Mark Braverman is a Jewish American with deep family roots in the Holy Land. Mark has lived in Israel and in recent years has participated in and led interfaith delegations to the region. Mark was transformed by witnessing directly the occupation of the West Bank and by his experience meeting with grassroots peace activists from the Muslim, Christian and Jewish communities in Israel and Palestine, as well as with international peace workers. He is deeply committed to an interfaith approach to the resolution of the Middle East conflict. Mark has spoken and written about his commitment to justice for all peoples of historic Palestine and the role of the faith communities in the search for peace. In addition to his responsibilities as Executive Director of Holy Land Education and Peace Project, Mark is a co-founder of Friends of Tent of Nations North America, a nonprofit devoted to supporting Palestinian land right. He is a charter member of American Jews for a Just Peace. He serves on the Board of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions USA and is a member of the Washington Interfaith Alliance for Middle East Peace. Mark also serves on the Advisory Board of Friends Sabeel North America. Mark is married to Susan Braverman, a life coach. They live in Bethesda, MD, and have three wonderful children and four exceptional grandchildren.
Elaine F. Brouillard – Treasurer
Elaine was raised in Marblehead, Massachusetts. She is a graduate of Wellesley College and has her MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. For many years while living in Wellesley and San Antonio, she remained home raising twins and triplets and volunteering in the schools. In San Antonio Elaine later became director of an Academy of Finance program, sponsored by the National Academy Foundation, at one of the city’s high schools. After moving to Cape Cod, she helped organize the first Tree of Life conference there in 2007 and has been the coordinator of TOL programs on Cape Cod for the past four years. Elaine and her husband Jack have journeyed with Tree of Life to Palestine and Israel in 2011 and 2014. They have also hosted many of the Palestinian, Israeli and American speakers that have presented at the conferences. In 2014 Church Women United selected Elaine for its Human Rights Award in recognition for her work with Tree of Life in support of peace and justice.
Rebecca T. Crosby
Rebecca (Becky) was born in Elmira, New York and her family moved to Old Lyme when she was 5 years old. She received a B.A. degree from Connecticut College, and received a Masters in Religion and the Arts from Yale University Divinity School in 2002. She returned to Yale Divinity School and received her Masters of Divinity in 2007. She was called to serve as an Associate Minister of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme in 2007 and was ordained in 2008. In 2004, Becky and her husband, Ted, founded the Crosby Fund for Haitian Education, a not-for profit scholarship organization that provides funding for impoverished students in Haiti at the high school, technical school and university level. Currently 155 students benefit from their program.
Hassan serves on the Board of Directors of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolition (ICAHD-USA). He was a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Right to Return Coalition and served as the Connecticut chair. He was a Corporator of the Hartford Seminary and is active in several educational, charitable and interfaith peace advocacy groups. Hassan retired from Pfizer, Inc. as an Assistant director in the Global Research and Development Center.
John T. Fussell
The son of a Presbyterian minister, John lived in Maine, New York, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Connecticut. At age 18, he traveled through the Middle East and crossed Afghanistan on horseback. He was evacuated from Pakistan during the Indian-Pakistan war. He worked as a union organizer, and vice president of the Health Care Employees Union, 1199. He founded the Connecticut Anti-Apartheid Committee (CCAG) and was appointed along with others by Governor O’Neil to the task force on South Africa. In coalition with trade unions, community and faith based organizations; they succeeded in 1982, to pass the first State divestment legislation in the U.S. in support of South Africans’ struggle for freedom and equality. John graduated UCONN Law School in 1995 and works as a labor lawyer representing the Teamsters and numerous Building Trades Unions. He volunteers for the American Association for Palestinian Equal Rights (AAPER). John is married to Dr. Mina Mina, professor at the UCONN Dental School and chairperson of the Pediatric Dentistry Department. Leila, their oldest daughter, a senior at Skidmore College, traveled with the Tree of Life in March 2011 and returned to the West Bank for two months attending the Holy Land Trust’s program. Their daughter Maya is attending UCONN in Storrs. John and Mina have lived in West Hartford for twenty-two years.
Carleen R. Gerber
Carleen was born and raised in Lyme, Connecticut. She received her BA degree from Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, where she majored in music and elementary education. She began serving the FCCOL as organist in 1976. She received her Master of Divinity in 1995 from the University of South Africa where she could pursue a major in the study of missions. She was ordained in 1996 and serves the church as Minister of Music and as Associate Minister.
David W. Good – Chairman, Board of Directors
Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, David grew up in the United Methodist Church, and studied philosophy and English literature in college. Choosing the ministry as a profession, David went to Yale Divinity School and in his last year switched denominations to the UCC (Congregational) and since graduation served as the Senior Minister of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, CT. for 37 years until his retirement in 2012. Now he devotes his time as a volunteer for the Tree of Life ministry that was established by the Old Lyme church under his leadership. David writes: “After 9/11 our church intensified its efforts to be in community with those of other faith traditions, which led to my first interfaith journey to Israel and Palestine and engagement on the human rights issues for which our own country is at least partially responsible.” Under David’s leadership, the Old Lyme church established a number of cross-cultural partnerships, including the Storefront School in Harlem,NY, Koinonia Farm where he chaired the Board of Directors, the Crosby Scholarship Fund for Haiti, the Green Grass community on the Cheyenne River (Lakota) Indian Reservation in South Dakota, Central Methodist Mission in Johannesburg, South Africa, and a 12-year partnership with the community of Beit Sahour, near Bethlehem in Palestine. David has led 12 interfaith journeys to Israel and the West Bank. He continues his love of philosophy (Heidegger) and poetry (T.S. Eliot, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, William Blake, Theodore Roethke). David is married to Corinne Good of Liverpool, England, and when not building fences for his dog, Annie, he likes to play tennis. His publications include, Zionism Through Christian Lenses edited by Carole Monica Burnett and a collection of sermons, A Place of Grace: The Gospel According to The First Congregational Church of Old Lyme.
Susanne Hoder is a founding member of United Methodist Kairos Response, which seeks to align her denomination’s actions and investments with its resolutions calling for an end to Israel’s occupation. She is also founder of the Interfaith Peace Initiative in Providence, Rhode Island, She holds a BA in International Relations from Sweet Briar College, and has travelled repeatedly to Israel and the West Bank. In 2010, she led a United Methodist Study Group to the region that visited several settlements and documented the role of specific companies in the occupation. She has done extensive research into products imported from illegal settlements to the United States. Susanne and her husband have their primary residence in Punta Gorda, Florida and spend their summers in Tiverton, Rhode Island. She has spoken around the country on the occupation, divestment, and the experience of Christians in the Holy Land.
Steve is the 19th Senior Minister of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme. He holds a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Yale University, where he also completed M.Div., M.A., and M.Phil. degrees, also in Religious Studies. He holds a B.A. from Messiah College. Prior to coming to Old Lyme, he did a residency in hospital chaplaincy at Bridgeport Hospital in Connecticut, and served churches in New Haven, CT, Newport, VT, and Bryn Mawr, PA. In addition to his work in Old Lyme, he is a lecturer in ethics at Harvard Divinity School, where he served as the Lenz Memorial Lecturer for the academic year of 2011-2012. He is the author of Spaces of Modern Theology: Geography and Power in Schleiermacher’s World, published by Palgrave-Macmillan in 2013. The book explores the relationship between the imagined spaces of written theology and the configuration of lived geographical spaces (dwellings, urban design, national borders, colonial conquests), especially at the dawn of the liberal era in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. He is married to Rachael, a music teacher in the New Haven area. Together, they have three children: Sabina (8), Elsa (5), and August (3). Here are a few other things he likes: long and convoluted novels, critical theory, wilderness exploration, music recorded in the 1920’s and 1930’s, New Orleans and its artistic and political cultures, Berlin and its artistic and political cultures, early films, distance running, modernist architecture, Bob Dylan, and lately, Palestinian folk music. He brushes with Colgate and likes to read gossip magazines when he shops at the supermarket – Us is his favorite. He is doing his best to learn how to play the guitar.
Alli McCracken is a local coordinator in the CODEPINK: Women for Peace Washington D.C. office, and a long time peace enthusiast. She graduated from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in May 2010 with a degree in Political Science and Religious Studies. Inspired by the Tree of Life 2010 Journey, after graduating from college she lived in the West Bank town of Beit Sahour for several months, doing volunteer work at a senior citizens center and at the Palestine Wildlife Society. Upon returning to the US she shared her experience at the Tree of Life 2011 Conference, and went on the Tree of Life Journey again in 2011.
Through her work with CODEPINK, Alli has organized and participated in several campaigns aimed at shaping a new American foreign policy in the Middle East- one that respects the rights of all people in the region. She helped plan the conference Move Over AIPAC in May 2011 (MoveOverAIPAC.org), she mobilized support around the Freedom Flotilla II to Gaza, and she is an active participant of CODEPINK’s Stolen Beauty campaign to boycott the cosmetics company Ahava, which produces its goods in illegal Israeli settlements using stolen Palestinian resources (stolenbeauty.org). Through CODEPINK Alli is also working to end the wars, bring our war dollars home, ban drone attacks, expose war profiteers, and amplify voices of peace throughout the world – especially women’s.
Robert F. McCracken
Bob is currently serving as Treasurer and Administrator of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, Connecticut. Bob is a retired executive with 35 years of military and business experience. He holds a BS degree from Princeton University and an MBA from the Wharton School of Finance. His business career included work as an international management consultant, as well as senior level positions in business development and long range planning for General Electric, Sears, and Avon Products.
Eliza and her family moved to Old Lyme in 2001 and soon afterward, they became members of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme. Eliza is a veteran of three Tree of Life journeys, the first of which she was a part of in 2005. During her subsequent journeys, Eliza kept a blog about her travels in Israel and the occupied territories. Through the Tree of Life Educational Fund, Eliza hopes to inspire a younger generation of activists who will join the non-violent struggle for peace. Eliza attended high school at Phillips Academy Andover in Andover, Massachusetts. Currently, she is a student at Harvard College where she is majoring in the History of Science with a focus in Mind, Brain and Behavior.
A Louisville native, Dave began a career in the life insurance business in 1966 and was with the same company until 1993, when he was recruited to lead a life insurance company in Hartford and moved to Farmington, Connecticut. Betsy and Dave have been on hospital boards, regular volunteers at a homeless shelter, the United Way board, Ronald McDonald House board, museum and arts council boards and a family counseling center board, among others. Dave and Betsy divide their time between Vero Beach, Florida and the Connecticut shoreline. They enjoy their time with their six delightful and active grandchildren all age 6 and under.
Liz is a native New Englander, born in Groton. She now lives in Stonington with her husband, Peter. She spent her early work years in banking, and for the past 25 years has been in real estate. She now runs her own real estate firm: Stonington Real Estate Company. Liz has made five trips to the Middle East in the past 5 years, and was an international observer to the Palestinian elections in 2006, in Gaza, Ramallah, and Hebron. That trip, where she and Peter accompanied a small group of retired ambassadors, also brought them to Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt, where they met with President Assad of Syria, President Lahoud of Lebanon, as well as numerous other leaders in the region. With Peter, she has helped bring many speakers to Connecticut to discuss foreign policy issues and they run a weekly show on a local TV station about the Israel-Palestine issue. Liz is on the board of If Americans Knew (IfAmericansKnew.org), and works with many different groups in her efforts to change US foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East. With two wonderful children, and three delightful grandchildren, she hopes that her efforts now will allow them to inherit a much saner foreign policy than the one we now have. In the course of her work, she has made many Palestinian and Israeli friends, and feels continually drawn back to the region to support them and their work.