The Reverend Dr. Cathy S. Gilliard
The Reverend Dr. Cathy S. Gilliard has served faithfully as the Senior Pastor of the Park Avenue United Methodist Church (PAUMC) in New York City since 2011. Her twenty–six year career in ministry has been focused on promoting the command of Jesus to love God and our neighbors as ourselves. The overwhelming desire of her preaching and teaching is to share the good news of God’s love for all humanity with hopes that others see one another as brothers and sisters. Through her leadership, PAUMC continues to expand its ministries to serve its members, and to be a viable presence in the community and beyond.
Academically, she holds an earned Doctorate of Ministry from the United Theological Seminary and received her Master of Divinity degree from Duke Divinity School (Duke University), where she currently serves on the advisory board at Duke Chapel and has previously served on the Divinity School’s National Alumni Council. Rev. Gilliard also holds a Master of Education in Counseling Psychology from Rutgers University and a Bachelor’s of Arts degree from North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University.
Committed to the mission of the United Methodist Church, Rev. Gilliard chairs the District Committee on Ministry for the Metropolitan District and serves on the Council on Finance & Administration for the New York Annual Conference. She has previously served on the Board of Directors at the Methodist Home for Nursing & Rehabilitation.
Before joining the PAUMC community, Rev. Gilliard served eight years on the pastoral staff of Christ Church United Methodist (NYC), and White Rock Baptist Church (Durham, NC). She was also the Director of Alumni Global Outreach at the Fuqua Business School at Duke University.
Rev. Gilliard is supported in ministry by her two loving sons, nine grandchildren and her daughter in-laws.
Isaiah Fish has served at Park Avenue United Methodist Church for 5 years. Originally from Nashville, Tennessee, he received his Bachelor’s degree in Social Justice from Trevecca Nazarene University in 2014. Isaiah moved to New York after graduation to attend Union Theological Seminary, from where he received his Master of Divinity in 2017.
Director of Programs for Children & Families
Liz Sweeney began her service as the Director of Children and Family Programming for Park Avenue Methodist Church in the Fall of 2012. She is a proud native New Yorker, born and raised in the Bronx. Liz received her BFA in Theater Performance from Marymount Manhattan College and a Masters in Applied Theater from CUNY School of Professional Studies.
Paul Soobryan has over 15 years of experience managing the finances, accounting, audit, human resources, and administrative functions of not-for-profit organizations in New York City. The work of these organizations focused on workforce development, housing, education, harm reduction, HIV/AIDS, advocacy, and the LGBTQ community with operating budgets ranging from $3M to $10M from various governmental and non-governmental sources. Paul graduated from CUNY (Lehman College) with a BS in Accounting and is a NYS licensed CPA. He is excited to be part of the team at PAUMC.
Director of Park Avenue Methodist Day School
Molly M. DeGesero is honored to head the Park Avenue Methodist Day School community as Director. Molly has been a fierce advocate for Early Childhood Education, particularly teaching children to learn, through creative, directed, and interactive ‘play with a purpose’. After beginning her career as a dancer, Molly transitioned to classroom teaching so she could help children find their voices, discover their passions and become life-long learners. Over the years, she has innovated programs at some of the top schools in New York City such as the Little Red School House and the Blue School. Molly is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and got her early childhood master’s degree from Bank Street College. She is a proud born and raised New Yorker who lives in Harlem with her husband, Randy and their dog, Uno.
Director of Music & Organist
Derrick Byars is a young and upcoming professional musician and theater artist. While attending Lee High School Derrick was pianist and organist at both Lakeside UM Church and Monte Sano UM Church. His senior year he was awarded the AVA State Outstanding Accompanist award and a resolution from the Alabama State Board of Education for his PTA Reflections composition. After graduating from Lee High School in 2014 he attended UAB. While in Birmingham he worked at Red Mountain Theater Company and Samford University as a sound and lighting designer. Derrick has directed many shows including Annie, Fame, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, and On the Town. Derrick is also a very talented musician, conductor, and composer. He was the Organist and accompanist at Weddington United Methodist Church. As a composer, lyricist and book writer, Derrick strives to tell interesting stories in new and old styles. Derrick wants his work to have a strong message. His work is a fresh take while still incorporating “old-school” themes and techniques. His most recent show was a cabaret titled “Broadway Noire: Make Them Hear You” which was a celebration of African American musical theater.
Nicole Serra joined PAUMC as the Administrative Assistant in November 2018. Born and raised in Las Vegas, she has spent the past 16 years in NYC wearing many hats: Stage Manager, Teaching Artist, Program Manager, Waitress, and Theatre Educator (among others). Additionally, Nicole began directing with PAYT in 2015 and now serves as Associate Director of PAYT alongside Liz! She holds a BA in Theatre and English Literature from University of Miami and a Masters in Applied Theatre from CUNY’s School of Professional Studies.