Lifeline Staff of Professionals
The Lifeline team has many years of combined experience in helping families navigate through the international and domestic adoption process and counseling women in a crisis pregnancy. Each social worker has at least a degree in Social Work, and all are licensed appropriately by their state’s Board of Social Work Examiners.
Our team appreciates the opportunity to serve every child, woman, and family with professional skills, training, and experience. Our team is presented below.
Herbert Newell, Executive Director
Herbie Newell holds a master’s in Accounting from Samford University. He joined the Lifeline staff in 2003 as executive director/administrator. From January 2004 – December 2008 he served as the president of the Alabama Adoption Coalition. Herbie was chosen as a Hague Intercountry Adoption evaluator and team leader by COA in 2006 and serves in that capacity currently. He and his wife Ashley live in Birmingham. Ashley is the former assistant Director of Sav-a-Life Vestavia Hills. Herbie worked with Warren, Averett, a prominent accounting firm for 4 years in auditing before God lead him to Lifeline. Herbie and Ashley are parents to son, Caleb, and daughters, Adelynn and Emily; Ashley is now a full-time mom.
Dave Wood, International Director
Dave Wood holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Theology from Liberty University. He comes to us with over 25 years of professional experience working with families and children. Dave has served in most every pastoral position along with serving as Director of Precious Child, a crisis pregnancy center. Dave’s passion is finding incredible families for orphaned children through the avenue of International adoption. Dave is married to Johnna and they are the proud parents of three children, Katie, Kristen, and Harrision.
Daniel Taylor, Director of Operations
Daniel holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Work from Auburn University. He served as the Georgia State Director of Lifeline for three years before joining the national staff as the Director of Operations. Previously, Daniel served as the Youth Coordinator of an at-risk children’s ministry before the Lord directed him to serve with Lifeline. Daniel and his wife Sarah have three sons, Daniel-Isaac, Noah-David, and Josiah. Daniel and his family are excited to be expecting their fourth child through adoption.
Krisha Yanko, Development Director
Krisha earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration – International Business from Auburn University in 2007. She is humbled and thankful to be part of the Lifeline staff as Development and Marketing Coordinator where she has the great joy of planning events, fundraising, and being an ambassador for adoption through Lifeline. She said “each morning is a gift, but to work towards the mission of placing precious children in loving homes where Christ is present is ‘immeasurably more than all I could ask or imagine.’ “
Elizabeth Gilmer, Development & Marketing Coordinator
Elizabeth joined the Lifeline team in July of 2012. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Interior Design from Auburn University in 2008, also earning a minor in Business. Her background includes operation of a business, designing and selling products to support Christian organizations. Elizabeth is honored to now be a part of the Lifeline team and looks forward to raising funds and awareness for the fatherless. She is excited to be able to use her creativity in planning Lifeline events and promoting all that the Lord is doing through Lifeline locally, nationally and internationally.
Josh Caldwell, Manager of Involvement & Partnerships
Josh has served on staff at two churches in the Birmingham area and one Christian School, working with children, youth and families for the past 10 years. Josh is coming to Lifeline from Shades Mountain Christian School where he was the Director of Student Life. His passion is to live out James 1:27 on a daily basis and help others find ways they can do the same. He has a beautiful wife, Staci, and a son named Moses.
Foster Page, Creative & Communications Manager
Foster graduated from Mississippi State University in 2012 with a Bachelor’s degree in Communication. He manages the creative and communications aspect of Lifeline through print design, video production, social media and the website. Foster is grateful to work for a ministry that cares so deeply about the message of hope and redemption found in Jesus Christ: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Lauren Bond, Creative & Communications Assistant
Bio coming soon..
Kristin Whitehurst, Manager of Grants & Major Gifts
Bio coming soon..
Anna Eidson, Office Manager
Anna graduated from Auburn University in the fall of 2010 with a Bachelor’s degree in Finance and minor in Marketing. She became a part of the Lifeline team in November of 2011 as an administrative coordinator. Anna sees the blessing and provision of the Lord that brought her to be a part of Lifeline. She enjoys watching the Lord at work in her life and others as she serves with a team who is devoted to His children.
Janna Jones, Human Resources Manager
Janna has studied both Vocal Music and Human Resource Management. She holds Senior level Human Resources lifetime certification (SPHR). She has two adult daughters, Jessica and Jordan. Both reside in South Florida. Janna is a member of First Baptist Pelham where she sings in the choir, rotates on the Praise Team, and is the back-up Sunday School teacher for the Adult Singles class. She is an avid reader of Christian books, loves Bible study, and can’t miss daily devotionals without feeling as if something is missing.
Caroline Powell, Human Resources Assistant
Caroline graduated from Auburn University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and minor in Family Studies in August 2010. She joined the Lifeline team in March of 2013 as Human Resources Assistant. She is humbled and privileged to serve the Lord in the unique opportunity He has given her to serve each current and potential employee of Lifeline.
Lauri Mehaffey, Financial Coordinator
Lauri Mehaffey graduated from Auburn University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. Lauri joined lifeline in January 2011 as our Bookkeeper. She enjoys getting to work with a lot of different people and loves having a small part in all areas of lifeline. Getting to be a part of all areas of lifeline allows Lauri gets to see how the Lord uses everyone’s gift’s and talents to bring himself glory in the process of providing families for His precious children.
Tessa Frates, Bookkeeper
Tessa graduated from Samford University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, majoring in Finance. She joined Lifeline in 2013 and, wanting to use her skills in ministry, is excited that this is where the Lord has led her. She recognizes what a blessing it is to be part of an organization so gospel-centered and driven to show Christ’s love in a broken world. She sees it as a privilege to be a part of bringing orphans home and to see God’s glory displayed in the process.
Alyxis McLain, Administrative Assistant
Alyxis was excited to join the team at Lifeline in March of 2012. She graduated from Southeastern Bible College with a bachelor’s degree in Bible and Theology with an emphasis in Children’s ministry in 2010. She feels blessed to be a part of a ministry that works to bring parents and children together and puts the gospel first in everything they do. Alyxis and her husband, Chase currently live in Birmingham, AL.
Hillary Dickey, Administrative Assistant
Hillary recently joined the Lifeline staff this May. She graduated from Auburn University in May with a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Development and Family Studies with a concentration in Child Life. Through the Lord’s Sovereign direction, Hillary interned with Lifeline before joining in May. Hillary enjoys working alongside a ministry like Lifeline that takes part in advancing the gospel through adoption and so much more. Being adopted and having a heart for adoption, Hillary enjoys serving those who come in contact with Lifeline. She also has a heart to tell her adoption story with those around her so that those who hear might know and see God’s redeeming Love in her life.
Katie Crooks, Administrative Assistant
Katie joined the Lifeline staff in December of 2012. She received her Bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in the fall of 2012. She is overjoyed that God has led her to Lifeline and she is so in awe of the work He is doing through every aspect of this ministry. Katie enjoys serving on the administrative team and assisting the birthmother counselors, foster care social workers and domestic adoption social workers.
Kelsey Taylor, Administrative Assistant
Kelsey graduated from Auburn University in May of 2013 with a Bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies, with a concentration in Adult Programs and a minor in International Studies. Throughout her time at Auburn, she looked into many different career paths and was constantly pointed back to missions, in particular, adoption. Kelsey feels blessed to be a part Lifeline ministry where she is living out her passion and calling. She walks through the beginning stages of the adoption process with families as they are deciding what direction is best for them.
International Adoption Staff
Lea Anne Parker, LGSW; Senior Supervisor of Social Services
Lea Anne Parker has been employed with Lifeline Children’s Services since May of 1987. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Bachelor of Social Work at the University of Mississippi. She later obtained a Master’s degree in Social Work at the University of Alabama. Lea Anne has experience working with birth families and domestic and international adoptive families. She has assisted in five hundred adoptions while serving at Lifeline.
Karla Thrasher, LBSW; Executive Coordinator of International Programs
Karla has a degree in social work from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She and her husband Jamie have three precious children, Michael, Mary Allison, and Lucy. She began working with Lifeline in 2001. She works with the international program as a crucial liaison and help for prospective parents. She serves the China program as our stateside liaison working with Lifeline’s expanding Special Needs Program, travel, and families seeking to expand their families through China adoption. “I sincerely enjoy watching our program grow and seeing families some together as a part of God’s perfect plan.” (China Program Coordinator)
Chris Leist, International Programs Manager
Christopher Leist holds a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from Texas A&M University and a Master of Arts from American Military University. He comes to Lifeline following a 21-year career in the United States Air Force during which he flew C-5 and KC-135 aircraft across the globe, deployed numerous times and led several organizations at all levels. Chris’ passions are serving Jesus Christ, loving his family and helping others that are called to grow their families through International adoption. Chris is married to Stefanie and they are the proud parents of 12 children: Victoria, Zach, Asher, Dalton, Sophie, Isabelle, Jude, Shepherd, Vivienne, Penelope, Esther (deceased) and Tallula.
Meagan Barker, LBSW; International Social Worker
Meagan graduated from Auburn University in 2013 with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work. After a mission trip to Africa her freshman year of college she was called to International adoption and was amazed by the Lord’s provision in providing her a job at Lifeline. Needless to say, she was thrilled to join the Lifeline team and is excited to see how the Lord uses her to further His kingdom. Meagan has always had a heart for the people of all nations, and she feels incredibly blessed that the Lord has her at Lifeline. She is humbled that the Lord would use her to present the Gospel through adoption and invest in the lives of the families that she is privileged to work with. (Focuses on our China program)
Lynn Beckett, LBSW; International Social Worker
Lynn received her bachelors of social work from the University of Georgia in 1981. She worked in the area of foster care and adoption in Georgia and Virginia before joining Lifeline staff in 1989. I have just recently returned to Lifeline staff after a leave of absence and feel that it is an incredible privilege to be able to be a part of this ministry that is so committed to the care of orphans both here in the states and around the world. Lynn is married to Brian and they have two daughters. (Contract International Families)
Karisa Bassett, MSW; International Social Worker
Karisa graduated from Samford University with a Bachelor’s degree in Family Studies and will graduate with her Master’s in Social Work in May 2013. She grew up in Florida but moved to Alabama for school and loved it so much she stayed! Karisa is very excited to join the team at Lifeline and to start her career and ministry in social work. She also is very excited to be getting married in October! (Focuses on our China program)
Stephanie Betsch, LBSW; International Social Worker
Stephanie graduated from Troy University with a bachelor’s degree in Social Work and is a Licensed Social Worker. She joined officially joined the staff in May 2012 after falling in love with Lifeline through her internship. Her passion for the fatherless formed at a young age and grew through international missions and travel. She feels so blessed and grateful to be a part of serving the Lord while uniting families through international adoption. (Focuses on our Eastern European programs)
Mallory Blackmon, LGSW; International Social Worker
Mallory was thrilled to join the team of Lifeline in 2009. She holds a Bachelor of Social Work from Troy University and a Masters of Social Work from the University of Alabama. She currently oversees the Haiti adoption program while also conducting home studies for Lifeline’s international department. As a member of an adoptive family, she knows first hand the blessings of adoption. She is excited and thankful to be a part of orphan care ministry, and is honored to serve in a position that allows her to fight on behalf of adoptive couples and orphans around the world. (Focuses on our Haiti & China programs )
Cyndi Bryant, LCSW; International Social Worker
Cyndi is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has always had a heart for adoptions. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Carson-Newman College and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Tennessee in 1997. She has experience in a variety of therapeutic settings including hospitals, therapy centers, shelters and alternative/therapeutic schools. Cyndi has specialized in trauma with a focus on treatment of sexual abuse. Before joining Lifeline, she enjoyed facilitating foster care adoptions. Cyndi has been married for 16 years and has 3 children. (Focuses on our Haiti and Africa Programs)
Angie Blackwell, LGSW; Post Adoption Coordinator
Angie has her Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Alabama, and has worked with families in many capacities for over 25 years. Angie and her husband, David, have 2 wonderful children, a son-Raleigh and a daughter-Bailey. Angie is a parent of a child with special needs and is a parent of a child adopted internationally (from China), so is passionate about assisting parents in the parenting journey through the ministry here at Lifeline.She is excited to watch God as He brings families together. (Post adoption department)
Sarah Dean, MSW; International Social Worker
Sarah received her bachelor of social work degree from Auburn University and her master of social work degree from The University of North Carolina Charlotte. Her passion to work with adoption, foster care, and orphan care began in high school during mission trips to Juarez, Mexico. Since then, Sarah has been able to spend time in both Juarez and Uganda. She worked in adoption in Colorado and foster care in North Carolina before joining Lifeline in 2012. Sarah is married to Rob Dean and is grateful to be a part of Lifeline’s ministry serving as a social worker.
Morgan Cheek, LGSW/LMSW; International Social Worker
Morgan received her undergraduate degree in Social Work from the University of Georgia, and continued her education at the University of South Carolina, where she received her Master’s in Social Work. She now has her license, and is humbled to have been called to work at Lifeline. Morgan has traveled to Africa and Asia for international missions, and God has given her a heart for the nations through these trips and other life experiences. Morgan believes God is glorified whenever we defend the cause of the fatherless, and she is excited about magnifying His kingdom through the ministry of Lifeline. Morgan is the Program Coordinator for Taiwan and also works in the China program. Morgan and her husband, Hugh, recently moved to Birmingham. (Focuses on our Taiwan & China programs)
Felicity Blunt, MA, LPC; International Education Counselor
Bio coming soon..
Emily Fulkerson, LBSW; International Social Worker
Emily graduated from Auburn University in May 2011 with a Bachelors degree in Social Work. She returned home to Birmingham and joined Lifeline as a part of the China team in December 2012. Emily has always had a heart for underprivileged children and has grown to love the adoption process. She knew Lifeline would be the place for her to spread God’s love to the many orphans who desperately need to be reached. She feels so grateful and blessed that the Lord brought her to Lifeline to serve as His adopted child and is excited to fulfill His purpose for her life. (Focuses on our China and Taiwan programs)
Iris George, International Program Coordinator for Latin America
Iris was raised in Westbrook, Connecticut. She graduated from Duke University in 2007 with a Bachelor of Arts in Cultural Anthropology, also having studied Spanish, French, and Arabic. Afterwards she moved to Chinandega, Nicaragua and worked with the youth and children in a rural village called Villa Catalina. In 2010, she enrolled into the University of Georgia for her Master of Public Administration, focusing specifically in Nonprofit Administration. She married her husband Brad and moved to Birmingham in June of 2012. She loves kids, families, traveling, and languages and is grateful to be part of Lifeline! (Focuses on our Costa Rica and Peru programs)
Logan Gibbons, International Adoption Specialist
Logan joined the Lifeline Staff in May of 2011. She graduated from Samford University with a degree in Family Studies. At Lifeline, Logan serves as an International Adoption Specialist. She assists families adopting internationally focusing on China and Tawain adoptions. She feels blessed to be able to assist families grow through adoption. Logan and her husband, Codie, currently live in Birmingham, AL. (Focuses on our China program)
Catherine Lenning, International Adoption Specialist
Catherine joined the Lifeline staff in August of 2012.She graduated from the University of Alabama in May 2011, with a Bachelor’s of Science in Human Development Family Studies with a focus in Adolescence, and a minor in Psychology. Upon graduation Catherine worked with Sozo Children, a local Christian nonprofit that cares for orphans in Uganda. She has spent a good bit of time in Uganda caring for orphans and working with the local community of Kabalagala. She is excited to walk through the adoption process with families, knowing that it is something the Lord has set up to display the gospel. Her hope is that His Kingdom is expanded, by His grace, through the work done at Lifeline. She and her husband, Jonathan, currently live here in Birmingham. (Focuses on our Ethiopia program)
Jana Lombardo, LBSW; International Social Worker
Jana has been with Lifeline since 1992 after she graduated from Auburn with a bachelor’s degree in social work. She worked for six and a half years as a domestic social worker/ birthmother counselor until the birth of her first son Eli. She then began working on a part time basis. She and her husband are also proud parents of another son, Gideon. Jana has been serving Lifeline for over nineteen years and serves Lifeline as the program coordinator for Ukraine and Hungary. She is also the point person for Lifeline’s Bulgaria program which encompasses all of Lifeline’s Eastern European Countries. (Focuses on our Ukraine, Hungary, Bulgaria & Poland programs)
Angela Mains, MA; Crossings Counselor
Angela was excited to join Lifeline in December 2012. She graduated from Anderson University in 2003 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a minor in Family Science. After working for a year with children on the Autism spectrum, Angela and her husband, Scott, moved to Birmingham in 2004 to join the church staff at Mountaintop Community Church. She worked there for several years in many different roles including several years serving in student ministry with high school students. Through those experiences, God began to turn her heart toward counseling and she received her Master’s in Licensed Professional Counseling from Liberty University in 2012. Since moving to Birmingham, God has blessed Scott and Angela with two beautiful boys, Clayton and Cooper. Angela is passionate about attachment and is excited to work with families who have welcomed adopted and foster children into their homes with the hope that God will use her as a vessel of healing in their lives.
Jessica Oetting, International Specialist
Jessica Oetting joined Lifeline in February of 2012. She is a graduate of Liberty University with a Bachelor degree in Communication, and she has also taken classes at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary toward an M.A. in Intercultural Studies. Jessica moved to Birmingham, AL a few years after graduation, and during that time God has given her a heart to bring the gospel to the nations. She is excited to be a part of Lifeline and the impact it has on children, families and the world for the sake of the gospel!
Heather Schuck, LGSW; International Social Worker
Heather joined the Lifeline staff in May of 2011. She earned a degree in Biblical Studies and Counseling from Southeastern Bible College and received her Masters in Social Work from the University of Alabama. From a very young age, Heather has had a passion for children in need of loving homes which made her a natural fit to the international wing of Lifeline. She is currently the Program Coordinator of Uganda. Heather feels incredibly blessed to be a part of bringing orphans and parents together, all the while being able to share in Christ with families throughout their adoption journey. Heather and her husband Ryan currently live in Birmingham.(Focuses on our Uganda/Africa programs)
Amaris Roye, International Adoption Specialist
Amaris graduated from Lee University with her Bachelor’s of Arts in Psychology. She moved to Birmingham, AL, and then began pursuing of Master’s of Social Work at the University of Alabama. Amaris first heard about Lifeline while searching for an internship for her program. She was drawn to the heart of the ministry to spread the Gospel and care for orphans. She was excited to join the Lifeline team after completing her internship in the spring 2013 semester. (Focuses on our Latin America and Eastern Europe programs)
Beth Stanley, LGSW; International Social Worker
Beth joined the Lifeline staff in August 2011. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Mobile in 2008 and continued her education at the University of Alabama, where she received a Master’s in Social Work in 2011. Beth is a licensed social worker and works with Lifeline’s Latin American program. Beth has had the opportunity to travel overseas to several countries in Central & South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. This has caused her to have a growing passion to serve others in foreign contexts for God’s glory. Beth firmly believes that God has blessed her with the exciting opportunity to serve children and families of all nations through working here at Lifeline. (Focuses on our Colombia and Dominican Republic programs)
Whitney White, International Education Counselor
Whitney is excited to be a member of the Lifeline team. She moved to Birmingham from Georgia in 2010 for her husband, Adam, to begin residency in Emergency Medicine at UAB. Whitney received an undergrad degree in Psychology with a minor in leadership, and then went on to pursue a master’s degree in Community Counseling. She is interested in everything international, has a deep love for people (of all ages) from around the world, has a heart for adoption, and is passionate about counseling. Therefore, she is honored to be serving as the International Education Counselor.
Anna Wilgus, International Social Worker
Anna graduated from Samford University with a bachelor’s degree in religion and will graduate from Baylor University with a master’s in social work this May. She is originally from Texas and is looking forward to getting married this summer and transitioning to Alabama long term. Anna is also excited to be joining Lifeline’s China team. She prays that through this position God will make her an instrument of His peace. (Focuses on our China program)
Ashley Yeager, LGSW; Post Adoption Coordinator
Ashley joined the Lifeline staff in October of 2011. She earned a Bachelors degree in Psychology and Sociology from the University of Mobile in 2009. She also earned a Masters degree in Social Work from the University of Alabama in 2011, and is a Licensed Social Worker. She currently lives in Birmingham with her husband Bryan. At Lifeline, Ashley is blessed to be involved in the post adoption process with families who have adopted internationally. She is very grateful to be apart of the Lifeline staff and excited about seeing God work through adoption.
Domestic Adoption Staff
Christie Mac Segars, Supervisor of Domestic Social Services
Bio coming soon.
Laura Armstrong, LGSW; Coordinator of Birth Mother & Foster Care Services
Laura joined the Lifeline staff in January of 2006. She graduated with a Masters in Social Worker from the University of Alabama in May of 2004. Laura has experience in working with the foster care system of Alabama. Her previous position was to recruit and license foster homes for a therapeutic foster care agency. Her true passion has always been to offer Christian counsel to women in need. She is excited about the opportunity to minister God’s love to those he brings to Lifeline.
Traci Newell, LBSW; Education Coordinator
Traci is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham and is a licensed social worker. She has worked in the adoption field since 2001 and at Lifeline since 2003. As Lifeline Children’s Service’s Education Coordinator, she is in charge of the education iniatives aimed at high school students, prospective foster parents, crisis pregnancy centers, mentors, and much more. Her passion is educating people about foster care and adoption so that they can serve the Lord in these ministries. She is the wife of Marc and mother of 2 beautiful daughters, Chrissy and Lily.
Amber Dorsett, M.A.; Domestic Education Assistant
Amber graduated from The University of Southern Mississippi in 2011, where she double majored in Communication Studies and French with a minor in Child and Family Studies. Amber earned her Master’s degree in Communication Studies from The University of Alabama in 2013. She had the great blessing of interning at Lifeline in the fall of 2012, and she was thrilled to join us on staff full-time in January of 2013. Amber is humbled to have the opportunity to serve the Lord at Lifeline through the coordination and co-leading of training s and education opportunities pertaining to foster care and adoption. She feels abundantly blessed for the opportunity to bring God glory through this ministry. She and her husband, Bradley currently reside in Birmingham.
Rachael Michelle Belue, MA, LBSW; Foster Care Administrative Coordinator
Michelle has a degree in social work with a minor in Spanish from the University of North Alabama and a Master of Arts in Missiology from Southwestern Seminary. With an educational and professional background in social work and cross cultural ministry, Michelle has experience in a number of social service settings, including medical social work, child welfare, and family & children’s services. She is honored and excited to be a part of Gospel-centered ministry to foster families and children. Michelle resides with her husband, Mike, in Birmingham.
Allison Fuqua, LGSW; Foster Care Social Worker
Allison joined Lifeline in January of 2008. She holds a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Alabama and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish from Samford University. Prior to joining staff, Allison interned at Lifeline in the areas of international adoption and maternity care. She has worked extensively in the International Department, primarily with Lifeline’s Latin American programs. She currently works in Lifeline’s Foster Care Department and is excited to have the opportunity to serve children and families in this capacity. Allison and her husband, Tyler, have the privilege of doing regular mission work in the country of Peru.
Lauren Penton, LBSW; Foster Care Social Worker
Lauren is a licensed social worker and earned her Bachelor of Arts in Social Work from Auburn University in 2006. Lauren feels so blessed to have joined Lifeline in February 2012, working as a foster care social worker. Lauren is so excited that God has led her to serve through Lifeline in enabling foster care families to follow God’s call to open their hearts and homes to children in need. Lauren is the wife of Sean and has one amazing daughter, Emma-Kate. She resides with her family in Auburn, AL.
Kara Leigh Pritchard, LBSW; Foster Care Social Worker
Kara Leigh earned her Bachelor of Arts in Social Work from Auburn University in 2008, and has served at Lifeline as a Birth Mother Counselor since 2010. She has been truly humbled by the opportunity to walk alongside women who have courageously and sacrificially considered and/or chosen an adoption plan for their child. Being a part of God’s pursuit of these women and children, and seeing God’s character and heart be known in their stories and adoption journey is a privilege and a gift she will always be deeply grateful for. Kara Leigh now works in Lifeline’s Traditional Foster Care Department through training, serving and encouraging foster parents. She is sincerely motivated by the heart of this vision and the opportunity to come beside families in surrender for the sake of these precious ones in their care. She is thankful to be a part of this ministry here at Lifeline, and is expectant to see God move His Kingdom forward in the days to come.
Casey Voorhees, LGSW; Foster Care Social Worker
Casey joined the Lifeline staff in January of 2012. She holds a Master of Social Work from The University of Alabama and a Master of Public Health from The University of Alabama at Birmingham. Prior to her graduate education, Casey received a Bachelor of Arts from Samford University in 2009. Casey works in Lifeline’s foster care program, where she has the privilege of training and supporting families who desire to minister to children in the foster care system. Casey and her husband RJ live in Birmingham, where RJ is pursuing his graduate degree at Beeson Divinity School.
Donnetta Washington, LGSW/LMSW; Foster Care Social Worker
Donnetta holds a Bachelor of Social Work from Clark Atlanta University and a Masters in Social Work from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Donnetta came to Lifeline after working several years with Jefferson County DHR and prior to that working with the Department of Family and Children’s Services in Georgia. Donnetta is honored to be given the opportunity to work with Lifeline in the foster care ministry and serve the many of families that desire to make Jesus Lord over all area of their lives.
Sommer Bradshaw, LCSW, PIP; Reunion Counselor
Sommer joined the Lifeline staff in May of 2004. She is a licensed clinical social worker and has a background in counseling, with experience in a variety of different issues. Sommer works primarily with adults seeking a reunion with their birth parents. Being an adoptee herself, she is passionate about helping others in their adoption journey and in seeking information on their biological history.
Heather Cole, LGSW; Domestic Social Worker
Heather joined the Lifeline staff in January of 2013. She earned her Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 2009 and went on to get her Master of Science in Social Work from the University of Tennessee at Nashville in 2010. Heather is passionate about adoption and is blessed to have the opportunity to walk through the adoption process with families. She is excited to see God continue to work through adoption. Heather lives in Birmingham with her husband, Alex.
Gina Linden, LGSW; Domestic Social Worker
Gina came to Lifeline in January of 2003. Gina received her Masters in Social Work from Florida State University. She uses her administrative gifting to assist in various detailed needs in Lifeline’s domestic program. She also works with birth mothers considering adoption. She enjoys meeting with the women to discuss adoption and offering the truth of Jesus Christ. The freedom of sharing with girls was the driving force that led her to leave her home in Florida, where she worked with clients who were dealing with substance use and abuse.
Renee Griffin, LBSW; Domestic Social Worker
Renee obtained her Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Alabama. God led Renee to Lifeline Children’s Services in 1982 where she has worked with birth mothers, adoptive couples and foster families ever since. Currently, she works primarily with our domestic adoptive couples and co-ordinates our Lifeline interim foster care. She is married to Dan Griffin. They are the proud parents of four children and two grandchildren.
Allyson Basden, Birth Mother Counselor
Allyson graduated from Mississippi State University in May of 2010 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a minor in Business. She is in the process of earning her Master’s Degree in Christian Studies from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Allyson joined the team at Lifeline in January of 2013. Having been familiar with Lifeline for several years, she is excited to be a part of this ministry and it’s purpose of bringing hope to the hurting in their time of need.
Michelle Staab, LBSW; Birth Mother Counselor
Michelle moved from Kansas to join the Lifeline family in August of 2010. She graduated in 2008 with a Bachelor of Social Work from Fort Hays State University. She is humbled to be able to support, encourage, and walk through the beautiful choice of adoption with courageous birthmothers. Michelle knows it is an honor to represent such a reputable agency, and is excited to see God continue to move in big ways.
Alabama Case Workers
April Martin, LGSW; Central Alabama Case worker
April served as an intern with Lifeline in the early 1990’s after receiving a degree in social work from Auburn University. After graduation she joined the Save-A-Life staff as a social worker. She and her husband, James, are the parents of 2 adopted children. In August 2001 April joined Lifeline as a Central Alabama Case Worker in one of our satellite offices.
Melinda Lanier Crouch, LGSW; Central Alabama Case worker
Melinda grew up in Eclectic, AL. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Asbury University and a Master’s of Social Work from the University of Alabama. She enjoys helping people and is honored to do so through such a prestigious organization. She joins Lifeline on a part-time basis to serve Central Alabama through adoptions, birthmother counseling, and adoption awareness.
Megan Chivers, LGSW; North Alabama Case Worker
Megan joined Lifeline in 2013 after working as a reunification social worker through the foster care system. Megan received her undergraduate degree in Communication Disorders from Auburn University. After feeling God’s call to social work, Megan pursued and completed her Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Alabama, and is professionally licensed. Megan is honored to be a domestic social worker with Lifeline and looks forward to assisting adoptive families, birth mothers, and crisis pregnancy centers.
Maegan Schwindling, LBSW; North Alabama Case Worker
Maegan was excited to join the team of Lifeline in February of 2011. She is a licensed social worker with a Bachelors of Social Work from The University of Alabama. She serves birthmothers, domestic families, international families, and crisis-pregnancy centers in the Central Alabama area. She and her husband reside in Montgomery, Alabama. In the past, Maegan had several close friends adopt internationally through Lifeline. Because of those relationships, she has always had a place in her heart for Lifeline’s ministry. She is very grateful to be apart of their team as a social worker.
Gisella Sharp, LBSW; North Alabama Case Worker
Gisella joined the Lifeline team in March 2011. God moved her into this ministry after working for a number of years serving children and families involved with the state foster care system and public education system. She graduated from Alabama A& M University in 2000 with a Bachelor’s of Social Work and she is professionally licensed. Sella sees her work with Lifeline as an opportunity to help families share the love of Christ in their own homes and throughout the world. She and her husband Tim have three amazing children and love serving in their local church.
Sherry Starling, LBSW; Central Alabama Case Worker
Sherry Starling is a licensed social worker with a Bachelor of Science degree in social work from Troy University. She has over 20 years of experience working with families and children, including 10 years working with foster families and foster children through a therapeutic foster care agency. Sherry joined Lifeline in February 2012 and is a Central Alabama Case Worker. She works with birth mothers, domestic families, international families, and crisis pregnancy centers. Sherry is married and has three precious boys, Will, Josh, and Drew. She feels very blessed to have the opportunity to join such a wonderful ministry that serves God’s children and families.
Lauren Strickland, LCSW; South Alabama Case Worker
Lauren joined the Lifeline staff in May of 2011. She graduated with a Masters in Social Work from Tulane University and has a background in counseling, having worked primarily with children and families in crisis situations. She now serves birthmothers, domestic families, international families, and crisis-pregnancy centers in the South Alabama area. She feels blessed to be a part of such an incredible mission and is grateful to have the opportunity to walk alongside birthmothers and families on their journey and to share with them the healing and restoration Christ alone brings.
Lifeline Village Staff
Kesha Franklin, Lifeline Village Coordinator
Kesha Franklin is the Program Coordinator at Lifeline Village, Lifeline’s Maternity Home. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and is currently working on her Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling. She enjoys every opportunity to minister the love of God to all those she comes in contact with on a daily basis. God has placed a passion within her to minister to the needs of young girls and women. She has been married for over ten years and has 3 wonderful children.
Lauren Little, Lifeline Village Evening Shift Worker
Lauren happily joined the Lifeline team in March of 2013. She graduated from Samford University in 2009 with a degree in Religion and Music, and will begin graduate studies in Midwifery in the fall of 2013. Lauren serves the Birmingham area as a doula, and brings to Lifeline Village her a passion for working with women during pregnancy, birth, and beyond. She loves to sing, sew, cook, and hang out with her puppy, Billie.
Amy Floyd; (un)adopted Coordinator
Amy earned her Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Auburn University in 2008. Before joining Lifeline in 2011 Amy served on the mission field in East Asia for 2 years. Amy is currently working on her graduated degree from Beeson Divinity School. She is working with our (un)adopted ministry and enjoys all the ends and outs that goes into her position as (un)adopted coordinator. Amy is thankful to be a part of this ministry and excited to see the hope of the gospel transform communities of disenfranchised orphans and abandoned children.
Jessica Dixon, (un)adopted Assistant Coordinator
Jessica joined Lifeline in January, 2012 and loves being part of the (un)adopted team. She graduated from The University of Alabama in Communications with a Masters in Sport Management. Before joining the Lifeline family, Jessica lived in north India for six months helping develop a skill center for slum-dwelling women. She is passionate about ministering to impoverished and abandoned women and children, sharing the gospel of Christ with those the world would say are hopeless, and advocating on their behalf. Jessica is humbled and thankful to see the heart of our Heavenly Father on display each day in the ministry of (un)adopted.
Garth Thorpe, (un)adopted Field Coordinator
Garth is originally from Annapolis, MD where he grew up on the Severn River and Chesapeake Bay crabbing and fishing. He graduated college from Multnomah University in Portland, OR with a degree in Bible and Theology and Educational Ministries. After college, Garth served as a missionary for 2 years in Bangladesh working with Muslim refugees translating an unwritten language into oral Bible stories. After this he worked at an outdoor alternative educational school where we lived with troubled youth year-round outside teaching life-skills and planning various backpacking and canoeing adventures. Now, Garth feels blessed to be apart of the (un)adopted team where he will be facilitating in-country orphan care projects in various capacities.
Jason and Michelle Little, Ambassadors to the Dominican Republic
Jason and Michelle joined Lifeline in November of 2010. They serve as Lifeline’s ambassadors to Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic. The Little’s have a passion to shepherd community leaders to meet the needs of the marginalized & vulnerable people in their communities by developing an outward focus among local churches and para-church ministries through holistic community transformation. Their desire is for today’s orphaned and forgotten children to become tomorrow’s leaders in overcoming spiritual, social, and economic poverty through the gospel. Jason and Michelle and their daughters, Kaelyn and Marli, moved to Puerto Plata in June of 2011.
David Wooten, Georgia State Director
David joined the Lifeline staff in September of 2012 having admired the work of this ministry for years. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and Bible/Theology from Crichton College in Memphis, his hometown. He also has a Master of Divinity degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is an ordained pastor with twenty-four years of experience as a pastor. He has served on the boards of several nonprofit ministries. David has been married to Pepper since 1985 and they have four children: Zach, Jon and Ben as well as Cheyenne who they adopted in 2011 from foster care. David is excited to be involved with Lifeline because of the ministry’s passion to proclaim the Gospel through adoption and orphan care.
Pepper Wooten, Office Manager/Birth Mother Counselor
Pepper earned her Bachelor degree in Business Administration from Stetson University in Florida. She also holds a paralegal degree from the University of Memphis. Pepper considers it a privilege to be a part of the Lifeline staff as the Georgia Office Manager and Birthmother Counselor. She also considers it a joy to be working alongside the main office as a member of the State Licensing Team. “To be used of God is the greatest gift, and I think to be used to help minister to children is a ministry after His own heart. Adoption is a beautiful picture of the gospel.” Pepper and her husband David have been married since 1985 and have three boys and one adopted daughter.
Briana Remkus, Administrative Assistant
Briana graduated from Samford University in the Fall of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Family Studies. She was able to experience Lifeline through her senior internship at Samford and officially joined the Lifeline staff in January of 2011. Briana enjoys playing a part on the administrative team and getting to assist in a variety of ways. She is thankful for the Lord’s placing her at Lifeline and for the opportunity to serve on a staff that honors The Father to the fatherless. Briana and her husband, Wesley, live in Northeast Georgia where Wesley serves on staff at River Point Community Church.
Tamara Robinson, MSW; State Supervisor of Social Services
Tamara joins Lifeline with 12 years of experience in foster care and adoption. She holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Social Work from the University of Georgia. She is passionate about orphan care and encouraging foster and adoptive families as they share the love of Christ with priceless children in need of the love of a family. Tamara and her husband Dean served as foster parents in Georgia for eleven years and have adopted both domestically and internationally. The Lord has blessed them with seven precious children; Blake, Tate, Brooklyn, Olivia, Reagan, Lauren and Riley.
Rachel Snell, LGSW; Georgia Social Worker
Rachel joined Lifeline in July of 2012. She received her undergraduate degree in Social Work from the University of Alabama and went on to get her Masters of Social Work soon after. Rachel has always had a heart for orphans and is excited to be a part of Lifeline’s ministry to provide children with the hope of the gospel, as well as loving homes. She joins Lifeline in Columbus, Georgia to serve families through adoptions, birthmother counseling, and adoption awareness.
Joy O’Malley, LMSW; Georgia Case Worker
Joy received her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Social Work from the University of Georgia and is a Licensed Social Worker. She gained invaluable experience working as a School Social Worker for two years.She has always had a heart for adoption, and is excited to now be a part of it working with Lifeline in Georgia. She is thankful to be able to work with birthmothers and domestic & international adoptions, as well as provide adoption education services. She is happily married to Garrick O’Malley and currently lives in Peachtree City, Georgia.
Bekah Behnke, Georgia Case Worker
Bekah graduated from the University of Tennessee with a degree in Human Services. She worked in both domestic and international adoption for 6 years, including travels to El Salvador to escort children. She recently joined the Lifeline staff and feels blessed and honored to work with such an amazing group of people with a passion for orphan ministry and finding forever families for children. Bekah and her husband, Jeff, have three teenage sons, Luke, Zack and Alex.
Jamie Fernandez, LGSW; Georgia Social Worker
Jamie received her Bachelor’s Degree in Child and Family Development and her Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Georgia. She has experience with children and adults in a variety of settings including a children’s hospital, a women’s rehabilitative home, and a crisis pregnancy center. At Lifeline, Jamie works with families as an International Adoption Social Worker in the Atlanta, Georgia and surrounding areas. Jamie is honored to share in the beautiful process of adoption alongside families and to play a part in the stories God’s created for His children.
Emily Aceves, BSW; Georgia Social Worker
Emily recently joined the Lifeline staff in June of 2012. She graduated from Augusta State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work. Emily feels privileged to be a part of a ministry committed to advancing the gospel and is excited to serve families through the adoption process. She and her husband, Jonathan, currently live in Augusta, GA and have one daughter, Libby Grace.
Maggie Karras, BSW; Georgia Social Worker
Maggie graduated from Auburn University in May of 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in Social Work. She is currently attending graduate school and expects to graduate in the spring of 2013 with her master’s degree in Social Work from Valdosta State University. Maggie joined the Lifeline staff in June of 2012 as a social worker in the south Georgia area. Because of her passion for adoption she is excited that God has given her the opportunity to be a part of the Lifeline team.
Amy Hart, International Adoption Specialist
Amy has worked for Lifeline since 2010 and was a volunteer for Lifeline for several years prior after the adoption of their daughter Jillian from China. Amy graduated from Stephen F. Austin University with a Bachelors in Education that included an emphasis on social work. Upon graduation Amy taught parent education classes to pregnant and parenting teenagers in a Texas school district. Amy and her husband Mike have served as foster parents for the state of Alabama and for Lifeline Children’s Services. Working with foster care and adoption has been a dream ever since high school . Seeing this dream come to fruition has been such a blessing. Amy and Mike live in Atlanta with their three children, James, Lynsey and Jillian
Andrea Sisler, International Adoption Specialist
Andrea Sisler is a registered nurse who specialized in the field of cardiac neonatal medicine. She recently chose to stay at home with her two teenage children Garrett and Natalie. Andrea has always had a heart for children in need. In September 2010 Andrea and her husband Kent traveled to China to receive Emma Lael who joined their family through the blessing of international adoption. Andrea joined the Georgia Lifeline staff after returning home with her daughter Emma Lael. Her passion is serving the Lord by helping to unite parents and children that need families.
Lisa Kelly, Kansas State Director/International Adoption Specialist
Lisa joined the Lifeline staff in December 2010. Adoption touched her heart in 2004, when their daughter joined their family through adoption from China. She brings to Lifeline 9 years of adoption experience. As a former elementary education teacher, children have always been a passion for Lisa. Serving the Lord’s children through adoption is truly a blessing to her! She has worked as an Administrative Assistant, an International Country Program Coordinator, as well as an Assistant Director for past adoption agencies. She is honored to serve at Lifeline surrounded by so many whose love and passion for the orphan is so very apparent each and every day. Lisa makes her home in Topeka, Kansas along with her husband, Patrick, of 19 years, and 3 children, Ryan, Bailey, and Ella. (Focuses on China program)
Sharon Stuewe, MSW, LSCSW; Kansas State Supervisor of Social Services
Sharon comes to Lifeline Children’s Services with a wide range of experience. She earned a Bachelor of Social Work from Washburn University in May 1992. She then worked for the Kansas Legislature until returning to the University of Kansas, completing the Master of Social Work program in May 1994. Sharon was licensed as a Clinical Social Worker in 2000. Sharon spent the next 14 years as a school social worker, working with children with special needs. Sharon serves on the Behavioral Sciences Regulatory Board, which oversees mental health professionals in the State of Kansas. She has also been an instructor at Washburn University, KU, and Ottawa University. Sharon and her husband Mark, live in Wabaunsee County, KS. Beginning as high school sweethearts, they have been married thirty-four years. They have a daughter Kristie, son Justin and his wife Alicia, 2 grandsons Christian and Nolan, and a son Travis. Sharon has worked in adoption since 2008. Sharon has spent the past thirty years assisting people meet all types of challenges, and is excited to be supporting couples in their journey as the Lord builds their families through adoption.
Sue Smith, LMSW; Safe Families Specialist/Kansas Social Worker
Sue feels privileged to have joined the Lifeline Team in April 2013. Sue earned her Master’s degree in Church Social Services from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas and Masters of Social Work degree from University of Texas in Arlington in 1994. Sue and her husband, Gary, have 4 children, Caleb, Joshua, Andrew and Sarah. Sue and Gary have spent most of their married life in full time ministry in the mid-west US. The last 12 years they have served in Church Planting missions in Canada. Sue loves social work and church/community ministry. She loves equipping individuals and families in the body of Christ to use their gifts and resources to meet the needs of families and see life transformation and impact through sharing the Gospel. She is excited to help develop the services and ministries offered by Lifeline to Kansas children and families.
Angela Beemer, Administrative Assistant/International Adoption Specialist
Angela joined Lifeline in May 2012. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Family Counseling & Psychology in 2003. Since a young age, Angela has had a passion for serving Christ. She has had the opportunity to work in orphanages in Romania and Guatemala which gave her a heart to help the orphan. She also has previously worked for two years at an adoption agency and is excited to have the blessing to serve again in this capacity. She considers it a God given gift to work with Lifeline, helping children be placed in Christ centered homes, where they will learn and grow their relationship with Jesus on a daily basis. (Focuses on Taiwan program)
Lesley Scott, Kentucky State Director/International Adoption Specialist
Lesley holds a Master’s Degree in Education from Liberty University and a Bachelor of Science degree from Boyce College (major in Bible, minor in counseling). She is a gifted case worker with over 10 years of experience in administration. Lesley is an adoptive mom and she hopes to utilize her personal adoption experiences as she ministers to families of Lifeline. Lesley considers it a privilege to walk the adoption journey with families and has a passion and love for adopted children. She is humbled to be a part of this exciting and growing ministry. Lesley and her husband, Thom, are happily parenting two boys, Eli and Noah, both adopted from Ethiopia. (Focuses on Ethiopia program)
Sarah Haygood, CSW; International Social Worker
Sarah joined the Lifeline staff in May 2012. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Louisville in 2010 and continued her education there to earn a Master’s degree in Social Work in 2012. Sarah is a Licensed Social Worker and works with Lifeline’s China program. Sarah lives in Louisville, KY. Having been adopted as a child herself, Sarah is honored to serve the Lord in this ministry of giving Hope to orphans around the world as a part of the Lifeline team. (Focuses on our China program).
Sarah Temple, International Adoption Assistant
Originally from Dayton, Ohio, Sarah moved to Louisville, Kentucky in the fall of 2007 to attend Boyce College. Upon graduation in 2010 with a Bachelors of Science in Biblical Studies, she knew the Lord had placed a desire and passion in her heart to serve with a ministry focused on orphan care and adoption. Sarah joined Lifeline in March of 2012 where she assists and serves families adopting primarily from Ethiopia. She considers it a privilege to be a small part of this beautiful and unique reflection of the Gospel in everyday life.
Lyndsey Williams, LSW; Kentucky Case Worker
Lyndsey joined the Lifeline team in December of 2011. She graduated with a degree in Social Work from Howard Payne University, in Brownwood, Texas. At Lifeline, Lyndsey conducts home studies for families residing in Kentucky. Lyndsey has had a heart for adoption since high school, and feels extremely blessed to be a part of the journey that families walk through in the process of adoption. Lyndsey and her husband, Joshua, currently live in Louisville, Kentucky.
Channing Knighton, Kentucky Domestic Caseworker/Birth Mother Counselor
Channing graduated from Southwestern Assemblies of God University in 2007 with her Bachelor’s degree in Counseling. She is certified by the National Christian Counselor’s Association and is currently finishing her Master’s degree in Christian Counseling through Cornerstone University. Prior to coming to Lifeline in March of 2013, she counseled with troubled teens and families, and with young women facing unplanned pregnancy. Through these experiences, she developed a heart for birth moms and adoption ministry and is happy to serve as a Birth Mother Counselor and Domestic Caseworker in the Kentucky office. She is honored to be part of an organization that demonstrates God’s heart for the fatherless and help bring families together through adoption. Her husband Tim is also in ministry as a Youth and Worship Pastor, and she actively serves alongside him in their church.
Kari Almquist , BSW; Washington State Director
Kari holds a Bachelors degree of Social work from Walla Walla College in College Place Wa. She joined the Lifeline team in 2012. Kari is excited to be able to offer support to those adopting in Washington through Lifeline Children’s Services. She is humbled to be a part of such an amazing ministry uniting orphans with their forever families. She and her husband Mark have 5 children, their youngest daughter was adopted from China. Kari is passionate about Lifeline’s mission of offering a hope and a future for children around the world.
Chris Clark, MSW, ACSW; Washington Case Worker
Chris holds a master of social work degree from Boston University and has many years of experience in adoption, medical social work and as faculty at a state university. She is passionate about adoption and is excited to be serving children and families in their path toward each other and beyond. She joined Lifeline in 2011. Chris and her husband, Bob, are the parents of two adult children – one by birth (a pastor) and one by adoption (a teacher of ESL) – and three granddaughters.
Allison Reeves, Washington Social Worker
Allison has been working in the field of adoption in the Seattle area for the past 25 years. She has a Masters Degree in Counseling from the Leadership Institute of Seattle. Her career has included primarily working for a private Christian agency for 20 years and most recently as an independent adoption social worker. She has also been lead trainer and coordinator for the Infant Adoption Awareness Training program in Washington State for the past 6 years. Allison states that she feels truly blessed by the opportunity to once again work for a Christian agency and to be part of the ministry of Lifeline in Washington State.
Mary Frances Snyder, J.D.; Mississippi State Director
Mary Frances joined the Lifeline family in October of 2011 as the Director of Lifeline’s Mississippi office. She holds a law degree from Stetson University and a Bachelors of Business Administration in Marketing from Mississippi State University. Prior to God leading her to Lifeline, Mary Frances served as Assistant Vice President and Trust Officer for Citizens National Bank’s Wealth Management Division. Mary Frances feels so blessed to be given the opportunity to “take up the cause of the fatherless” each day. She has a passion for uniting families and ministering to birth parents with the love and grace of Christ. Mary Frances and her husband Ben live in Meridian, Mississippi.
Jennifer Sheridan, LMSW; Mississippi Case Worker
Jennifer graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi with a Masters in Social Work degree. As a Mississippi Case Worker, Jennifer is excited to serve families looking to adopt domestically and internationally as well as birthmothers choosing an adoption plan. She is passionate about spreading the Gospel through connecting children with their forever families and experiencing with others the hope found in God’s love.
Joi Wasill, Tennessee State Director & Decisions, Choices & Options Director
Joi graduated from the University of Mississippi with a degree in Public Administration/Business Administration and completed the requirements for teacher certification at MTSU. The unplanned pregnancy of a close friend’s daughter at age 15 brought to light the terrible inaccuracies that exist in the typical high school class/school on the topics of teen pregnancy and the options facing teens in those situations. In 2002, Joi began an education program aimed at correcting this issue and that program, Decisions, Choices & Options: The Facts about Teen Pregnancy, has grown to serve over 60 high schools in Middle TN, AL, MS, TX and NC. Joi has served as the Executive Director of DCO since 2002 before assuming the role of State Director of Lifeline TN/DCO Director in January of 2013. Joi and her husband Bill have been married for 29 years and have one son, Jacob, whom God blessed them through domestic adoption 14 years ago! He is the joy and delight of their lives, and they have personally been impacted by the amazing sacrificial love of his birthmother to choose them as his parents. Joi loves to camp, attend her son’s football and basketball games, college football (Roll Tide) games, serve in our church youth ministry, and serve on mission trips to the Dominican Republic.
Carrissa Keeler, Administrative Assistant
Carrissa will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Counseling and Human Services in December of 2013. She joined the Lifeline staff in April of 2013 after interning for a semester. Carrissa has served in children’s ministry at her church and has a passion to help children of all ages hear the gospel. She considers it a blessing and privilege to be a part of a ministry that is committed to caring for orphans and helping them to discover the message of the gospel whether through adoption, foster care or the (un)adopted program. Carrissa lives in Hendersonville, TN with her husband Alex, and their son Blake.
Emily Riley, DCO Education Specialist
Emily Riley is originally from Birmingham, Alabama and recently graduated from Auburn University (May 2013) with a degree in Human Development and Family Studies, specializing in Middle-Childhood to Adolescents. Emily felt a calling on her life to work with Lifeline Children Services shortly after gradation and moved to Nashville, Tennessee, to serve with the Decisions, Choices, and Options program. She is humbled and thankful to be a part of Lifeline’s selfless ministry. She is so passionate about sharing with teens how to be and do their very best through finding their identity in Christ.
Lesley Matheson, Florida State Director
Lesley joined the Lifeline team in July 2012. Lesley earned her Bachelor’s in Social Work from Taylor University, and then continued her education at the University of Wisconsin where she received her Master’s of Social Work. Lesley has experience working with children and families – she was previously employed by the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare. Lesley has had a heart for orphans for many years, and she is thrilled to be serving families and children as they go through their adoption journeys. Lesley and her husband, Jon, have four children and are currently adopting from Ethiopia.
Katie Sheffied, M.S.; Florida Caseworker
Katie first joined Lifeline in Birmingham in 2009. Due to circumstances beyond her understanding at the time, Katie and her family soon returned to her home state of Florida. Through God’s infinite plan, Katie was delighted to be contacted to work with Lifeline in their newly licensed Florida office in January of 2013. Katie, who holds a Bachelors in Social Work and a Masters in Counseling, rejoins Lifeline with over ten years’ experience working with all members of the adoption triad. She feels blessed to be Schyler’s wife and the mother to seven-year-old, Breanna. Katie is an avid reader of Christian fiction, loves to bake cakes, enjoys spending time with friends and family, and resides in Pensacola, Florida.
North Carolina Staff
Dwain Gullion, North Carolina State Director
Dwain Gullion joins the Lifeline Staff with 12 years of business management and development experience. An entrepreneur at heart, he created a successful promotional products company in 2003 which sold in 2012. Dwain enjoys speaking at churches and orphan care/adoption conferences, and serves as the North Carolina State Director for Lifeline. His responsibilities include promoting Lifeline’s orphan care and training initiatives to churches within the state of North Carolina as well as helping with national fundraising for the ministry. Currently Lifeline is not licensed to provide social services in the state of North Carolina. Dwain is also the volunteer President of ABBA Fund and is passionate about serving Christian families who are called to adopt. Dwain lives in rural North Carolina with his wife, Heidi, and their 3 children: Anna, Sarah Hope and Jonathan.
South Carolina Staff
Angie Rylands, South Carolina State Director
Angie Rylands holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education from Liberty University in her hometown of Lynchburg, VA. After the Rylands family adopted their older sons, Colin and Cameron, from China in 2011, God began to stir in her heart a desire to minister to other families who also desired to follow God’s call for orphan care. She joined the Lifeline team as the SC State Director in March of 2012. Angie loves working in such a diverse ministry where she can guide families through domestic and international adoption. She also has a strong love for older waiting children and those with more significant special needs. Angie and her husband Tom make their home in Charleston, SC along with their 3 children, Colin, Cameron, and Tommy. They are excited to welcome home their 4th son from China in early 2013!
Annie Hamlin, International Orphan Advocate
Annie Hamlin grew up in Walterboro, SC and graduated from Winthrop college with a BA in Communications. After the Hamlin’s adopted their daughter from China in 2008, Annie’s heart was forever changed and following the Lord’s call, she became an advocate for those precious children still waiting. Annie joined the Lifeline team as the International Adoption Advocate in March of 2012 and has loved working with the same wonderful agency who helped her to bring her daughter home in 2008 and is now helping to bring their newest daughter home in 2013. Annie manages the Lifeline advocacy site (www.wonderfulwaitingkids.com) where she advocates mostly for older children and those with more significant special needs. Annie and her husband, Chris, live in Charleston, SC along with their 5 children, Christian, Charlie, Caleb, Emmeline and Lizzie. They hope to bring their 6th child home from China this Spring.
Levacy Smith, LMSW; Casework Supervisor
Levacy Smith is a master’s level graduate from the University of South Carolina in Social Work and has called the Carolinas her home for all of her life. After graduating in 1999, she felt that God led her to the field of adoptions and she has remained in this field for her entire social work career (over 13 years) and believes wholeheartedly that every child deserves a family. Levacy’s husband, Nathan, is an itinerate Christian speaker and ministers to thousands of teenagers and college aged students here in the US and abroad, as well as, leads short term mission trips to several African countries. Levacy has traveled to many foreign countries and helps with orphan efforts through her local church in Ethiopia and Kenya. She and her husband, Nathan, have two daughters, Gracie, age 11 and Sophie, age 10. Levacy has worked in foster care adoptions, with domestic birthmother programs, and with conducting adoption home studies. She officially joined the Lifeline team as a home study social worker in August of 2012, but has conducted home studies for many Lifeline clients for the last several years.