Dana Ortiz – Executive Director
I came to this vocation in a bit of an odd manner – through a variety of professional experiences that have enriched my life tremendously. I have enjoyed a career in chemistry working in a few different industries, including, pharmaceutical development, project management, agricultural metabolism, and winemaking. What was God doing when He called me to this position? I may have been slow to listen and heed his call, but He is persistent!
I have been blessed to have worked with the homeless population over the past 25 years as a volunteer, including working early on with my sweetheart/ husband in a family shelter in San Jose, California before we moved to Lawrence. We moved from the San Francisco Bay Area 19 years ago for Leo to get his Ph.D. at KU. We fell in love with Lawrence and decided to raise our girls here. Leo teaches American History at Baker University. Leo and I are the very proud parents of two amazing daughters, Emily and Jamie. Emily attends Simpson College and Jamie attends Lawrence High School. Both girls embrace all that life has to offer, including playing in their school orchestras, soccer, service, and a love of travel. It was a full family decision through prayer that led me to leave my position at Aptuit Pharmaceutical Company in September, 2011 and join Family Promise of Lawrence.
The best things in my life are my faith, my family, friends and travel. I love to read, the study of scripture, music, exercise and backpacking and hiking, especially in the mountains. Leo and I joke that we fell in love while I was eating his trail dust on trips in the Sierra, and by working alongside homeless families in San Jose. And so this job is a bit of a full circle for us!
This job is a gift and joy. I consider it an honor to work though grace with Family Promise guests, board, staff and volunteers. To offer the lost art of hospitality, to come alongside the families in the program through a very difficult period in life, to see God actively at work in the lives of so many on a daily basis and to meet people in all walks of life who strive to make the world a bit brighter. This beautiful organization truly models one of my favorite passages of scripture, from the minor prophet, Micah 6:8 “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
Becky Peters – Assistant Director
Hi! I’m the Assistant Director at Family Promise. I graduated in 2007 with a degree in Christian Education from Concordia University in St. Paul, Minnesota. Before joining Family Promise, I worked with Trinity First Lutheran School in Minneapolis as the Director of School Ministries. In this role, I was blessed to minister to school families with family education programs, summer programs, and music ministries.
My husband and I have a beautiful toddler who keeps us on our toes! Her favorite new word is “uh-oh” usually following a big crash, and she loves to run everywhere! In my free time I enjoy playing and listening to music, reading, and cooking! I am passionate about living in intentional community and coming alongside those God places in my path as we journey together.
Shannon Fisher – Family Service Coordinator
After graduating from Lawrence High I attended Ottawa University to play soccer. Luckily, I also received a great education. I studied history and theology. After undergrad I lived in London in an intentional community called the Catholic Worker Farm. I lived with, served, and advocated for female refugees from around the world. I learned that living in community isn’t easy, but it’s always good. I returned to Lawrence to attend law school at KU. I finished in May of 2012 and have found my way back to an intentional community. I hope to utilize my skills to serve the guests at Family Promise and to learn from them as well as they achieve their goals of stable housing.
In my free time I love long road trips and international travel. I spend a lot of time playing various recreational sports and reading.
Kendra Werner – Strengthening Family Facilitator
I have worked with children and families for more than 10 years as an LMSW (Licensed Masters Social Worker). I’ve served as a therapist and in the area of foster care/adoption. I am married and have two fun and energetic children. When I’m not having light saber battles with the boys, I enjoy reading, baking, and simply breathing in the beauty and peacefulness of God’s nature. I have called Lawrence home for 8 years and am so excited to live, work, and do ministry in my home community.
It is an extraordinary blessing to be a part of families’ lives as they are transformed by their own strength and perseverance, and also by the support and love the families receive by the community. My role with the families is to support, advocate, and help them address their needs so they can reach their goal of obtaining permanent housing. The favorite part of my job is being with families that, although they are going through a tremendous struggle in life, are still so full of joy and have the biggest hearts of anyone I have ever encountered.