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Co-trainer: Jess Cook
Jess is the Program & Communications Manager for More Light and is in the final stages of ordination in the Presbyterian Church (USA).
Prior to joining MLP, Jess was the Youth Programs Director at Side by Side, an organization in Richmond, VA serving LGBTQIA+ youth. While at Side by Side, Jess worked with hundreds of young people through support groups, a leadership program, and various programs in the community. They created a parent support group and a meals program, and trained a wide variety of faith community leaders and service providers on best practices for working with LGBTQIA+ youth.
A native of East Texas and lifelong Presbyterian, Jess holds a Master of Divinity from Union Presbyterian Seminary, a Master of Fine Arts in Photography from the University of North Texas, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art from Baylor.
Check out Jess’s TEDx Talk on what faith communities can learn from spaces dedicated to LGBTQIA+ youth for more.
Co-Trainer: Alex Patchin McNeill
Alex Patchin McNeill has served as the Executive Director of More Light Presbyterians since 2013. During his tenure at More Light, he has equipped congregations to live into policy change for inclusion of LGBTQIA+ people and has successfully enacted policies for marriage equality in the Presbyterian Church, USA. Under his leadership, More Light now serves as a capacity-building organization, equipping congregations to work intersectionally on justice issues. As a trained professional coach through the International Coaching Federation, Alex brings a coaching approach to his work with church leaders and congregations seeking to follow God’s call to widen their welcome, increase church vitality, or develop and implement new programs. In addition, he coaches leaders taking a leap of faith to launch a new project, stepping into a leadership role, or discerning a new calling.
As an openly transgender man with a wealth of experience both professionally and personally, he is a sought-after trainer and facilitator of workshops on gender identity and sexual orientation. He has over a decade of experience training hundreds of community leaders, and has played key roles organizing faith communities for marriage equality in Maryland and legislation to promote LGBTQIA+ rights. Alex is a Candidate for Ordination in the Presbyterian Church, USA, and holds a Master’s of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School, and a Bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. He currently lives in Durham, NC.