Before becoming an editorial assistant at Sojourners, Aleja graduated from Pomona College, where she studied anthropology and music. When she wasn’t playing violin or enjoying the Southern California sunshine, Aleja cofounded a disability peer mentoring program and participated in intersectional disability organizing. She was also proud to serve as a mentor for Residence Life and MERGE (Multi-Ethnic and Multi-Racial Group Exchange).

Her first languages are Spanish and English, and she has enthusiastically learned French and Portuguese to strengthen her global understanding and relationships. She developed her love of Latin America through her Puerto Rican family and through attending elementary school in Guatemala and Bolivia as a child. As a college student, she took a semester of classes at la Universidad de la Habana in Cuba.

Aleja is dedicated to learning people’s stories and to doing nitty-gritty policy research. In college, she investigated Cuba’s agricultural and food policy, and she wrote her senior thesis on urban Mennonite identity formation. At Sojourners, she hopes to continue to ask questions in pursuit of a more just world.

Aleja grew up in Mount Rainier, a crunchy city in Prince George’s County, Md. Her Catholic mother and Mennonite father raised her at Community House Church, an anti-denominational, lay-led community that will always be her home base. She is a big fan of fountains and goats.

Posts By This Author

Joy Oladokun’s Music Delights in Sexuality and Spirituality

by Aleja Hertzler-McCain 06-13-2022

Courtesy Joy Oladokun.

“I don’t think we talk enough about the delight in sexuality, especially spiritually,” Oladokun told Sojourners. They also take inspiration from the spirit of the Last Supper, comparing queer love to communion and noting “there’s something kind of romantic about Jesus at a candle-lit dinner with a bunch of his bros being like, ‘I am this bread. I am this wine. I am what you can feed off of in this moment.’”

Are Sanctions Actually Nonviolent?

by Aleja Hertzler-McCain 05-02-2022

A Russian flag flies behind a chain link and barbed wire fence. Via Alamy.

“[Sanctions] are, as we see now in the case of Russia, warfare by other means,” Jim Hodgson, a retired program coordinator for the United Church of Canada whose decades of work focused on Latin America and the Caribbean, told Sojourners.

What's Next for Disability Rights?

by Aleja Hertzler-McCain 02-28-2022
45 years ago, a nonviolent occupation by disability rights activists sparked a movement. It’s time for the church to get on board.
Watercolor-style illustration collage of people featured in the story

Illustrations of the people featured in the story (top row, from left): Denise and Neil Jacobson, Judy Heumann, Kitty Cone, Dennis Billups. (Bottom row, from left): Mary Lou Breslin, Letiah Fraser, Harold Wilke, Brad Lomax, and Cecil Williams. Illustrations by Indigo Ayling

45 years ago, a nonviolent occupation by disability rights activists sparked a movement. It’s time for the church to get on board.

Girl Named Tom Brings Mennonite Harmonies to ‘The Voice’

by Aleja Hertzler-McCain 12-21-2021

On Dec. 14, siblings Bekah, Caleb, and Joshua Liechty, collectively known as Girl Named Tom, became the first group to win NBC’s The Voice after 20 seasons of solo winners. In a blind audition, the siblings delighted the four celebrity coaches with their tight harmonies, but each of the three got a chance to shine throughout their performances. With the enthusiastic support of their coach, Kelly Clarkson, the trio presented new arrangements of beloved classic rock, country, and folk hits.

The Liechty siblings grew up attending Zion Mennonite Church in Archbold, Ohio, and brothers Caleb and Joshua are graduates of Goshen College, a Mennonite college. While Bekah and Joshua, who spoke with Sojourners, consider their faith identity to be “in exploration,” they continue to be rooted in Mennonite community.