Partners for Sacred Places lives at the intersection of heritage, faith, and community. Partners' staff brings a wide variety of skills and backgrounds, grounded in a passion for the value of historic sacred places as valuable community assets.
Click on the name of any staff member to learn more about them.
Consulting Services Associate
A. Robert Jaeger
Bob co-founded Partners for Sacred Places in 1989. Previously, Bob worked with the Philadelphia Historic Preservation Corporation as Senior Vice President for the Historic Religious Properties Program. He is the co-author of Sacred Places at Risk (1998) and Strategies for Stewardship and Active Use of Older and Historic Religious Properties (1996), author of Sacred Places in Transition (1994), and editor (from 1985 to 1989) of Inspired, a bi-monthly magazine with news and technical articles on religious property preservation. Bob holds a master’s degree in preservation planning from Cornell University and an MBA from the University of Michigan.
Tuomi Joshua Forrest
Executive Vice President
Tuomi has offered technical advice and consultation to thousands of congregations of all faiths on the care and active community use of their historic religious buildings since joining Partners in 1997. He contributed to publications such as Sacred Places at Risk (1998), Open the Doors: A Guide to Serving Families in Sacred Places (2001), and Your Sacred Place is a Community Asset: A Tool Kit to Attract New Resources and Partners (2002). Tuomi has spoken at many conferences and workshops around the country. He is a lead designer and trainer for Partners’ New Dollars/New Partners program and currently oversees all of Partners’ programming efforts, including the development of regional office and grant funds. Previously, Tuomi worked at the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia and as an architectural photographer. He received an M.A. in American Studies from the University of Virginia and a B.A. in Political Science from Haverford College.
Senior Vice President
Gianfranco Grande brings over twenty years of experience in management of nonprofit organizations. Since opening its doors in 2008, the Chicago Office of Partners for Sacred Places has worked with more than 1,000 community-serving congregations representing the religious, racial, ethnic, and socio-economic diversity of the City. It has built strategic relationships with local faith leaders, lay leaders, community leaders, universities, seminaries, public officials, foundations, and philanthropists. These collaborations have been instrumental in the successful local rollouts of Partners’ trainings, programs, research, and consulting services, helping to bring sacred places and art together in a way that preserves the history and enhances the beauty of the city’s architectural treasures. In 2012, he was awarded the Richard Nickel Award from the Institute of Architects (AIA) Illinois, recognizing his dedication to the principles of livable communities through grassroots initiatives.
Director Arts in Sacred Places
As Partners’ first director of the Arts in Sacred Places program, Karen has developed a Manual of Best Practices and a series of systems critical to developing long-term, sustainable relationships between faith-based and arts organizations. She has contributed to the Center for the Future of Museums as a guest blogger and was an essayist for MICA’s MFA in Curatorial Practice, as well as the journal for the National Alliance of Preservation Commissions. Karen has worked in professional theater since 2000, both onstage and off. She is the co-artistic director of Madhouse Theater Company and has served as a panelist for the Philadelphia Cultural Fund. As the director of Programs & Services for the Theatre Alliance of Greater Philadelphia, she produced the Barrymore Awards Ceremony many times and directed them herself twice. Karen taught acting at West Chester University and served as a stage management consultant for Villanova Theatre. Karen has a BA in History and Drama from Washington College and an MA in Theatre from Villanova University.
Director of Development
Simon brings fifteen years of experience working in the development field for a variety of Philadelphia area non-profits. Having worked in a West Philadelphia parochial school for many years, Simon has a special appreciation for the role sacred places play as community centers for people of all ages and backgrounds, and the challenges congregations face in maintaining aging infrastructure. Simon holds a BA in Economics from Swarthmore College
Director of Operations
Stephanie has more than fifteen years of experience working with nonprofit organizations, including Edison Theatre, Playhouse Square Center, Apollo’s Fire: the Cleveland Baroque Orchestra, Theatre Communications Group, and the Fine Arts Fund (now ArtsWave). After moving to Philadelphia in 2003, Stephanie worked for eight years for the Theatre Alliance of Greater Philadelphia, most recently serving as the director of Ticketing Services. In Philadelphia, she also worked with 1812 Productions and the Live Arts Festival/Philly Fringe, and served on grant panels for the Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts and the Philadelphia Cultural Fund. In addition to her work with Partners for Sacred Places, Stephanie is the Managing Director of Madhouse Theater Company, a small nonprofit theater company focused on comedic works. Stephanie holds a BA in Environmental Studies and Political Science from Washington University in St. Louis, along with an MA in Arts Administration and an MBA in Management from the University of Cincinnati.
Director, National Fund for Sacred Places
Chad joined the staff of Partners in 2016 to oversee the National Fund's grant-making program targeted to award over $10 million to more than 50 congregations in coming years. Previously he was a pastor at Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster (PA). During his tenure the congregation developed an in-house art gallery, redeveloped an award-winning parking lot in accordance with the city's green infrastructure plan, and substantially increased building use by community partners. Chad has served on several boards of directors in Pittsburgh and Lancaster, including as a founding board members of the Union Project - an example of best practice for adaptive reuse of a historic religious property. He has written numerous articles on stewardship, art, theology and spirituality for a variety of publications. He is currently a special correspondent writing periodically on religion for Lancaster Newspapers. His ordained for pastoral ministry in Mennonite Church USA. Chad is a graduate of Goshen College (BA) and Pittsburgh Theological Seminary (MA).
Grants and Client Manager
Karen joined Partners in 2017 to support the National Fund for Sacred Places. Previously, while working at Urban Tree Connection in West Philadelphia, she implemented a Food in Sacred Places Program funded by Partners, leading an after school program based in the kitchen and community gardens surrounding an AME church. More recently, she lived in Uganda for two years working at microfinance and education nonprofits. Karen holds a BA in International Relations from Tufts University.
Senior Program Manager
Joshua brings to Partners his professional experience as a historic preservation specialist in one of the nation’s most densely and diversely populated communities of Paterson, NJ. There, he helped build partnerships between historic congregations and public institutions, with a particular focus on heritage tourism initiatives that benefited many of the dynamic congregations successfully serving the city’s economically challenged neighborhoods. Joshua also developed a variety of heritage-based public education programs and participated, through research and legislative assistance, in the local landmark designation of historic congregations in addition to formal advocacy on behalf of threatened historic sites. In addition to his work at Partners, Joshua provides consulting assistance and leadership for regional denominational committees and boards within the Presbyterian Church (USA) and cultural institutions in the New York metropolitan region. Joshua earned a BA in Art History from Oberlin College where he curated an exhibition on the landmark Robert Venturi-designed addition to the Allen Memorial Art Museum, originally designed by Cass Gilbert.
Senior Program Manager
Rachel holds an MS in Historic Preservation from the University of Pennsylvania and a BA in Psychology from Chestnut Hill College. Before beginning work at Partners, she co-authored two books, The Philadelphia Area Architecture of Horace Trumbauer (2009) and Oak Lane, Olney, and Logan (2011), both published by Arcadia Publishing. Rachel continues to write as a freelance contributor for Philadelphia’s Hidden City Daily web magazine.
Senior Program Manager
Laura brings her experience in historic preservation and nonprofit-program coordination to her role as Consulting Services Associate. After receiving a BA in Journalism and History from American University, Laura managed and monitored outcomes for educational services geared toward at-risk youth at a community-based nonprofit in Washington, DC. While working toward a Master’s degree in Historic Preservation at the University of Georgia, she collaborated on preservation projects with a variety of stakeholders, including local landowners, the City of Athens (GA), the United Church of Christ, and the National Park Service. After receiving her graduate degree, she interned with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation in Washington, DC and the Forest Preserve District of Cook County in Chicago, IL.