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 biochemistry 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 30+ 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 24 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 is serving in Americorps NCCC in the Southern Region and Jamie attends Creighton University.

The best things in my life are my family, my friends, my faith, traveling and my work!

This job is a gift and joy. I consider it an honor to work though grace with Family Promise guests, graduates, board, staff and community 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 who strive to make the world a bit brighter. This 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.”

Brenda Wahl, Manager of Family Services

One of the remarkable things about Family Promise is the way congregations and people all across Lawrence work together to provide hospitality to the families, and how God then works as lives and experiences intersect. It’s a beautiful picture of the Kingdom, and I’m thankful to be a part of it.

I came to Family Promise from a varied background of years of ministry in Russia and the health care field here in Lawrence. Though these experiences seem unrelated, both have helped to prepare me in multiple ways for the incredible adventure that is Family Promise.

Throughout my time of working with Family Promise, my life has been changed by the amazing people who rotate through the program–volunteers, guests, board members, fellow staff. Each person contributes a few tiles to the mosaic that makes Family Promise a beautiful picture of hope, redemption, relationships. I’m proud and humbled to be a part of this mosaic.

In 2013, I embarked on a whole new adventure when God brought my beautiful daughter into my life. I never tire of telling our story, so don’t be afraid to ask me about it! Besides spending as much time with her as possible, I love to read, I like to pretend I enjoy gardening and I like watching KU basketball. (At 20 months, my daughter could say, “Rock Chalk Jayhawk! Go KU!” But maybe I was the only one who could understand her.)

Shaun LePage, Family Service Coordinator

As a Christian and a pastor (CityChurch Lawrence), I want to “seek the welfare” (Jeremiah 29:7) of our community and to be “zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14) as the Bible instructs. I’m also passionate about exploring the ways the Church of Lawrence can work together without giving up our individual distinctives and traditions.

So, as I sat in an LAE meeting (Lawrence Association of Evangelicals) years ago, and listened to Dana Ortiz describe how Family Promise has developed a large network of a variety of Lawrence churches to genuinely help families work their way out of situations of homelessness, I was interested. When I got the opportunity to work with Family Promise and see first-hand how they do what they do, I jumped at the chance.

I’m excited about getting to be part of it. And, I’m excited about who I’m getting to know and work with – what an amazing staff and network of servants!

My wife, Beth, and I both grew up in Joplin, Missouri, and both worked on our undergrad degrees at Missouri Southern. We were married in 1990 and moved to Dallas, Texas, one year later for me to get my Masters at Dallas Theological Seminary. We fell in love with a little church there and stayed and served for 14 years. We have six great kids: Hannah, Abigail, Josiah, Lydia, Mary and Elijah (four Texans and two Kansans). We love Lawrence and are very grateful God brought us here in 2005.

John Booth, Family Service Housing Specialist

I have been passionately serving family promise, since it started here in Lawrence and I have taken on many different roles to help the program. I have served as a van driver, an overnight host (at several churches around Lawrence) and a lead volunteer coordinator. I like and believe in, our approach and I have seen firsthand the impact it has made in people’s lives.

I grew up in a working class town in the UK (a low socioeconomic area), so I can understand from my life’s experiences many of the challenges our guests face. However, with a reasonable education and a parent advocate, my life has been immeasurably changed, praise God. I believe education can help our guests, graduates and their kids too. I came to the USA in 1994, and I have now lived in 4 countries and 3 states (TX, MI and KS).

I love meeting and working with the diversity of churches and volunteers who make family promise happen. I feel called to this work at Family Promise. By training I have a PhD in chemistry and significant experience in project management, including managing project with large numbers of people and ever changing dynamics.

Rebecca Esparza, Family Service Coordinator

As a graduate of Family Promise of Lawrence (Kansas), I desired to give back to the organization in some way. Participation was a defining moment in my life. Family Promise has been a stable relational support that has aided in my successes. Since my time in Family Promise I have received my Masters of Social Work from the University of Kansas. My goal has been to allow my life experience to impact and inform my service delivery to people experiencing homelessness.

Becky Peters, Director of Development

I am thrilled to be back on staff with Family Promise after a brief time away. I believe passionately in the mission of this work and have been blessed to see how this agency has grown and continues to help families in need in our community over the past 5 years of working with FP! As a mom to two wonderful kiddos and a wife I care deeply for families and consider it a joy to be able to walk alongside them. Sharing the story of all the relationships and efforts that are truly changing lives through Family Promise is one of my favorite parts of this job, so let me know if you want to chat!