Brenda Girton-Mitchell, Director of Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships

Brenda Girton-Mitchell, Director of Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships

President Barack Obama named the Rev. Brenda Girton-Mitchell director of the Department’s Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships on Dec. 13, 2010. The mission of the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the Department of Education is to promote student achievement by connecting schools and community-based organizations, both secular and faith-based, as we build a culture of educational excellence. The center also works as a part of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and Centers at 13 other agencies to more effectively serve Americans in need.

Girton-Mitchell brings more than 30 years of experience to the Department from her work as a teacher, legal counsel and minister.

A native of Indianapolis and the first in her family to go to college, Girton-Mitchell earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 1970 from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., then taught elementary school for nine years in Indianapolis, where she also served for one year as president of the teachers’ union. While teaching, she earned her master’s in elementary education from Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis.

She earned her J.D. degree with honors from the Chicago–Kent College of Law in 1980, and worked for one year as a legislative assistant to former Sen. Birch Bayh (D-Ind.). From 1981 to 1990, she served as legislative counsel to Sears Roebuck, and Co. in Washington, D.C., and, in 1991, she left Sears to serve for three years as director of government relations for the American Counseling Association.

In 1994, Girton-Mitchell was named associate executive officer for the National Council of Negro Women in Washington, where she worked closely with the council’s president, Dorothy Height, to serve its nearly 4 million members.

In 1997, Mitsubishi Motors of America named her as its first director of diversity relations, a post she held for three years and during which time, she began her divinity studies at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.

In 2000, Girton-Mitchell was named associate general secretary for justice and advocacy and director of the Washington office for the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA. For eight years, she provided leadership on the council’s public policy activities for its 35 member faith groups, which represent a wide spectrum of beliefs, from Protestant, Orthodox and Evangelical churches to historic African-American and Living Peace churches. The council represents 45 million persons in more than 100,000 congregations across the United States. For eight years, she ran its Washington office, which had a budget of $2 million and a staff of six.

In the midst of working full-time for the council, she earned her master’s of divinity degree and was ordained on June 12, 2004, as a minister for the Metropolitan Baptist Church of Washington, D.C., where she continues to serve as a minister for stewardship and missions. She also dedicates time to Grace and Race Ministries, a local nonprofit organization which she began to encourage healthy conversations about race.

In 2008, prior to joining the Department, she started her own consulting firm, Girton-Mitchell Associates, to assist churches and nonprofits in advocacy, leadership development and conflict resolution.

Girton-Mitchell is a life member of the National Council of Negro Women, the NAACP, and the Urban League. She is admitted to the bars of Illinois, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Supreme Court. Among her memberships are the National Bar Association, the Washington Bar Association, and Leadership Greater Washington, and, currently, she is vice chair of the Board of Governors for Wesley Theological Seminary.

A recipient of numerous awards, she has received the National Council of Negro Women Bethune Recognition Award for an Outstanding Woman in Ministry, the National Bar Association’s Presidential Award, and the Sagamore of the Wabash Award—the highest award given by the state of Indiana—and was inducted into the Morehouse College Martin Luther King, Jr., International Board of Preachers.

Girton-Mitchell and her husband, James Mitchell, live in Silver Spring, Md.


Ken Bedell, Senior Advisor at the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships

Ken Bedell, Senior Advisor at the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships

Ken Bedell is ordained in The United Methodist Church. He led congregations for 16 years in New York, Maryland, and Ohio. He has taught at the junior high, high school, college and theological school level. As a volunteer with the Mennonite Central Committee he taught high school in Swaziland. In his capacity as executive secretary of the International Association of Methodist Schools, Colleges and Universities Ken visited schools and colleges in Argentine, Brazil, Korea, Mozambique, Kenya, and Zimbabwe. His is the author of five books and numerous articles and scholarly papers. His book entitled, “Different Ships—Same Boat,” on ethics was published by the World Association for Christian Communication. For five years he edited the annual “Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches” for the National Council of Churches. After receiving his PhD in sociology he became active in the Religious Research Association where he served on the executive committee. As an early promoter of the use of technology in education and the church, he was the founding president of the Church Computer Users Network in the mid-1980s. He is married to the former Kathryn Hale. They have two grown daughters, Charity Pelletier and Sarah Cook and five grandchildren.


Anna Leach, Confidential Assistant at the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships

Anna Leach, Confidential Assistant at the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships

Anna Leach is the Confidential Assistant at the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the U.S. Department of Education. Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Anna holds a Bachelor’s degree from Hope College where she majored in secondary education. Anna previously interned with the Center in the spring of 2011, supporting the launch of the President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge and other key outreach efforts undertaken by the Center to promote engagement of faith-based and community organizations in education. Anna has served as a teacher of 7th grade World History and Geography. Her classroom experience has provided her with essential skills and perspectives to further the work of the Center and its impact at the local level. Additionally, in her leadership activities on campus, she focused on strengthening community partnerships to create positive change for stakeholders. In her free time, Anna enjoys traveling, reading, and crossing things off her bucket list.