Meet Our
Board of Directors

Juanita Bradley, President

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Juanita Bradley is a retired Chicago Police Officer who spent 37 and a half years in the service of this city. She worked in the Patrol Division for most of her career earning many awards and making friends of business owners as well as of fellow officers. After retiring, with every intention of never working again, she went to work for the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Police Department as a Resource and Policy Analyst where her responsibilities were to ensure Department Resources were carefully utilized according to State guidelines and Policies were strictly adhered to. She worked with that Department for 7 and a half years before coming to the realization that 45 years in the business of Law Enforcement was quite enough.

 

Juanita is a founding member of God Can Ministries United Church of Christ and currently serving on the Church and Ministry Committee where she is Chair of the Church Standing Team. She is also a recently installed member on the Board of the Community Renewal Society.

Vacant, Vice President

The work of Off The Pews: Faith In Action is on-going and in need of your help. If you have a passion for the mission of OTP, please reach out to us.

Minister Cheryl Benson,
Executive Director

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Minister Cheryl Benson is retired from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs with 35 years of service, as an Administrator Officer with the VA Center for Medication Safety, Outcomes Research. 

Minister Benson is a licensed and ordained Minister of the Gospel who loves God and loves people, understanding that there is a lot of drama that comes with it. Her desire is to encourage others to live a God-Focused life in a community of togetherness.

Cheryl is a change agent, someone that instills hope and real living into young people, the young at heart, and those who are seasoned in life. She is a Leader and Mentor with several faith-based organizations and has recently accepted the position of Executive Director for Off the Pews, Faith in Action. Minister Benson is a Detail-oriented Leader with more than 20 years of expertise working with women of all ages, and from all walks of life.  A woman who has experienced the difficulty of being a single mother, losing a son to street violence, and losing a grandson to the school-to-prison-pipeline plan of injustice. For this reason, she has been especially passionate about young women as mothers. Through the years God has shown her the importance of parenting, not just for young mothers, but parenting. It really does take a village, and her plan is to be a part of the village that inspires and walks alongside our young.

She is a true team player with a desire to promote safe, pleasant, and thriving environments for both our young and the old. She is ready to take on the challenges in this exciting new position of caring for our neighbors by bridging the generational gap between youth and seniors in a community of togetherness. Her lived life of ups and downs is evident in the many hats she has worn throughout her tumultuous journey.

A native of Kansas City, Missouri where she grew up and attended church, she now understands that she is the church, and her responsibility is to teach and show others how to be the church by living our lives with inclusivity and showing love to all people. 

She studied Business Administration and Nursing at Pen Valley, and Johnson County Community Colleges. Her lifelong learning includes Certificates and Training in Leadership, Project Management, Counseling, and Community Development.

Minister Benson lives in Chicago, IL, and has been married to Bryan Benson Sr., her wonderful husband of 27 years. Together they have four children and 11 grandchildren.

Joyce E. Butts, Treasurer

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Joyce Butts is a retired Corporate Income Tax Auditor having worked for various State taxing agencies. As a Tax Auditor her job consisted of auditing the State Corporate Tax Return of Fortune 1000 companies that conducted business in the state but were headquartered in the Midwest and South. After retiring, Joyce worked 9 years in higher education as a College Advisor/Administrator. In this capacity her duties consisted of ensuring that students who were classified as first generation, and/or had a documented special need, received educational assistance that would ensure the student successfully matriculate toward graduation. Joyce earned a Bachelor of Science in Business with a concentration in Accounting from Chicago State University and a Masters of Art in Education with a concentration in Community College Administration from Northeastern Illinois University. Joyce and her family have been members of Trinity United Church of Christ since 1986.

Rev. Harriet Cavanah Dart, Secretary

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Rev Harriet Cavanah Dart currently serves as the Chair of the Justice and Witness Ministry Team of the Chicago Metropolitan Association. She is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and served as the Legacy Pastor for closing the Congregational Church in Deerfield in 2016. She earned a Master of Divinity from Chicago Theological Seminary, a Bachelor of Arts in the Teaching of History from the University of Illinois, Urbana. Before her retirement as a Certified Pedorthist, Harriet and her husband, Roger, owned a therapeutic footwear business and taught at the Northwestern University Prosthetic Orthotic Center for many years. She also served as President of the Pedorthic Foundation. Since her retirement, she has been active in the Illinois Conference and the Chicago Metropolitan Association of the UCC.

Rev. Dr. Vertie Powers, Consultant

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The Reverend Dr. Vertie Powers was ordained at Twelfth Street Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), July 1992.

 

She served pastorates in Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania before being called to the National office of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) as Director of New Congregation Establishment and Interim Director of Reconciliation. Her ministerial journey took her to the National office of the United Church of Christ, where she served on the Evangelism Ministry Team of Local Church Ministries. Powers served on Conference judicatories as Associate Conference Minister and Acting Conference Minister, Southern Conference and Associate Conference Minister, Illinois Conference. She now serves as Supply Pastor at Bethesda UCC, Central Atlantic Conference. 

 

Rev. Powers graduated from Hood Theological Seminary, Salisbury, North Carolina in 2016 with a Doctor of Ministry degree. She completed a Master of Divinity degree in 1992 from Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, and a Bachelor of Science degree in 1989 at Trinity College, Washington, D.C.

Rev. Dr. Terrill N. Murff, Ex Officio

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Rev. Dr. Terrill N. Murff, the Pastor of The Congregational Church of Park Manor, UCC, is an excellent preacher and visionary leader, who is able to work with and facilitate interactions among people from different socio-economic cultures, age groups and ethnic groups. He is a true man of God who is a critical thinker, a team player, a teacher and a person who works with groups in analyzing situations and developing productive plans of action. He loves the challenge of serving God!

Rev. Murff was called to ministry in 1998, while he and his family were attending New Faith Baptist Church, where he served as Co-chair of the Diaconate Board, under the Pastorate of Rev. Dr. Frank Thomas.

Prior to his call to The Congregational Church of Park Manor, Rev. Murff served as, and was ordained and installed as, Youth Pastor at Covenant UCC on October 17, 2004. In this capacity, he faithfully served as Youth Pastor beginning with a small number of youths. Under the Pastorate of Rev. Dr. Ozzie Smith, Jr. the number increased to approximately 600 youth. Rev. Murff created an innovative youth ministry that included a contemporary church worship service, Christian Education Program, Teen Leadership Council, tutoring program and many other programs for children, youths and teens.

Rev. Dr. Terrill N. Murff is a member of many organizations. His educational background consists of receiving his Doctorate of Ministry in Preaching on May 11, 2013, and his Master of Divinity degree in June 2002, from McCormick Theological Seminary. He also received his undergraduate degree, in chemistry, from Chicago State University. Rev. Murff feels it is his 26-year career in engineering, as a leader and manager at W.R. Grace, that helped prepare him for his role as a pastor.

Rev. Murff is also very concerned about the youths in the community and is an active member of Park Manor Neighbors, SOUL (Southside Organization for Unity and Liberation), Greater Chatham Alliance, and CAPS & CLERGY.

Susan Alitto, Member

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Susan Alitto is the current President of the organizing Steering Committee for the Chicago Hyde Park Village. As the former President of the Founding Board of Directors, she initiated discussion on the idea with a group of friends and neighbors in her home.


Susan has lived in Hyde Park for over 30 years during which she has worked with several community organizations. She would happily stay in Hyde Park for her remaining days hence her interest in establishing a Village to support older residents in an age friendly community. 

Before arriving in Chicago, Susan had moved over 20 times and lived in 12 different communities including Taiwan. Educated at Wells College in Aurora, New York, and Columbia University in New York City, she worked in a variety of fields from philanthropy and administration to education and a weekly Chinese TV show.

Amanda McEvilly, Member

Rev. Amanda McEvilly is the Associate Pastor at St. Peter's United Church of Christ in Elmhurst. She has served St. Peter's since 2014. She enjoys exploring faith with the members of the congregation, especially the Confirmands and young people.

She has extended her youth ministry by participating on the board for Off The Pews. 

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