Freedom School Executive Director

Rev. Pamela Pirtle

Rev. Pamela Pirtle of the Northern Illinois Conference of the United Methodist Church (UMC) is the Senior Director of Leadership Development and Accountability for the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women (GCSRW) for the UMC. She is responsible for training, resourcing, and supporting annual conference representatives in both the United States and globally by providing information and education for the full inclusion of women. She also drafts and recommends legislation for the general church and oversees monitoring functions on behalf of the agency at the jurisdictional and general conference levels.
Before her position with GCSRW, Pamela served as the senior pastor for Gorham United Methodist Church, located in the Washington Park community on the South Side of Chicago.
In speaking about her experience, she states the following: “I have spent most of my professional career as a diversity officer in higher education and government.” This exemplifies her passion for social justice, research on K-12 education, as well as diversity and inclusion. Therefore, her current position with GCSRW provides Pamela with an opportunity to merge her prior professional experience with a way to effectively serve the global church in ministry. In addition, she is an accomplished organist and soloist who enjoys using her musical gifts in worship.
Pamela is an assistant pastor for St. Mark United Methodist Church where she provides administrative and strategic leadership. She serves the Northern Illinois Annual Conference on the Committee on Finance Administration, Committee on Religion and Race, and the Anti-Racism Champion Team. She serves as a former board member for the Northern Illinois United Voices for Children and Chicago Black Methodists for Church Renewal. She continues to live out her passion for social justice by serving on several community boards throughout the Washington Park and Chatham communities of the city of Chicago.
In 2011, Pamela acknowledged the call of God on her life to active full-time ministry. She currently holds a Master of Divinity from Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary. She also holds a Master of Arts degree in Educational Policy Studies from the University of Illinois and a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Music Education. She considers parenting her daughter, Jaelyn, the greatest joy of her life.

Rev. Pirtle currently serves as the Administrative Executive Director of St. Mark United Methodist Church (Chicago)


Freedom School Project Director

Marlissa Stalling

Marlissa Stalling walks unashamed and unapologetic in her calling as a community agent, servant-leader, educator, and actress. She believes that sowing seeds of education, arts, social agency, mentorship, and service into the next generation is how sustainable change and movement will occur. Marlissa is a proud Southside native of Chicago, Illinois. She credits her faith in God and her village for their positive influence over her life. Marlissa earned her B.S. in Environmental Science from Spelman College. She also earned her M.Ed. from Union University. 

Throughout her service experience with Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools, she has served as a volunteer, Servant Leader Intern, and Ella Baker Trainer. She is humbled by her new opportunity to serve as Project Director for St. Mark United Methodist Church Freedom School. Outside of CDF Freedom Schools, Marlissa has served as a Restorative Justice Practitioner and Youth Intervention Specialist for a Chicago Public Schools high school. She served as Youth Enrichment Instructor for YMCA Metro Chicago. She served as a classroom teacher for Shelby County Schools in Memphis, TN. Lastly, she served as AmeriCorps Member for City Year Inc. (Chicago). In all, Marlissa has served on multiple educational platforms and initiatives to support her scholars, parents, and community. As passionate as Marlissa is inside the educational community, she is just as passionate outside of it. One can find Marlissa honing in on her acting craft through her performances. Behind the scenes, she likes to choreograph step/dance pieces and write playwrights, monologues, and ensembles.