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We are incredibly grateful for every person who stepped up to be a part of our Steering Committee.  Our first meeting together was March 25. It was an opportunity to meet the entire team and work together to brainstorm our Mission, Vision, and Values Statements.  


President Tajalli Hodge
Tajalli Hodge is an Ypsilanti Township resident passionate about improving the lives of those around her. In her professional life, she works to keep the residents of Michigan safe through her role as a dairy inspector and laboratory evaluation officer for the State of Michigan, a role instrumental in protecting the supply chain of milk throughout the state. She inspects facilities that produce milk and milk products locally and travels statewide to evaluate laboratories that screen milk tankers for antibiotic residue.

Tajalli is currently the neighborhood watch coordinator for the Sugarbrook Neighborhood. She remains extremely active in her neighborhood, working to revitalize the area through leading resident action teams and securing grants for supply distribution, programming, and development. Tajalli also serves as an executive committee member and secretary of the Sierra Club Huron Valley Group, an environmental organization dedicated to exploring and protecting our green spaces while prioritizing environmental justice.

Looking to take her commitment to public service and environmental justice to the next level, Tajalli ran for a seat on the Ypsilanti Township Park Commission in 2020 and was elected with the highest number of votes. She is now serving in her first term and was elected by her fellow commissioners to serve as vice-chair of the commission. Tajalli is the only woman serving on the seven-seat commission.

Vice President Rev. Branden Hunt
Branden is the pastor of St Philip Lutheran Church in Trenton. When he is not working, Branden enjoys running, reading, and spending time with friends. He is ecstatic to be a part of FedUp Ministries.  

Secretary Kathy Weinberg
Kathy brings tech and media experience along with the desire to take her faith outside the walls of a building to serve those in need.  She serves on the Southeast Michigan Synod Communications Team and Synodical Women's Organization. She has served as parish administrator at three congregations over 13 years. She is excited to be a partner in building a new kind of ministry that goes out to love and serve our neighbors.

Kathy lives in Plymouth Township with husband Jeff and son Nathan.  She works part-time at Nativity of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church. In her free time, she creates art with polymer clay and does other crafty things.  Oh, and she loves to cook, so that helps, too!   

Treasurer Ceara Murtagh, Esq:
Ceara comes to FedUp with a rich history of community development and legal work. She's a resident of Ypsilanti and a former employee of Habitat for Humanity where she led a number of large community projects in the Sugarbrook neighborhood and obtained a substantial grant for the construction of the tool lending library in West Willow. She's currently working in media law and is excited to rekindle her passion for community work.


Rev. Beth Birkholz
Pastor Beth Birkholz is the Director of Congregational Engagement for Samaritas, which is a social service agency with Lutheran roots that serves people through child and family services, refugee resettlement, affordable housing, senior living, and two shelters for houseless and/or formerly incarcerated people. She is a former mission developer and loves a good food truck, and is excited to serve on the board for FedUp. She is also married to another Lutheran pastor, and they live in Plymouth with two teenagers and assorted pets.  

Dan McConnell:
In Dan's Words: My current mission statement is: Love Up, Love In, Love Out and Love Through. It has been my pleasure to do and be these things both sequentially and, at times, simultaneously. I am a Mystic, Scientist, Musician and Spiritual Director who is growing comfortable in this paradox. I am learning that listening is more important than talking-especially in prayer; the Christ in you is bigger than the you in you; how you love all of God’s children shows how you love your God; and where your heart breaks is where your action must be. My heart breaks when I hear the cries of the poor: the poor in body, mind or Spirit. It is there that I am called to work.  

I serve as a certified and active Spiritual Director, seeing directees and engaging in continuing education through classes, seminars and annual silent retreats. I have been the President of the Zion Lutheran Church Council since 2016, as well as chair of the Prayer Ministry and RIC teams. I serve as treasurer to Angel Whispers, a non-profit that provides opportunities to empower individuals to reach wholeness in mind, body and spirit. I also serve on the advisory panel for Building Up, the Uganda Medical Clinic Non-profit Organization. I work at the University of Michigan as a Research Scientist studying (primarily) female reproductive Endocrinology within the School of Public Health Department of Epidemiology. I love to run, crawl on the floor with my granddaughter, keep bees, play music in several bands, as well as build and fish split cane flyrods. And every Sunday afternoon I cook a meal for the men and women who live underneath the bridge at the foot of the University of Michigan Hospital. I give them Spiritual Direction…they just don’t know it. 

Rev. Seminarian Kristin McCarthy
Kristin is graduating in May with her Masters of Divinity degree from Trinity Lutheran Seminary. She is awaiting a call in the Southeast Michigan Synod & is thrilled to begin her work as a Board Member of FedUp!   Kristin is married to her wife Nicole, who is the Program Innovator of Living Water Ministries. Together, they enjoy working toward social justice, laughing hard every day, and raising their brand new baby boy, Parker!  

Joyce Stein
Joyce has spent a good part of her life in the Ann Arbor area, a born and bred Michigander. She is a retired nurse from the University of Michigan’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, a long-time member of Trinity Lutheran Church in Ann Arbor, and the current chair of their Church and Society Committee.  In her free time Joyce volunteers with a variety of environmental health groups including ICPJ’s Caucus on Consumption, Waste and Climate Change.