Staff and Organizing Team

Wendy Tarr, Director, VOAN 

Wendy has worked throughout California and the Midwest with faith communities building cross-sector collaborations as a community organizer for 13 years primarily focused on economic justice, immigration, and criminal justice reform issues. Wendy is currently the director of the Vincentian Ohio Action Network.  In 2014, Wendy was the Midwest Regional Organizer for "Bibles, Badges, and Business for Immigration Reform," a network of conservative faith, law enforcement, and business leadership working to establish a new consensus on immigrants and America, led by the National Immigration Forum in Washington, DC. Prior to that, Wendy worked for eight years for Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice of California, where she organized diverse faith communities to support low-wage workers in struggles for living wages, affordable accessible healthcare, responsible development and workers' rights. Wendy helped launch the National Evangelical Immigration Table, supporting the effort as a field mobilizer on efforts to advance immigration reform among evangelicals and megachurches in California and throughout the Midwest for five years.  

Wendy is also the program director for ARCH, a collaborative project on reentry.

Contact:  / 614-512-7106


Lesha Farias, Lead Organizer - Think Tanks on Poverty

Lesha is a Lead Organizer for VOAN. She is a co-founder of the Newark Think Tank on Poverty and is helping to expand VOAN's work on reentry and criminal justice reform in Muskingham and Fairfield Counties. Prior to working for VOAN, Lesha was the Senior Program Director at the Ohio Campus Compact where she oversaw the AmeriCORPS Vista Program based at Denison University for 14 years. She directed the OCC AmeriCorps VISTA and Connect2Complete (C2C) Programs, along with other events and initiatives that promote higher education as a public good accessible to all who and helping students become civically engaged. Lesha also volunteers with the St. Vincent de Paul Society at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church. 



Allen Schwartz, Organizing and Regional Training Consultant- Think Tanks on Poverty

Allen is a consultant to VOAN with our Think Tanks on Poverty. Allen works in GED and Adult Education at C-TEC (Career and Technology Education Centers of Licking County). He is a musician and artist. He also has over 40 years of experience in labor and community organizing. Allen worked as a law library supervisor at the Stateville Penitentiary, Joliet Illinois. He was the President AFSCME local 3506 (Chicago) and the past Executive Director, Chicago Metro History Education Center. While in Chicago, Allen was a regular presenter, National Public Radio Chicago, and the Sandra Gair Show. He has been faculty at colleges and universities throughout Chicago and Central Ohio. Allen is the founder Licking County Concerned Citizens for the Environment and a co-founder and organizer for Newark Think Tank on Poverty.



Eddie Slade, Reentry Specialist, ARCH program

Eddie is a consultant to VOAN. He is a formerly incarcerated leader in the reentry community who has also experienced growing up with his own father in prison and is dedicated to breaking the cycle. Eddie was selected by the Children of Incarcerated Parents Program, a partnership with OMAS and UMADAOP to became a certified master trainer for the Creating Lasting Family Connections® (CLFC) Curriculum Series, which he teaches at Ross Correctional and Chillicothe Correctional. Mr. Slade has taught the CLFC Curriculum in St. Stephen’s Community Center, Impact Community Action, and with youth at Life Skills Columbus, a local charter school. Eddie also helps to consult with our ARCH (Accompanying Returning Citizens with Hope) program designed to raise awareness, train, and mobilize faith-based community leaders to assist with reentry support, employment and accompaniment.  Eddie also helps build our leadership network of formerly incarcerated individuals and impact families on criminal justice reform.  Mr. Slade uniquely skilled in this role. 



Eugene Russell, Organizer, Zanesville Think Tank on Poverty

Eugene is a community leader who is passionate about bringing the community together for change. Eugene is a restored citizen and a member of the Zanesville Think Tank on Poverty where he assists with outreach, plannig meetings, and developing actions for the ZTTP.



Young Leaders & Field Organizing Volunteers

VOAN receives interns from OSU, Notre Dame, Denison University throughout the year for various lengths to gain professional and organizing skills through interning. We also work with many local grassroots leaders to support their skill development through apprenticeship programs and project leadership with our various events, Think Tanks and initiaties. 



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