Children's HopeChest - Engaging, Connecting and Transforming The World's Orphans

OUR STAFF

Get To Know Us
President & CEO

Ken Sparks

Home Town: Born in Indiana, but count St. Louis, MO as "growing-up hometown." Colorado Springs feels most like "home".

Family: Pam (married June '86), Tyler and JK

Pets: Mila (Russian Blue cat)...really is Pam's pet.

Favorite Books: Historical biographies, Historical fiction

Favorite Movies: Somewhere in Time, It's A Wonderful Life, Matrix trilogy

Favorite Music: The Fray, One Republic, Building 429, Maroon 5, Coldplay, Michael Buble

Hobbies: Lifelong Ice Hockey player, Skiing, Hiking, Mountain Biking, Golf

A little Known Fact About Yourself: Enjoy designing/dreaming up floor plans for homes, in other words, an aspiring architect.

What are you passionate about: Seeing individuals released into the full potential that God desires and created within them through genuine relationship, both vertically and horizontally.

What era do you wish you were from: Here and now...after all, right now is when God appointed us to be on this earth!



Vice President - Operations &  Donor Relations

Laura Fisher

Home Town: Tulsa, OK

Family: Rick (hubby), Christopher (18) and Haley (16)

Pets: Millie - the BEST Golden Retriever ever!  and Colbie - the 8-month old baby of the family striving to be the best Golden Retriever ever (ok, maybe not)

Favorite Movies: Sound of Music, Life is Beautiful, October Sky, Sahara, Toy Story (all 3 of them), Out of Africa

Favorite Books: To Kill a Mockingbird, Chronicles of Narnia, The Blind Side, Green Hills of Africa

Favorite Music: George Winston, Bebo Norman, David Crowder, Jack Johnson, John Mayer, Colbie Caillat and good old-fashioned hymns!

Favorite TV shows: whatever the kids are watching

Hobbies: Skiing (downhill & back country), trail running/hiking, mountain biking, swimming, Climbing 14ers, cooking, piano

Favorite personal item:  a 10" thick,  large leather Bible from my husband's family that was inscribed to a "Mrs. Laura Fisher" in 1865!

What are you passionate about: responding to God's call to serve vulnerable children, orphans and widows living in poverty and to address related issues in the developing world;  my kids & extended family

A little Known Fact About Yourself:  I am a first-generation American

What era do you wish you were from: the here and now is wonderfully ordained, but I like to think I would have also enjoyed a more agrarian,simpler life circa late 1800s

Vice President - Finance

Steve Zitzmann

Home Town:   Villard, MN

Family:  I am the husband of but one wife - Michelle; father of 5 ~ Connor, Alyssa, John, Benjamin, Jacob

Pets:  2 West-highland Terriers - Jasper & Higgins; 1 Rhodesian Ridgeback - Monte

Favorite Books:  I collect Louis L'Amour; love Tolkein, highly enjoyed Martin's 'A Song of Fire and Ice' novels

Favorite Movies: Spies Like Us, Three Amigos, Dream a Little Dream, Snatch, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Boondock Saints…a wide range of movies falls into the class of ‘favourite’

Favorite Music:  I can handle anything BUT Country...not even sure that genre should be classified as music.

Hobbies: Cooking, skiing, playing video games, taekwondo...being with my family

Favorite personal item: Can family be considered a personal item? If yes, then my family…if not, then I’d have to say my wedding ring – it is a daily reminder that I belong to someone that loves me unconditionally.

What are you passionate about: Good-tasting coffee that needs nothing added to be palatable.

A little Known Fact About Yourself:  All of my fingerprint patterns are classified as ‘loops’; 9 of 10 are ulnar loops, while the index finger on my left hand has a radial loop.

What era do you wish you were from: I always fancied that I would have done well as a gunslinger…but I’m sure I actually would have died by age 18 by the hand of one better.

Vice President – Advancement

Al De La Roche

Home Town: San Jose, CA

Family: Wife: JoAnne; Kids: Ryan, Jenielle, Steven, Jaden & Kristina

Pets: Bailey – Our always hungry, ever energetic Lab

Favorite Movies: Lord of the Rings, Anything with John Wayne, It's a Wonderful Life

Favorite Books: In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, The Hole in Our Gospel, Where the Wild Things Are

Favorite Music: Beatles, Eric Clapton, Christmas Music, Movie Themes

Hobbies: Running, Cross-fit workouts with JoAnne, playing with my kids, meeting with men to encourage, coach and be coached

Favorite personal item: My razor – (It used to be my Dad's)

What are you passionate about: Family, friends, truth

A little Known Fact About Yourself: I once ate a moth… yeah, I know…

What era do you wish you were from: The Industrial Age (the time of discovery!)

Strategic Partnership Director

Michael Vinson

Home Town: Santa Maria, CA

Family: Married to Jodi. Three children: Max, Veronica, and AJ.

Pets: Ralphy and Mia

Favorite Movies: East of Eden, The Godfather, Lord of the Rings

Favorite Music: Anything honest

Favorite TV shows: ESPN

Hobbies: Watching our kids sports, reading, and history

Favorite personal item: My Erik Nording pipe

What are you passionate about: Christ and His gospel

A little Known Fact About Yourself: I once lived across the street from Bob Barker

What era do you wish you were from: Tomorrow


Program Services Director

Steve Voyen

Home Town: Santa Barbara, California

Family: Miriam (wife), Grant (17)

Pets: Daisy Nela – Bassett Hound

Favorite Books: The Sharpe series by Bernard Cornwell, The Lord of The Rings, Chronicles of Narnia, Systematic Theology by Charles G Finney

Favorite Movies: Chariots of Fire, The Mission, Lord of the Rings, Casablanca, The Sting, Raising Arizona

Favorite Music: The Police, U2, Shania Twain, Taylor Swift, Keith Green, The Eagles, Juan Luis Guerra

Hobbies: Hiking, Tennis, Photography, Foreign Affairs, College Football

Favorite personal item: Jeep Wrangler

What are you passionate about: God, Miriam, Grant, Children, The beauty to be found in the global community; people, places and cultures.

A little Known Fact About Yourself: I love to BBQ

What era do you wish you were from: Early 1800’s

Strategic Partnership Director

Wil Crooks

Hometown: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Family: wife Pam, 4 superstar kids; Lauren, Levi, Zander, and Blessing.

Pets: American Bulldog and Husky … who do you think eats first?

Favorite Books: Chronicles of Narnia, Ragamuffin Gospel

Favorite Movies: Braveheart, Quiz Show, A Few Good Men, Jurassic Park, Finding Nemo

Favorite Music: Sports Talk, Coffee House on my XM, U2, Black Eyed Peas, Brian Fraaza

Hobbies: disc golf, Settlers of Catan, losing my husky on walks, kayaking, watching my kids sports

Favorite Personal Item: my Bible and my discs

What are you Passionate about: God, family, justice for the oppressed, Purdue, Culver’s Butter-burgers

A Little Known Fact about Yourself: I could spend all day watching the Magic Kingdom’s Mickey’s PhilharMagic

What era do you wish you were from: Pre-historic; bring on the dinosaurs

Creative & Communications

Hannah Eloge

Home Town: Tucson, Arizona.

Family: My husband, Josh

Pets: Hadley!  Our Goldendoodle

Favorite Movies: Three Amigos. Father of the Bride. Moulin Rouge. Up. Follow That Bird. Big Fish.

Favorite Music: Gregory Alan Isakov. Brett Dennen. Temper Trap. Jason Mraz. Sufjan. Alexi Murdoch. Benjamin Taylor. Oh, and Justin Timberlake.

Favorite TV shows: Ellen. Shark Tank. Parenthood. How I Met Your Mother.

Hobbies: Photography. Crafting. Design.

Favorite personal item: My Camera, D700

A little Known Fact About Yourself: I've had dinner with Alice Cooper

What era do you wish you were from: 50’s. To attend the opening day of Disneyland.

Program Services Manager

Sarah Byrd

Home Town:Juneau, AK (but Colorado is my home!)

Family: Married to my wonderful husband Daniel with our twin boys, Elijah and Liam

Pets: Two dogs - Max and Haylee

Favorite Books: Blue Like Jazz , The Count of Monte Cristo, Redeeming Love, The Hiding Place, and many, many more...

Favorite Movies: Brokedown Palace, In Her Shoes, Shawshank Redemption, Elf, Swiss Family Robinson, Salmon Fishing the Yemen

Favorite Music: John Mark McMillan, Mumford and Sons, Matt Redman, Anything early 90's, Jack Johnson, Counting Crows, Journey and lots more!

Favorite TV shows: Friends, The Office, and Modern Family…

Hobbies: Riding my bike with my husband and friends, eating/cooking meals with my family and friends, spending time outside

Favorite personal item: Pictures, blankets my grandmothers made for me, my "Friends" DVDs, "you catch more bees with honey" belt buckle

What are you passionate about: I believe that one person can make a lasting difference in the lives of those who are hurting by genuinely and respectfully modeling the love of Christ. I am passionate about the orphaned and advocating for people affected by disabilities. I care deeply about my family, friends, and good food!

A little Known Fact About Yourself: My nickname is "three-horn." It all started with me introducing myself to a small child. After I told her my name, she said "Oh...Sarah. Like the three horn?" (Referencing the triCERAtops on the movie, "Land Before Time.")

What era do you wish you were from: The Flapper Era - 1920's ish (but after 1920 when women had the right to vote...)
Program Manager

Tom Jennings

Home Town: Arlington, Iowa; Since 2000 in Colorado Springs, CO

Family: Charlene, wife of +37 years; Two daughters – both married and both of their families live in Colorado Springs

Pets: None

Favorite Books: The Hobbit; Various books by Francis Schaeffer;

Favorite Movies: The Shawshank Redemption; Gladiator; Braveheart; The Lord of the Rings

Favorite Music: Classical music

Hobbies: Hiking, snorkeling, skiing

Favorite personal item: Memories of the experiences and stories of lives and communities that are being transformed

What are you passionate about: Helping bring about the transformation of communities

A little Known Fact About Yourself: When I was young, I did not like to travel or be in front of groups

What era do you wish you were from: Being neither melancholy nor wistful, but painfully pragmatic, I would stay with the same era

Partner Relations Coordinator

Juree Wilson

Home Town: Colorado Springs

Family: Just me and my God-sent Husband, David

Pets: Not yet, but someday a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

Favorite Movies: Just about anything based on a classic novel

Favorite Books: Wuthering Heights, East of Eden, and Soul by Soul

Favorite Music: Andrew Peterson, James Taylor, Bob Dylan, Radio Head, and a lot of Cold Play

Hobbies: Reading, anything in the mountains, and puzzles-don’t judge me

Favorite Personal Item: My hair pick, it may be “1980’s,” but I keep it with me at all times!

What are you passionate about: Loving people, serving them, making a difference in someone’s life, even if it seems insignificant in the world’s perspective

A little know fact about yourself: I met the lead singer to Radio Head when I was 15.

What era do you wish you were from: The 1920’s in England, during the rise of English Feminism—I would like to meet Virginia Woolf

Partner Relations Coordinator

Leah Wade

Home Town: Manitou Springs, Colorado

Family: Mom, dad, 1 sister

Pets: One cat, Sasha

Favorite Books: Screwtape Letters and The Hiding Place

Favorite Movies: Pride and Prejudice (The A&E 5 hour version is best!)

Favorite Music: I like almost any kind, something by Bebo Norman is probably my favorite.

Favorite TV shows: ?

Hobbies: Running, hiking, drinking coffee

Favorite personal item: I'm not sure

What are you passionate about: Helping children in need, especially orphans.

A little Known Fact about Yourself: My sister and I are identical twins, so she is only one minute older then me.

What era do you wish you were from: Probably the Victorian Era

Partner Relations Coordinator

Christopher Burley

Home Town: Colorado Springs

Family: Mom and Dad (Marie and Boyce), three brothers (Boyce, Robert, Paul), one sister-in-law (Bekah) and a nephew (Jayden)

Pets: none yet

Favorite Movies: Indiana Jones, Michael Collins, Spy Game, The Quiet Man, Star Wars (the original three), Casablanca

Favorite Books: The Count of Monte Cristo, Henri Nouwen, C.S. Lewis

Favorite Music: U2, Gregory Alan Isokov, Coldplay, Andrew Peterson, Sleeping At Last, Foy Vance, Ray LaMontagne,The Temper Trap and much more.

Hobbies: Trying to play guitar and figuring out how to take photos

Favorite personal item: Canon 450D, my Osprey bag

What are you passionate about: International Relations and Development, seeing a resolution to armed conflict, breakfast, spending time with people

A little known fact about yourself: I won first prize in a contest to guess how many Legos it took to build a giant hippopotamus when I was eight.

What era do you wish you were from: I'd say around the 1920s/30s, minus the whole depression bit that happened

Partner Relations Coordinator

Jennifer Denman


Home Town: Dallas, Texas

Family: Mom & Dad, younger sister and brother, and a crew of wonderful friends!

Pets: I have two dog nephews, Breck and Hank

Favorite Books: Pride & Prejudice, The Giver, just about any cookbook

Favorite Movies: While You Were Sleeping, Finding Neverland, Fight Club

Favorite Music: Whatever other people tell me is good

Hobbies: Skiing, Hiking, Reading, Baking, Volleyball, Tennis

Favorite personal item: My Grandmother’s Necklace

What are you passionate about: Women knowing and walking in their True identity

A little Known Fact About Yourself: I wanted to be a Broadway dancer when I was little!

What era do you wish you were from: I’m pretty happy about being from this day and age

New Partner/Vision Trips Coordinator

Nicole Irwin

Home Town: Huntington Beach, CA

Family: Brett (hubby) & two sons

Pets: two dogs: Copper & Aspen

Favorite Books: The Patron Saint of Liars, Safely Home, Everything Belongs, The Secret Life of Bees,

Favorite Music: U2, Bebo Norman, Cold Play, Fernando Ortega

Favorite TV shows: interesting reality shows

Hobbies: I love watching my boys play their sports: football, lacrosse and basketball. I also play soccer. I like to travel with my family.

Favorite personal item: robe

What are you passionate about: My family & things that bring balance and meaning to my life: family missions trips, serving the poor, loving the unloved.

A little Known Fact About Yourself: I married the boy next door

What era do you wish you were from: late 1950's early 1960's

Communications Manager

Teresa Brockway

Home Town: Santa Maria, CA

Family: Hubby-Nathan and 4 amazing kiddos: Jenna, Gavin, Brandon and Jabez

Pets: 2 spoiled rotten pooches

Favorite Books: Redeeming Love

Favorite Movies: The Notebook (I’m a bit of a chick-flik junkie!)

Favorite Music: I personally believe it doesn’t get much better than the 80’s!

Favorite TV shows: Pretty much anything reality-Don’t judge! ;)

Hobbies: Shopping, chatting, drinking coffee, chatting, going to movies, and most definitely, chatting!

Favorite personal item: My Aero-gel.  Best thing ever invented for curly hair!

What are you passionate about: Parenting and REAL relationships

A little Known Fact About Yourself: In another life I am a star on Broadway!

What era do you wish you were from: The 20's. (love swing dancing)



Joel Home Director

Gail Wahl

Home Town: Colorado Springs

Family: Tom (Husband of 26 yrs) Ryan (now living with Jesus), Amanda, Luke

Pets: Sandy

Favorite Movies: Courageous!  I love things that inspire.

Favorite Books: Yada Yada Prayer Group Series.  Inspired my prayer life and desire to build into other women.

Favorite Music: Josh Groban; Chris Tomlin, Mercy Me

Hobbies: Reading when I have time, watching my children in sports and music, working with youth in their 20's.

Favorite personal item: My son Ryan's Bible that he left behind when he went to live with Jesus at age 20.  Ryan died in a climbing accident.  Having Ryan's Bible to read my Father's words for me each morning is nothing more than, precious.   All of Ryan's underlining and side notes give me a lens to see who my son was at the core, what his heart yearned for and the depth of his belief. I marvel at how similar our hearts are.

A little known fact about yourself: I have four sisters (I’m 2nd to the oldest) who are my absolute best friends.

What era do you wish you were from: NOW!

Partner Relations Coordinator

Amanda Ruhl

Home Town: Carmel, IN

Family: Dad, Mom, 2 Sisters, Brother-in-law, & Nephew

Pets: Just plants… I want to master this before moving onto something with a heartbeat that sheds.

Favorite Books: Kite Runner, Princess: Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia, Red Moon Rising, Always Enough

Favorite Movies: Good Will Hunting, The Shawshank Redemption, Walk the Line, Rudy, Temple Grandin

Favorite Music: Folk, Indie, & Classic rock. Old-school country. And of course, 80’s music.

Favorite TV shows: Those reality shows that most people wonder, “Who watches this stuff?” That’s right… I do.

Hobbies: Traveling, Backpacking, Softball, Ultimate Frisbee, Moondancing, Costume Parties

Favorite personal item: My sheepskin slippers & a bracelet given to me by a Karen Burmese refugee

What are you passionate about: Freedom & justice for all.

A little Known Fact About Yourself: I once had to guard Danny Glover's cell phone while it was charging.

What era do you wish you were from: If I had the same life expectancy as now, then the turn of the century.

Sponsorship Data Manager

Rachel Andrews

Home Town: Colorado Springs, CO

Family: My husband Adam, 3 kids: Addison, Ava and Kellen.

Pets: Emma and Daisy. Small poodle mixes that take up our entire bed.

Favorite Books: I prefer celebrity gossip magazines over books any day. I’m sorry, it’s just how it is.

Favorite Movies: Moulin Rouge, The Proposal, The Holiday, Sound of Music, The Blind Side.

Favorite Music: Whatever is on my Pandora station. I don’t care that much about it. Unless it’s musical theater…Then I’m music geek.

Hobbies: Organizing anything, watching Football, hiking, being in the mountains. I’m not crafty…nor do I desire to be.

Favorite personal item: My wedding ring.

What are you passionate about: Date nights, my kids, COFFEE, orphans, adoption, travel, sleeping in.

A little Known Fact About Yourself: I secretly come up with my own acceptance speech while watching awards shows.

What era do you wish you were from: The 50’s. Poodle skirts, dancing, high pony tails, bobby socks. The best.

Correspondence and Sponsorship Data Manager  

Leona Strait

Home Town: Kenai, Alaska

Family: Daughter, Noelle, and son, Hayden

Favorite Books: The Blue Bear, The Purpose-Driven Life, Mom, I Hate My Life (only a quick recall – certainly not a complete list)

Favorite Movies:  A Few Good Men, Shawshank Redemption, Say Anything, A Christmas Story

Favorite Music: One Republic, Muse, Imagine Dragons, Coldplay, Daughtry, Sara Bareilles

Hobbies: Hiking, running, reading, cycling, learning about new places, enjoying a well-crafted vanilla latte

Favorite personal item: Cards, letters, and artwork from my children

What are you passionate about:   Children in Africa, encouraging people and interacting with them in a way that celebrates their value

A little Known Fact About Yourself:  I raised an orphaned harbor seal pup one summer

What era do you wish you were from: I am content to be here and now

Accountant/Office Manager

Christie Donnelly

Home Town: Livermore, CA

Family: Kevin (hubby), David, Katelyn

Pets: Cody – faithful Australian Shepard and Maya – cute little Toy Aussie

Favorite Books: I only have time for my Accounting classbooks, and they certainly are not my favorite!

Favorite Music: New Life Worship, Desperation Band, Smitty, SC2, 80’s Alternative

Favorite Movies: All the Star Trek’s; Apollo 13; Sneakers

Favorite TV shows: Covert Affairs, Royal Pains, Psych!, Doctor Who, Star Trek, Stargate (yes, I’m a sci-fi geek)!

Hobbies: Hanging out with family, playing Settlers of Catan, massage therapy (receiving), taking naps

Favorite personal item: Stained glass lamp my mom made

What are you passionate about: Always, my faith in my Lord and best friend, Jesus. All my other passions seem to change with my season in life. Right and most recently, my kiddos are my next greatest passion.

A little Known Fact About Yourself: I love Colorado, but I’m a California girl at heart.

What era do you wish you were from: Star Trek era: teleportation, replicators and space travel!