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Executives and Board

CAC Executives

Michael Poffenberger, Executive Director
Michael joined the CAC as Executive Director in 2014 after first serving on the Board of Directors. He is responsible for overseeing a multi-year strategy to develop CAC as a 21st-century platform for transformative spiritual teaching that builds upon Fr. Richard’s lifetime of work. He has led the organization through significant growth as the CAC seeks to scale its impact, integrate new teachers, and introduce future generations to the wisdom of the contemplative tradition.
Michael graduated from the University of Notre Dame, where he was first impacted by the teaching of contemplative activists such as Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton. He then spent 10 years doing advocacy and peacebuilding work in Washington, D.C. as Executive Director for Resolve. At Resolve, Michael led bipartisan coalitions and developed international campaigns to advance policy change for war-affected communities in Africa. He helped author and win passage of legislation focused on the prevention of violent atrocities and testified before both the US Congress and United Nations Security Council.
Michael serves as Board Chair of Invisible Children and previously served on Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies’ Advisory Board. Outside of his work, Michael is a dad to his three-year-old daughter, Madeleine.
Kirsten Oates, Managing Director of Program Design and Teacher Relations

Kirsten has experience in strategic consulting with Bain & Company and the Bridgespan Group as well as a number of non-profit and faith-based organizations. She spent seven years as Director of Strategy for City Church San Francisco. Kirsten grew up in Australia and graduated from the Australian National University with a Bachelor in Economics and a Bachelor of Laws with Honors. Kirsten is also a graduate of the Living School. She is responsible for ensuring CAC’s program design is aligned to the Christian contemplative lineage.

Patricia Salwei, Managing Director of Organization and People Development

Patricia is an Organization Development Practitioner with over fifteen years’ experience. She has a Master’s Degree in Transformative Leadership and Social Change, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Physics. Patricia leads CAC’s Human Resources functions, and facilitates our internal organizational development. She is passionate about helping employees realize their highest aspirations in service to a mission they love.

CAC Board of Directors

LaVera Crawley, Chair

LaVera Crawley has followed the path of “radical servanthood” as a physician on the Navajo Indian Reservation; an at-home mom; an empirical bioethicist at Stanford University focusing on health inequities at the end of life; and now as a hospital chaplain practicing the art of spiritual companionship. LaVera is an alumna of the Living School, a graduate of the first cohort. She is happily married and is the proud mother of an artist. LaVera also serves on CAC’s Human Resources committee.

John (Jack) Willome, Vice Chair

Jack graduated from the University of Kansas with a business degree and held a CPA certificate for several years. For over two decades he worked with a major homebuilding and real estate development company in San Antonio, TX, ultimately becoming CEO. Jack has served on the boards and committees of numerous business and faith-based organizations. He is a practitioner and retreat leader of “values based leadership.” Jack and his wife, Dee, reside in Boerne, TX. They have three adult children and five grandchildren. Jack serves on the Executive and Finance committees.

Richard Rohr, Founder

Fr. Richard is a Franciscan priest of the New Mexican Province and founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation. He is a globally recognized author and teacher and academic dean of CAC’s Living School. Learn more about Fr. Richard here. Richard serves on the following CAC committees: Executive, Human Resources, Finance, Strategic Planning, and Nominations.

Heidi Franklin, Treasurer

Heidi has an MBA from Portland State University. Over the course of her 26-year career as a CPA, Heidi worked for KPMG and various firms in financial services, real estate, and law in Oregon. She retired as the CFO of Portland Public Schools. A teacher at heart, Heidi excels at explaining complex financial information. Heidi is a spiritual director with the Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life (SEEL) Portland, where she served as Board Chair for 10 years, and is currently a Living School student. She has 3 children and 4 grandchildren. Heidi serves on the Executive and Finance committees.

Alexie Torres-Fleming, Secretary

Alexie founded Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice (YMPJ) in 1994 with the mission to rebuild the Bronx River neighborhoods where she grew up. She is the co-founder of the Bronx River Alliance and the Southern Bronx River Watershed Alliance and serves as Executive Director of Access Strategies Fund. In 2015, she was appointed by President Obama to serve on the President’s Advisory Council for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Alexie is a New Voices Fellow for Sojourners in Washington, DC and a 2014 Loeb Fellow at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design.

Damien Faughnan

Damien is an executive coach who works with senior executives seeking to become more effective leaders. He is an initiated man and serves as Chair of the Board for Illuman, a non-profit that supports men who desire to deepen their spiritual lives. Damien is happily married and lives in Scottsdale, Arizona. Damien serves on the Executive and Nominations committees.

Christopher Ferebee

Christopher is a nonprofit and intellectual property attorney and a literary agent in both the secular and Christian markets. He intentionally cultivates a small number of gifted storytellers, working with them to develop their career and navigate the publishing landscape effectively. In addition to this work, Chris serves on a number of non-profit boards. He earned his law degree from Loyola Law School and resides with his wife, Christy, in Southern California.

Wally Goulet

Wally received his business degree from the University of Notre Dame and his law degree from the University of North Dakota.  He divided his legal career between a general and trial practice and later served as general counsel for a national software cooperative. He recently co-authored a business book entitled Wired Differently, describing a “servant leadership” culture. He has served on boards of professional, community, and faith-based organizations and nonprofits. He is a student in the Living School and serves as a teaching assistant for a number of CAC online courses. Wally is an avid hiker and golfer. He and his wife, Cynthia, live in North Dakota and have five adult children and three grandchildren.

Christian Peele

Christian is Director of Stewardship and Development at Riverside Church in New York City. Before Riverside, Christian served on the staff of the Obama White House in various capacities, most recently as Deputy Director for White House Operations. She has also worked for the Harlem Children’s Zone and in the Church of the Saviour community in Washington, DC supporting those returning from incarceration. She received an M.Div. from Duke Divinity School and a B.A. from Mary Baldwin University’s Program for the Exceptionally Gifted.

Don Samuels

Don immigrated from Jamaica to study Industrial Design at Pratt Institute NY. He spent 27 years in the toy industry as a design executive and an independent designer/inventor for Hasbro, Mattel, Milton Bradley, etc. He has an MDiv from Luther Seminary and now serves on its board. He was elected to the Minneapolis City Council for 11 years and then to the Minneapolis School Board for four years. He co-founded the PEACE Foundation, now doing business as the Northside Achievement Zone, where his wife is CEO. Don is currently CEO of MicroGrants and serves on the board of Twin Cities Rise.