John Chatburn served as Graceland Student Government (GSG) president during the 2002-03 school year. Today, he and his wife, Andrea “Andi” Barber ’06 Chatburn, live in Spokane, Washington, where John works at a nonprofit organization and produces custom furniture and accessories on the side.
During his term as GSG president, Chatburn made a point to get to know people and try to communicate with them – to make the table wider for people who might not have felt welcome. Through this experience and throughout his time at Graceland, he felt really strong connections and built lasting relationships.
“So much of my experience at Graceland was formational and taught me about the power of relationships and the interconnectedness of people,” said Chatburn. “I learned from great people like Tony Chvala-Smith, Kevin Brunner, Steve Glazer and Tom Powell; they taught me about the importance of community and being committed to something bigger than yourself.”
Chatburn earned a Bachelor of Arts in information technology: business administration from Graceland in 2003. After graduation, he worked for Community of Christ for 12 years and earned a Master of Arts in Christian Ministries in 2009 from the Community of Christ Seminary at Graceland.
In 2015, Chatburn went back to school and earned a master’s degree in urban planning from Eastern Washington University and, since 2016, has been working in rental housing development services at Community Frameworks, a nonprofit organization located in Spokane that works to create and provide affordable housing across Washington, among other initiatives.
While at Graceland, Chatburn also began to develop a love for woodworking as a student worker in the Facility Services carpentry shop. “There was something rewarding about working with my hands that I really appreciated,” he said. Chatburn has continued to build things with wood since and, in addition to his job with Community Frameworks, produces custom furniture and accessories at Wood for Good Furniture on the side.
Similar to his role as GSG president, Chatburn’s work with Community Frameworks helps to build stronger communities and has been another good opportunity to open his eyes to people on the margins through the power of caring about others and giving others access to opportunities.
Graceland gave Chatburn the tools for success, and he and Andi apply those tools to their life today in Washington. “At Graceland, the house system taught us that everybody belongs and everybody matters,” Chatburn said. “That’s applicable to my work in community housing. The best affordable housing projects embrace that idea that everybody belongs and everybody matters.”