Jonathan "Pastah J" BrooksSenior Pastor, Canaan Community Church
Jonathan Brooks is a lifelong resident of Chicago, IL, and currently serves as Senior Pastor at Canaan Community Church in the West Englewood neighborhood and as an educator on many different levels. As a firm believer in investing in your local community, Jonathan has a deep desire to impress this virtue on the students and young people in his congregation, classroom and community. His ministry focuses on youth development, holistic health, college scholarships, art and music training as well as restorative justice practices and care for the incarcerated and their families.
"Pastah J," as he is affectionately called, is a sought after speaker, writer, artist and community activist. He has contributed to numerous blogs, articles and books and recently released the book Church Forsaken: Practicing Presence in Neglected Neighborhoods.
Jonathan is married to Miche'al Newman-Brooks and has two beautiful daughters Jasmine and Jade. They reside in West Englewood—steps away from the church campus.
Douglas Sanders was raised by a single mom in a middle-class home. Early in life, he knew he was a winner. He had a good education, was active in sports, and was on winning teams. At the age of 16, a junior in high school, all that changed. He says he went “from good to worst.” Joining “the wrong crowd” he became addicted to drugs and his future changed. Instead of winning, drugs led Doug to prison for 17 years. Trying to find a way through prison, Doug called out to Jesus for help. Doug says, “Jesus showed up and led me to Restoration.”
Scott BybeePresident, ESC, Inc. Consulting Engineers
Scott Bybee is President of ESC, Inc. Consulting Engineers based in Northwest Springfield. Scott believes that as business leaders, God has called us to use the resources that have been given to us to bless others. The culture of ESC reflects this view and as an engineering company, they strive to be a blessing to the local community as well as international ministries through donations of time and money.
Scott is a member of the Springfield Generosity Council, a group of local business leaders striving to be a catalyst for heart change that results in, and is expressed through, extravagant biblical generosity.
Scott is married to Robbyn (co-owner of Bridge Upholstery and Drapery on Commercial Street) and has three children, Chandler, Mason, and Addyson.
Mary DeckerChief Operating Officer, Schweitzer United Methodist Church
Mary Decker serves as the chief operating officer for Schweitzer United Methodist Church. In this role, she is responsible for the day–to-day leadership of the operations and administrative functions of the church. Her focus is on developing and implementing operational strategies that align daily operations with the mission and goals of the church.
From 2003-2016 Mary was the Director of Finance for the City of Springfield where she was responsible for the overall financial management of the City. She also advised City Council and other City leaders and staff on Springfield's financial condition and emerging financial issues. As a spokesperson for municipal finance, she developed innovative approaches to presenting financial plans and information to city council, employee groups and citizens.
Mary is passionate about budgeting and fundamental financial knowledge - just ask her two adult children. Mary enjoys cooking for friends and family and spending time in the Colorado mountains.
Katie TownsAssistant Director, Springfield-Greene County Health Department
A Springfield resident since college, Katie Towns, landed here after growing up in St. Louis. After completing her Bachelor of Science in Sports Medicine/Athletic Training and later a Master of Public Health from Missouri State University, Towns has spent her career in healthcare-related fields in non-profit, hospital and the government. Towns currently serves as Assistant Director at the Springfield-Greene County Health Department in Springfield, Missouri. In this role, Towns has assisted in leading the department through accreditation as well as an unprecedented effort to develop a regional Community Health Needs Assessment and Community Health Improvement Plan in partnership with local healthcare systems. Most recently, that assessment led to a project to explore and enhance systems and policies that improve community mental health and reduce substance abuse.
Overall, Towns is led by a vision to work across sectors to incorporate health as an element of developing Springfield’s infrastructure and culture. Towns is the mother to two beautiful children, Cole who is seven and Maren who is five and spends her time watching them play soccer, baseball, ballet and American Ninja Warrior.
Sterling HuffSenior Vice President, Simmons Bank
Investing in people and business has been a long endeavor for Sterling Huff. Originally from Licking, Missouri, Sterling is a Senior Vice President at Simmons Bank. Most of his career has been in the banking industry, with a strong emphasis in commercial lending and investment. Along the way Sterling owned and operated a manufacturing company. Additionally, he had a stint on the staff of Ozarks Technical Community College.
Sterling has a strong history of investing in people. He has served with several non-profit boards, American Cancer Society, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Springfield, Springfield YMCA, and more. Presently he serves on the Springfield/Branson National Airport Board. Additionally, Sterling is the co-founder of the Kauffman Foundation event, 1 Million Cups Springfield. He often describes 1 Million Cups as “a church gathering for entrepreneurs.”
Sterling has an MBA from Drury University, a bachelors from Southwest Missouri State University, and attended Evangel College on a basketball scholarship.
He is married to Kerri and they have two children.
Lorianne DunnEducation Director, Springfield Little Theatre
Lorianne has served as Education Director for Springfield Little Theater (SLT) for 15 years. Her stage credits include direction and choreography for West Side Story, Jesus Christ Superstar, Newsies, The Wizard of Oz, SHREK the Musical, Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr., CATS, Seussical and Seussical Jr., Annie, Once On This Island, Oklahoma!, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and she’s choreographed a host of productions.
Lorianne trained with Springfield Ballet, State Ballet of Missouri, Alabama Dance Theatre, and School of American Ballet (the New York City Ballet School). She holds a BFA in Dance Performance from MSU, and her choreography has won national recognition including a Dance Magazine Award Nomination for Choreographer of the Year. Named “20 Under 30” by 417 Magazine in 2006, awarded Springfield Regional Arts Council’s Arts Education Ozzie Award in 2016, and included in Springfield Business Journal’s 20 Most Influential Women of 2018, Lorianne leads an awesome team of passionate young students and performers who inspire us all!
Richard Lee LewisVolunteer, Retired
Richard was born 31 December 1937 in Springfield, Missouri. He received the first 11 years of his education at Lincoln School. He was selected to integrate Central High School for his senior year after the 1956 Brown vs Board of Education Supreme Court decision.
He served 4 years in USAF after graduation. He remained in California for 2 years after discharge, then moved to St. Louis, Missouri. He also worked at Westinghouse in Muncie, Indiana. He subsequently worked as a Journeyman Inspector again in California and Missouri. After retirement, having raised 3 sons and a daughter, he lived 5 years in Trinidad and Tobago, the homeland of his second wife, Lynette.
He was persuaded to live in Springfield in 1998, near his remaining family and as an independent retiree. He volunteers with Meals on Wheels once or twice weekly and spends time at the Y to maintain his health. He enjoys travel and cruising.
Lynette M. LewisVolunteer, Retired
Lynette Inniss was born in Trinidad and Tobago on May 1, 1942, where she was educated until the family moved to London, England in 1956. She completed her secondary education there. Lynette joined her United States Air Force husband in America after completing her basic nursing education in 1963. She and her husband, Richard, have 3 sons and 1 daughter, as well as 8 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren.
Lynette received a Bachelor of Nursing Science degree from St. Louis University while working at the VA Medical Center in St. Louis, Missouri. A truck/car accident in 1975, resulting in spinal injury and subsequent surgeries, led to the premature end of her career. Her present job is daily exercise to maintain mobility. She is a United Methodist Woman and a member of Schweitzer United Methodist Church.
Jim MasonAssociate Pastor, Schweitzer United Methodist Church
Jim is a practitioner of faith. His circuitous journey with God began in "work hard, play hard" neighborhood of St. Louis. Grounded in the love of family & friends, his life adventure includes careers as an Army Officer & healthcare administrator. Education includes a BS (MSU), MHA (Baylor) & COS (St. Paul).
With a deep sense that life was not whole, he began searching for the God that was there. Coming to a deep, surrendered & trusting faith in the triune God in his late thirties, Jim seeks to faithfully follow God. He loves learning/teaching & enjoys collaborating with theologians, practitioners, friends & strangers. Jim enjoys solitude, silence, hiking, kayaking, pickleball, parties, reading, rural & urban communities, biblical stories & truth, kids, understanding his roots—sports & history too.
Jim is blessed in marriage with Roxanne & loves the friendship of his sons, Clay & Jeff. He desires to grow in the love of God & neighbor; deeply grateful for God's abiding grace.
Laura BatsonPrincipal, Pittman Elementary School
Ms. Laura Batson has served as the principal at Pittman for 10 years. She has two sons, Andrew (9) and Ethan (6). Ms. Batson is currently working on her doctorate degree at Evangel University.
In her very limited spare time she likes gardening and cooking. A native of Nebraska, Ms. Batson loves Husker football!
Krista RosenbaumAssociate Pastor, Schweitzer United Methodist Church
Krista Rosenbaum was born in Texas and moved to Springfield in sixth grade. She is a graduate from Parkview High School and is married to her high school sweetheart. She and her husband have two young boys.
She attended Schweitzer for several years until she received her calling to go into ministry. She is now an associate pastor at Schweitzer United Methodist and has a passion for impacting her community with God’s Grace.
Jason LeiningerExecutive Pastor, Schweitzer United Methodist Church
Growing up on a small farm in southern Michigan was a hands-on laboratory for Jason to observe how people, families, and communities grow and flourish, or not. Those early observations have been a strong subtext in Jason’s work as he served the church in several pastoral roles. Jason is an author, contributing to three books. In the community, Jason serves as a community organizer with 1 Million Cups Springfield.
Jason is blessed to be married to Anna. They have four kids who are spreading their wings and giving their parents lots of joy. Jason likes history, tractors, and teapots.