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JEM Team Members

Lee Van Ham: Co-director (U.S.), based in San Diego, (Co-founder)

I’m especially interested now in paradigm shift. How do we shift the economic paradigm from the unsustainable one that prevails to one of sacred abundance, in which there is enough for all life; one in which the planet breathes instead of gasps. How do you and I need to change to be part of this deep conversion? I’ve volunteered full time with JEM since 2000, bringing to it my experiences in group processes, workshop leader, teacher, poet, and pastor. Currently, I continue as JEM director. Most of my energy goes into writing, podcasting, and presenting. I hold the conviction that the change now needed must engage our personal, communal, and societal energies along with spiritual energies. Addressing the economic (how much?), political (policy), cultural (habits and stories), and social (class) realities without the spiritual will not bring the deep change needed to sustain life. My life experience includes growing up on an Iowa farm and being in pastoral leadership of three congregations (Presbyterian) over 32 years. Married to Juanita, we each have two adult children, two adult step-children, and together, four grandchildren. We love tent-camping. Read an early article telling a bit on how I entered into the work that JEM does.

Email Lee Van Ham. Follow Lee @LeeVanHam.

Dan Swanson: Co-director (Mexico), based in Puebla, MX (Co-founder)

Dan has desired to live the message of the Jubilee since high school days when he would volunteer at soupDan and Angelica Swanson kitchens and homeless shelters in Chicago. It was during these days that the fledgling Sojourners community and magazine began to make an impact on his life. During college he participated in an urban semester program in San Francisco and graduated from Calvin College where the South African resistance leader, Alan Boesak, was a visiting prof. During the 80’s he spent time in Sandinista, Nicaragua, Honduras and Mexico City interspersing these immersion experiences with theological studies at the New College Berkeley. The 90’s saw him lay down some roots in his own backyard in a Mexican barrio of Chicago where he helped found a very community oriented church and taught bilingual Special Education in local high schools. Trips back to Mexico were also frequent during this time where in 1998 he met his future wife working as a medical missionary in the mountains of Veracruz. We were married in 2002 and have been working among indigenous communities in Oaxaca, Puebla and currently Chiapas. Dan has been involved with JEM since its founding and continues to be involved as a board member and liaison for people who are interested in one of our “opening the eyes” immersions to Mexico.

Visit RocaJEM’s blogEmail Dan Swanson.

Trish Goedecke, Board Member

I met Lee Van Ham and other members of JEM while looking for new friends of common interests, being an immigrant to San Diego from the great state of Washington. With JEM I am learning what we as individuals can do to support global justice, and how to join with others to communally pursue such aims. I have a long interest in economic justice for nations and for neighborhoods, and in the issue of justice theologically. My current nomadic journey is taking me next to Memphis, Tennessee, where I will seek employment in Financial Analysis and explore the blues.

Email Trish Goedecke.

Harry Watkins, Board Member


Mariana Velez Juarez, Board Member

Hi, I am a 30 year old lawyer living in the same small town where I was born in the state of Puebla, Mexico.  When I was in university my Uncle Dan invited me to participate in a JEM delegation to Chiapas and it changed my life.  I was able to confirm my interest in studying law after being so impressed with the work of human rights lawyers we met in Chiapas.  I have made several more trips to Chiapas but together with other family members we have started our own “Cultural Center” here in our hometown.  A little bit of what we learned in Chiapas has been brought back to Puebla, like a place of teaching and learning where all of us play both roles at different times.  We have seen single mothers learn a trade that enables them to make a living for their families.  We also provide a space for critical viewing of movies and documentaries as well as book studies.  As President of the Centro Cultural Tlaixpan I am thrilled with this new partnership with JEM, and hope to be able to offer a lot to the board as we make decisions about our bi-national organization.  Thank you for your faithful support and prayers for us.

David Funkhouser, Board Member

David Funkhouser retired from Fair Trade USA in 2013 following nine years managing outreach with schools, faith-based organizations, and community groups. Previous to his experience with Fair Trade, he pastored two Episcopal congregations in Philadelphia, directed the Central America Organizing Project in the 1980s, and worked with the Latin America/Caribbean and Africa programs at the American Friends Service Committee. In retirement he spends a good bit of time practicing and teaching Breema ( in California and also Honduras and Nicaragua. He is fluent in Spanish and finds time to hug trees and smell flowers.

Kyle Holberg: Newsletter & Data Management

My relationship with JEM began one warm, lazy afternoon in August 2002. Thinking that I might be interested in JEM’s work, a mutual friend had given my telephone number to Lee Van Ham. The following week, Lee and I met at a neighborhood coffee shop to discuss the possibility of my volunteering some time.  Not long into our conversation I remember thinking, now here is an organization that clearly shares many of my values. Though unsure how I might fit in, I left the meeting with a distinct sense of connectedness to this small group of folks who believe that an alternative to the way we currently order our economic lives is not only necessary, but possible. Over the years I’ve held a variety of “jobs” at JEM, including website construction and maintenance, Metanoia newsletter layout, and yes, periodically licking stamps and stuffing envelopes.

After all these years, I’m still fascinated with this vision of a world with “enough for all.” No doubt that’s why I continue on this journey with JEM in their advocacy for “real change.” email Kyle

Gerald “Jerry” Iversen: Blogger; Producer/Co-Host, The Common Good Podcast

Gerald IversenMy wife Rita and I adopted the Voluntary Simplicity lifestyle after reading “Living More with Less” some 30 years ago. Now we can honestly say “Simple Living Works!”

That’s the name of my eNewsletter, blog and podcast. I had the honor of serving as National Coordinator of Alternatives for Simple Living from 1995 through 2007. Lee Van Ham and I were aware of each others’ work and in 2006, while on a speaking tour, I was invited to visit Jubilee’s Chicago house. What a warm welcome I received!

Voluntary simplicity and Jubilee Economics fit together closely and warmly. Voluntary simplicity is a comprehensive lifestyle, not just about growing tomatoes and wearing old clothes. It IS Jubilee Economics on a personal, individual scale. Email Gerald Iversen.

Steve Gehring: Advisor

I am a partner (now nearly retired) in the Cline, Williams, Oldfather Law Firm in Omaha, Nebraska, focused in corporate law. From the time I filed papers to incorporate JEM as a non-profit in 1999, and then as a 501©3, it’s been my pleasure to serve this ministry as legal counsel, pro bono.

Marco Tavanti: Advisor

Marco TavantiMarco Tavanti, Ph.D. I am a sociologist and a theologian who works on issues of systemic change and systemic integration for sustainable development and the common good. I do this in my current position as Full Professor of Management and Director of the Nonprofit Administration Master Degree at the University of San Francisco. I have been involved with the United Nations’ work for the promotion of sustainable development and am currently working as international expert consultant for indigenous rights and climate change preparedness in Latin America. I connected with JEM and Lee during my work with Maya indigenous people of Las Abejas, in Chiapas, Mexico. I have directed several graduate academic global immersion trips in Chiapas. I have also directed about 20 global programs in Brazil, Guatemala, Mexico, Colombia, Philippines, Italy and other EU countries exploring the connection of sustainable development with indigenous rights, fair trade, sustainable community development and forced migrations.

I have co-founded and served as President of two international NGOs— World Engagement Institute (WEI) and Sustainable Capacity Development Insititute (SCII). Through them we offer training on anti-human trafficking, sustainable human security, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We do this in transitional contexts and in collaboration with North and South academic institutions. Prior to my current work at the University of San Francisco, and in collaboration with other Jesuit Universities and institutions like Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), I created and chaired a Master degree program— International Public Service (IPS) at DePaul University Chicago. It was dedicated to leadership and management education for international development and NGOs. In my last 25 years of work for global engagement, poverty alleviation, and academic development for social justice, I worked in various community-based and economic development projects in Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya and other countries. I am a native of Italy and strive to be a globally responsible citizen. 

Marco at the his Person/Professional website 

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