The 2022 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 five people, including write-ins. Please vote before 12pm EST on December 10th, 2022.
Meet the Nominees
Anais Hussian (she/her)
Anais is passionate about using education and bridge-building as tools for building peace and justice. As an ordained Deacon in the United Methodist Church, Anais has a background in faith-based education and advocacy. She previously served as the chairperson for the Western PA UMC Disability Concerns Committee, leading disability education and advocacy work in Western PA. Anais currently co-leads education and advocacy efforts around LGBTQIA+ affirmation in Western Pennsylvania churches through the Reconciling Ministries Network. Anais also volunteers with the Neighborhood Resilience Project's Trauma Response Team, which utilizes a trauma-informed approach to provide community support after incidents of gun violence. Currently Anais works as the regional manager of prison monitoring for the Pennsylvania Prison Society, advocating for the health, safety, and dignity of incarcerated people in Western Pennsylvania. As a Thomas Merton Center board member, Anais co-led our strategic planning process, and currently serves as the vice president of the Board. She is so excited about the recent work of the Board of Directors,and would be honored to continue serving on the Board as TMC prepares to begin a new chapter with a new Executive Director
Jason Bolton (He/Him)
I was born and raised in Michigan, a Rust Belt state like Pennsylvania, but one which had been experiencing a one-state recession and housing crisis for many years. I moved to Pittsburgh in 2006, to flee not only economic strife, but also neglect and abuse I’d endured starting in my youth, from domestic violence inside my home and sexual assault and exploitation outside of it – a dual-effect that creates so many Queer "throwaway kids", a phenomena that sadly continues to be openly allowable in American society to this day. Once in Pittsburgh, I began to build (and, in many ways, rebuild) my life – and, though it’s taken time to accept, heal and learn about myself, as I really am. I’m proud to say I’ve tried my honor best to do that.
In the journey, I try to embrace all that makes me "me", some of which includes being:
A Resistor of Oppression by my own nature;
A Believer in doing everything we can to make people More Free;
A Platformer of others in order to Make More Leaders;
A policy and administrative wonk with a gregarious personality, who enjoys finding ways to get things done alone and with others (even the tough stuff, sometimes even unexpectedly);
A Learner about people, trying to understand them where they are and as they offer themselves as in the world;
an unabashed Dog Admirer.
Though there have been strong challenges along the way of my journey, I’m proud to say that when I commit to something – I’m all-in. I believe in doing the things I do fully and being involved with all my heart. It’s the only way I know how to be. And no matter the challenges of the moment (sometimes in spite of them or even making use of them), I’ve accomplished these highlights in life, advocacy and organizing:
- Featured youth speaker, Michigan Pride 1995 and 1996
- At-Risk Volunteer, Planned Parenthood of Western Michigan 1995 and 1996
- LGBTQ Marriage Working Group, Michigan 1995
- Summer Intern/Fellowship, COLAGE San Francisco 1997 (moonlighted to work with at-risk youth in Castro).
- Field person on behalf of Young Democrats, Democratic Party Coordinated Campaign, 2004.
- Election protection coordinator at the University of Pittsburgh, Obama for President, 2008.
- Bernie for President / Pittsburgh DSA Joint Campaign Volunteer and Organizer, 2020.
- Board Member At-Large, Coordinating Committee Pittsburgh DSA 2019-2020.
- Lead organizer, Friendsgiving (a multi-organizational community holiday outreach event), 2019 and 2020.
- Co-Chair, National Disability Working Group, 2019-2020.
- Allegheny County Democratic Committeeperson, 9th Ward / District 9 (Bloomfield) for 2021-2025.
I sincerely hope to add “Service as TMC Board Member” to the list of these accomplishments. It would be an honor to serve the mission that TMC has put forth, joining with and learning from the present board members and staff. And it would be a pleasure to meet and learn from our members and all the people we engage in our various programs, as they chart their own bold courses and journeys in service and life, as well.
Please consider me for election to your board. Thank you.
Jonah McAllister-Erickson (he/him)
I am a founding member of Pittsburghers for Public Transit, a major project of the TMC. Before public transit advocacy became a major focus of my organizing, I was active with the Anti-War Committee and helped organize the People’s March on the G20. I have been a long time TMC member and first joined the board when we were experiencing a major financial crisis. Part of my reaction to that was helping to establish the sustainers committee. I see the Merton Center as one of few non-sectarian places where activists from diverse political backgrounds can come together to struggle for systematic changes to society. I believe that the Merton Center is an essential asset to the Pittsburgh activist community, and I hope to continue to contribute to the TMC as a member of the board of directors.
Lars Peterson (He/Him)
By way of a brief bio, I was born in Arizona and raised near the US-Mexico border, and ten miles from the Tohono O'odham Native American Reservation. Which gave me a particular insight into border and race politics from a very young age. To that I add that my mother is an immigrant from Uruguay (she came to the US, partially to escape the dictatorship of 1973-1985), and my first language was Spanish. Being of pale complexion and a native Spanish speaker—the ways I passed and did not—only added to the charged racial dynamics of my hometown.
Raised Mormon, I went on a mission at 19 years of age. Which took me for two years to some of the poorest areas in the northwest corner of Argentina. What ought to have been a religiously transformative experience backfired into a period of rolling existential and political doubt, pushing me like a great wave toward radical positions.
I moved to Pittsburgh in 2004 to begin a PhD program, focusing on Latin American history. By and by I began to militate with anarchists. I am the longest-serving collective member of The Big Idea Bookstore. I was also part of the East End Mutual Aid affinity group and have generally been party to many of the radical projects and demonstrations in this city for the past decade-and-a-half. Also, I am currently the editor of The Big Idea newspaper.
My experience working with the TMC thus far has been limited to the following: as part of the Big Idea, tabling at about ten years worth of annual galas (for person's receiving the New Person Award). And this last July I was hired to be the fundraiser for the organization (with a moderate amount of success) for its 50th anniversary.
If asked to serve, my priorities on the TMC board would include: a) Where possible to help along a rapprochement between the TMC and its disaffected elements. b) Raise the organization's standing among anarchists and other radicals. c) Help resurface the New People newspaper and develop better means of communicating the organization's ambitions and history. d) Work on expanding our donor base.
Nancy Gippert (she/hers)
I am currently a member and volunteer at Thomas Merton Center. I returned to Pittsburgh from Harrisburg 5 years ago after retiring from the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission where I was the supervising housing attorney and Special Assistant to the Executive Director. While living in Pittsburgh I first worked at the Urban League of Pittsburgh in the Housing Department and Housing Counseling Services. While at the League I attended Duquesne Law School's evening division. I was chair of the Board of Pittsburgh Women's Center and Shelter in the early 80s. I was also involved the Common Cause and ran a choice food pantry. Since returning to Pittsburgh I have been on the board of Lawrenceville United where I am currently chair of the housing committee. I am especially proud of our work to successfully push the city to enact inclusive zoning for Lawrenceville, which will provide for development of affordable housing. I have also volunteered with Casa San Jose at the East Liberty Presbyterian Church. Throughout my life - I have worked on many political campaigns. I am interested in the Merton Center, because because I believe that the best way to make change is to create a movement that joins together all those folks who are ghting to right all the various wrongs in this country, under one umbrella. Rev. William Barber's Poor People's Campaign and Repairers of the Breach are amazing examples of the joining together of a wide variety of social justice groups . I believe that this is what the Merton Center tries to do and I am proud to be a part of this.
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 five people, including write-ins.