Our Team

DART Center staff provide support to 31 local organizations through consulting, training events, and organizer recruitment.

Executive Director

John Aeschbury

While pastoring in the center city of Dayton, Ohio, John was frustrated at the ability of his congregation to act on fundamental problems of poor schools, run-down housing, lack of jobs, and crime. That frustration led him to work with other clergy to start a congregation-based community organization that came to be known as LEAD. When the time came in 1990 for LEAD to hire a Lead Organizer, the new organization turned to John. From 1990 to 2013, John served as the Lead Organizer for two groups: LEAD (Dayton) and BREAD (Columbus). Both organizations successfully tackled a broad range of community problems from payday lending to affordable housing, and demonstrated how large numbers of organized people could get public officials to focus on solving serious community problems rather than simply attending to the narrow interests of those with lots of money.

When John Calkins, one of the founders of the DART Center, retired in 2013, the DART Board hired John Aeschbury to become DART’s second Executive Director. In taking on this responsibility, John stated his commitment to build on the legacy of all of those who brought DART to this point, and work as hard as possible to pass along that legacy to another generation of clergy, lay leaders and organizers. From John’s point of view, DART is uniquely positioned to help people of faith re-claim the biblical mandate to ‘do justice’.

John is an ordained minister. He is married and has three children.

Caring for Creation

Megan O'Brien

Bio coming soon!
Great Plains Coordinator

Ben MacConnell

Ben MacConnell has worked within the DART Network for 25 years in different roles. He is currently our Great Plains Coordinator where he assists clergy and community leaders to build new, non-profit, congregation-based community organizing groups committed to doing justice in every major city throughout Kansas and Nebraska. So far, he's helped to establish and staff new organizations including Churches United for Justice in Kansas City, Kansas, the Good Faith Network in Johnson County, Kansas, Justice Matters in Lawrence, Kansas, and Topeka Justice and Unity Ministry Project (Topeka JUMP) in Topeka, Kansas, and the Lancaster County Interfaith Justice Organization in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Between 2014-2022, he was the Lead Organizer for Justice Matters in Lawrence, Kansas where he used a range of strategies to acquire evidence-based policy reform on a wide range of justice campaigns including: mass people actions, litigation, corporate partnerships, alliance building, and media engagement. This has resulted in criminal justice reform, restorative justice in schools, increased mental health services, public investment in affordable housing, and others.

Between 2000-2014, he played an instrumental role in our system for identifying, recruiting, screening, hiring and training over professional organizers and community leaders through as the DART Center's National Recruitment Director.

Prior to his time with DART, he completed the Green Corps environmental advocacy training program and served in the Church of Brethren's Volunteer Service for two years in the Czech Republic.

Finally, he is a father and husband in a family that has fostered many teenage boys including the adoption of two for a total of three boys.

Director of Organizing

Haley Grossman

Bio coming soon!
Director of Recruitment

Moe Leneweaver

Moe began her organizing career at IMPACT in Charlottesville before relocating to Colorado in 2016 to be closer to family. She spent three years fundraising for a state-level environmental advocacy organization and another year and a half fundraising for a school before returning to building power and doing justice with DART.

She and her spouse Jac live in Leadville, CO, a small town that happens to be the highest elevation city in America at 10,200 feet. When she’s not at work (or shoveling snow), Moe loves exploring local rivers and trails with her dog, Roo, and hosting family and friends for mountain adventures.

Director of Talent

Hannah Wittmer

Hannah has been connecting talented folks with community organizing careers as part of the DART recruitment team since 2009. She has also worked with clergy to lay the groundwork for establishing congregation-based community organizations in Topeka, KS (Topeka JUMP) and Lawrence, KS (Justice Matters).

She lives in Harrisonburg, VA, where she enjoys gardening, pickleball and family hikes in the national forest.

Director of Leader Training

Sarah Storar

Sarah Storar has organized with DART and local DART organizations since 2009. She received her initial training through the DART Organizers Institute with CLOUT in Louisville, KY and then went on to become an associate organizer and later the lead organizer for IMPACT in Charlottesville, VA. After a few years, she returned to her hometown of Dayton, OH as the lead organizer for LEAD. In 2014, Sarah joined the DART staff as a recruiter and training coordinator.

Sarah’s work with IMPACT and LEAD resulted in increased access to mental health services, the implementation of a Limited English Proficiency policy for law enforcement, a “Ban the Box” campaign that increased employment opportunities for returning citizens, and the successful conclusion of a hard-fought 3-year public transit expansion, the battle for which required her organization to register and win a groundbreaking federal Title VI violation complaint. As a part of DART staff, she finds it deeply rewarding to identify new organizers, and to both help cultivate leaders’ skills and expand their understanding of power and direct action at DART training events.

Sarah was drawn into organizing right out of undergrad, compelled by a deep-seeded sense of injustice that had its roots both in her anger with congregations wanting to talk about community problems rather than work for long-term solutions, and in the appalling disparities she saw between the wealthy suburban school district where she grew up, and the neighboring conditions at inner-city Dayton Public Schools.

Sarah has a bachelor’s in History and Religious Studies from the College of Wooster, and currently lives in Virginia Beach, VA with her husband and daughter.

Assistant Recruitment Director

Justin Martin

Originally from Columbus, OH, Justin is a new transplant to the Boston area. He brings a diverse set of perspectives to the DART team thanks to his professional background in sales and nonprofit development, as well as his educational background in political science and law.

In his free time, Justin enjoys gaming, photography and performing music with his hip hop duo P2I.

Director of Organizer Training

Jennifer Ruglio

Jennifer began her organizing career within the DART Network in 2012 at BREAD in Columbus, Ohio. There she led campaigns that expanded small business development to create new jobs and community-based mental healthcare to provide care for people in crisis.

Jennifer became the Lead Organizer with BUILD in Lexington, Kentucky in 2016 leading a team to set new local records in building people power and grassroots fundraising. During her tenure, BUILD fought and won community improvements around the criminalization of people with mental illness, racial disparities in education, drug addiction, gun violence and affordable housing.

Jennifer joined DART staff in 2021 as the Director of Organizer Training where she oversees the Organizers Institute for new organizers and ongoing module training, among other things.

In her free time, Jennifer enjoys going on adventures with her partner and running an Instagram account for her not-yet-famous cats.

Assistant Recruitment Director

Melissa Pluss

Melissa Pluss is thrilled to be an Assistant Recruitment Director for DART. She has been transformed by community organizing and is motivated to bring others into this work who share a passion for justice and equity. Melissa has six years experience in faith-based and grassroots community organizing and is passionate about building grassroots leadership. While at CLOUT in Louisville KY, she was instrumental in building community led campaigns to shut off the school to prison pipeline and to address bullying in schools. During her time as Organizing Director at United for A New Economy in Denver she built a multi-lingual, multi-generational, multi-racial organizing committee that fought for renters rights, affordable housing, and language justice at the
city and state level.

Since 2018 Melissa has served on the board of directors at Colorado Circles for Change, a youth centered organization creating pathways to reduce juvenile violence and incarceration, as well as creating opportunities for youth to discover sacred relationships with self, family and community. Melissa is active at Highlands Church in Denver, and has a Masters in Pastoral and Spiritual Care from Iliff School of Theology. She is the proud wife and mother to a sweet baby boy who keeps her smiling and grateful everyday.

Board of directors

We have a great board of directors, too

Many of our board members are also heavily involved in leading the justice ministry in their city.