General Secretariat


Volunteers and Interns

Samanthe Huang

Murtaza Bahrainwala



The Rev. Dr Karin Achtelstetter
General Secretary

 Karin Achtelstetter was installed General Secretary of WACC, October 5, 2010. She is former Director and Editor-in-Chief of the Lutheran World Federation, and  former Coordinator of the Public Information Team & Media Relations Officer of the World Council of Churches, both based in Geneva.  She has also served on both the WACC Europe Executive Committee and WACC Board of Directors. Born in Schwabach, Germany, Karin holds a Masters in Theology and Bachelor of Arts from the Friedrich-Alexander University, Erlangen, Germany as well as a Master of Arts in Women’s Studies from the University of Kent at Canterbury, England. She also has a diploma in International leadership, with a focus on organizational development, from the Craighead Institute, Glasgow and The Grubb Institute, London. She was ordained to the ministry of word and sacrament of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria in January 2010 and has served as an occasional lecturer in the Department for Practical Theology, Christian Communication Unit, Faculty of Theology, Friedrich-Alexander University. In November 2011, she was conferred Doctor of Divinity (Honoris Causa) by the Academy of Ecumenical Indian Theology and Church Administration in Chennai, India. Staff Liaison for WACC-Asia Region, she speaks German, English, French and Spanish

Philip Lee
Deputy General Secretary
Philip Lee, a British national, joined WACC in 1975 and is currently Deputy General Secretary and editor of the international journal Media Development. Publications include Requiem: Here’s Another Fine Mass You’ve Gotten Me Into (2001); Many Voices, One Vision: The Right to Communicate in Practice (ed.) (2004); Communicating Peace: Entertaining Angels Unawares (ed.) (2008), and Public Memory, Public Media and the Politics of Justice (co-ed.) (2012). In January 2013 he was conferred Doctor of Divinity (honoris causa) by the Academy of Ecumenical Indian Theology and Church Administration in Chennai, India. Staff Liaison for WACC-North America Region, he speaks English, French and Spanish.

Joseph Patterson
Financial Controller

Joseph Patterson joined WACC in 2015 as Finance Manager with responsibility for accounting, finance and reporting. A Jamaican-Canadian he holds a Bachelor of Accounting Science Degree from the University of Calgary and is a Canadian designated Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA), and Certified General Accountant (CGA).

Sarah Macharia
Programme Manager for Gender and Communication and for Monitoring Rural Poverty Reporting
Sarah Macharia joined WACC in April 2007. Of Kenyan origin, she is a feminist political economist with a Ph.D. in Political Science from York University, Toronto, Canada. She has extensive work experience in the field of gender and human development having worked with various African civil society and international development organisations. She is also currently a contributing researcher at the International Secretariat for Human Development housed at the York University. Staff Liaison for the WACC-Africa region, she speaks English and French in addition to two East African languages.

Lorenzo Vargas
Program Coordinator
 for Communication for Social Change
Lorenzo joined WACC in 2015 to coordinate WACC's Strengthening Community Radio Programme. Originally from Colombia, Lorenzo has also worked as a media producer, communications consultant, teacher, researcher and facilitator with organizations in the non-profit and education sector. He holds an Honours BA in International Development from York University, and an MA in Communication Studies from McGill University with a focus on communication for social change. Prior to joining WACC, Lorenzo worked with the Mosaic Institute as a programme manager and strategic communication advisor. Lorenzo speaks English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese.

Val Kalende
Communications and Campaign Assistant
Originally from Uganda, Val Kalende is a journalist, communications specialist and researcher. She has worked with sexual minority communities and civil society groups in Uganda and has held two research fellowships with U.S.-based international non-profit organizations. She holds a BA in Information Science from Makerere University (Uganda), an MA in theology - with a focus on religion, sexuality and social justice - from Episcopal Divinity School (U.S) and has studied Global Development at Queen’s University (Canada). She is also Digital Communications Assistant at a youth non-profit organization in Toronto.

Gisèle Langendries
Administrator for Programmes and Funding

Gisèle Landendries is a graduate in Latin American Studies from the University of Essex, United Kingdom. Born in Belgium, she joined WACC in 1999. Staff Liaison for the WACC-Caribbean Region, she speaks French, English and Spanish.

Shari McMaster
Administrative Coordinator

Shari McMaster has recently joined WACC in the capacity of Administrative Coordinator with a view to providing assistance and support to the Secretariat. Shari comes to WACC after working for many years as a law clerk. She is currently enrolled in the Non-Profit Management course at Ryerson University.

Shushanik Nazaryan
Accounting and Administrative assistant
Shushanik Nazaryan joined WACC as an Accounting and Administrative assistant in 2017. She came to WACC with accounting experience in not-for-profit organisations in Canada. Originally from Armenia, she has a university education in Economy from Armenia and a diploma with Honours from Canadian CDI College in Accounting and Payroll Administration. She also completed Canadian Payroll Association Certificate and holds a CPA Certificate. She speaks English and Russian in addition to her native Armenian language.

Callie Long
Development and Grants Consultant
Callie Long joined WACC on a part-time basis as a development and grants consultant, bringing expertise in media development, organisational communication and journalism, with a focus on public health and conflict. She earned her M.A. in International and Intercultural Communication at Royal Roads University in Victoria and is completing her Ph.D. at Brock University, St. Catharines in the Interdisciplinary Humanities program. Long has in the past worked for among other organisations, ACT International (now the ACT Alliance), and as a consultant for the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance of the World Council of Churches.

Keith Nunn
IT Consultant
Keith Nunn joined WACC on a part time basis to provide strategic IT advice, advance technology projects and to provide day to day support in matters relating to technology. He has provided strategic and security-based technology advice and support to both private companies and non-profits over a lengthy career.

Sara Speicher
WACC UK Development Manager
Sara Speicher, originally from the USA, joined the World Council of Churches in 1997 as a program assistant in the WCC Programto Overcome Violence. In 1999, she became a WCC communication officer and then coordinator of WCC Public Information. At the end of 2003 she married and moved to the United Kingdom where she set up an independent media and communications consultancy, working with organizations such as the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, World AIDS Campaign, Cordaid and World YWCA.

Karri Whipple
WACC UN Liaison (New York)
Karri Whipple is a media specialist, writer, and intimate justice activist from the United States.  Her work focuses on the intersection of trauma, identity, and religion.  She is a doctoral candidate at Drew University and serves as a lecturer in Women’s and Gender Studies and Religion.  She also consults for several interfaith organizations in New York City and is the executive coordinator of the Religion Communication Congress 2020.

Saskia Rowley
Web Design and Communications Consultant

Saskia Rowley joined WACC on a part-time basis as a web design and communications consultant. An accredited designer, she manages  the graphics and print department for the Anglican Church of Canada and is art director of Anglican Journal, the Anglican Church’s national newspaper. She served as vice-president on the board of the Canadian Church Press and is a member of the Associated Church Press and the Society of News Designers. 

Solange De Santis
Communications Consultant

Solange De Santis joined WACC on a part-time basis as a communications consultant. She is contributing to news coverage as well as advising on matters related to WACC’s public profile. De Santis earned a master’s degree at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and a bachelor’s degree in English at Barnard College in New York City. She was editor of Episcopal Life Media, a staff writer for nine years at the Anglican Journal in Toronto, and most recently editor of the ecumenical news service ENInews.

Simon Chambers
Head of Communications (ACT Alliance)
Simon Chambers has a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and Religious Studies from the University of Toronto and over 20 years of work experience in the Anglican Church in Canada. He moved to the position of Head of Communications for ACT Alliance from The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, Canada,  where he served as a Communications Coordinator since 2010. From 2011 he served as the Chair of ACT Alliance's Communications, Media and Brand Advisory Group and has considerable experience of print, web, photography, social and traditional media, fundraising and marketing.

Joanna Patouris
Climate Change Communications Coordinator
Joanna has joined the ACT Alliance as a climate change communications coordinator. Originally from Swaziland, Joanna holds an MA in Environmental Studies, with a focus on climate change governance and development from York University and a BA in Economics- Environmental Studies and Sociology from St. Lawrence University (USA). Prior to joining the ACT Alliance, Joanna has actively engaged in climate change advocacy and policy work over the years in various platforms including the UNFCCC and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Volunteers and Interns

Robert Gray

Robert Gray joined WACC in 2009 as a volunteer. He is from l'Arche Toronto Community and comes into WACC once a week to assist with various administrative tasks.



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