AUDREY HEBSON: Treasurer
Audrey came to know about JUSTembrace through church friends when she was in the process of moving to Chicago. Her job started 2 weeks prior to her apartment lease and she needed a place to stay in the interim, and ended up crashing on the floor of Sher’s bedroom as her intro to Chicago living. That was in 2012, and JUSTembrace has become a consistent piece of her life since then as she has gone from volunteering at various events to serving on the board.
After years of being a part of religious bodies that are often apathetic to the vulnerabilities of the communities that they serve, Audrey has found the authenticity of the JUSTembrace community to be transformative and healing to herself and others.
Outside of JUSTembrace, Audrey is an account manager for a corporate training company and has a breadth of experience designing processes for young start-up organizations.
STEVE JAMES: Community Liaison
Steve has been a member of the JUSTembrace family since the very beginning. Though he first entered the house with some skepticism, it did not take long for him to earn the title of Founding Father. Steve can always be found making song requests and dancing through the house on a Sunday night. At JUSTembrace carnivals, he is the designated carnie joyfully leading our neighbors in the infamous cow tipping game. Steve brings energy, gratitude, and compassion to the JUSTembrace family, and is always thankful to see a new day. Being part of the JUSTembrace community has helped Steve become a better neighbor, as he frequently desires to be kind and friendly to strangers.
In his spare time, Steve enjoys riding the train around Chicago and the bus to the suburbs. He can often be found at local arcade bars playing his favorite pinball game – The Adams Family. Steve joined the board in January of 2019 as our first ever Community Liaison.
GAIL PADMANABHAN: Vice-President
Gail Padmanabhan has been a JUSTembrace Board Member since 2018. Gail has been involved with JUSTembrace since 2015, when she attended an Urban Plunge at the house in Uptown. Gail’s home church in Gurnee, IL (Joy! Lutheran Church) partnered with JUSTembrace and JE hosted many Urban Plunges for Joy! people during 2014-15.
Gail felt a strong and immediate connection to JUSTembrace that Urban Plunge weekend. With a nod to her father’s ministry to homeless people in Uptown in the 1980s, helping at the monthly foot clinics soon became a regular part of Gail’s schedule. Gail loves to cook for and attend parties and events at the house and was a strong advocate for Sher to adopt Scout.
After a career in Human Resources, Gail retired from her full time corporate job at Abbott in 2018. She now balances part time work at Abbott with her personal catering business, following her passion to feed people at events and in community with one other.
Gail and her husband Sai are parents of 3 children, now adults. They reside in Wildwood, IL.
LORI RADDER: Secretary
Lori’s first encounter with JUSTembrace was in April of 2014, when she volunteered to serve at the monthly Foot Clinic on Easter Weekend. Fairly new to Chicago and hungry for authentic community in the city, Lori quickly became a regular attendee of JUSTembrace events and Sunday night small group. Since then, she has come to experience the JUSTembrace community as her core family in Chicago and a consistent embodiment of the Kingdom of God among us.
Lori is currently a student of The Living School, a program in contemplative spirituality run by Father Richard Rohr and the Center for Action and Contemplation. Her working hours are dedicated to the Near West Little League, a non-profit serving youth on the Near West Side of Chicago. She is passionate about racial justice, contemplative activism, biking, surfing the Great Lakes, and spending time with all her favorite humans and furry creatures. She has been honored to serve on the Board since January of 2019.
SHERILYN SHEETS: Founder/President/Executive Director
For our founder JUSTembrace has become a megaphone for a life passionately pursuing the other. Often feeling like an outsider throughout her life, Sher was sustained by frequent experiences of God’s unrelenting welcome. Today she is convinced that there is not much else worth doing than participating in that welcome – simultaneously giving and receiving hospitality among her neighbors.
Sher Sheets holds a BA in English from Southern Wesleyan University, an MA in Intercultural Studies from Wheaton College, and an MRE from Rochester University. With the support and active participation of the JUSTembrace community, Sher is currently working towards a doctorate at Lipscomb University. As of April 2019, Sher will have been a barista at her local Starbucks for six years where she delights in knowing her customers by name and customized order.