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Elena (they/them) serves as the Deputy Director for Faith in Place and Faith in Place Action Fund. Their passion for environmental justice grew from time working in community health in the US, Latin American, and the Middle East, and from their own experience as a queer Latine. They are passionate about honoring the intersectional nature of environmental health and supporting Faith in Place as they address the social, racial, and economic roots of the climate crisis.

They also grew up in a multifaith home with a Buddhist father and Christian mother and today, they follow Buddhist practices. Elena uses this background to communicate across faith traditions and are passionate about utilizing their skills in messaging, digital media strategy, and graphic design to advocate for community health and just climate solutions.  

After growing up in Tennessee, Elena got their B.S. in Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of Tennessee, a Master of Arts from North Park Theological Seminary, and a Master of Public Health (MPH) in Environmental and Occupational Health from the George Washington University. Their MPH thesis research focused on how to build climate resilience among Latinx youth through climate communications. They also serve on American Public Health Association's Center for Climate, Health and Equity Advisory Board as well as the Environmental Health and the Health and Climate Change Committees.

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Lauren Paris,
Media Relations Coordinator

Lauren (she/her) serves as the Communications Coordinator at Faith in Place and Faith in Place Action Fund. She recently graduated from DePaul University, earning a B.A. in both Journalism and Environmental studies with a focus in sustainability. Her passion for environmental justice and environmental communications grew from her experience working as a freelance environmental journalist and writer—covering climate change and environmental justice issues in Chicago.

Lauren also served as the President and Director of Communications for DePaul’s chapter of the Climate Reality Project—a student-led organization focused on increasing the Catholic University’s sustainability initiatives. More recently, Lauren worked to conduct research and co-author a chapter for the Routledge Handbook of International Trends in Environmental Communications on youth-led environmental movements and climate change communication in the digital era of activism.

Growing up in a working-class, single-parent household on the southwest side of Chicago and surrounding suburbs, Lauren became passionate about writing and communicating issues of injustice that she witnessed in her own community and across the world. She is passionate about utilizing her strong writing, storytelling, and communications skills to advocate for just climate solutions and healthy communities, while working to empower and educate diverse communities of faith through her work at Faith in Place.  


Pastor Onqué (he/him) currently serves as Pastor of St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church, a 98 year old historic church on the south side of Chicago. Over the past 12 years under his leadership, the church has grown tremendously. He serves on several community boards because volunteering his time to community efforts is an integral part of his ministry. He is currently the President of the Congress of Christian Education Department of the Salem Baptist District Association of Chicago and Vicinity, Treasurer of Baptist General State Convention of Illinois, and a commissioner for African American Families Commission for the State of Illinois.


Rev. Brian Sauder (he/him) is President and Executive Director of Faith in Place and Faith in Place Action Fund. His passion for environmental justice motivates his work fundraising to grow the vision of Faith in Place. Rev. Sauder received his B.S. from the University of Illinois in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, M.A. in Religion from Urbana Theological Seminary, and M.B.A. from the University of Illinois. Rev. Sauder is ordained by the Mennonite Church U.S.A. and worships with Chicago Community Mennonite Church in East Garfield Park.

Our Staff

Elena Canler,
Deputy Director
Rev. Brian Sauder,
Executive Director
Rev. Scott Onqué,
Policy Director

All Faith in Place staff support the Faith in Place Action Fund as needed. The five staff listed below serve in leadership in for the Faith in Place Action Fund to provide direction for advancing our mission.

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