General Sessions

Our General Sessions Will Spotlight Dynamic Leaders and Their Stories 

Enjoy each unique, creative, and talented interpretation of what it means to Live Your Story.

Ted Swartz - The Arts, Vulnerability, and Mental Health

Art and storytelling invite us into spaces of empathy and vulnerability, and this story is particularly unique. During the tour of Ted’s play, Laughter Is Sacred Space, people were invited to share their own stories of struggling with mental disorders, suicide survival and stories of resilience and hope. Portraits is the result of collecting photos and stories from pockets across the continent, giving us a powerful and poignant window into the human soul.  These stories intersect with Ted’s experience of how vulnerability pushed, prodded and pulled him on the road to his own healing.

Ted Swartz is an actor, playwright, and author who will share the journey of his latest work, the recently published book, Portraits From The Human Faces Tour: Mental Health Struggles and Resilience.

Joyce Bontrager Lehman - Who Tells Your Story?

Based on her own life experience, Ms. Lehman will encourage each audience member to excavate and own his/her individual story to discover and articulate the culture, events and/or decisions that have determined the course and conduct of their lives.

Joyce Bontrager Lehman has been working in international economic development for more than 20 years with a primary focus on increasing access to financial services for low income populations in developing countries. She is currently in a governance capacity with microfinance banks in Tajikistan, Egypt, and Nicaragua. Previously at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation she managed a grant portfolio that funded projects throughout the developing world, including funding to support mobile payment platforms in South Asia. Her development work career began with the MEDA Consulting Group in 1999; from 2004 through 2007, she spent most of her time in Afghanistan working with the World Bank, USAID and other bi-lateral donors to establish and support a microfinance sector.

Sheri Plett-Wiedenhoefer - Living Our Story

We have been living into the story of Christ through the ethos of Anabaptism in our local and global communities for almost 500 years. In the Central Valley of California, we engage our faith in the fields ripe for harvest, across dangerous borders, in dehumanizing institutions, unjust systems and polarized communities. Local and global stories are shaping our culture, sharpening our values, and making us mutually accountable to one another. These are the stories that change us. Herein lies the essence of peacemaking- moving from brokenness to wholeness, trauma to healing and harm to restoration. Menno Simons said, “True evangelical faith cannot lie dormant. It clothes the naked, it feeds the hungry, it comforts the sorrowful, it shelters the destitute, it serves those that harm it, it binds up that which is wounded, it has become all things to all people.” These are the stories we are here to tell.

Sheri Wiedenhoefer experiences the best of life working together with others through shared vision, collaborative partnerships and reciprocal relationships that positively impact individuals, groups, organizations and communities. As Director of the Center for Peacemaking at Fresno Pacific University, she offers 30 years of experience in the field, beginning in the small rural agricultural communities in California’s Central Valley, spanning the globe through Mennonite Central Committee, and currently rooted firmly in Fresno with her husband Hans.

Ricardo Hernández​ - Sistema de Salud Menonita: A Compelling Growth Story

How the Mennonite Health System in Puerto Rico developed from one clinic to a 5 hospital system. Learn about the strategies that led to this formidable development. Built on the values of Mennonite church health care culture, the system continues thriving while maintaining its core values.

Mr. Ricardo Hernández is the new Chief Executive Officer of Sistema de Salud Menonita (Menonita or SSM) in Puerto Rico.  Prior to his appointment as CEO, he was second in command at Menonita as Associate Chief Executive Officer.