Rev. Dr. Jennifer Copeland, Executive Director
Jennifer is a native of South Carolina and an ordained minister in The United Methodist Church. She loves South Carolina, but has managed to spend all but ten years of her adult life in North Carolina. Those ten years were spent pastoring United Methodist churches across the Upstate. She attended Duke University several times and in the process earned a BA, double majoring in English and Religion, a Master of Divinity, a PhD in religion, and a Graduate Certificate in Women’s Studies. Prior to coming to the Council, she spent 16 years as the United Methodist Chaplain at Duke University, where she also taught undergraduate and divinity school classes, served on committees and task forces, and attended lots of basketball games. She writes frequently for various publications when time permits and preaches regularly in congregations across North Carolina. Jennifer has two adult children, Nathan, who is a software developer in Durham, and Hannah, who is a digital marketing analyst in Charlotte. Jennifer is the overjoyed grandparent of Benjamin and Theodore.
Sharon Jarrells, Office Manager
Sharon was raised in NYC in the South Bronx. She has 20 years of office management experience, mostly in the legal field. She is excited to be working for the NC Council of Churches as their Office Manager. She has lived in all over including New York, West Virginia, North Carolina and Texas. Sharon and her husband, Timothy, moved to NC in 1990 after getting married. She has two adult son’s, Travaris and Bernard and a small Pomeranian. In her free time she likes to cook, entertain, and read.
Rev. Sean Allen, Director of Finance & Administration
Sean was raised in Austin, Texas where he attended the University of Texas. After earning a BBA with an emphasis in Accounting and Master in Professional Accounting, he attended George W. Truett Theological Seminary where he met his wife, Jamie, and they both earned a Master of Divinity. Prior to coming to the Council, Sean spent twenty years in congregational ministry, most recently as Senior Pastor of a Baptist church in Raleigh, and two years in financial administration for a number of churches in the Triangle. When he is not cheering for his Texas Longhorns, Sean enjoys community theater, playing golf, watching sports, and spending time with his wife and their three children: Avery, Hannah, and Max.
Susannah Tuttle, Director, Eco-Justice Connection
Susannah Tuttle joined the staff in August 2011. She received a Masters of Divinity degree from Starr King School for the Ministry at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA. In 2004 Susannah was hired as UNC Chapel Hill’s first Sustainability Research Associate and went on to co-initiate Trace Collaborative, LLC a consulting firm specializing in the implementation of sustainability within the design and construction industry. Susannah currently serves on Interfaith Power & Light’s national Board of Directors, Southeast Climate & Energy Network Board of Trustees, Duke Energy’s NC Eastern Advisory Council, and UNC School of Law’s Center for Climate, Energy, Environment, and Economics (CE3) Advisory Board. Learn more about NC Interfaith Power & Light: ncipl.org.
Ren Martin, Program Coordinator, Eco-Justice Connection
Ren Martin recently joined the NC Council of Churches team in July, after working at Virginia Interfaith Power & Light as a communications coordinator. Ren is a Fall 2021 graduate of Virginia Tech, where they earned their bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Sciences, with minors in urban forestry and leadership. During their time at Virginia Tech, they were able to teach title I school children, lead as a VP in a student organization, and worked with North Carolina’s Cooperative Extension. Born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, Ren grew up visiting their grandparents in the countryside of Buckingham, VA. Due to these experiences, they have a profound love for the environment, making artwork, and meeting new people. Ren was raised as a Catholic and later came back to the faith during their time in college. Now, Ren’s spirituality is a large part of their life, and they are eager to learn from all walks of life. Ren hopes to bring about positive change in the world around them through visual storytelling, communication, and outreach. Through this, Ren aims to uplift and empower people to create a more sustainable future for us all.
Rachel Baker, Communications Director
Rachel was born and raised in Durham, North Carolina. She is an Appalachian State University alumni with a passion for systemic transformation and equity for all North Carolina residents. Rachel joined the Council is 2018 as Immigration Program Coordinator and her role has since transformed to Communications Director. She enjoys contributing her knowledge and expertise to help promote positive social change through communications and graphic design. In her free time, Rachel loves spending time outside with her wife and two labs, playing rugby, and dancing.
- North Carolina Council of Churches Announces Nicole Johnson as Program Director for Partners in Health and Wholeness
- 2022 Willona Stallings Award presented to local Broadway, N.C. church
- Farmworker Advocacy Network Coordinator
- 2022 Critical Issues Seminar: The Ties that Bind Our Democracy
- Community Superstar: Margaret D. Bordeaux
Nicole Johnson, Director, Partners in Health and Wholeness
Nicole has had the wonderful opportunity of living in different countries, having been born in Belize City, and currently calling North Carolina home. She is deeply convicted in her belief that faithful congregations can meet the environmental, social and ethical challenges of the 21st century in practical and tangible ways. Her travels and beliefs have motivated her to seek ways of merging faith, health, sustainability, justice and ethics. Nicole is a graduate of Salem College and of the dual degree MDiv/MA program in sustainability at Wake Forest University. Her PHW work is focused on building connections with congregations in the Triad/Metrolina area and developing denominational initiatives that support the health and wholeness ministries of faith communities. Her favorite things to do include traveling, hiking, growing things, trying new recipes, and spending time with family.
Rev. Jessica Stokes, Associate Director, Partners in Health and Wholeness, Mental Health Advocacy
Jessica Stokes is the Associate Director of Partners in Health and Wholeness leading our state-wide mental health advocacy efforts. Jessica earned her Master of Divinity from Wake Forest University and BS in Clinical Psychology from Averett University. She is an ordained Baptist minister and joined the Council’s staff in 2016 after directing an interfaith non-profit in Washington State. Jessica’s background includes non-profit work, hospital chaplaincy, interfaith campus ministry, and the local church. Her convictions are rooted in experiences that range from ministry in Appalachia, as a chaplain in a psychiatric hospital, to learning about systemic issues Eastern NC while living in Greenville and Wilmington, as a PHW Regional Coordinator. She seeks authentic and earnest conversation. Jessica’s work for PHW includes a focus on mental health education and advocacy, specifically tailored for faith communities. Jessica is based in Durham with her wife, Vanessa, and two pets.
Rev. Dr. Arlecia Simmons, East Regional Associate Director, Partners in Health and Wholeness
A native of South Carolina, Arlecia has previously called North Carolina home and started her professional career off in the state as a journalist in Eden. She was a journalism educator in Charlotte and later served as a minister in Durham while attending Duke Divinity School, where she earned her Master of Divinity. She is an ordained Baptist minister and formerly served as a senior pastor in the United Church of Christ. Before joining the Council in August 2022, she taught at Claflin University in Orangeburg, S.C., and directed a project to provide professional development to clergy and lay leaders pivoting during COVID-19. Her interest in health and wellness developed as a newspaper reporter covering health issues and new legislation such as HIPAA. Her convictions are rooted in experiences ranging from seeing members of her family and community plagued by the many comorbidities amplified during the pandemic. She is invested in how systemic issues such as gentrification and food and housing insecurity impact health and wholeness and prevent BIPOC people and those in rural communities from thriving. Arlecia is based in Fayetteville, and she enjoys educating people on her Gullah Geechee culture and publishing books and digital content that she hopes will lead to emotional healing and spiritual renewal.
Elizabeth Brewington, Overdose Response and HIV Advocacy Associate Director, Partners in Health and Wholeness
Elizabeth is a native North Carolinian, who spent most of her life in Greensboro before deciding to explore the Midwest for college. She graduated from the College of Wooster in Ohio, where she received a dual Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Religious Studies. After college, she returned to North Carolina and did a year of service through the Episcopal Service Corps. Elizabeth joined the Council in 2018 and loves being a part of the Partners in Health and Wholeness Program. Her work is focused on ending the overdose crisis, harm reduction, and drug policy. In her free time, she loves watching TV with friends and family and constantly annoying them with her many references.
Stephenie Sanders, Program and Engagement Administrator, Partners in Health and Wholeness
Stephenie has called North Carolina home for most of her life, living in various cities throughout the Piedmont and Triangle areas. She holds a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from UNC-Greensboro. Singing gigs in churches eventually led her to a career of working for religious organizations, where she found great meaning in supporting the church’s work for justice and showing compassion to the members of the church and the wider community. Stephenie joined the PHW staff in August 2022 after working for Binkley Baptist Church (Chapel Hill) for seven years as their Office Manager/Ministry Support Manager. She is thrilled to join PHW in their work to help faith communities live healthy, abundant lives. In her spare time, she loves to sing, bake, spend quality time with her friends, and watch reality competition shows (ask her anything about Survivor). She lives in Chapel Hill with her cat, aptly named Kitty.
Angelica Santibanez, FAN Coordinator
When human beings experience trauma or severe life stressors, it is not uncommon for their lives to unravel. Angelica’s greatest passion is bringing healing to people who have been through traumatic/ stressful experiences. She moved to Eastern North Carolina from San Diego, California at a young age. She studied Business Administration but discovered halfway through her career that her calling was not being fulfilled. She graduated from nursing school in 2015 and began her journey working with rural communities. She has been working with farmworker serving nonprofits since 2017. She is currently the Coalition Coordinator for the Farmworker Advocacy Network (FAN) and Founder of a community based non-profit organization. In 2021, she received the 40 under 40 Award and the Aspiring Leaders of America Award. In her free time, Angelica enjoys spending time with her husband, Angel, volunteering with local organizations and spreading awareness of the unique challenges faced by minorities in Eastern North Carolina.