Category Archives: LUM Staff

The Rev. Wes Tillett – LUM Executive Director


His Vision, His Passion & His Inspiration

Restoring human dignity…which all God’s people need and deserve” is the part of the LUM Mission Statement that speaks to Wes Tillett the most. He stated that,

Each of us is made in God’s image — ‘Imago Dei.’ Everyone has value and meaning and is worthy of love and respect. The word, ‘dignity,’ perfectly encapsulates that sentiment. I pledge to continue the long history of LUM to meet people right where they are — and offer help and hope.” 

Wes attempts to “Live a Life of Love” each and every day (Ephesians 5:2). He commented that,

Love is the most important thing to me. A love that’s full of action, full of grace and truth, full of justicepeace, and joy, full of the life-giving nature of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” Wes is inspired by faithfulness. He stated that, “It is so easy to be distracted, to be motivated by FOMO (fear of missing out), to take the convenient way out when things get tough. When people have grit, when they keep their word, when they have integrity in public and private, when they make sacrifices to help others, I get inspired.” He is inspired by “all those unknown saints who are faithful to God in their own quiet way, day after day.

Wes is also inspired by the three executive directors who have preceded him. These three leaders, Joe Micon, the Rev. Jud Dolphin, and the late Rev. Ron Elly, have left a legacy of serving “the least” and thereby serving God (Matthew 25:40). They have, over the decades, built a strong agency that has a solid infrastructure, vital services, talented staff, dedicated volunteers including board members, supportive community and government partners and a great reputation. Wes is honored and humbled to serve as the next leader of Lafayette Urban Ministry.

Recently, Rita, Wes’s wife, met a former LUM Camper of his from 15 years ago, who is now 23 years old. Wes was amazed to hear how much his attention and affection meant to this camper. He added,

As I come to serve at LUM again, I hope to enrich the lives of thousands of people — those who are served and those who serve. Hope, help, healing, hospitality — all done in love and wisdom — I hope to uplift many in the community through these.


His Experience & His Education

Wes Tillett earned a BA in Biblical Education and graduated summa cum laude from Cedarville University (Ohio). He was elected by the student body to serve on a student pastoral leadership team — preaching and leading worship on campus. He earned a Master in Divinity from Western Theological Seminary (Michigan), where he received two awards as an outstanding graduating candidate and a third for outstanding work in Christian education and formation for ministry assignments.

From 2003-2010, the Tillett family lived in downtown Lafayette and were engaged with LUM. In 2005, Wes was the assistant to the program director of the LUM After School Program, who at the time was his wife, Rita. He assisted in program logistics, tutored, mentored and in the process became a self-proclaimed basketball champion & kickball legend. During this time he also served as a volunteer LUM Camp counselor. Wes was the youth minister at First Christian Church (2003-2005) and then the director of Family & Youth Ministries at Central Presbyterian Church (2005-2010). He was the Mission Co-Worker in Zahle, Lebanon (2010-2012) and served in various churches in Indiana, Michigan, and Virginia. 

For the past seven years, the Rev. Wesley Tillett has been the founding, lead pastor at Voyage Church in Oshtemo, Michigan. He also founded the Oshtemo Area Churches, a coalition of five churches from different denominations, which addresses food insecurity, mentoring, tutoring, and clothing needs, by partnering with food banks and elementary schools. OAC received the Champ Award in 2016 by the Communities in Schools.


His Family, His Background, His Favorites

Wes Tillett is originally from Rensselaer, Indiana, and graduated from Rensselaer Central High School. He currently lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan, with his family and their goldendoodle, Hunter.

Wes and his wife, Rita HurleyTillett, grew up together and were middle school sweethearts. One Christmas day, when they weren’t even dating, Wes showed up at Rita’s doorstep to ask if she’d marry him. Today they are the proud and grateful parents of four children — Tobias (13), Kidest (11), Avalyn (6), and Noah (5). Wes and Rita feel blessed to have received their children through birth and adoption — internationally from Ethiopia and domestically through foster care.

Growing up on the prairies of northwest Indiana, Wes developed a love for the outdoors and Chicago sports teams (Bears, Bulls and Cubs); and Wes & Rita grew up cheering for the Purdue Boilermakers. (Boiler Up!) Wes enjoys swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, sailing, water skiing and stand-up paddle boarding, also known as “SUP-ing.” He also loves playing board games with his children, date nights with Rita, hiking with his dog (Hunter), traveling to new places, playing guitar & hand drums, painting, and spending time alone with God. He has a passion for holistic health (body, mind, soul) and staying in shape by participating in 5K runs and sprint triathlons. In addition to his work, Wes has been active in the community with agencies focused on children, mentoring, and education.

  • Wes’s favorite Bible passage is, “I am the vine; you are the branches” (John 15:5)
  • His favorite quote is “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years,” attributed to Mark Twain
  • His favorite poem is The Peace of Wild Things by poet, novelist, essayist, farmer, and environmentalist, Wendell Berry, from Kentucky 

The Peace of Wild Things


When despair for the world grows in me and

I wake in the night at the least sound

in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,

I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water,

and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things

who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief.

I come into the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light.

For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

~ Wendell Berry (1968)

Rev. Susan Brouillette, Salute to Women Honoree


Brouillette Celebrated as Immigration Advocate


At a special dinner last Tuesday, the Rev. Susan Brouillette, the LUM Immigration Clinic founding director, was an honoree the 47th annual Salute to Women program. Susan was one of only 12 women honored this year. She is being recognized for being an “immigration advocate” and for being “instrumental in the development of Lafayette Urban Ministry’s Immigration Clinic.

Joe Micon, LUM executive director remarked that,

Most of the immigrants and asylum seekers who come to the LUM Immigration Clinic are in serious straights. Some are without family or friends. In Susan Brouillette, they have found an advocate who represents and defends them with skill and commitment. She is one of those rare and extraordinary individuals responsible for our community being such a diverse and welcoming place.

Join us in congratulating the Rev. Susan Brouillette for this well deserved recognition.


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Immigration Clinic

Room Dedicated to LUM Executive Directors

LUM Conference Room Dedication Ceremony

At a special reception last Thursday evening, the conference room in the LUM Office was dedicated to the Executive Directors of Lafayette Urban Ministry. The emcee for the event was the Rev. Don Nead.

Those honored at this event were as follows:

  • Executive Directors: Joe Micon, the Rev. Jud Dolphin & the Rev. Ron Elly
  • Acting Executive Director: Mary Anderson
  • Interim Executive Directors: the Rev. Kurt Kremlich & Jo Johannsen

Joan Low, LUM Board president, also bestowed the title of Executive Director Emeritus to Joe Micon, Rev. Jud Dolphin & Rev. Ron Elly; and Acting Executive Director Emerita to Mary Anderson. Accepting for the Rev. Ron Elly was his wife, Ellen. After the “ribbon cutting,” the guests attended a reception in the newly dedicated conference room, which now displays plaques in tribute to the above mentioned honorees.

It was a wonderful program and the beginning of a new LUM tradition.


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Salute to Joe Micon

{Pictured above L to R are the Rev. Don Nead, the Rev. Jud Dolphin, Ellen Elly, Joan Low, Mary Anderson, Cheryl Fowler & Joe Micon.}
To view more PHOTOS, click HERE.

Joe Micon Receives Distinguished Alumnus Award


At an alumni awards luncheon last Friday at the Indiana University campus in Indianapolis, Joe Micon received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the IU School of Social Work Alumni Association. Joe was nominated by Mark Thomas, former LUM Board president and Eileen Weiss, LUM business manager. Mark and Joe’s family were able to attend the luncheon as well.

The IU School of Social Work Alumni Association’s Distinguished Alumnus Award is given annually to alumni who demonstrate outstanding service and leadership to the profession, state and school.

Congratulations Joe for this special IU School of Social Work alumni award.


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Salute to Joe Micon

{Pictured above with Joe Micon is Mark Thomas, former LUM Board President.}
To view more PHOTOS from the event, click HERE.
To view Joe Micon’s Remarks, click HERE.

Joe Micon Receives the Sagamore of the Wabash

One of the surprises for Joe Micon at the LUM Retirement Follies was receiving the Sagamore of the Wabash award from Governor Eric Holcomb, presented by State Senator Ron Alting.

The highest distinction in Indiana is the designation of “Sagamore of the Wabash” by the state governor. It is a personal tribute usually given to those who have rendered a distinguished service to the state or to the governor. Among those who have received Sagamores have been astronauts, presidents, politicians, ambassadors, artists, musicians, and ordinary citizens who have contributed greatly to our Hoosier heritage.

Congratulation to Joe Micon for becoming one of the select few to received this honorary award.


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Salute to Joe Micon

The Sagamore of the Wabash award reads:
WHEREAS, the greatness of the Sons of Indiana derives, in part, from qualities possessed by the noble Chieftains of the Indiana Tribes which once roamed its domain; and
WHEREAS, it has been the immemorial custom of the State of Indiana to attract to its support those who have exhibited such qualities; and
WHEREAS, there has endeared himself to the Citizens of Indiana one Joe Micon distinguished by his Humanity in Living, his Loyalty in Friendship, his Wisdom in Council, and his Inspiration in Leadership:
NOW, THEREFORE, recognizing his greatness and desiring to avail myself of his counsel, I do hereby appoint him a chieftain upon my staff with the rank and title of SAGAMORE of the WABASH
WITNESS my hand and the Seal of the Council of the Sagamores at Indianapolis, Indiana this 6th day of March in the year of Our Lord, Two Thousand and Twenty.
Signed: Eric J. Holcomb, Governor of the State of Indiana.

Joe Micon


Biography

Joe Micon is the Executive Director of the Lafayette Urban Ministry.  LUM is an organization of 47 Greater Lafayette area churches that serves as a social safety net for at-risk children and low-income families.  He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Sociology from Purdue University (1980) and a Master of Social Work Degree from Indiana University (1983).

Joe is our retired Indiana State Representative from West Lafayette – serving two terms from 2004 to 2008.  While at the Statehouse, Joe served as Vice Chair of the Indiana House Education Committee. He is also a past President of the Warren County Council, serving from 1998 to 2002.

He currently serves as Commissioner of the Indiana Lobbyist Registration Commission, is a member of the Purdue University Public Health Program Advisory Board, the Association of Retired Members of the Indiana General Assembly, the St. Vincent Williamsport Hospital Board of Directors and the Creasy Springs Retirement Community Board.

Micon has been a member of St. Thomas Aquinas Roman Catholic Church Parish Council, the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce’s Third House, the West Lafayette Rotary Club, the National Association of Social Workers, the Board of Directors of the Purdue University Warren County Cooperative Extension Agency, the Indiana University School of Medicine Lafayette Advisory Board and the Advisory Board for St. Vincent’s Hospital in Williamsport.  He was a Junior Achievement volunteer in his children’s school, and a youth baseball coach. Micon served on the Benton Community School Corporation’s Textbook Adoption Committee, the Vision 2020 Education Round-table, and the Warren County Child Protection Team. He has served on the Editorial Board of the Lafayette Journal and Courier, the Indiana Native American Commission and on the Indiana Family and Social Service Administration’s Select Welfare Reform Advisory Council.  

His spouse, Jo Micon, is the Dean of the School of Public Affairs, Social Services and Education  at IVY Tech’s Lafayette Campus. They have two adult children; Katie, a Physician Assistant at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center in Bellingham, Washington and Jonathan, a Ph.D candidate in Archaeology at the University of Georgia in Athens GA.


Hoosier Social Change Agent

Joseph “Joe” Micon

From 1980 to 1989, Joe Micon directed the LUM Advocate, Jubilee Christmas, Repairs on Wheels and Social Justice Programs. In 1990, the LUM Board of Directors appointed Joe Micon as the third Executive Director, where he quickly established LUM as a 21st century model for church engagement.  

During his tenure at Lafayette Urban Ministry:

  • LUM Camp grew, and After School and 5th Quarter Summer Learning Programs were created for at-risk youth. 
  • LUM Tax Assistance Program, Immigration Clinic, ID Clinic, Winter Warming Station and Protein Food Pantry were established.  
  • Four “Isaiah 32” houses were purchased. 
  • Three major capital campaigns were successfully completed, buildings were built and solar energy was brought to LUM.  

Joe Micon significantly expanded LUM’s fundraising, established LUM’s social media presence and grew LUM’s membership to 47 churches. LUM was recognized by MSW Online Magazine as One of the 99 Most Effective Non-profit Organizations in America. 

The first social worker ever elected to the Indiana General Assembly, Joe served two terms, from 2004 to 2008.  His legislative accomplishments include increasing Indiana’s minimum wage, authoring full day kindergarten, making state taxes more progressive, greater funding for K-12 remediation and expanding Indiana’s 21st Century Scholars Program. Consumer protections were strengthened, death rates for teen drivers decreased and our community found in Joe Micon a tireless advocate for Purdue University.  

LUM Staff Retreat – Annual Daylong Renewal

FISH! Philosophy Introduced to LUM Staff

Recently, the Lafayette Urban Ministry staff members participated in a daylong “retreat” at Hanging Rock Christian Assembly Camp, West Lebanon.

This year’s retreat focused on improving the “organizational culture” using “energy, passion & positive attitudes” that leads to better service and a more collaborative & creative team. Pablo Malavenda, LUM executive program director, led the retreat using the “FISH! Philosophy“ video and structured discussions related to their work at LUM. It was a fun & powerful retreat — everyone was open-minded, eager to learn and excited about the topic. The LUM staff members also had an opportunity to learn more about each other. Everyone is now refreshed and motivated to improve their work with clients, guests, volunteers, children, students, parents & families.

Rev. Susan Brouillette – Remarkable Local Woman

Salute to Women 2020 – Honoree – March 3

The Rev. Susan Brouillette, the LUM Immigration Clinic founding director, will be honored at the 47th annual Salute to Women program. Susan is one of only 12 women being honored this year at a dinner and celebration on Tuesday, March 3. She is being recognized for being an “immigration advocate” and for being “instrumental in the development of Lafayette Urban Ministry’s Immigration Clinic.

Joe Micon, LUM executive director remarked that,

Most of the immigrants and asylum seekers who come to the LUM Immigration Clinic are in serious straights. Some are without family or friends. In Susan Brouillette, they have found an advocate who represents and defends them with skill and commitment. She is one of those rare and extraordinary individuals responsible for our community being such a diverse and welcoming place.

Join us in congratulating the Rev. Susan Brouillette for this well deserved recognition.


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Immigration Clinic

Meet Josh Prokopy – New Role with LUM in 2020

This year, Josh J. Prokopy will be expanding his role with LUM to include outreach, fundraising and tax assistance. Josh will now be the director of two major fundraising events (Hunger Hike & Turkey Trot 5K Run), the Tax Assistance Program and the Dream Team project.

Josh grew up in Conway, Massachusetts and now lives in West Lafayette with his wife, Linda, and their three teenage children, Annabel, Margaret & David. Anabel & Margaret are both in 10th grade, and David is in 7th grade, all at West Lafayette Junior/Senior High School. They are members of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tippecanoe County.

Josh earned a bachelor’s in independent concentration from University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and both a Master’s in Sociology and a Master’s in Social Work from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. In addition to being active in the community with housing related organizations and with his church, he is an avid home-brewer of beer and has a 2nd degree black belt in Taekwondo. Josh enjoys being out in nature, playing strategy games, and spending time with friends and family engaged in meaningful conversation, “preferably over a pint of excellent home-brewed beer.”

LUM is fortunate to have someone with Josh’s talent and experience as a member of the team.

Meet Monica – New LUM Staff Member


Monica Casanova, Immigration Clinic Asst. Director

Monica Casanova is the new Assistant Director of the LUM Immigration Clinic (reporting to the Immigration Clinic director). 

She grew up and lives in Lafayette with Neal Starkey, her husband, and their two daughters, Ella and Violet. Monica graduated from Jefferson High School, earned a BA in Education from Purdue University and two Master’s degrees in Library Science & Public History from Indiana University/Purdue University – Indianapolis, and is the vice president of the Greater Lafayette Immigrant Allies.

As a longtime volunteer with the LUM Immigration Clinic, Monica is excited about her new role with Lafayette Urban Ministry. She shared that,

becoming the assistant director gives me an opportunity to increase my impact on the families served by the Immigration Clinic.

In her free time, Monica enjoys reading, watching movies & TV, listening to music — and most importantly spending time with her family and supporting her children in their activities. LUM is fortunate to have Monica join the LUM team.