Rev. Kealani Nunes Willbanks, Associate Pastor and Executive Director of Operations and Impact, has been a part of the Foundry team since February 2018. She is the granddaughter of Filipino immigrants, the daughter of Salvation Army preachers, and the proud mother of 5 world-changing adult children.
Kealani earned her B.S. in Business Management in 1999, and her MBA in 2003, all while raising two children as a single mother. After meeting her now husband LTC(R) R. Tyler Willbanks in 2005, she left her corporate job to attend Fuller Theological Seminary, where she earned her Master of Theology. She is an ordained Elder with the Church of God, Anderson, Indiana, and has recently been accepted as a doctoral student at Boston University’s School of Theology.
Prior to joining Foundry, Kealani has served in executive pastoral roles at churches in Arizona and Northern Virginia. While serving the 2,000-member church in Arizona, Kealani was pivotal in developing a robust worship experience, creating and managing a sustainable budget, and responding to a catastrophic flood of the facility. Her leadership of these key milestones helped position the church for a fiscally responsible relocation to a new building.
A transformational moment in Kealani’s ministry was while serving with a 3,500-member congregation in Fairfax, VA. Responsible for developing the church’s first opportunity to participate in non-proselytizing refugee resettlement, Kealani created a sustainable inter-faith program for houses of worship to receive arriving families from Syria and Afghanistan. This collaboration resulted in additional partnerships with refugee camps in Lebanon, and lifelong friendships with several Syrian families.
Service to others is a key value of the Willbanks family. Kealani’s husband served 28 years with the U.S. Army, with his final tour as the Deputy Commander of The Old Guard at Fort Myer, Virginia. Her son also served with the Caisson Platoon and one of her daughters is currently on active duty. Rev. Kealani is particularly honored to be one of the first female chaplains of The Old Guard Association, a permanent organization of all who have served with the 3d United States Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard).
Rev. Kealani’s multi-vocational, interracial, and interdenominational background symbolizes her profound desire to elevate fully represented and inclusive ministry. She is also deeply committed to embedding social justice values in common business and operational tools used in both the marketplace, and non-profit environment. She hopes to use these key markers as part of her doctoral study at Boston University.
Outside of Foundry, Kealani spends as much time as she can with her kids when they are in town. She is a beach lover, enjoying any activity that involves sand, water, or waves. Rev. Kealani lives in Southern Maryland on the sacred and unceded land of the Piscataway peoples, with her husband, two corgis, one Siberian husky, and an occasional boomeranging kid, nephew, niece, friend, or whoever needs a space or sanctuary.
Connect with Pastor Lani