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Keynote Speakers The GCN Conference attracts keynote speakers and performers from a variety of perspectives, known nationally and internationally for their faith work. Past speakers include Philip Yancey, Rachel Held Evans, Vicky Beeching, Jeff Chu, Peter Gomes, Tony Campolo, and more.

Gene Robinson

Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson Retired Episcopal bishop and international LGBTQ activist

V. Gene Robinson is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, Washington, DC. He was elected Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire on June 7, 2003, becoming the first openly gay and partnered Bishop in historic Christianity. Despite national and international efforts to derail his ordination, he was consecrated a Bishop on All Saints Sunday, November 2, 2003, and was invested as the Ninth Bishop of New Hampshire on March 7, 2004, and served until his retirement from that position in early 2013.

He is currently on the Boards of Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund and the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington. He holds several honorary doctorates and has received numerous awards from national civil rights organizations. His story is featured in the 2007 feature-length documentary, “For the Bible Tells Me So,” and his book In the Eye of the Storm: Swept to the Center by God (Seabury Books, New York) was published in 2008.

Bishop Robinson has been particularly active in the area of full civil rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. Working at the state, national, and international levels, he has spoken and lobbied for equal protection under the law and full civil marriage rights. He has been honored by many LGBTQ organizations for this work, including the Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, the National LGBTQ Task Force, GLAAD, GLAD, PFLAG, and the Equality Forum, and in 2014 was named by the Washington Post as one of the 21 most influential LGBTQ people in Washington, DC.

In 2012, he authored God Believes in Love: Straight Talk About Gay Marriage (Knopf) contributing to the national debate about marriage equality, and a feature-length documentary on Bishop Robinson’s ministry, “Love Free or Die,” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, winning the Special Jury Prize.


Paula Williams

Rev. Dr. Paula Williams National trans advocate and former megachurch pastor

Rev. Dr. Paula Williams was the CEO of one of America's largest church planting organizations. She was also a megachurch preaching pastor, a magazine editor, and a seminary instructor. All of that ended when she transitioned from Paul to Paula. After 35 years in New York, Paula moved to Lyons, Colorado, where she currently works as a pastoral counselor and church consultant. She also serves with OPEN, a network of progressive evangelicals and the Center for Progressive Renewal, both initiatives of Convergence. Paula also serves on the board of the Gay Christian Network. For more information about Paula, visit paulastonewilliams.com.


Ling Lam

Ling Lam Psychologist and leadership coach

Ling Lam is a licensed psychotherapist in California and an onsite counselor at Google. He is on faculty in the Department of Counseling Psychology at Santa Clara University, where he teaches classes on couple therapy, complex trauma, and LGBTQ counseling. Previously, Ling was the founding Clinical Director of the Silicon Valley chapter of A Home Within, the largest national non-profit dedicated to serving the emotional needs of foster children. He continues to provide pro-bono therapy through A Home Within as well as Give An Hour Foundation, a non-profit serving the mental health needs of military veterans and their families.

Originally born in Beijing (China) in an atheist family, Ling grew up in Hong Kong and came to the U.S. to attend university, where he became a Christian in a Southern Baptist Church. He was involved for 5+ years in ex-gay ministries before finding GCN and served 4 years on the GCN Board of Directors.

Before he became a psychotherapist, Ling worked as an engineer in Silicon Valley and was part of the original engineering team that invented the world’s first HDMI chip. Ling holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University, Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Santa Clara University, Ph.D. in Psychology from Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, and is a graduate of the Group Facilitation Training Program at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.


Jane Clementi

Jane Clementi Founder and Executive Director of the Tyler Clementi Foundation

Jane Clementi, mother of Tyler Clementi and co-founder of the Tyler Clementi Foundation, is dedicated to ending online and offline bullying in schools, workplaces, and faith communities. She views educational research, legislative advocacy, and awareness programming, as well as sharing her personal story of loss, as the way to make this change in society. She speaks out about the pain and destruction caused by harassment in an effort to change hearts and minds.

Jane believes that everyone should be allowed to live and thrive in an environment based on respect and dignity for our differences and our shared humanity. Jane, a registered nurse, speaks on the need for parents of LGBTQ children to come out and speak openly of the love they have for their children, and in doing so each one of us can impact the world around us and create accepting environments.

Since losing Tyler, Jane’s spiritual journey has continued to carry and transform her in ways she never would have imagined. She left her church home of many years because she felt that while sitting in the pews of a church that condemned LGBTQ people she was herself a bystander to bullying. Jane leads an inspirational life through her unique experience which she shares with other parents, and speaks passionately about the need to separate the concept of “sin” from homosexuality. She has made difficult choices in an impossible situation, and leads by example. She has spoken out in support of LGBTQ rights and the need for families and communities to embrace their LGBTQ populations.


Janet Edwards

Women’s Retreat Speaker Rev. Janet Edwards Presbyterian minister and blogger

Rev. Janet Edwards grew up in Pittsburgh and was baptized, confirmed, and ordained in the Eastminster Presbyterian Church (PCUSA). She received her M.Div from Yale Divinity School and her PhD in spirituality from Duquesne University. She served in small churches in the Pittsburgh area until her children required all her pastoral juices. Increasingly active in the pro-LGBTQ movement, in 2005, she presided at the wedding of two women, leading to two trials in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Extensive media coverage of these trials helped her join in the national discussion of the place of LGBTQ people in our society and in God’s heart. She served on the More Light Presbyterians board during the period in which ordination opened to LGBTQ candidates and was a Commissioner to the 2014 PCUSA General Assembly where marriage as between two people was approved. In middle age, she wakened to her identity as bisexual in orientation. She blogs at revjanetedwards.com and has written for Believe Out Loud, the Huffington Post, the Washington Post, and the Christian Century. She is presently a parish associate at The Community House Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh.

Learn more about the Women’s Retreat here.


Darren Calhoun

Worship Leader Darren Calhoun

Darren Calhoun is currently the worship leader at Urban Village Church South Loop in Chicago and previously served as a volunteer worship leader at Willow Chicago for 9 years. Worship has been a central part of Darren’s ministry life including leading choirs, dance teams, and visual arts ministries. Racial justice and LGBTQ+ inclusion are especially important to him. Darren is an Associate Fellow for Racial Justice with Evangelicals for Social Action and has worked with various groups to build relationships across ideological divides.

In 2015 Darren facilitated a workshop on intersectionality at GCN in Huston, TX. He brings with him an intentional focus on the church being inclusive of a diversity of people and expressions as an authentic reflection of the Kingdom of God. Lastly, Darren is an extrovert who loves hugs, anything involving chocolate and peanut butter, and social media. Follow him on social media @heyDarren or his blog darrencalhoun.com.


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