Restoration Village Arts is a retreat, learning and action community for artists and ministers who are creating resources within today’s movements of liberation. Restoration Village Arts was founded in 2004 (as Restoration Village) by Tracy Howe.
Melissa M. McDaniel
Melissa M. McDaniel is an entrepreneur, educator, and community organizer. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with a degree in Communication Studies and Public Relations, and has a strong background in education, event management, and marketing. Her company, Thriving Ivy Unlimited, helps small businesses and organizations meet their performance goals through live events, networking, and community outreach. She has worked in a wide variety of industries, and was a key contributor to the growth of companies like CBS Radio, M&S Restaurant Group, and Ratner Company. She has been an active local organizer and volunteer for multiple campaigns including initiatives from Move On and Obama for America. She continues to be active in various organizations that promote equality and fairness in the community. Melissa is also an accomplished choreographer and currently travels throughout the country teaching and mentoring young dancers.
Board of Directors
President of the Board
Dee is a nurse, mother and Texan, not necessarily in that order. She lives with her husband, Tim, and three daughters in Austin where they seek to cultivate community and live with wonder at the world that surrounds them. Dee has been inspired and enriched by the work of Restoration Village Arts, and serves in support of their mission, believing that beauty will save the world.
Rev. Amanda Beresford
Amanda is a pastor, a parent, and a writer. She is delighted to join her passion for theology, justice and art in order to help guide Restoration Village Arts towards its mission of transformation and peacemaking.
Amanda has served in various ministerial settings, ranging from her ministry serving as a hospice chaplain in Vermont, to her ministry as a minister to children and families in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. She is ordained in the United Church of Christ, and engages in freelance preaching and writing as often as possible. Amanda holds a degree in Religious Studies from Brown University as well as a Master of Divinity from Harvard University. She and her family live in Charlottesville where she loves to run, read and worship.
Sarah Masen Dark
Sarah is an artist, mother, musician and middle school educator. She is passionate about helping children and adults find the many ways in which they can thrive in a difficult and scary world. Her work on the Board of Restoration Village Arts draws on her experience in music, art, and education to help keep the vision for peace, love, and justice work at the center of the organization.
Sarah was signed to a label in Nashville right out of college and had an intense and sudden launch into the music industry and touring. Sarah is still active in the Nashville songwriter scene, runs a pottery studio (fieldhousepottery.com), and works at her neighborhood’s middle school library promoting digital literacy and healthy fact-finding skills. She and her husband David have three children in Nashville where they are attempting to live into a mystical, justice-led faith in a quickly gentrifying neighborhood.
Owen comes to the Restoration Village Arts board with a passion for the Kingdom of God and a lesser passion for accounting. He is keenly interested in efforts to “build a new society in the shell of the old.” Cosmic devotional music keeps him grounded and running.
Owen lives in Charlottesville, VA with his wife, Christine, and two sons. He works at The Haven, a multi-resource day shelter for people facing homelessness in Charlottesville.
Rev. Tracy Howe Wispelwey
Founder of Restoration Village Arts and Endowed Artist Fellow
Tracy is a musician, producer, theologian and pastor. She is the Minister for Community and Congregational Engagement for Justice and Witness Ministries (JWM) in the National Setting of the the United Church of Christ. As the MCCE she works with artists and ministers to bridge justice and witness work with the music and liturgical life of the local church. In tandem, she helps guide the vision of Restoration Village Arts while producing music, liturgies and theological works with/in today’s specific and intersecting movement of liberation, resourcing communities, institutions and individuals in holistically seeking justice and beauty in all their efforts.
Tracy’s music career began touring full-time, performing at colleges, in homes and coffee shops, and leading worship and workshops throughout the United States and Latin America reaching over 1000 campuses, churches and communities after a decade of full time pursuit. During this time, she founded Restoration Village Arts, allowing her to work alongside communities who were actively seeking new expressions of arts, worship and theology in their local contexts. Tracy is an ordained minister with the United Church of Christ, and holds a Bachelor’s degree from Colorado College and a Master’s of Divinity from Harvard University.
Ruth Padilla-DeBorst, Ph.D.
Restoration Village Arts Board President Emeritus
Ruth yearns to see peace and justice embrace in the beautiful and broken world we call home. A wife of one and mother of many, theologian, missiologist, educator, and story-teller, Ruth Padilla DeBorst has been involved in leadership development and theological education for integral mission in her native Latin America for several decades. With her husband, James, she leads the Comunidad de Estudios Teológicos Interdisciplinarios (CETI – www.ceticontinental.org), a learning community with Master’s and Certificate level programs across Latin America.
Bio adapted from https://www.regent-college.edu.
Lisa Sharon Harper
Writer, Activist, Speaker, and Author of ‘The Very Good Gospel’. Founder and CEO of Freedom Road.
From Ferguson to New York to Germany and South Africa Ms. Harper leads trainings and helps mobilize clergy and community leaders around shared values for the common good. A prolific speaker, writer and activist, Ms. Harper is the founder and president of FreedomRoad.us, a consulting group dedicated to shrinking the narrative gap in our nation by convening forums and experiences that bring common understanding, common commitment, and common action toward a just world. Ms. Harper is the author of several books, including The Very Good Gospel, recognized as the “2016 Book of the Year” by Englewood Review of Books. In 2015 The Huffington Post recognized her as one of “50 Powerful Women Religious Leaders to Celebrate on International Women’s Day.” Most recently, Relevant Magazine recognized The Very Good Gospel as one of “Six Books that Will Change the Way You See the World” and Ms. Harper as one of “Seven Leaders to Follow in 2017.”