Staff & Board of Directors
Nii begins July 2020
NII ADDO ABRAHAMS, Associate Director of Campus Ministry (he/him/his)
Nii Addo (Nii) Abrahams is a second-generation Ghanaian immigrant who spent most of his life in southwest Missouri. He has an M.A. in Religious Studies from Missouri State University and a Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary. Nii has a deep passion for the Star Wars universe (pre- and post-Disney) and is an avid supporter of Manchester United Football Club. He also appreciates a high-quality donut. Nii, his partner Haley, and their cat Poe are thrilled about life in Madison.
“I grew up in a deeply faithful household and was nurtured in my faith by my parents, my brother, youth pastors, and mentors. But I’ve always been the inquisitive sort. As I got older, I started to probe the boundaries of my faith tradition. Throughout my years in college and seminary, I began to see that God was not who I thought God was. I began to see how God is not bound by our expectations; how God in Christ overturns every notion of propriety to be with us; how God’s Spirit disrupts the status quo and beckons us out toward new horizons.
I believe that relationships are at the center of what it means to be God’s people. In my role at Pres House, I hope to find new ways to welcome folks into deeper relationships with God and with their neighbors. This community is a place where we can learn how all of our stories—as unique and diverse as they are—intersect with God’s story, and I consider it a privilege to be a part of that journey!”
LAURA ANDREWS, DIRECTOR and LEAD INSTIGATOR OF GATHERX (she/her/hers)
Community and hospitality speak to Laura’s heart and she feels privileged to find a role that allows her to help facilitate that. Laura comes to GatherX from Trek Bicycle Corporation where she was responsible for the marketing and communications efforts within BCycle, Trek’s bike share equipment and software provider. When not working Laura enjoys hiking, biking, climbing and paddling. Her heart is the happiest when she is on a new adventure and summiting a new mountain.
“I hope to bring a collaborative and creative spirit to GatherX. My mission would not only be to make people feel welcome but wanted, creating a sense of ownership in the programs that the organization includes.”
REBECCA BEDELL, COORDINATOR OF RESIDENTIAL PROGRAMS AT PRES HOUSE APARTMENTS (she/her/hers)
Rebecca Bedell (Becca) graduated from UW-Madison in 2019 with a Master of Fine Arts in poetry. During graduate school, Becca served one year on Pres House Council drumming for music team, preaching, and leading small groups, while also teaching English 207 and English 100. Before coming to the Midwest on a stroke of luck, she grew up on the gulf coast of Florida, earned her B.A. at Princeton University, and has worked in education and non-profit settings. Now, she’s devoted to the beauty and vibrant small city feel of Madison, its lakes and people and region. She is a poet, an attentive reader, and spends her spare time cooking, listening to and making music, and playing board games.
“I fell in love with Pres House quickly my first semester of grad school, despite having a complicated and nebulous relation to faith as a queer woman raised agnostic. I built a deep appreciation for the tight knit community here where everyone is seen and valued, our gifts uplifted. Through teaching English to undergrads, I discovered my passion for mentorship, helping students forge connections and further their sense of self. I am thrilled to be the first Coordinator of Residential Programs and to put my experiences and inclusive values towards creative, fulfilling support for residents. I hope to be approachable and available to everyone at PH Apartments: shoot me an email to meet and talk about anything, or just come hang out in my second-floor office whenever I’m in.”
DAVID CLARK-SALLY, OPERATIONS MANAGER OF GATHERX (he/him/his)
After spending years working with nonprofits and agencies, David is thrilled to bring his experience and enthusiasm to the GatherX team! He has a keen eye for detail and all things logistics — as well as a love for marketing, especially social media. Outside of GatherX, David enjoys spending time with his husband and their two daughters. He is an avid runner and a self-proclaimed TV junkie. David is an introvert at heart, so his idea of a perfect evening is Netflixing on the couch with a gin + tonic by the fire.
“I want people who are a part of GatherX to always feel included as they are — with no strings attached. Everyone needs a space to belong, and it is my hope that we can help facilitate that here with us.”
MARK ELSDON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR (he/him/his)
Mark has served as the Executive Director at Pres House since 2004. He is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. In addition to his role at Pres House, Mark is also Co-Founder & Lead Builder at RootedGood, which helps institutions and social entrepreneurs succeed by providing tools, training, and experiences that help create more good in the world. Mark has a BA in Psychology from UC Berkeley, a Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary, and an MBA from the University of Wisconsin School of Business. Born in the Midwest to immigrants from England, Mark has also lived in the southern, western, and eastern parts of the United States. Mark is an avid cyclist and considers it a good year when he rides more miles on his bike than he drives in his car. He is married to Rev. Erica Liu — they have two kids together.
“I entered college very sure of my faith. That was both good and bad. I found that my image of God, though strong, was actually quite small. Spending time in the dorms talking with friends and on the streets talking with homeless people opened up my perspective on faith. I found that God was in fact much bigger than any of my conceptions, and that has shaped my conception of what a campus church / campus ministry should entail. I hope you find that reflected in the home that is Pres House here at UW-Madison.
As a pastor I continue to find that God is bigger than me or my attempts to talk about God. And that excites me! Jesus Christ is more than a concept, more than an idea, more than an image on the cover of a magazine. He is the living Word of God, constantly challenging me to live a love-filled, grace-filled life. He is an event, an experience, a person. And he is bigger than my doubts and questions. Which is why I am free to voice and ask them. It is my hope that Pres House is always a place where God challenges our small conceptions, where we freely question and seek, and where we experience God anew whether we have known God for years or are simply wondering…”
MARK GORDON, OFFICE MANAGER (he/him/his)
I can’t say enough how excited I am for this opportunity with Pres House. Something I truly value is making a difference, and I believe that my role here at Pres House will provide several opportunities of being able to do that. This is a bit of a change for me, and I am delighted to have come across this organization. I look forward to doing whatever I can to make a positive, sustaining impact with Pres House, and serve our students and members. Pres House has members that are from a variety of backgrounds. Meeting a diverse group of people is something that ignites me. Everybody has their own unique story, and Pres House is a place where people of all different backgrounds can call home.
I am a graduate of UW-Oshkosh, with a BS degree in Journalism with an emphasis on Advertising and Public Relations. I was born and raised in the Milwaukee area and moved back there after college for work. However, for the past several years now I’ve been living in the Madison area. I am completely thrilled to now be able to work in Madison as well. I am a big sports fan, and I enjoy both watching as well as playing sports whenever I can. Also, I love to be outside as much as possible. I really enjoy hiking, kayaking, golfing, etc. It really doesn’t matter what the activity is. As long as I’m out in nature, you won’t hear me complain! I also enjoy northern WI and try to get there as much as time permits. Otherwise, if you have any questions, just let me know!
NATALIE HANDLEY, MUSIC DIRECTOR (she/her/hers)
“Music has always been my source of connection with God. I’ve found it has an un-matchable way of transcending our daily lives and thoughts and lifting us up into a state of worship. It uniquely combines the emotional with the physicality of singing or playing an instrument with the theological wisdoms of our faith, all while binding us together as a community. Growing up, I was often involved with church music (yes at a Presbyterian church!), but I came to fully appreciate its power in my life and the lives of others during college when I began worship leading. I haven’t stopped since! After graduating from Northern Michigan University with dual bachelor degrees in music (voice) and psychology, I moved to Evanston, IL and served at the First Presbyterian Church for over 8 years. In 2014, I moved to Madison and began serving at Christ Presbyterian Church as the Contemporary Worship Director. I appreciate all styles of worship and have focused specifically on contemporary worship, directing handbells, hymns, and worship services in the style of Taize in the past. The music is important to me, but what I truly love is getting others involved in the leading. I grew up in the unbeatable Upper Peninsula of Michigan and I’m thrilled to be back in area where kayaking, camping, hiking, and all things nature are a lot more accessible!”
ERICA LIU, PASTOR and DIRECTOR OF CAMPUS MINISTRY (she/her/hers)
Erica has served Pres House since 2004. She is a second generation, Taiwanese-American who grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. She lives in Madison with her partner, Mark, and their two daughters. Erica has a BA in Mass Communications from UC Berkeley, a Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary, and is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. Some of her favorite spiritual disciplines include practicing the martial art, taekwondo, and Sabbath.
“Until I entered college, I thought Christianity was mythology and that Christians were weak-minded people. But I ended up sharing my dorm room with a Christian and to my surprise, we became friends. During that year, I was challenged to examine what I believed about life and community. What I discovered was that the love and power of God brings radical transformation within people and the world. God’s call for our lives goes way beyond what we can imagine–it’s much riskier, bolder, and fulfilling than the plans we make.
There are many “dividing walls of hostility” we put up between each other–racial, economic, sexual orientation, gender, political, religious, just to name a few–I believe strongly in Jesus’ vision where all people are reconciled to God and one another. I invite you to enter into this community, not to find people who are just like you, but to live out the commandment to love God and ALL your neighbors which means practicing what I call “holy friction.” I hope you will engage in that journey with the community at Pres House.”
Ginger Morgan holds a Ph.D. from Denver University & Iliff School of Theology and comes to Pres House having served as the Associate Dean of Students at Colorado College. She has extensive experience in mental health, higher education administration and pastoral care. Though hailing from the Midwest, she had the opportunity to live for two and a half years in India, for five years in Nashville, TN and for over 16 years in Colorado Springs, CO. She comes to Madison in the company of her partner Chris and their two children.
“It took me a long time to learn that I couldn’t always see around the next bend in life, in spite of all my plans to the contrary! What a delightful and surprising journey that has brought me here, to a home at the heart of the UW campus: Pres House Apartments. I’ve lived a lot of different places (Missouri, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Colorado, India, Nebraska) and done a lot of different types of work (college admissions, chaplain, crisis counselor, natural foods grocery stocker, dean of students) and am still excited by what I’ll learn, who I might meet, and how the path will unfold.
I am looking forward to working with the students living at the PH Apartments to nurture a sense of community and to support each resident as they integrate their education with their life experiences and values to find their own path forward. I hope you will consider whether PH Apartments could be your home for a time, whether you could contribute to our community and discover something (perhaps unexpected) about how your own journey might unfold.”
Board of Directors
The Pres House Board of Directors is comprised of residents, student leaders, and local church and community leaders.
- Anne Norman, President
- Laurie Jones, Vice President
- Wrede (Bud) Smith, Treasurer
- Andy Holmes, Secretary
- Brad Brown, Past President
- Scott Anderson
- Meredith Bone
- Evan Digman
- Michael Fahey
- Callie Hill
- Steven Martell
- Rona Neri
- Carol Quintana
- Ebenezer Ojo
- Kathleen Owens
- Mary Parmeter
- Theresa Schinkowitch