Mary Kaczor,  President

I am so thrilled to be a part of an organization like Family Promise that makes a difference in so many people’s lives. The families that are receiving assistance are only a small portion of those affected by this program. Volunteers from all over Lawrence are touched on a daily basis as they serve others and learn more about God’s love. My involvement with Family Promise has included being lead coordinator at two churches as well as serving on the Congregational Relations Committee. My Masters in Social Welfare led me to many years working in the public school system before being interrupted by full time motherhood. The great thing about social work is that there is always somewhere to serve, even if it doesn’t fall under the category of a technical “J-O-B.” I have recently started back in the school setting very part time but most of my energy continues to be running our household with my husband Joel and our two boys and serving in volunteer roles in and around the Lawrence Community. I am looking forward to my work with the loyal board, the energetic staff and the many wonderful Family Promise volunteers.

Juliann Morland DaVee, Vice President

Having received my masters and law degree from the University of Kansas, my husband and I are thrilled to be back in Lawrence. I am currently employed by the KU School of Law, where I serve as Managing Attorney of the Medical-Legal Partnership with LMH Health. Through this partnership, the healthcare and legal professions work together to improve the health outcomes of low-income patients.

I grew up on a farm in small-town southeast Kansas where my parents taught me to work hard and to give back generously through gifts and in service. Before returning to Lawrence, my husband and I lived in western Kansas (our first Christmas tree was a tumbleweed!) as well as southern Illinois in Carbondale; strong and diverse communities full of kind, generous people. In fact, from Garden City to Istanbul, I have been blessed to meet many people from vastly different walks of life, who have demonstrated to me what it means to love your neighbor. The hospitality I’ve experienced from strangers and my parents’ example have stayed with me throughout my travels, education (proud Gorilla, Jayhawk and Saluki!), and legal career.

I often say that the most important thing on my office wall is the public service award I received at my law school graduation. Serving in wonderful organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Make A Wish, and Circles of Hope have made it possible to share my blessings and to love my neighbor in real, tangible ways. I am excited and humbled to continue my heart for service through the amazing work of Family Promise, an organization that I see as a true and loving example of God’s hands and feet in our community.

Ashley Sandefur, Secretary

The experience of homelessness has been close to my heart since a young age. When I encountered the homeless of Washington D.C. I began to wonder what I could do to affect change. Clueless as to how to do that I began to write. It would not e until decades later that I would find a place that got to the heart of homelessness.  At KU I studied Exercise Science and now teach Pilates, which marries my love for movement and science.  I am fascinated by the biology of trauma and the role that movement plays in trauma recovery.

My husband and I have 3 children and regularly see children and families they go to school with experiencing live without a home.  In finding Family Promise, I was finally able to see and be a part of an effective, loving way to help those dealing with homelessness.  I have been so blessed by the families in Family Promise.  Their bravery, strength and determination are inspiring.    

Sherry Barbee

I am the mother of two very wonderful young people, a daughter (Sadie) and a son (Logan).  They both are a delight to my soul!  I have been a nurse for 30 years, currently working for a psychiatrist.  I’m not originally from Kansas, but moved to Lawrence in 1995 and I consider it home.  I enjoy being a part of this community of diverse and interesting people, and I like being involved more than just observing.  I have been involved with Family Promise off and on and in various ways throughout the years since it launched here in our great city.  I have great respect for this ministry, and it has been a privilege to serve families facing the extreme hardship of homelessness.  My son and I experienced a degree of being without a home for a few months several years ago, but thankfully we had wonderful and generous friends who took us in.  I can’t compare our experience with the families served by Family Promise, but I think I can relate to some of the same feelings they must have in the fear and stress of not knowing.  My heart is in this ministry, and I pray I will serve with humility and diligence, as I have been called by the Lord to do so.

Christopher Burger

Christopher joined the FPL board in March, 2020.  Please check back in to read up on his bio!

Takisha Clark

I am a mother of 3 sons. I have been at my current company General Dynamics/Maximus for 10 years. I am the Casework Supervisor for the Advanced Resolution Center. KU is my Alma Mater (Rock Chalk) where I studied Business and obtained a Bachelors in Business Administration.

I am completely humbled to be a part of such a wonderful organization. Family Promise is near and dear to my heart. In 2011 my sons and I experienced a tragic life change. Our home burned down as a result of a faulty stove. The community immediately went into action to assist us at that difficult time. I was introduced by the school counselor to Valerie, who was the Director of Family Promise at that time. We went into rotation that next day. Being a part of rotation taught me the importance of the village (community). It also taught me to appreciate the little things like sleeping in your own bed, being able to cook a meal in your own kitchen and provide a roof over your children’s head. I have learned so much since being a part of family Promise.

When I moved to my own home I immediately became a coordinator at my church. My mission is to be ministry minded and continue connection with our community. The village is very important. We all need each other to survive. Having this great opportunity to sit on the board and continue reaching out to the community to help prevent homelessness is a tremendous honor. Family Promise is more than just a name it is truly a family that continues to prove that they will be there no matter the need.

Eugene Cowper

In my years of being connected with Family Promise, I have gotten to see what it is like to be on both sides of the field in the situation of homelessness.  When my wife first introduced me to Family Promise it seemed to be a place that was there to help those in need of shelter.  After meeting everyone that was involved with Family Promise, along with the many volunteers that help strengthen the organization, I quickly realized they were there for way more than shelter.  I saw that they were there to uplift spirits and provide hope and most importantly…keep families together.

 

For my family, Family Promise went way beyond keeping my family together.  And for that I am happy to be a member of the board.  I hope to be a positive and helpful addition to Family Promise and the people who we hope to support.

Brenda Flynn

I am a graduate of the University of Kansas, with a degree in Education. After graduation, I taught in the Perry-Lecompton school district. Upon my husband’s completion of his graduate studies, we moved to various cities over the next twenty-two years. They included: Bloomington, Indiana; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Chicago, St. Louis, Los Angeles and Boston. I know a little about transitions! While in Chicago, I worked in a suburban school district with their English as a Second Language program. We primarily served students and their families who came straight from Mexico to Chicago. Although most were not facing homelessness, they were in poverty and crisis.

In 2003 we very intentionally moved back to Lawrence. My husband founded the cancer biotech company Deciphera. In the early years, I helped him with various office duties part time. We are very proud to call Lawrence our home.

Since coming back to Lawrence, I have facilitated the women’s Bible study ministry at Lawrence Free Methodist church. I have had the joy of seeing our two daughters become mothers and have become invested in the lives of our three grandsons.

I have also had the honor of volunteering at Family Promise. When we lived in large cities, it was not uncommon to observe homelessness. But change has come to that population. We now have homelessness in towns the size of Lawrence and they are increasingly families. Family Promise has an excellent record of helping these families get into permanent housing. Additionally, they have a great record of those families remaining in permanent housing. I am excited and humbled to be part of an organization that provides not only hope, but tangible results in our community.

Brian Iverson

My wife, Sue, and I moved to Lawrence in 1989 from Denver CO. We thought we would stay a couple of years and then go back to Denver, but here we are almost 30 years later. We have been blessed with a wonderful son and a fulfilling life in Lawrence, it is now our home.

In 2008, as a member of the Leadership Lawrence class, my eyes were opened. This is a caring and active community, with many organizations working daily to make positive impacts on the lives of others. I met people who tirelessly work to improve the lives of others, with affordable/free healthcare, keep elderly and disabled in their own homes as long as possible, feeding those in crisis, helping those who need mental health care, and helping with early childhood education. I was called to help where I can.

Family Promise is special to me because of the children. Kids are such a gift, and anything I can do the help improve the lives of kids is an honor. The staff and board of Family Promise are dedicated and engaged, and I am in constant awe of the progress and innovation of this talented group. I am delighted to be a small part of Family Promise, and the opportunity to help our families.

Tiffany Lewis

Tiffany was born and raised in Montgomery, Alabama by Gilbert Baldwin and Fannie Kitt.  She is the middle of three children and has a twin brother.  She is happily married to her husband Anthony, and they are the proud parents of six wonderful children.  In earlier years she attended Brewbaker Elementary school, Brewbaker Junior High School, and Robert E. Lee High School all in Montgomery Alabama. Tiffany studied at Troy University (Montgomery, AL), obtained an Associate Degree from Metropolitan Community College, and later received her Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from Fort Hays State University.

Tiffany has faced many struggles in her life, but she has always kept her faith in God and been blessed with a wonderful support system.  At an early age she knew that she wanted to take care of people because of the strong influence her paternal grandmother and cousins played in her life.  At the age of 18, Tiffany became pregnant in her senior year of high school and gave birth to her daughter Jasmine.  In that moment life changed as she knew it and she had to re-invent herself in order to care for her child at such a young age.  During these pivotal times she learned that everyone has a story and you must treat ALL people with dignity and respect.

Tiffany began her medical career as an Office Manager for Vining’s Family Healthcare and Internal Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia.  She was later recruited to become the Practice Manager of Alpharetta Cardiology in Alpharetta, Georgia, a position she held for over five years.

Tiffany served as Director of Clinical Nursing for a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), Samuel U. Rodgers Healthcare Center (SURHC) in Kansas City, Missouri; from 2015-2019.  Known for providing linguistically and culturally appropriate care to more than 23,000 patients each year in 38 different languages, the Health Center is the embodiment of Dr. Rodgers’ vision of high quality, compassionate, affordable health care for all.  At SURHC, Tiffany managed five medical clinics as well as a school-based clinic and supported over 50 clinical staff.

Currently Tiffany is the Chief Operations Officer for a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), Heartland Community Health Center in Lawrence, Kansas. Heartland provides health care for patients throughout Douglas County.  In this role, Tiffany is responsible for the organization’s day-to-day operations.

Tiffany is licensed in Missouri and Kansas and is on a mission to advocate for affordable healthcare for all.  She believes that quality healthcare is a basic human right and that all patients should be cared for regardless of socioeconomic status.  Having these basic rights helps to ensure that all people have an adequate and equitable chance at survival during healthcare hardships.  She serves her community by serving on the board of Family Promise. In March of this year, Tiffany was named Deputy Section Chief of Operations of the Douglas County Unified Command, a COVID-19 response team for the entire county.  In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family and baking.  Tiffany’s favorite scripture is: Jeremiah 29:11 “ For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Matthew Sturtevant

Rev. Dr. Matthew Sturtevant (aka Pastor Matt) has been the senior pastor at the First Baptist Church in Lawrence since 2009, where he soon found himself sleeping on an air mattress in the corner of the gym at his first Family Promise overnight. After growing up in Illinois, going to high school/college/seminary in Kentucky, and working as a hospital chaplain in South Carolina, he and his wife Kimberly have called Kansas home. He has degrees from a  Baptist school (Georgetown College in Kentucky), a Presbyterian school (Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary), and a UCC school (Chicago Theological Seminary), and is thankful for God’s diverse and colorful Church. He and First Baptist together have worked to meet food insecurity needs in the area, address affordable housing issues in Lawrence, support fellow ministers across Kansas, and care for all of God’s creation. Matt is a proud husband of a public school educator and father of two, and an avid hiker, trail runner, and lover of the outdoors.  He has been a Cubs fan since before they were good.

Joe Reitz, Emeritus

I have been an artillery officer in the USMC, worked in the meat-packing business, and taught applied psychology and business ethics at Georgia Tech and the Universities of Kansas, Florida and Indiana. After retiring in 2006, I served as the CEO of The Leo Center and Heartland Medical Clinic, which provided medical care, food, financial help, counseling, and pregnancy services to uninsured and under-insured members of the Lawrence Community. It was in this role that I discovered the plight of homeless children and their families and the need to address their problems in Lawrence.

A discussion of the issue with a man in town named Byron who was assisting the homeless and aware of the lack of attention given to homeless children, led me to search for a successful model program. After visiting Family Promise affiliates in other areas, I contacted the head office in New Jersey about starting Family Promise in Lawrence. Their assessment of the community affirmed that Lawrence had a great need for such a program and the resources among the faith congregations in the area to be successful.

I left the Leo Center in the fall of 2007 to get Family Promise of Lawrence started. I was fortunate enough to enlist the support of Katherine Dinsdale, who was chair of the city’s commission on homelessness, and the interest of Valerie Miller-Coleman, who was the homeless outreach coordinator at Bert Nash and dealing with some 50 families. We contacted every congregation in town by phone and held our first public meeting in October of 2007. About 60 people representing 25 congregations attended, and I was delighted that some of them got behind our efforts almost immediately.

We set a goal of opening our doors before the first snowfall of 2008, and we did, staring with eight congregations and Valerie as our first director. Many people were responsible for getting us underway, including my wife Nancy and Katherine’s husband Bob. People like Monte and Kay Johnson, Dolph and Pam Simons, John McGrew, Doug Stevens, Sharon Stultz, and Nancy Ezell were instrumental in making FPL possible and viable.

Of all the enterprises I’ve been involved with, Family Promise is, simply, the best. It is remarkably effective and efficient, it blesses not only the homeless people we serve but also the scores of congregations and hundreds of volunteers who serve them. I have seen lives transformed, eyes opened, and love enacted countless times, both on the part of the homeless children and their parents (or grandparents) and those who serve them in so many ways. It has certainly changed my life, and I will be eternally grateful for God’s providing this opportunity to put faith into action.

Nancy Reitz

I’ve been a CPA for Mize Houser and Company since 1990. A mother of five and grandmother of eleven, I built my working career around my family, not the other way around. One of the most satisfying aspects of my career has been the opportunity to provide free accounting and tax services to a number of faith-based non-profit organizations. Family Promise is one of those.

 

What a dynamic organization. A board and executive director that continue to amaze me with their energy and creativity. From committees to the multitude of volunteers at every church involved, Family Promise simply draws people in who want to make a