University. Tisa and her husband, Rick, have been together for over 30 years and have three adult children. Last year, they relocated to Denver after 25 years in Boulder. She is excited to fill their freshly “empty nest” with more books, visual journaling, tennis, flowers, friends, and frequent pilgrimages to the ocean.

Rev. Nancy Rosas, MDIV ’09 – Outstanding Contribution to Parish Ministry

Rev. Nancy Rosas is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ who does ministry from a wide pulpit that begins in the community and goes to the pulpit and vice versa. Rosas is the Minister for Spiritual Formation at Washington Park UCC and the Women’s Program Director at El Centro Humanitario (Humanitarian Center for Workers) in Denver. As an educator, she is intentional about creating loving and inclusive sacred spaces and models of learning where children, youth, and adults can engage their whole selves to make each encounter along their faith journey one of life renewal and transformation. During her ministry with WashPark she has encouraged an intergenerational, inclusive ministry model that has been recognized nationally by the United Church of Christ as an inspiring model for ministry for churches in the denomination. She is a national certified trainer for the Justice Leaders Engaging and Developing (Justice LED) program, a writer of liturgies and for publications within the UCC, and in 2013 she co-wrote the UCC-published Home Grown Faith & Justice, a faith formation resource for families.

At El Centro Humanitario para los Trabajadores/as (Humanitarian Center for Workers), Rosas facilitates organizing, advocacy, and education for economic and social self-development for working women. Her ministry in the community is lived out by providing pastoral accompaniment, witness, and advocacy with workers, immigrants, Latinas, Native Americans, and African Americans. When she is not working, she delights in spending time with her family and friends, enjoying the outdoors, reading, writing, walking, and practicing yoga.

Nominate Now for the 2016 Alumni/ae Awards

If you know an Iliff alumni/ae who has done exceptional work, it’s time to nominate them so they can be recognized with the next awards recipients. Annual Alumni/ae Award Guidelines and the Alumni Awards Nomination form are available to download, print and return. The nomination deadline is October 20, 2015 for the February 2016 Alumni Awards Banquet.

For reference, a list of award winners from 1980-2014 is also available for review. Previous Award Recipients

Please contact Caran Ware Joseph, donor and alumni relations director, or 303-765-3111, if you have questions or need assistance.