STAR Program Expands to New York City

Brenda Anita Boyd Bell
Brenda Anita Boyd Bell
Ruth Yoder Wenger
Ruth Yoder Wenger

The STAR (Seminars on Trauma Awareness and Recovery) program at Eastern Mennonite University has announced the opening of an office in New York City and two local persons as program associates.

Brenda Anita Boyd Bell and Ruth Yoder Wenger, both city residents, will share responsibilities on a half-time basis at STAR NYC, located at Heartsease Home, 216 E. 70th Street, New York.

The appointments were announced by Ruth H. Zimmerman, co-director of the Conflict Transformation Program at EMU.

The program expansion, including the positions, will be funded by a $1 million grant renewal from Church World Service (CWS) based in New York City.

STAR is a joint program of Church World Service and EMU’s Conflict Transformation Program. It was created in the aftermath of September 11 to assist religious leaders and caregivers in congregations/communities affected by the trauma of this event and after-effects. Five-day workshops are offered monthly for up to 20 participants, 16 from the United States and four from conflict areas overseas. The first seminar was held in February, 2002. Carolyn E. Yoder directs the STAR program.

The pilot satellite STAR office in New York City “will coordinate and follow up trainings in the Metropolitan New York area and surrounding region, and provide information, referral, and/or coaching to STAR alumni and their communities on trauma/peacebuilding activities and projects,”Yoder said.

Dr. Boyd Bell is president and chief executive officer of Chrysallis Empowerment and Transformation, a professional and educational consulting firm. Her work in Brooklyn and its connecting boroughs has involved providing essential services to children, families, elders and to the private and corporate sector. She has given extensive time to working with children’s service agencies, the department of education, churches and community organizations. She is an ordained minister in the United Church of Jesus Christ-Apostolic. She was a Project Liberty counselor in the aftermath of Sept. 11.

She has served as tenured professor of English composition and literature at Queens College (CUNY); as adjunct professor and lecture at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York; New York City Technical College, the College of New Rochelle School of New Resources and Columbia University. She has a master’s degree in modern literature from Brooklyn College (CUNY) and a Ph.D. in literature from Cornell University.

Wenger is pastor of the multi-cultural North Bronx Mennonite Church. Through her consulting ministry, Breath of Fresh Air, she provides individual spiritual direction and leads workshops in staff development, conflict transformation and spirituality in the workplace. She has lived in New York City for 32 years with her husband David Wenger. They are the parents of three grown children.

Much of Wenger’s professional career has been with not-for-profit community education programs as a teacher, manager and consultant. She has had various leadership positions in North Bronx social justice and community development efforts in both secular and religious communities. Most recently, she acted as project manager for the Restoring Hope Project, the post 9/11 response operated by Mennonite Disaster Service in New York City.

Wenger was recently named moderator of the New York City Council of Mennonite Churches, a linking organization for the 17 MC-USA churches in the city. She has been president of the board of directors of Heartsease Home, Inc., an organization in Manhattan operated by Mennonite churches that provided life skills training for older adolescent women. She currently chairs the development committee for new and extended programming at Heartsease.

A 1969 EMU graduate, she earned a master’s degree from Columbia University Teachers College. She was licensed in September, 2001, as a lead pastor with Lancaster Mennonite Conference.