Lumen News – Lumen Speaker Series

Save the date! Join us on October 7th at 7pm for Lumen Christi’s First Annual Fall Speaker Series. All are welcome and the event is free of charge. Whether you are a student looking ahead, actively working but thinking of switching careers or ready to be inspired and learn, come join us! Masks will be required for all those in attendance. The forum will also be shared on Facebook Live for those that would like to attend virtually.



Derek Espeland is a Special Agent assigned to the Counterterrorism Squad of the FBI’s Anchorage Field Office, where he has served for

the past 22 years.  He is a founding member of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) in Anchorage, primarily investigating matters involving terrorism and weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

Throughout his career at the FBI, he has also participated in various criminal investigations including violent crime, drug trafficking, public corruption, fugitive matters, and threats.  Derek is a certified bomb technician, a Weapons of Mass Destruction Coordinator, and Hazardous Materials Technician.

Prior to joining the FBI, Derek served in the United States Marine Corps and was employed in the private sector as a Hazardous Materials Field Chemist.  He earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Environmental Health from Illinois State University.


Brigit Reynolds was born and raised in Huntsville, Alabama. For college, Brigit moved to the Gulf Coast and attended Spring Hill College where she got a degree in International Studies with minors in Political Science/Law and Latin American Studies.

After graduating college, she served as a Jesuit Volunteer/Americorps member in Anchorage through Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest at Refugee Assistance and Immigration Services (RAIS), a program of Catholic Social Services.

She currently works for RAIS as the Education and Employment Coordinator.


Deacon Kurt Adler has a deacon at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton for six years and a parishioner there for 41 years. He’s been an independent businessman in Anchorage for 25 years working in the automotive industry.

He came to Alaska in 1980 with his family at the age of 16 and started working with them in the mineral exploration field.  Learning to do geophysical work, surveying and prospecting, he worked in several different industries including construction remodel, crabbing, welding and as an exploration geochemical technician for Cominco Alaska.

Working primarily in rural Alaska, he also built exploration camps for Russia and spent some time in Chile, the North Slope and the Red Dog mine out of Kotzebue. In 1996 he went into a partnership in an Independent Subaru business which he now owns together with his wife Joan. The business supports 20 employees.  He was ordained a deacon in 2015 in the Archdiocese of Anchorage and now serve in that same capacity for the Archdiocese of Anchorage-Juneau.

Dr. Katie Magnuson is a general pediatrician at LaTouche Pediatrics and a member of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Parish. She obtained her medical degree from Saint Louis University School of Medicine and completed her pediatric training at the University of Wisconsin.

She worked in neonatal intensive care and inpatient hospital medicine at American Family Children’s Hospital in Madison, WI and at Yale University in New Haven, CT, respectively, prior to her move to Anchorage in 2016 with her husband and twin boys.

Dr. Magnuson is grateful for her calling as a pediatrician, and feels privileged to witness and be a part of the life of each child she meets, whether it is rejoicing in a child’s growth and triumphs, or walking with patients and families during an illness or challenging life situation.

She is a practicing Catholic who describes her faith and relationship with Jesus Christ as the foundation of her life and as vital to her as the air she breathes.

Melissa Branch is the proud owner and principal engineer of Big City Engineers, LLC, a boutique civil engineering firm in Anchorage, Alaska providing site research, planning assistance, site grading and drainage design, water and wastewater design, and permitting assistance services. As a small business owner, Melissa’s mission is to challenge the perception that bigger means better. She earned her BS in Civil Engineering from the University of Alaska Anchorage and is a Life Member of SWE.

When it comes to site design, Melissa thrives on the collaborative process, working with others to develop a setting that complements the building’s use and connects the site to the community. With the lessons learned from over 20 years of experience, she enjoys solving complex design challenges and leveraging relationships with other design professionals and agency representatives to help her clients realize their vision and accomplish their goals.

As a community advocate, Melissa uses her volunteer time to lift others up and contribute to making a community that she is proud to call home. She is passionately involved with the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) – mentoring new leaders, raising funds for scholarships, mentoring the UAA Collegiate Section, and participating in SWE Greatland’s many outreach events. Melissa also serves as a Programs Chair for the Alaska Chapter of the Society for Marketing Professional Services, the Communications Chair for the UAA College of Engineering Advisory Board, and on the Anchorage CANstruction Steering Committee.

She grew up in military parishes (Air Force Brat) and now attends St. Anthony Catholic Church. Melissa serves as a lector, participates in the community garden, and with the help of her son, maintains the parish’s little library.

Melissa’s most challenging and rewarding project is motherhood. Her young son keeps both her and her husband on their toes.

Father Leo Walsh was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska. In 1987, he received a Degree in Business Administration from the University of Notre Dame with a concentration in Organizational Behavior and Labor Relations.  After working in the private sector for a few years, Fr. Walsh entered seminary studies at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.  He was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Anchorage in 1994 and returned to Rome for a year to finish a Licentiate in Ecumenical Theology at the University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Urbe, also known as the “Angelicum.”  In 2008, Fr. Walsh was granted a Doctorate in Sacred Theology at the Angelicum with a concentration in Ecumenical Theology.  In 2019 he returned from Rome after obtaining a License in Canon Law.

After assignments as Associate Pastor at two inner-city parishes, Fr. Walsh was named Pastor of St. Andrew Parish in Eagle River, Alaska, in 1999.  In addition, Fr. Walsh has served the Archdiocese as Vicar General, Vicar for Clergy, Vocations Director, Ecumenical and Interfaith Officer, as well as on the College of Consultors and as a trustee on the Priest Retirement Trust.

In May 2009, Fr. Walsh was appointed Associate Director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, D.C., where he served as the Interreligious Specialist.

On June 1, 2011, Fr. Walsh returned to Anchorage as Pastor of St. Benedict Parish, where he served for five years.

Fr. Walsh returned from Rome in 2019 and is now the Pastor of St. Patrick Parish, Anchorage, as well as the Judicial Vicar for the Archdiocese of Anchorage-Juneau.

Fr. Walsh has served on innumerable boards and task forces including the boards of the Anchorage Opera, Catholic Social Services and the Catholic Association of Diocesan Ecumenical and Interfaith Officers.  In 2002 he was invested as a Knight in the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem and was promoted to the rank of Knight Commander in 2007.

He is also a licensed Rugby Referee and a Nationally Certified Beer Judge.  Fr. Walsh is a licensed private pilot with multiple ratings and is a proud member of the National Association of Priest Pilots.  Blessed with the “Gift of Gab,” Fr. Walsh loves to give talks on a variety of topics, and does so in dioceses and parishes throughout the United States and Canada.

When he is not in the parish or traveling around the country, he enjoys flying his float-equipped bush plane to many secret fishing holes or to his remote cabin in the beautiful Alaskan wilderness.