Leadership


 
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Kristian Hernandez

Pastor

Before coming to Hope, Kristian served as the Director of Ministries at Resurrection Church in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Under the mentoring of Bishop Joseph Mattera Kristian grew as a minister and leader, preaching and training preachers, leading the youth ministry for many years, discipling and counseling, and overseeing renovation projects. Short term mission trips played a huge part in his life, stirring an insatiable desire to see people experience the power of God’s Spirit in their lives.

He and his family live in Rockaway, NY enjoying the beach whenever they can. Coffee is probably his best friend, and reading books make him pretty happy. If laughing and finding humor in things were a crime, he would be sent away for life without parole.

Kristian received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Economics from Brooklyn College of the City University of New York.

 
 
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Denise Rhrissorrakrai

Pastor

Denise Rhrissorrakrai joined the Hope Astoria pastoral staff team in 2015.  She enjoys listening to people’s stories and her passion is to see people thrive through forming an intimate relationship with Christ.

Denise grew up in central Pennsylvania, then moved to Boston to pursue her B.A. at Harvard University.  After graduating in 2000, she worked at Oracle and served with Intervarsity Christian Fellowship.  In 2004, God rocked her world by calling her into a church-planting adventure in New York City, and it’s been home to her ever since. She served on staff for several years at the Vineyard church she helped to plant in Manhattan, before transitioning to pursue her MSW from Hunter College.  Denise is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and has enjoyed working as a counselor.  She currently lives in Woodside with her beloved husband Kahn. 

 
 
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Shanay Johnson

Worship Leader

Shay is a worship leader here at Hope Astoria. She has her B.A. in Music from Westminster Choir College where she studied voice and became active in both the on-campus Christian Fellowship group and praise team at a non-denominational church in Princeton, NJ.

Shay’s passion for God, social justice, and music led her to do long and short-term mission work bringing the healing power of music to homeless youth in America and disadvantaged women and children in El Salvador, Uganda, and Rwanda. In between her missional work, she attended Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio where she studied Church Music and Theological Studies with a concentration of Church in the World. Halfway through the program she felt God leading her to move to NYC where she completed a graduate degree in Music Psychotherapy. When she isn't leading worship on Sundays, she provides music therapy services with The Louis Armstrong Center for Music & Medicine for patients across the Mount Sinai Hospital Health Systems.

She has been a committed member of Hope Church since 2013 and is excited about the ways the Spirit is empowering the church to be a manifestation if God’s presence in NYC.

 
 

Andrew Oliver

Worship Leader

Andrew grew up in Illinois and moved to New York City in 2003. He has been in ministry in the church and in social services for over 10 years. He is the founder and director of Do For One, a ministry that builds bridges for people with developmental disabilities to find a places of belonging and growth in community. His ideas have been shaped through his training at the Training Institute for Human Services of Syracuse University, the Citizen Advocacy network, and Joni and Friends. Andrew loves seeing people grow to their fullest God given potential, especially people who are often overlooked.

Andrew’s love for God combined with his love for music makes congregational singing and worship one of his favorite things to experience. In spite of his often serious work, he finds it important to not be too serious and to frequently highlight the humor and quirkiness of life. He lives on Roosevelt Island with his wife and best friend, Ali.

 
 
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Donal Cogdell

Youth Director

Donal Cogdell has been involved with or leading in ministry & youth programs for over 20 years. He graduated with a B.A. in Business Management from Mass College of Liberal Arts and a Masters in Biblical Literature from Nyack College. His broad array of talents and interests, including a passion for social justice, serving the community and building the church, has allowed him to operate in multiple roles. Currently, he oversees an after-school program in Brooklyn for middle school age students. In addition, he leads the NYC chapter of a Christian Men’s brotherhood called KING, which focuses on empowering men through Jesus Christ to be better husbands, fathers, leaders, and individuals.

Donal also seeks to engage the culture and community as a Christian hip hop recording artist, and an adjunct professor at Nyack College teaching Career Development. His other interests include playing basketball and debating sports. He lives in Queens together with his beautiful wife and friend, Farrah.

 
 
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Farrah Cogdell

Children's Ministry Director

Farrah Cogdell is from Chicago, IL and has served in ministry roles involving youth, intercessory prayer, and Christian Counseling since 2001. She relocated to Queens, NY to counsel at-risk youth in 2011 at the Flushing YMCA where she worked alongside her good friend who would later become her loving husband, Donal, in 2015. She has a special regard for people with heavy burdens and difficult life circumstances.

Farrah has a B.A. in Psychology from the HBCU, Bennett College for Women. She also holds a M.S. in Christian Counseling from Philadelphia Biblical University and a M.A. in Mental Health Counseling from Nyack College in Manhattan, NY. She is currently a Mental Health Counselor Intern at Nyack College as she works toward the completion of her professional license.

 
 
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Lauren VicuNa

Children's Ministry Director

Lauren is a Queens, NY native. She received her BA in Corporate Communications from Baruch College of the City University of New York. During her time there, she was a member of the campus ministry, Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, and served as chapter president her junior year. Lauren has a great love for people and delights in seeing those around her thriving in their environments and their faith.

Lauren gained her experience working with children starting as an adolescent, spending time as a junior children’s church leader and working as a camp counselor throughout high school. 

Having been raised near Jackson heights, Lauren was exposed to and gained a deep appreciation for the diversity of culture the city has to offer. In her free time, she enjoys seeking out local food spots to try and visiting art exhibits. 

 
 

Douglas Paillere

Sunday Operations Director

Douglas is a native New Yorker, born and raised in Queens. Growing up in a diverse, urban context, Douglas grew a deep love for the city, its people, and its well being. His love for the city and people drew him to the City College of New York in Harlem to pursue a degree in Psychology with a minor in English. As a student, Douglas had his vision of what God wanted to do in the city expanded by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and answered the call to join them on mission. He now serves as a campus staff minister with InterVarsity at Hunter College where he calls students to life with God and develops the next generation of urban leaders. Douglas is currently pursuing an MA in Ministry in the Global City back in Harlem with the City Seminary of New York.    

Douglas loves poetry and food. If he's not working on his latest piece, he's working on the latest recipe. He and his wife host a cooking channel on YouTube (Date Night with Michelle and Doug) where they seek to inspire couples to eat well and cook together.