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ESTHER’s Story

ESTHER stands for Empowerment Solidarity Truth Hope Equity Reform

ESTHER’s mission:

“Develop leaders, engage people, and build collective power in the Fox Valley to address economic and social injustices and work for more equitable communities that embrace diversity.”

Lead Organizer: Katie Olson

Community Organizer: Miracle Wheeler

Grant Administrator: William Van Lopik

Office Administrator: Acienda Yang

Our Beginnings.

ESTHER held its founding Covenanting Event on November 7th, 2004, with six faith communities participating. Prior to this milestone, gatherings of interested religious and lay leaders were held starting in May, 2002.

ESTHER is an interfaith social-justice organization. We are grassroots and non-profit, focusing our work in the Fox Valley region of Wisconsin.

ESTHER aims to bring together people of faith and communities of faith to build community and to identify and act on issues of injustice. Faith communities covenanting with ESTHER join together based on shared values such as equality and human dignity. We work with congregations and individuals in collaboration with community partners and public officials so that everyone can have a voice and role in bringing about strong and just communities. ESTHER sometimes seeks to mobilize support for or opposition to particular legislation or rule-making; we do not, however, advocate for candidates or parties.

ESTHER’s 2023-2024 Yearbook is available for download as a PDF or online viewing at

We seek to:

  • Bring healing and unity as an interfaith community that reaches beyond the divisions of race, creed, and socio-economic status
  • Build solid relationships with one another and with community leaders
  • Identify and address root causes of poverty, oppression, and injustice
  • Be agents of change that unite the community and spread a message of hope
  • Work at local, state, and national levels to promote justice
  • Empower people to overcome injustices and respond to the social-justice concerns of people in the communities of the Fox Valley

ESTHER is an affiliate of WISDOM, the Wisconsin affiliate of GAMALIEL.

Officers and Leadership Board of ESTHER

Connie Kanitz, President Gwendolyn Gibson
David Fink, Vice President Kathleen Gribble
Mary Bechle, Secretary Steve Hirby
Diane Putzer, Treasurer Joan B. Jensen
Mary Bechle Nancy J. Jones
Ruth Brown Connie Kanitz
Cindy A. Carter Michele Maki
Sara Companik Katie Olson
Gary Crevier Diane Putzer
Terry Dawson Connie Raether
David Fink Penny Robinson
Susan Garcia Franz Sharyn Gawlick

Religious Leaders Caucus of ESTHER

Our faiths tell us to seek peace and justice for all God’s children. We build community as we join together to support each other, to encourage each other, and to walk with each other in seeking justice for all.

We are comprised of clergy and professional staff of faith communities that belong to ESTHER.  We bring together diverse histories of faith traditions seeking to demonstrate unity and build on those values that unite us in community.  The Religious Leaders Caucus is the vision-bearer for the organization and works to shape and forward the vision of ESTHER.  It does so by reflecting on injustices and community needs and making recommendations to the ESTHER Board for new issues and injustices that call for action.

Member Congregations:

Oshkosh Religious Society of Friends

Project Partners:


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