Common Grounds Unity 

Leadership Team

  • Nick Zola - CGU Board

    Nick is an Associate Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University. Nick is a founding Board Member and Vice President of Common Grounds Unity. He grew up in San Diego, CA, and has lived in Massachusetts, Germany, Texas, Illinois, and Switzerland. He is happy to call California home again. He was part of the first graduating class of Olin College of Engineering, after which he took the natural step of pursuing biblical studies. Nick earned an MA in New Testament from Abilene Christian University and a PhD in New Testament from Baylor University. His teaching and research interests include biblical manuscripts, the development of the biblical canon, the Gospels, and Tatian's Diatessaron (a second-century harmonized gospel). He is passionate about sushi, dark chocolate, and running (so that he can eat more sushi and dark chocolate). Nick is married to Joy and they have two growing boys. 

  • Alicia Crumpton - CGU Board

    Alicia D. Crumpton, Ph.D., is married to Jon, and together they are passionate about supporting public art efforts, local businesses, and leadership education. She serves as a management consultant within the utility sector, where she focuses on strategic planning, performance management, operations optimization, and leadership coaching. She recently co-authored a book in 2022 Architecture and Leadership, which explores the built environment's role in shaping organizational culture. She holds a Ph.D. in Leadership Studies from Gonzaga University, an MA in Engaged Humanities and the Creative Life from Pacifica Graduate Institute, an MS in Information Science from the University of Michigan, and a BA in Education from Lincoln Christian University. Alicia serves on the board of the Stone Campbell Journal, and Global Christian Connexion (formerly World Convention). 

  • Javier Monzon - CGU Board

    Javier grew up in Bogota, Colombia, and New York City, USA. He became a disciple of Jesus at 14 years old during 9th grade. He has always been interested in science and earned a BA in Biology from the City University of New York and a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolution from Stony Brook University. Javier is a Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for Infectious Diseases and Dept. of Molecular Genetics & Microbiology, Stony Brook University. He is now serves as a professor of biology at Pepperdine University, where he teaches zoology, ecology, animal behavior, and conservation biology. Javiier's YouTube channel is devoted to his love of aggressive inline skating. He loves skiing and spending time with his family in the California outdoors. Javier, his wife Patricia, and daughter Sofia live in Malibu, CA, on the Pepperdine campus where he teaches. 

  • John Teal - CGU Board 

    John grew up in Michigan and has been a member of Stone-Campbell Movement congregations for more than forty years. He attended Great Lakes Christian College in Lansing, MI, and graduated from Central Christian College of the Bible with a BS in Biblical Studies. John is a founding Board Member and the President of Common Grounds Unity. He served in the vocational ministry for a few years before returning to the corporate world, where he had a successful sales career in the waste and recycling industry. He and his wife, Danna, have two adult daughters and live near Raleigh, North Carolina. John is passionate about advancing the mission of Common Grounds Unity which is creating spaces for Christians to gather so that we can recognize Jesus in one another. John loves coffee, the outdoors, reading, and music. He is now trying to play guitar more often and better than before. 

  • Keith Whitney - CGU Board

    Keith was born and raised in rural Southern Illinois. He was introduced to Jesus at a Church of Christ in Salem, Illinois, and baptized at age 14. Keith is a Professor Emeritus of Business Ethics and Law, Pepperdine University and a founding Board Member of Common Grounds Unity. Keith attended Harding University, Freed Hardeman University, and received a B.S. & MBA in Finance from Eastern Illinois University, and holds a Juris Doctorate degree from Texas Tech University. Keith practiced law in Illinois for 4 years before returning to academia, teaching at Freed-Hardeman and Pepperdine University. Keith has serves as a minister for the Northside Church of Christ, the Morningside Church of Christ, and preached for the Simi Church of Christ where he serves as an elder. Keith is married to Karen and they thoroughly enjoy serving the church and loving up on their grandchildren. 

  • Drew Baker - Associate Executive Director

    Drew Baker of Lewisville, North Carolina is ridiculously blessed to be married to Sarah and to have his son Jude and daughter Rowan. He is grateful and excited for the opportunity to serve CGU as the Associate Executive Director. He is a part-time minister at New Story Church, adjunct professor for Abilene Christian University, and is a photographer. He has also recently published a book on church leadership titled, The Duct Tape Letters. Drew hold a BS, MDiv, and DMin from Abilene Christian University. Drew is a native of West Texas, he loves all the outdoor activities North Carolina has to offer along with indoor activities such as reading, writing, and eating. 

  • Kevin Withem - CGU Podcast Cohost 

    Kevin Withem is the co-host of the Common Grounds Unity Podcast. Kevin is the Senior Minister at North County Church of Christ in Escondido, California. He's a native of San Diego, is married to Karen, has three sons, and has been in full time ministry for over thirty years, just over eight of those in Austin, TX. He received his degree in Bible and Religion from Harding University and has done graduate studies at Abilene Christian University. He has spoken at Christian University lectureships, men’s retreats, spiritual growth retreats, and has been published in various Christian magazines. Kevin’s sermons have been broadcasted on the radio, and he hosted the “Know Your Bible” television program in San Diego for thirteen years.

  • Tina Bruner - CGU Podcast Cohost 

    Tina Bruner is the co-host of the Common Grounds Unity Podcast. She is the Executive Director of Global Christian Connexion (GCC), formerly World Convention. Her career has been devoted to international missions work, leading the missions department of one of the largest Christian Churches in the USA for more than fifteen years. She has been instrumental in establishing and leading numerous nonprofit organizations. She co-authored the book The Hope Factor: Engaging the Church in the HIV/AIDS Crisis. She helped establish the Global Missions Health Conference. Recently, Tina has been working in Poland serving Ukrainian refugees. Tina sits on the Board of EPEK International, a nonprofit serving Afghans in Kabul and NYC. 

  • Russ Kirkpatrick - CGU Gathering Development

    Russ and his wife Carmen live in San Diego, CA where they are raising two children - a son and a daughter. Russ works for Russ is a founding member and a servant leader of the San Diego CGU Gathering. Russ is passionate about unity and has been very effective in bringing brothers and sisters together from the different streams of the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement. Please reach out to Russ at to learn more about starting a gathering in your area.