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The 2021 Board Nominee Ballot

Below are the names and submitted bio's of people whom the Board has approved for the ballot for Directors, along with short statements from each. There is also space to write in the names of one or more persons. If you do write-in one or more person, please make sure that the candidate is a member of the Thomas Merton Center and is willing to serve on its board of directors. You may vote for up to three people, including write-ins. Please vote before January 1st, 2022.

Meet the Nominees

Caitlin Schroering (she/her)

"I have lived in Pittsburgh for six and a half years. I was born in California, grew up in Georgia and Oregon, and lived in Ohio and Florida before moving here. I moved here to pursue a PhD in Sociology at the University of Pittsburgh, which I completed in June 2021. I have 16 years of work in community, political, environmental, and labor organizing. When I was a young child accompanying my mother and uncle to his doctor’s appointments, I witnessed the ignorance, homophobia, and cruelty directed toward people living with AIDS. I remember watching a nurse put an out of order sign on the bathroom door and removing a bowl of candy from the waiting room; I also remember walking through the grocery store, my uncle with his IV pole in tow, and people yelling homophobic slurs, saying that he deserved to die and would go to hell. After his death, my mother became active in HIV/AIDS activism, working with people who were homeless and living with HIV, and she often brought me with her. Those experiences shaped me, and as a teenager and through college I became very active in activism around just HIV/AIDS policy globally and domestically. Those experiences in turn shaped my understanding of structural injustice, and the interconnectedness of racism, patriarchy, heterosexism, imperialism, and other systems of oppression. After college, I spent four years as an organizer with the ICARE organization, in Jacksonville, FL. During this time, I worked with people from diverse backgrounds in terms of age, gender, race, socio-economic status, and religion. I organized hundreds of meetings where many more hundreds of residents came together at public meetings to discuss community problems and solutions. Organizing affirmed my belief in the power of people organizing for change. Environmental and social injustice are interrelated and while my academic focus is on water justice, I am also engaged in work fighting against racism and anti-blackness, housing justice, environmental justice, and climate justice locally and globally. I have been active since 2017 with the Our Water Campaign, and remain highly engaged with the campaign. I was also involved with the ballot initiatives to end solitary confinement and pass a local Breonna’s Law with the Alliance for Police Accountability. I am engaged with the work of the TMC and others to push Colcom to stop funding white supremacist work under the guise of environmentalism.  Beyond Pittsburgh, I am a part of the US Solidarity Committee for MAB (Movement of People Affected by Dams, Brazil)."

Peggy Ward (She/Her)

"Peggy has completed 1 term on the Thomas Merton Center Board.  She has enjoyed serving and learning the intricacies of TMC. In particular, she co-coordinated the strategic planning process, serves on the personnel committee and is secretary of the board. Peggy has a M.Ed in Elementary Education and a wealth of experience in Montessori education. She is a Certified Professional Healing Centered Coach (CPC). Peggy is very active in the United Methodist Church. One of her strongest passions is United Methodist Women, the largest faith organization of women, dedicated to fostering spiritual growth, leadership development and advocating for justice. She has faithfully answered her call to work to dismantle racism within the church for 20+ years. Currently she is coordinating a program to increase the cultural competency of churches engaged in Cross Racial Cross- Cultural Ministry. She is also working to lead churches to identify as an “antiracist church” and follow through with all that that means. Her major focus is creating an Antiracism Summit for the Western Pennsylvania United Methodist Church Conference. Peggy has chaired many advocacy committees within the church including the Conference Anti- Racism Team, the Commission on the Status and Role of Women and currently, The Commission on Religion and Race. Peggy is excited to continue to work with the Thomas Merton Center as it steps into its new mission and vision and looks forward to bridging her two passions, the church, and Thomas Merton Center."

Darnika Reed (She/Her)

"Darnika Reed is an advocate for children and adults with special needs, and currently serving on the Thomas Merton Center Board of Directors. She believes that all children should be afforded an equitable education, free from harm and discrimination. She has hosted Know Your Rights workshops to provide parents the opportunity to meet education attorneys and advocates to inform them of their children’s educational rights. In her role as an advocate, Darnika helped parents retain education attorneys to represent their children in criminal defense and education related matters. She led a successful campaign to end police presence in the Woodland Hills School District after multiple acts of violence were inflicted on students in their schools.

She has organized protests, advocated on behalf of victims of abuse and police brutality. Darnika works with members of the community and other stakeholders to identify necessary programs and services, she suggests and implements improvements to programs and services, plans and manages outreach activities to advocate for increased awareness of programs and behavioral health services. Her advocacy work led her to become the campaign manager for several political candidates including three Woodland Hills School Board Directors. Darnika was recently elected to the Woodland Hills School Board of Directors. 


She is a member of the Pittsburgh Chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace(JVP). Darnika represents JVP in the Pittsburgh Coalition to End the Deadly Exchange as an organizational member. As a member of the Pittsburgh Coalition to End the Deadly Exchange, Darnika facilitates teach-ins, workshops, and meets with legislators to advocate for changes in domestic and foreign policies. The Coalition was successful in lobbying Congressman Mike Doyle to cosponsor H.R. 4391, “Promoting Human Rights By Ending Israeli Detention of Palestinian Children Act” in 2018."

Write-in Nominee

There is also space to write in the names of one or more persons. If you do write-in one or more person, please make sure that the candidate is a member of the Thomas MertonCenter and is willing to serve on its board of directors. You may vote for up to three people, including write-ins.

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