Note: These statements were written in the years these members were nominated to the Vestry. Return to Vestry Page.
Jenna Christy (2016-2017)
I’ve been a member of SsAM since I moved to Wilmington in 2002. I truly do feel that I have a family here at SsAM. I’m a cradle Episcopalian and have served on a vestry while I lived in Connecticut and also previously here at SsAM. I am interested in shepherding SsAM through our 20th anniversary and beyond. I am a long-time biology teacher and have a deep appreciation for the natural world and environmental issues. I’ve been lucky to travel with family and often with students to many fascinating places around the globe. I’m a gardener and an avid birder. When my husband and I travel, it is either to visit family or to bird and explore new habitats. Did you know that Central Park in New York and Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge are right up there with Costa Rica and Kenya as birding hot spots? Here at SsAM, Patty Greene and I are heading up the Usher Ministry and we look forward to strengthening the welcome that everyone feels as they arrive for the service. I also am in the Drumming Circle and enjoy being part of an active SsAM dinner group. I see great value in the one-and-done type of commitments: clean-up days for both inside and out the building, making wreaths for greening the church at Christmas, and creating banners. I feel quite honored to be a candidate for the Vestry at SsAM again. [Jenna graciously agreed to serve out the term of Andre DeCos, who needed to step down after two years service.]
David Clouser (2015-2018)
My wife Leslie and I have been attending SsAM since December 2, 2012. We typically attend the 10:30AM service, but occasionally the 8:00 a.m. service. We formerly attended the Cathedral Church of St. John, but had been searching for a new home church for a while. We attended SsAM on the first Sunday of Advent in 2012, and were immediately welcomed into the family — we were home again. I am a native Delawarean. I was baptized in the Red Clay Creek Presbyterian Church, attending it until early high school. I married into the Episcopal Church (my wife is a “cradle Episcopalian” and my high-school sweetheart). Eventually I was confirmed at the Cathedral.
I served on the Membership Committee here at SsAM, and, with my wife, have been active in a small supper group of SsAM members. It is our delight to attend many of the special musical events and learning opportunities at SsAM. Professionally, I am a Senior Software Engineer at Agilent Technologies, Inc. at the Little Falls Site on Centerville Road. I hope to use what skills I have gained as a husband, father, engineer, manager, congregant of SsAM, and Vestry member to strengthen SsAM, and to help it grow so that all who enter find family, and home, as I did. Thank you.
Audrey Collins (2015-2018)
I have been attending this spiritual community of faith and worship since 2001. My initial introduction came through an invitation to bring my drum to the ARTSlam and then I was invited to attend church service and instantly fell in love with the liturgy and the people and have been coming ever since. From the beginning I have been financial supporter of the operation and outreach ministry of this parish and serve on the Downtown Arts Committee. I have served as a lector, an usher, past Eucharistic visitor, the after-service coffee committee affectionately named “the Board of Directors” by Canon Casson. Outside of this community I am a nurse practitioner working for Christiana Care Family & Community Medicine seeing adult and geriatric patients in their homes providing chronic and acute disease management. In my personal life I have 2 grown children, 6 grandchildren, my dog and most recently a great-granddaughter whom I plan to bring to church when she gets little older and would love to have baptized here. As to what talent I can bring to the vestry can only be an extension of what I bring to church and what the church gives to me, commitment to this wonderful community of worship and worshipers, my love of being in service to the Lord in this place in whatever capacity He feels me fit to fulfill.
Laura Eisenman (2016-2019)
As a regular at the 10:30 a.m. service, I appreciate the opportunity to serve as a lector and to experience the variety of worship music. I support activities of the Community Advocacy Committee and I join in Sunday morning adult education discussions as I am able. I have been a professor of special education and disability studies at the University of Delaware since 1997. Christian education has been a lifelong theme for me. In elementary school that meant traditional Sunday School supplemented by learning about the history and liturgy of the church as a member of the junior altar guild and children’s choir. Later in life, it was completing EFM – the Education for Ministry program. In between it was a mix of formal and informal opportunities including being a youth group leader. I’ve been a member of several different flavors of Episcopal churches – in Florida, the suburbs of Los Angeles, downtown Nashville, and in 1997 to the City of Wilmington where I was thrilled to discover that the Cathedral Church of St. John with its diverse membership and beautiful music was my neighborhood church. When the Cathedral closed, I was pleased to be adopted by SsAM with its commitment to being an inclusive Christian community. It would be a privilege to serve this community as a member of the vestry and continue to support its community advocacy and education ministries.
John Goodill (2015-2018)
My wife, Sherry, and I have been members of SsAM since 2012, coming from the Cathedral. We feel very much at home here with the congregation’s sense of inclusion, diversity and community. We have enjoyed meeting new people and reconnecting with old acquaintances since joining SsAM. We live in the city and consider where SsAM is located our neighborhood. We normally attend the 10:30 service for the music although occasionally join the 8:00 group. I grew up as a Catholic but have been attending the Episcopal Church for the past 25 years. I did serve on the vestry of St John’s in the past. I am a Palliative Care physician at CCHS and have practiced in Delaware for the past 25 years. I am interested in a project to bring an understanding of the value of Advance Care Planning to the congregation at SsAM and other faith groups around the state. I look forward to contributing to the future of SsAM.
Steven Jones (2016-2019)
Initially my wife and I attended Sts. Andrew and Matthew beginning in 1996. Both our sons were baptized at SsAM by Canon Casson. For awhile we moved from Delaware to the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and attended Shrewsbury Parish Church in Kennedyville, Maryland. To me what makes SsAM special is its position, initiatives and diversity. This is a faith-driven institution taking action to address community challenges which are also national in scope. I believe SsAM is an important source of the Good News in Wilmington which must be strengthened. Professionally, I am the Founder and Director of an analytical consultancy specializing in regional economic impact assessments for non-profits. It is in this capacity, along with other insights, that I can offer my talents to assist the Vestry, to augment the church’s financial position, music program, community outreach and its Youth and Young Families initiatives. These are vital programs which have social and spiritual impact. I have worked in a range of fields from the financial industry, to land preservation, to education. I have a BA from Hampshire College and a MS from the University of Delaware. Born in Brooklyn, New York, I served on Trinity Church’s Resources Committee and volunteered at St. Paul’s (Chapel) Shelter. I was past director of Project City Kids (New York), served on the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy board (Maryland), and currently serve as an advisor to the Working Harbor Committee (New York).
William (Bill) Kauffman (2014-2017)
I am one of the former Cathedral Church of St. John members who found a new, welcoming, spiritual home at SsAM. I share SsAM’s commitment to building an inclusive and diverse congregation and support its strong outreach ministries. I am currently a lector and Eucharistic Minister at the 8:00 service, a member of the finance committee as well as Treasurer. I am retired after many years in various accounting and finance positions. I enjoy reading, traveling, and spending time with our three grandchildren.
Deborah Layton (2014-2017)
I transferred from St. John’s to SsAM following the closing of the Cathedral. I usually attend the 10:30 service but occasionally attend 8:00 when our team serves breakfast to the homeless. At the Cathedral I served on the Vestry, as lay Eucharistic minister, licensed lay reader and lector, and as a member of the Cathedral Choir for more than 35 years. For the Diocese, I served as treasurer for four years, as a member of Diocesan Council, Constitution and Canons, and a deputy to the General Convention. For several years I served as chair of the Camp Arrowhead Committee and raised the funds to build the Carmine Environmental Center. When the Cathedral was closing, the St. John’s Vestry was deeply appreciative of the personal invitation from SsAM’s Vestry to join your congregation. As a result of that invitation and the recommendation by St. John’s Vestry, many parishioners, including my husband and me, transferred to SsAM. Coming to SsAM was not entirely new as St. John’s has had a homeless breakfast team at SsAM for more than 25 years; that ministry continues to be very important to me. I am now a lector and offering counter at SsAM and recently gave a presentation on “Things Every Family Should Know” related to estate planning. I am a member of the Delaware and Pennsylvania bars and retired from the University of Pennsylvania as director of estates and trusts. I have two children and five grandchildren. Currently I serve my condo association as president. My spare time is spent studying French and Spanish at the Osher Academy, reading, writing for Super Lawyers or watching the Phillies. It was very difficult to leave the church I had attended for 66 years but, upon arriving at SsAM, I was impressed by the welcome, warmth and spirituality here. And I deeply appreciate the sympathy and support for me when my husband died shortly after we arrived at SsAM. It is my goal to support SsAM’s many outreach programs in place and to insure the long-term financial stability of the church. SsAM is now my church home, and it is an honor to have been invited to run for Vestry.
Sharon Leyhow (2015-2019)
I am a “cradle Episcopalian” and attended St. Matthew’s church from the time I moved to the Wilmington area in 1990. I was asked to represent St. Matthew as founding member of Delaware Futures with Trinity Parish. I have continued to attend SsAM since St. Matthew and St. Andrew churches combined. For the last two years, I have been co-chair of SsAM’s Member Development Ministry, a member of the Finance Committee and am serving a 1-year term on the Vestry for a departed vestry member. I am deeply interested in retaining our current membership and in growing the membership of SsAM to ensure long-term stability. The focus of my work with the Member Development Ministry has been to maintain and enhance a welcoming environment for current and potential parishioners to SsAM and to reclaim inactive members. We want to build relations with people inside and outside SsAM by sharing with them the many benefits of being an active member of SsAM. I have a BA degree in psychology from Smith College in Northampton, Mass. and a Juris Doctor degree from Georgetown University School of Law in Washington, D.C. I recently retired from DuPont Legal Department. I serve on several non-profit boards, including: Delaware Hospice (Board Vice-Chair), Trustee for the Loomis Chaffee School, and Board Member for World Affairs Council of Wilmington. [Ms. Leyhow served for one year in 2015-2016 and then elected in 2016 to a three-year term.]
Michelle Smith (2015-2017)
I was born and raised in Panama City, Panama and grew up in the Episcopal Church. While in Panama, my family and I attended St. Simon Episcopal Church, where I was baptized and confirmed. At the age of 17 I moved to Delaware and I have been a resident of this lovely state ever since. In August, 2014 I was introduced to SsAM by my dear friend and congregation member, Sande Richardson. It was the automatic acceptance and welcoming nature of the congregation that initially sparked my interest in SsAM. As time progressed, I became familiar with the many opportunities for community involvement and I knew then that I had found my new home. My three children and I have since joined the Youth and Young Families (YYF) group and worked diligently to ensure that our current project, Mission Trip to Jamaica, is a complete success. Outside of my involvement with SsAM, I am an Iraqi War Veteran and a public servant at the Office of Governor Jack A. Markell. I hold a Masters Degree in Public Administration and my goal is to continue to use my education and skills towards the betterment of our communities. If elected, I look to continue to assist with the YYF group and also expand my support to other projects and groups that could benefit from my participation.
Linda Whitehead (2017-2019)
My name is Linda Whitehead and I typically attend the 8:00 am service. I have been attending SsAM for about three years, ever since the Cathedral Church of Saint John closed. My father was a Lutheran minister, so I grew up fully immersed in the Lutheran church which has many similarities to the Episcopal Church. About 15 years ago, I was ready to make a change in my spiritual life believing that diversity enriches each of our lives. I went in search of a more diverse church life and found the Cathedral. I attended the Cathedral for over 10 years, serving twice on the Vestry. After the Cathedral closed, it was so refreshing to become part of the vibrant community which is SsAM. At SsAM, I serve as a lector and attend Environmental Justice meetings. I am passionate about ending racism, stopping climate change and supporting parents and young families. I recently semi-retired. Prior to that, I was VP of Education and Development for an early education company. I was responsible for children’s curriculum and family communications. I’m now a senior advisor working one day a week. (Ms. Whitehead is serving out the term of Queon Jackson.)
Dr. Phyllise J. Wilkins-Church (2014-2017)
I am a native of Portsmouth, Virginia, resident of Newark, Delaware, a mother, and a grandmother. I received a Doctor of Educational Leadership degree from NOVA Southeastern University and have over 35 years of administrative and teaching experience throughout Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware. I am the co-founder and CEO of Education Plus, LLC, an educational consulting firm located in Newark, DE. A cradle Episcopalian, I have participated in numerous parish activities, including being a member of the church choir and usher from the age of twelve until adulthood. I moved to Delaware in 1982 and after becoming a member of St. Matthews, became an usher, a Coffee Hour facilitator and helper, and a vestry member. At SsAM, I have continued to provide support for Coffee Hour; and helped found “The Sisters Boutique,” which donates a portion of its proceeds to SsAM. Presently, I have concentrated my energy on Youth and Young Families (YYF) to help youth and young adults continue to grow and mature through faith, service and fun at SsAM.
About Vestry Elections
Vestry Members are elected at our Annual Meeting, held in June. The annual meeting includes reports from the Vestry and others of general issues and critical concerns. The meeting usually begins with the Celebration of the Eucharist. The meeting is open to all members and friends of the parish. However, those eligible to vote in the elections and on actions before the meeting are those who meet the requirements set forth in Article 6 of the Parish By-Laws: qualified voters are persons who are baptized, at least 16 years of age, and have been an active and contributing member for at least the six months prior to the meeting.