Meet Our Staff
Laila Biali, PM Music Director
Originally from Vancouver, Laila left home to pursue jazz studies at Humber College in Toronto. While a student, she performed at festivals around the world and gave her Carnegie Hall debut. In 2005, she was named Composer and Pianist of the Year at the National Jazz Awards. Following touring engagements with Paula Cole and Suzanne Vega in 2007 and 2008, Laila moved to New York. Shortly thereafter she was invited to sing backup for Sting's If On a Winter's Night DVD and tour. She and her husband are living happily ever after in Brooklyn with their son Joshua.
Aaron Bjerke, Community Group Director
Aaron is a Community Group Director at Redeemer Presbyterian Church, and has been involved in this community since 2005. Prior to joining Redeemer's staff, Aaron taught seventh grade math in the South Bronx. He received his MDiv from Biblical Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania, and lives in New York City with his wife, Erica. He is from Minnesota and therefore enjoys the mild winters in NYC.
Miriam Burns, ESAM Music Director
Miriam Burns has attended RPC since its inception in 1989, has been the conductor of The Orchestra of the Redeemer since its beginnings in 1995 and has been on staff as Music Director of the Hunter morning service for 13 years.
Lyn Cook, Community Group Director
Lyn moved to New York in 2008 and jumped right into a Redeemer women's community group. The relationships and truth she found there were pivotal in her transition to life in the city and growth in her faith. Prior to joining Redeemer as a Community Group Director, Lyn worked in ministry with Cru for 15 years, serving in campus ministry in Alabama and East Asia and most recently with Cru's professional ministry, priority associates. Lyn enjoys running and getting to know new people and places. She lives on the East Side with her husband, Clay, and twin daughters, Emma and Hope.
Mallory Hammond, Community Group Intern
Born and raised in Alabama, she attended Auburn University where she earned her BFA in Theater Performance in 2010. Since graduation she has toured the country in two different children's theater tours. Mallory moved to New York in January of 2011 and immediately began attending Redeemer and working on Sundays in the Children's ministry as the Nursery Curriculum teacher (aka the basket lady). Mallory is so excited to take on the role of community group intern and serve the East Side.
Stacey Hess, Connections & Membership Manager
After growing up very close to NYC, Stacey has found her true home in the city after spending time in Massachusetts for college and the Pacific Northwest for nature and social enterprise. In Seattle she worked in business development and sales for a start-up coffee company that blended the for-profit and non-profit world to benefit ministry and charitable work. Stacey now lives in Manhattan and is thrilled to be the Ministry Development Manager for Redeemer's East Side. She enjoys running and biking in circles in Central Park, and discovering hidden culinary gems throughout the city.
Jessica Hong, Community Group Intern
Jessica was born in Flushing, NY but considers herself a Philly native at heart. She received her BA in Psychology at Bryn Mawr College and then received her M. Div from Westminster Theological Seminary. She was part of a church plant for 6 years in Philadelphia called Gracepoint Church. She's a huge E-A-G-L-E-S fan, she actually bleeds green. Jessica finds it an incredible privilege to serve the East Side and is excited to explore NYC.
Kathryn Koontz, Children's Ministry Administrator
Kathryn is a graduate of the University of Michigan Business School. Outside of Redeemer she works as an adjunct math professor and tutor. A long time Redeemer attendee since 1993, she began working in Children's Ministry in 2004. Kathryn loves serving the congregation's families and children and is herself a mother of two New York born and bred children.
Lindsay Lamberth, Ministry Coordinator
Originally from Texas, Lindsay couldn't be happier to be realizing her lifelong dream of living in New York City. She has always had a heart for the city, its people and culture. She graduated from Oklahoma City University with a degree in Acting and has spent the last two years performing and working for an arts organization. Upon moving to the city, Lindsay immediately found a home at Redeemer. She is thrilled to be combining her passions for people, music and ministry in her role as East Side Ministry Coordinator.
Daniel Lee, Community Outreach Coordinator
In 2006, Daniel moved from California to New York to study math at NYU. After working as an actuary for a few years, he discovered an industry that would test his mathematical training to the max: ministry. Daniel has been on staff since 2010 and serves as the Community Outreach Coordinator.
Chris McNerney, Elementary Coordinator/Community Group Intern
In 2007, Chris moved to NYC to serve as an intern at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center. He began attending Redeemer shortly after starting his internship and never left. Before joining the staff at Redeemer he served as the psychologist for Nativity Mission Center on the lower east side of Manhattan and was the youth director at the HFNY affiliate, Graffiti Community Ministries.
Spring Rawlings, Children's Ministry Director
Spring is thrilled to be serving families as the East Side Children's Ministry Director. After graduating with a degree in theater, Spring moved to New York City and was involved in teaching music and drama to children. During that time she also worked at Redeemer as the Youth Group Coordinator. Redeemer was not only her place of worship and work, but also where she met her husband, Rob Rawlings. For the past five years, they have lived in Atlanta where Spring served as the Children's Ministry Director at Intown Community Church. They now have two young girls, Parker, 3, and Kendall, 20 months. Rob and Spring are excited to be back to the city and church they love.
Lindsey Schultz, Nursery & Preschool Supervisor
Originally from Ohio, Lindsey is a drama graduate of New York University. After graduation, she performed professionally Off-Broadway, on screen and in national tours. Lindsey crossed theater with education when she began teaching and performing across the country in an educational one woman math show for elementary and middle schools. She taught with the Broadway Bound Fund of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC and she is currently a preschool teacher for Redeemer mom's groups and for private co-ops. She serves as the coordinator of the Metro NY Presbytery. She resides in Astoria with her husband, Todd Schultz.
Leo Schuster, Lead Pastor
Leo joined the Redeemer staff in 2010 as Lead Pastor of the East Side Congregation. Prior to moving to New York, he was the founding pastor of Christ the King Presbyterian Church in Houston, where he served for fourteen years. Leo also started and served as the Campus Minister of RUF (Reformed University Fellowship) at Southern Methodist University, while serving as an Assistant minister at Park Cities Presbyterian Church in Dallas for four years. He was a founding member and former chairman of the Southwest Church Planting Network and serves as the Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Redeemer Theological Seminary. Leo and his wife Ellen have three daughters, Anna, Margaret and Mary Caroline, and currently live in Manhattan.
Steve Shaffer, Community Group Director
Steve spent his early years in Kentucky, Florida and New Jersey before moving to New York in 1995 to plant a foot in both the theater and ministry worlds. At Redeemer he's led several Community Groups, managed Redeemer's Sermon Ministry and currently helps lead the East Side Men initiative. He holds an MDiv from Princeton Theological Seminary and has served as a Community Group Director since 2006. He enjoys soaking up the NYC arts scene, spending time in the sunshine and anything on or near the water.
Cybele Silver, Sunday Operations Manager
Cybele moved to the United States from Brazil in 1980. She lived in Michigan for five years before coming to New York City where she began working for Redeemer. Having been with the church since its early years, she has developed a passion for the city and a dedication to Redeemer's church planting vision. As a native Brazilian, Cybele is an avid soccer fan.
Edward Sirya, Director of Ministry and Assistant Pastor
Ed grew up in Rhode Island but has always been a New Yorker at heart. He found his calling to ministry while working in biotechnology and graduated from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in 2009. Since starting at Redeemer, Ed has been able to combine his love for ministry and the city. In his spare time he enjoys exploring the city with his wife, Rosalynn, finding new places to eat, reading about technology and cycling with his brother.
Liz Avanzato, Volunteer & Event Manager
Originally from New Jersey, Liz received her B.A. in Spanish from Eastern University. She studied abroad in Mexico (for one semester) and loved it so much that she stayed for 6 years teaching English as a foreign language, studying her M.A. in Applied Linguistics, and enjoying all the culinary wonders that Mexico has to offer. Liz began attending Redeemer in 2010 and instantly knew that she had found her church home. She is thrilled to join the East Side team as Volunteer and Event Manager. In her spare time, Liz enjoys cooking and exploring the city.