NorCal 2019 Speakers

  • Rebecca Barnett

    Rebecca comes from a clinical background as a board certified behavior analyst (BCBA) and has worked with many wonderful children, teenagers, adults and their families in school and research settings during her 12 years in the field. She served on staff as the special needs coordinator at Menlo Church from 2015-2017, and is currently a volunteer supporting staff, students and volunteers at Resonate Movement in Fremont. Working in a ministry setting has been a rewarding, stretching process and it is a joy to be part of how God is reaching families and individuals of all abilities in the Bay Area. Areas of ministry dear to her heart include connecting families in the church, helping staff and volunteers shape systems that help all students flourish, creating service opportunities for all abilities, and modifying/writing accessible curriculum. She and her husband are learning how to parent their delightful 2 year old, it’s been a joyful, humbling process to date.   

  • Shannon Durand

    Shannon Durand M.Ed., BCBA moved to the Bay Area from Central Texas in December 2010 with her husband and three children.  Her husband is the Family Pastor at Bridges Community Church, and Shannon is in charge of the small but growing disability ministry at BCC. Both have a passion to integrate those with disabilities.

    She has worked with children and young adults with autism and other developmental disabilities for over 13 years.  

    Shannon has worked primarily in the home and school settings, and specializes in working with young children in early intervention.  She also really enjoys teaching functional skills that lead to an individual’s greater independence which include increasing functional communication, using the toilet independently, eating a variety of foods, dressing oneself, etc.

    Most recently Shannon has been a preschool teacher in an inclusive ABA-based classroom, and has provided additional supports to those students and families in the program with autism and other delays and disabilities.  She is happiest when working directly with children and their families!


  • Debbie Lillo

    Debbie served as the Church Relations Manager for Joni and Friends Bay Area for 9 years and led or co-led Saratoga Federated Church’s Bridge Builders Ministry for 17 years.  Debbie authored 3 of the Irresistible Church series books during her tenure with Joni and Friends, including Doing Life Together—Building Community for Families Affected by Disability.  She has a special education background and loves watching God transform His church to be more welcoming and inclusive to our friends who have disabilities and their families. She loves to coach ministry leaders and volunteers and is particularly passionate about supporting every member of the special needs family. 

    Contact Debbie at 


  • Christine Woosley

    Chrisitne Woosley is the Special Needs Coordinator at Menlo Church, a multi-site church in the San Francisco Bay Area.  She is also a wife to Brandon and mom to two amazing autistic sons, Josh 18 and Zachary 16. In her free time she loves to knit or crochet and is passionate about equipping the church for ministry to those with disabilities.  She currently lives in Santa Cruz, California.  


  • Gisele Darden

    Gisele currently serves as a CYM leader in the Special Needs Ministry at New Beginnings Community Church (NBCC) in Redwood City, CA.  She has been partnering with the special needs community as a volunteer, student and advocate and consultant for over 10 years. She is passionate about serving alongside the CHURCH in developing an environment where individuals and families living with special needs and disabilities feel an authentic sense of belonging in the Body of Christ.  

    Gisele’s undergraduate degree is in Business Administration (Organizational Behavioral and Development)  serving in various corporate roles. But after answering God’s call to walk alongside the Special Needs Community, she has become a lifelong student focused on developing knowledge and skills needed to Equip, Train, Encourage and Inspire friends, family, professional and volunteer supporting individuals with Special Needs. 

    She also spends time Designs, Modifies & Adapts biblical and academic Curriculum and Activities that support and engage individuals at different ages and stages of life.

    Friends, We were not created to walk this journey called LIFE alone, WE need each other.  Walk with me!!!

    Connect with Gisele at 


  • Christen Morrow-Ara & Zachary Richards

    Christen has lead ministry with youth with varying abilities in the USA and Latin America for over 20 years. She loves dreaming with leaders about how to reach youth and their families in their context and serves with Young Life overseeing Capernaum (the disability focus ministry) for 5 states. Christen’s undergraduate degree from California State University, Fresno in Therapeutic Recreation and postgraduate degree from Fuller Theological Seminary in Global Leadership have only fueled her passion to be a learner and a practitioner of ministry to and with her friends with disabilities inside and outside of the local Church. Christen and her husband Christian live in Central California with Abi (4), Will (2) and Zachary (20).    

    Zachary became part of the Young Life Capernaum ministry in 2015 while in high school, and very quickly the team realized he was ready for leadership and service. Zach has served on prayer teams, with transportation, at month long summer camps in multiple capacities, as a ‘manny’ for babies of teen moms in Young Life, but his deep passion is to help kids with disabilities know Jesus. Zach is being invited to preach and help train leaders alongside Christen. When Zachary graduated from high school and his parents moved overseas to teach, he moved in with the Ara family and became Christen’s older ‘bonus son,’ but really also a ministry partner!


The Disability Ministry Conference would not be possible without the generous support of our sponsors:

Friendship Ministries
Young Life Capernaum

Our Generous Sponsors

Calvary Church of Santa Ana
Crossroads Church
Friendship Ministries
Miracle 139
Young Life Friendship Ministry

Our Mission




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