Womanist Wisdom Live Speakers

Faith Matters Network is excited to be hosting its 10 year anniversary celebration Transforming Faith: Celebrating the Power of Rooted Wisdom on August 16-17th in Nashville, TN— as we honor the past, celebrate the present, and envision the future of Faith Matters Network. We have invited some incredible Black women leaders and visionaries engaged in the work of spiritual innovation to share with us at our annual signature event, Womanist Wisdom Live on Friday, August 16th. These women are trailblazers, friends, and accomplished leaders who have inspired many and we look forward to gleaning from their wisdom during our Friday event. There will be plenty for folks to participate in throughout the weekend celebration, including a reception after our Friday event– so be sure to grab your ticket today and join us this summer! Take a look at our speaker lineup below.

Beulah Osueke

Executive Director, New Voices for Reproductive Justice

Beulah Osueke is a coach, strategist, and organizer. She currently serves as the Executive Director for New Voices for Reproductive Justice, an organization dedicated to building power for and alongside Black women, Black queer folks, and Black marginalized people in Pennsylvania and Ohio. Her work centers the needs, desires, and experiences of those most marginalized by society. In addition to working with New Voices, Beulah is a leadership member of ReFrame and the Radical Communicators Network, two innovative, narrative-focused organizations resourcing social justice communicators.

Amber Starks

Afro Indigenous Advocate & Organizer

Amber Starks (aka Melanin Mvskoke) is an Afro Indigenous (African-American and Native American) advocate, organizer, cultural critic, de-colonial theorist, and budding abolitionist. She is an enrolled citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and is also of Shawnee, Yuchi, Quapaw, and Cherokee descent. Her passion is the intersection of Black and Native American identity. Her activism seeks to normalize, affirm, and uplift the multidimensional identities of Black and Native people through discourse and advocacy around anti-Blackness, abolishing blood quantum, Black liberation, and Indigenous sovereignty. She hopes to encourage Black and Indigenous people to prioritize one another and divest from compartmentalizing struggles. She ultimately believes the partnerships between Black and Indigenous peoples (and all POC) will aid in the dismantling of anti-blackness, white supremacy, and settler colonialism, globally. She earned a Bachelor’s of Science in General Science (emphasis in Biology and Anthropology) from the University of Oregon. Her pronouns are she/her.

D. Danyelle Thomas

Author & Founder of Unfit Christian

Danyelle Thomas, MPP is a Black faith and spirituality speaker, author, public theologian, spiritualist, and activist. Danyelle’s work centers on the intersection of faith and social justice, particularly with regards to issues of race, gender, and sexuality. She passionately highlights the experiences and perspectives of Black religious experience and is committed to uplifting the voices of marginalized communities within it. Founder of Unfit Christian, her approach is deeply grounded in the Christian tradition and reclamation of integrative African spiritual practices. She emphasizes the importance of actively working towards social change and liberation for all people. Through her speaking, writing, and teaching, Danyelle challenges her audiences to engage with difficult questions around our faith and the dynamics of power, oppression, and resistance. Danyelle holds both a Bachelor of Arts in Africana Studies and a Master of Public Policy with a specialization in Social Policy. Her blend of urban flair and intellectual prowess makes her the divine truth to tune into during this upcoming season of faithful rebellion to conventional belief systems. As a public theologian, she continues to push the boundaries of what it means to live out a faith that is committed to justice and liberation for all. Danyelle proves to know the word on the street and the language of the canon as well.

Her words and work have reached audiences across the world in Rolling Stone, Essence, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture, Rewire.News, Splinter, & NBC News. Her book, The Day God Saw Me as Black (Row House Publishing), debuts September 24, 2024.

Gabby Cudjoe Wilkes

Co-Founder & Lead Pastor of Double Love Experience Church

Rev. Dr. Gabby Cudjoe Wilkes is the co-founding, lead pastor of The Double Love Experience Church in Brooklyn, New York. She is an ordained baptist minister, a writer, board member, innovation strategist, and entrepreneur. At the age of 27, Pastor Gabby was hired as the Co-Young Adult Pastor at the 18,000 member congregation, The Greater Allen Cathedral of New York under the senior leadership of Reverends Floyd & Elaine Flake. She served in that capacity for five years. While there, she received The Guy R. Brewer Religious Leader Award and received a Senatorial Citation from New York Senator LeRoy Comrie Pastor Gabby is a sought after voice in the public square. She was a featured contributor on The 2023 Oprah Winfrey Network’s documentary series: Time of Essence (HBO MAX), a contributor to The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History’s new film, gODTALK (2023) and was a featured contributor to Dr. Henry Lewis Gates’ documentary, GOSPEL (2025) on PBS. Since 2022, Pastor Gabby has been a recurring on-air correspondent to the nationally syndicated radio show: Get Up Mornings with Erica Campbell since 2022 where Pastor Gabby does a segment entitled: Make It Make Sense. In 2022 she released her first book: Psalms for Black Lives, Reflections for the Work of Liberation. The book has sold more than 10,000 copies worldwide. In addition to her work as a pastor, Pastor Gabby is also an innovation strategist. She is the inaugural director of The Technology, Innovation & Digital Engagement Lab Fellowship at Union Theological Seminary. In that role, she leads a 44 person fellowship cohort of senior leaders and an 8 person staff.

Pastor Gabby’s work and voice has been featured in publications such as The New York Times, Essence Magazine, Forbes, Yahoo News, CBS News and more for her work on love and ministry. She resides in New York City with her husband, Rev. Dr. Andrew Wilkes.

Yolanda Pierce

Professor & Dean, Vanderbilt Divinity School

Yolanda Pierce, PhD, is a scholar, writer, womanist theologian, and accomplished administrator in higher education. She was appointed the Founding Director of the Center for African American Religious Life at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), and she currently serves as Professor and Dean of the Vanderbilt Divinity School. Pierce’s research specialties include Literature & Religion; Womanist Theology; and African American Religions. A widely-published author, she has written several books, essays, and articles for academic and trade journals including: Time Magazine, Theology Today, and Christianity & Literature. Pierce is the creator and curator of “Touching the Sacred,” an exhibit on material religion and the Black Church. She is a member of various professional organizations, including the Modern Language Association, the American Academy of Religion, and the American Historical Association. Pierce has also been the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including fellowships from the Ford Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, and the Pew Foundation. As a first-generation college student, Pierce earned degrees from Cornell University and Princeton University. She is a native New Yorker, mentor, community activist, daughter of the Black Church, and proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Follow her on Twitter, her digital home: @YNPierce.

Pierce’s newest book is In My Grandmother’s House: Black Women, Faith and the Stories We Inherit. And you can regularly read her newest essays in The Christian Century, where she is a contributing columnist.