by William Milner, ELCA Hunger Advocacy Fellow
Advocacy is driven by perseverance and connection building. The Hunger Advocacy Fellows, now in its seventh year, is made achievable through the support of ELCA World Hunger. This program spans a year and offers a transformative experience that encompasses leadership growth, spiritual development and impactful advocacy efforts aimed at advancing a just world #untilallarefed.
In the 2023-24 cycle, Hunger Advocacy Fellows are placed with the ELCA D.C.-based advocacy team, with the Lutheran Office for World Community, and in four ELCA-affiliated state public policy offices. This positioning enables them to actively participate in addressing issues that impact both local and national policies and communities. We are pleased to introduce the 2023-2024 Hunger Advocacy Fellows below.
Quentin Bernhard is placed with Lutheran Advocacy Ministry Pennsylvania. He comes to the work with Pennsylvania roots and global perspective. He grew up in the Lehigh Valley, graduated from Muhlenberg College and just returned from a year in Yeumbeul Bene Baraque, Senegal, where he served with ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission. A 2020 Muhlenberg graduate, Bernhard majored in history and political science and minored in Spanish. He was active with the Student Government Association, orientation, peer tutoring, writing tutoring, and campus chapel and spent a semester studying in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He has worked with community and advocacy organizations including the Allentown School District Foundation, the Lehigh Valley Zoo, the Climate Action Campaign, Conservation Voters of PA, Common Energy, and Action Together NEPA. He is currently a member of New Life Evangelical Lutheran Church in New Tripoli, Pennsylvania.
Before becoming a Fellow at the Lutheran Office for World Community (LOWC), Erin Brown worked at Saint Peter’s Church in Manhattan as a fellow in cross-cultural ministry. She is passionate about multicultural exchange, language, and the power of storytelling. Brown is a diaconal student at the Lutheran Diaconal Association and completed her diaconal internship as a youth and family minister at Iglesia Sola Fe in San Sebastian, Costa Rica. She holds a BA in Spanish & Global Service from Valparaiso University and an MA in Latin American & Caribbean Studies from Indiana University. In her free time, she loves dancing salsa. Brown speaks English, Spanish and Haitian Creole!
Autumn Byars (she/her)
Autumn Byars is the first Hunger Advocacy Fellow placed with Lutheran Advocacy Ministry of Arizona! She is a life-long Lutheran from the southwest. Her parents taught her that civic engagement, advocacy, and the democratic process are tools that can and should be used to further Christ’s directive to love and protect our neighbors. In high school, Byars took this philosophy as her own, and began participating in small-scale advocacy and grassroots activism. She attended Arizona State University, earning her Bachelor of Fine Arts in the Spring of 2023, while working at Maricopa County Voting Centers, sewing masks during the pandemic, and organizing protests and civic engagement with her peers. After college, she sought work that would allow her to serve her community and dedicate her time and energy to improving people’s lives. She discovered the Fellowship through the Grand Canyon Synod and joined the LAMA team, excited to pursue her long-held passion for advocacy engagement within the professional sphere.
Frances Dobbs is the Hunger Advocacy Fellow placed with the Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin. She is a recent graduate from Marquette University with a B.A. in Political Science, a B.A. of International Affairs, and a minor in Theology. She is a Melkite Catholic which is an Eastern Catholic Church in communion with the Roman Catholic Church. She lives in Milwaukee and commutes to Madison for work. She has engaged in a variety of volunteer opportunities including receiving her Girl Scout Gold Award in which she started a library for Amahoro Children’s School in Musanze, Rwanda. She is looking forward to this year.
Tomo Duke serves at Faith Action Network (FAN) in Washington state. She was born and raised in Japan and has lived in the United States since 2014 as a first-generation immigrant. She graduated with a M.Div. from Duke University in 2023 and holds a B.S. in Political Science. Prior to joining FAN, she gained experiences in immigration service from humanitarian relief to policy advocacy for immigrant justice both in secular and faith-based contexts. As a Hunger Advocacy Fellow, Duke is passionate to continue living out her faith in advocacy for marginalized populations facing food insecurity. Through this position, she hopes to gain more skills to mobilize communities of faith and conscience on the path toward systemic changes.
William Milner is serving with the ELCA advocacy staff in Washington, D.C. and is a passionate graduate student pursuing a Master’s in public policy at George Mason University. Raised as an African Methodist Episcopalian, Milner brings a unique perspective and a deep sense of community to the ELCA. Milner formerly taught in both private and public schools and takes the skills he learned there with him everywhere. His academic pursuit is driven by a deep-seated desire to bring about meaningful societal change and empower marginalized communities. A native northern Virginian and baseball player, Milner loves all things D.C. sports, but has a soft spot for the Nationals. Milner’s favorite things include, but are not limited to, the beach, bacon cheeseburgers and fog.
We also welcome an intern this year with LOWC in New York City.
LOWC intern Naomi Mbise is a graduate of California Lutheran University with dual degrees in Political Science and Theology and Christian Leadership. She is from Tanzania and has been a part of the ELCA International Women Leaders Program for the past four years. She is looking forward to serving in a global church through her internship with this Lutheran representation to the United Nations.