Team Members

To donate to a staff member's support account, please visit our giving page.

Ken Allen

Executive Director

Ken has been in full-time youth ministry since 1993 when he joined the staff of Youth For Christ/USA and the DC/LA Youth Conferences.  He was a part of the operations team for DC/LA '94 and DC/LA '97 and was the Director of Operations for DC/LA 2000.  In 2003, Ken joined Dare 2 Share Ministries as the Director of Events and Development.  In 2011, Ken became a part of  Denver Area Youth For Christ as the Director of Mentoring and Development.  In April of 2017, he was named Executive Director.

Ken is passionate about bringing the Body of Christ together in partnership to join God where He is working! Building teams and encouraging them to greatness is a part of Ken's heart as a coach. Reaching young people for Jesus Christ is a calling Ken has had on his life since 1993.

Ken is married to his wife, Cari, and they have served in youth ministry together with the DC/LA Conferences and as volunteer Life Group leaders in their church (Mission Hills).  Ken and Cari have been blessed with three sons, Jacob, Ryan and Caleb.  

Mentoring young people is a huge need in the juvenile justice system. If you are interested in making a difference in the life of a young person, please email Ken.

Heidi Brunsting

Director of Operations

Heidi has been serving with Denver Area Youth For Christ since 2016.  She grew up in a Christian home in Colorado, earned her BA from Augustana University in Elementary and Middle School Education and Spanish, and earned her MA from Denver Seminary in Christian Studies.  God called her to work with children and youth at a young age. Heidi served on a youth outreach team in college and has served many years in full-time ministry as a Children's and Family Ministry Director in the local church. She has also worked with children ages preschool through high school teaching in the general classroom, as a reading specialist, working with English language learners, as well as children with special needs.  She sees each experience as an opportunity to show Jesus to the children, youth, volunteers, and families she interacts with and to build solid relationships with them.

In her free time, Heidi serves in leadership with the World Outreach and Small Group Ministries at her church, serves in childrens and student ministries, and is active in church missions, having served on short term mission teams for many years in (Juarez) Mexico and Ghana, as well as assorted domestic missions. You can email Heidi here.

Tim Butler

Chaplain - Juvenile Justice Ministries

Tim has been a staff member of YFC since 1978, and during that time, has served in a wide range of ministry roles.  Tim started with YFC as a volunteer while a freshman at a Bible college leading Bible studies at Gilliam Youth Services Center, located in central Denver.  When he joined staff, he was tasked with the opportunity of spearheading ministry in two new correctional facilities.  Under Tim's leadership YFC expanded into the seven facilities that we are in today.  Tim also played a crucial role in starting the juvenile justice ministry in Colorado Springs, which became its own YFC chapter more than 15 years ago. 

On a national level, Tim served on a committee that provided training for staff in the southwest states, and for several years, served as the National Director of Youth Guidance (now Juvenile Justice Ministries).  Partnering with the American Bible Society and the mentoring program known as Pathways, Tim helped develop the curriculum that is still in use.  Tim also served as the Denver Area YFC City Life Director for five years.

Tim graduated from Western Bible College in 1976 and was commissioned by his church as a minister of the gospel in 1982.  Tim and his wife Joy have two adult children.  You can email Tim here.

Jackie Churchill

Events Coordinator

Jackie has been with Youth For Christ since October 1995.  For the first 10 years, she worked at the National Service Center as Event Manager for National Staff Events in the Leadership Development and Training Department.  During those years, she was also fortunate to serve at DCLA '97 and on several Project Serve trips to France.

After crisscrossing the country and the globe on behalf of YFC, she is now serving at the local level.  Since April 2015, Jackie has been working at Denver Area Youth For Christ.  She is an Events Team Member and works on a part-time, seasonal basis, helping with Auction, Golf, College Fair, etc.  She also volunteers at Campus Life Club at Chaparral High School in Parker and with our Parent Life ministry in Aurora.

Outside of YFC, she manages her pilot husband's world, is involved in Community Bible Study and Moms in Prayer and volunteers as a Whiz Kids sub tutor.  You can email Jackie here.

Justin Conant

Campus Life Site Director

Justin Conant is a Colorado native who attended Arapahoe High School. As I child, he went to his fair share of YFC events, where his father served on Campus Life staff for over twenty-five years. Justin attended and played baseball at Azusa Pacific University in Southern California.

Justin loves his community and has been a youth baseball, football and basketball coach in the area for many years. In 2015, he joined the YFC Campus Life staff after seeking a vocational change and desiring to work with kids full-time. He is currently the director of Campus Life at Sagewood Middle School. Justin married his high school sweetheart Christy, and they reside in Parker, Colorado with their three children, Griffin, Signe, and Carson.

Please contact Justin to learn more about Campus Life at Cimarron Middle School or Sagewood Middle School: Email Justin.

Cherelle Cowan

Director of Parent Life

Cherelle considers herself a Colorado native, as this has been her home for the past 20 years. Being a mother of four children, her passion for working with youth emerged from her years working for The Children’s Hospital of Colorado as Patient Service Coordinator with the Cardiovascular Surgery team. Later, Cherelle transfered to the Inpatient Psychiatric Unit where she continued her work assisting children and families who were experiencing major life difficulties resulting from trauma and various mental health crisis. Drawn from these experiences, God pressed on her heart to want to do more to help the children in her community.        

In 2015, Cherelle and her husband decided to step out on faith, and by the Grace of God and the divine power of the Holy Spirt, All Hands In Specialized group Center was formed. As Co-owner and Administrative Director, Cherelle served Developmentally and Intellectually Delayed boys who were in the custody of the Department of Human Services. As times progressed the Lord multiplied His blessings, allowing them to open two additional centers, Cornerstone and House of Healing Specialized Group Centers. All community-based facilities were located in the Aurora area.

Cherelle’s relationship with Jesus Christ began when she was 21 years old, and she has continued to grow and develop her love and walk with Jesus Christ ever since. During her spare time, Cherelle enjoys intimate time with God, hanging out with her family, listening to live music, working out, playing volleyball, and exploring the beautiful world God has created through travel.

As the Director of Parent Life Ministries, Cherelle is happy to begin this new journey with the Lord walking alongside an amazing team of individuals at Denver Area Youth For Christ and to continue touching the lives of young parents across the Denver area.

One of Cherelle’s favorite Bible verses is Matthew 5:16: “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” You can email Cherelle here.

Ean Cowan

Director of Juvenile Justice Ministries

Ean Cowan was born and raised on the island of Jamaica where he completed his undergraduate degree in Social Work at Northern Caribbean University. Ean migrated to the United States in 2007 where he continued his work and studies with children and families. Since then he has gained knowledge and experience in various capacities such as a Therapist and Social Work Intern, Coach Counselor at Rite of Passage Colorado, Mental Health Counselor, a CPI staff trainer at Children's Hospital Colorado, Owner/Director of All Hands In, Cornerstone, and House of Healing Specialized Group Facilities for the State of Colorado.

In December 2012 Ean graduated with a Masters Degree in Child and Family Therapy at the University of Phoenix and later enrolled at the University of the Rockies where he pursued a graduate degree in Neuropsychology. Ean’s love for children and family has led him to develop and implement programs specific to the “hard to reach” children within our community.

Ean is married to his beautiful wife, Cherelle, and the couple has four children: Arianna, Trinitty, Ean Jr, and Elisha. Ean began his relationship with Jesus Christ at the age of 13 and has  been rocking it with Jesus ever since. Merging his faith and God given talent to serve others has  been a long time dream of his and he is thrilled to begin this chapter of his life healing, ministering, and empowering children and mentors through the love of Jesus Christ.

In his free time Ean loves to attend his church where he occasionally plays the acoustic guitar during praise and worship. One of his favorite Bible passages is Philippians 4:13 - “I can do all things through Christ who strengthen me.”  You can email Ean here.

Madie Davis

Donor and Staff Care Specialist

Madie is a born and raised Texan who graduated Harding University with a Public Relations degree. She and her husband Trey moved out to Colorado with a group of college friends looking for a change of pace and scenery. Madie has always been drawn to the sense of vocational purpose found in non-profit jobs and has interned at churches and camps as well as The Denver Rescue Mission. The aspect that drew her most to working at DAYFC was the idea of mentorship and having the privilege of walking through life's highs and lows in community. You can email Madie here.

Nikki Easter

Contracted Mentor & Transition Specialist

Nikki comes from a very close and strong Puerto Rican and African American family.  At an early age Nikki was introduced to Christ and grew up surrounded by strong Christian elders (her great-grandmother and grandmothers) who insured that Jesus Christ was her foundation and head of her life. 

Growing up in bi-coastal neighborhoods (New York & Los Angeles) allowed her the opportunity to know and understand the youth she has served throughout the years. Nikki believes that everyone has the opportunity to change their circumstances and create a better life for themselves regardless of their environment or upbringing. When she has any opportunity to help a youth succeed or reach their fullest potential, she feels she is giving back to her community and making a difference.

With a background in Health Science-Health Administration, Nikki worked thirteen years for the Department of Defense, and served fifteen years in the United States Air Force as a Health Service Manager. Nikki has worked with youth in the Denver Public School District, Los Angeles Unified School District and surrounding areas. Since her high school and college years, she has always volunteered her time working with youth.

In 2001, Nikki was first introduced to working with youth in the Juvenile Justice system. She volunteered for several years at AUL, then joined their staff as an Enrollment Coordinator & Wraparound Services Counselor for five years. Nikki has continued to teach and mentor young adults (18 years+) within/outside of her communities. She has a strong belief in building up youth and young adults by teaching and providing them with tools to put in their toolbox for usage, then for them to go out and teach another youth or young adult. You can email Nikki here.

Jedidah Frederick

Chief Operations Officer

Jedidah has been involved with youth ministry since 2000 working with several non-profits to bring the gospel to kids throughout Denver. She is currently serving as the Chief Operations Officer helping with operations, development, and community engagement.

Jedidah and her husband, Dan, have two children and live in Parker, CO. They enjoy hanging out together and desire to hear God’s call on their lives and follow wherever He might lead them. In this season, Jedidah is grateful for the privilege to serve with DAYFC to expand the Kingdom one kid at a time. You can email Jedidah here.

Claire Froehlich

Chaplain - Juvenile Justice Ministries

Claire has been working in the Juvenile Justice Ministry with Youth For Christ since June 2009. Serving in youth ministry in Fort Collins, Estes Park, Yucatan, Mexico and Canberra Australia, Claire has also worked in worship ministry and administration with local Denver area churches. As a background in counseling, Claire is a certified addictions counselor.

Claire has a passion for discipleship and helping at-risk youth come to know the life-changing love of Jesus Christ. She serves on the YFC Juvenile Justice Ministry team as a Chaplain at Mt. View and Betty Marler Youth Services Centers and Devereux Cleo Wallace Youth Treatment Center.

Having grown up in Littleton, Colorado, Claire continues to enjoy the unique culture of Denver by attending plays, concerts, art shows, as well as skiing, biking, hiking the foothills, and walking her dogs, Rascal and Oliver, every chance she gets. You can email Claire here.

James Gillespie

Chaplain - Juvenile Justice Ministries

By the grace of God, James Gillespie now celebrates over 20 years of sobriety from both drugs and alcohol.  His addiction journey began in his preteen years, leading him to detention and rehabilitation centers throughout his youth and ultimately to homelessness by the age of 22.  God changed his life two years later when James made the decision to live a new sober life in Christ.  Out of this new life grew a desire to help other children realize that they do not need to live life as an addict.  James began mentoring youth with his local church and later became involved with Straight Ahead Ministries where he mentored young men in prison for 4 years. 

After 16 years working in the Aviation industry, James has followed his heart and God’s leading and joined the Denver Area Youth For Christ staff. He also continues to work for Pathfinders Recovery Program as the Care Coordinator, which helps newly recovering addicts get through their first 30, 60, or 90 days of sobriety, leading 12 step recovery groups. 

When he isn’t busy mentoring young people and addicts, James loves music, movies, and spending time with his family.  He and his wife, Carrie, have 5 children together.  You can email James here.

Abby Hopkins

Operations Assistant - Bookkeeping & HR

Abby is a 2020 graduate of the University of Texas at Austin where she studied journalism and received a certificate in Social Entrepreneurship & Nonprofits. Abby’s love for nonprofits grew as she interned with multiple organizations throughout college, including Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission, iGo Global, and Dressember. Her love for student ministry has been a natural outcome of being the daughter of two parents in vocational ministry, including ministry to students. These experiences led her to the decision to work in ministry after graduation, and she is currently pursuing a Master of Divinity with a concentration in Cultural Engagement at Denver Seminary.  

Despite living in Texas her entire life, Abby is excited to now live in Colorado and do all the outdoor things that living in Colorado invites. She enjoys running, spending time with family and friends, serving at her local church, writing, doing puzzles, and playing games.  You can email Abby here.

Eric Jones

Campus Life Site Director

Eric grew up in a small South-Central Nebraska town. One of his earliest memories was going to YFC Camp at Quaker Ridge with his parents who served on the local YFC board. In high school, Eric was himself a “Campus Life Kid.” This was one of the most formative experiences in his life. In 2010 Eric and his wife, Kelly, moved to Colorado for him to attend Colorado Christian University where he graduated with a B.A. in Theology the day after his oldest son, Calvin, was born. The following fall they moved to Scotland where Eric studied at the University of Aberdeen graduating with a M.Th. in Systematic Theology. After moving back to the states, Eric began teaching Intro to Theology at his undergraduate alma mater. His daughter, Piper, was born the following summer. Eric joined the Campus Life staff in 2018. Eric and Kelly welcomed their third child, Colin, on their 9th anniversary in 2019.

In his spare time Eric enjoys reading, writing, playing guitar, all things Husker football (GBR!), and serving their local church.

Contact Eric to learn more about Campus Life at Legend and Ponderosa High Schools. Email Eric.

Megan Kuka

Parent Life Site Director

Megan has always been interested in the youth dynamic in our culture and how, if we are going to change the world for the better, it has to be done through our youth. As a child she grew up in Texas playing soccer and finding her way alongside teammates and coaches. She has always found God through athletics and team sports and since her childhood has wanted to spread that message to children everywhere.

She lives in Parker, CO with her husband Joe, their two dogs Annabelle and Piper, their lovable cat Maco, and an unnamed betta fish. She has had a career in coaching youth soccer and currently coaches a U10 team for a local club. She is truly excited each and every day to share her passion with her players.

Initially serving as a volunteer Ministry Leader with our Parent Life ministry, she found a new passion in serving teen moms who truly need our help. Now on our Denver Area Youth For Christ staff, she is excited to continue to walk alongside them in their journey and help them to create the best lives they can for themselves and their children. She is blessed to be able to use her talents as a youth-oriented coach of team sports to inspire these girls to help themselves through the message of Christ. Contact Meg to learn more about Parent Life in Aurora and at New Legacy High School.  Email Megan.

Donny McCleery

Director of Campus Life Ministries

Donny started his time at Denver Area Youth For Christ as a volunteer with Campus Life and is now both the Director of Campus Life Ministries and Site Director at Rocky Heights Middle School. 

He was raised in Oklahoma and attended Oklahoma State University, during which time he met his wife Mindy. They have been together for the last 24 years, despite the fact she graduated from OU (Oklahoma University).

Over the last 20 years, they have been part of the Castle Pines community in youth sports, fundraisers, and volunteer programs. They have a heart for middle and high school students and believe we all have an opportunity to make a generational impact by living the Gospel for our kids to see. Although his background is in business and IT, his heart has been in coaching, leading, learning about grief support groups, and volunteering with many programs throughout the community and church. They also manage and run a foundation started by friends and family to honor one of their sons, Trey, who passed in a tragic car accident.

Donny loves Jesus, skiing/snowboarding, mountain biking, and being around all kinds of diverse people - all while telling them about college football and why Oklahoma State is the best team in the country. He also loves anything that has to do with his (and Mindy's!) son Drew.  To connect with Donny and find out more about Campus Life or Campus life at Rocky Heights Middle School, email Donny.

Jill Meyer

Parent Life Staff

Jill has had a heart for ministry and at-risk youth since starting a mentoring program called ‘High School Buddies’ when she was a junior in high school.

Jill has served in many capacities at YFC Denver. She started as the Chaplain at Lookout Mountain Youth Services Center and then became the director of the JJM program (then known as Youth Guidance). She has also served YFC as the Training Director and twice as interim Executive Director. She started the first YFC ministry to teen parents in 1982. The ministry served 250 teen parents in 13 locations around the Denver area at its height.

Jill left YFC Denver in 2004 to serve as the Program Director for Save Our Youth, a faith based mentoring organization serving at-risk youth in the Denver area. She is excited to be back ‘home’ renewing the local outreach to Teen Parents which is now called Parent Life. You can email Jill here. 

Emily Neal

Creative Specialist

Emily is a recent graduate of California Baptist University where she studied Early Childhood Intervention. She is a born and raised Texan but has spent time living in Spain and Honduras working with local nonprofits and kids of all ages. She has always had a passion for creating videos and telling stories through art. Denver Area Youth For Christ has been a way for her to use her strengths to design for an organization that equips and empowers young people while advancing the Gospel. Colorado is her newest adventure, and she is looking forward to exploring more of the mountains, Denver, and its coffee shops. When she is not traveling or trying a new hobby, she likes to be outdoors, substitute teach, and learn about different cultures and languages.You can email Emily here

Alexandra Straughter

Parent Life Site Director

Alexandra recently joined the staff at YFC as a SW Denver Parent Life Site Director after volunteering for 2 years with Pregnant and Parenting Teens through YFC and bringing her 5 years' experience starting and leading a Teen MOPS in Denver. As a Denver native she loves that she gets to partner with the same community she grew up in- to do the ministry God has placed on her heart. Her passion and deep desire are to bring hope, love, trusted support, and most of all the knowledge of a true relationship with Jesus to young parents, their children and the youth that so desperately need it.

She holds a license in Therapeutic Healing Touch Massage and has held space and provided holistic care to help in the healing process of her clients. She believes much of the knowledge she has learned while in school and gained through her experience can translate over to holding space in a holistic, trauma-informed setting for our youth.

Alexandra relates to most of the young Moms she will walk alongside with, because she too was a young mom at the tender age of 15. “I want them to feel no shame and no judgment for being who they are; letting them know how much God loves and sees them just where they are, while He also wants to guide them through life and transform their heart.” She deeply believes in the change that can happen when we build trust to walk with them, allowing God's light to break in.

She is a proud Mom of three boys Micah, Malachi, Messiah. Her Husband’s name is Charlie; wonderful, supportive, and loving. She cherishes her intimate time with God and loves quality family time. Some of her favorite things include collecting indoor plants and gardening during the summer. She also really enjoys cooking, baking, and creating in the kitchen as well as going to the beautiful mountains.

By being the hands and feet of Jesus and sharing the redemption He has brought to her own life, she believes He will use her to encourage the youth to hold on to His hope for a great future.

“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” Eph 3:20  You can email Alexandra here.

Dorie Summers

Campus Life Site Director

Dorie was born and raised in Littleton, CO where she was surrounded by a family filled with inspiring and lifelong teachers – teachers who partnered with God to change kids’ lives.  Dorie started working and volunteering with kids at a young age to soon find out that she had a similar passion of wanting to make a difference.  That led to a degree at Colorado Christian University for Music Education K-12 with an emphasis in Biblical Studies, graduating in 2015.  Dorie subbed at various schools in the Denver Metro area until she landed the perfect job at Brighton High School as the full-time Vocal Director.  The program was growing in strength, she loved the BHS community, and relationships with the kids were fantastic.  Then, God called Dorie to leave and trust fully on what He was going to do next.  So, she did just that and followed God’s lead to Denver Area Youth For Christ.  She cannot wait to continue to show God’s love and light to the youth in the Brighton area from this new role and beyond.

In her spare time, Dorie likes to sing, play piano, play or watch sports, hike, craft, Krav Maga, travel, study different cultures, and being outside with her border collie mix, Gabbie.  She also enjoys spending time with family and friends including her two beautiful nephews, Mason and Jackson.  To connect with Dorie and find out more about Campus Life in Brighton, email Dorie.

Gareth Unruh

Chief Ministry Officer

Gareth has been called to youth ministry since 1997, with the desire to see life-long followers of Christ transform the local Church and their communities. He is currently serving as the Chief Ministry Officer. 

Since joining DAYFC in October 2007, Gareth has been a bridge between the local church and the state facilities he works in, cultivating partnerships with churches and like-minded partners in different communities throughout the Denver Area and Front Range. He also serves, 

in a volunteer capacity, as a member of the YFC/USA's Juvenile Justice Ministry team and as a board member for Eagle's Nest Ministries, a ministry for pastors in crisis and in need of rest and recovery.

Gareth earned a BS in youth ministry at John Brown University and is an Ordained minister with the Rocky Mountain Ministry Network of the Assemblies of God.  Gareth is married to Jennifer, and is the father of three boys, Jake, Lawson and Eli. You can email Gareth here.

Barb Wells

Contracted Therapist

Barb Wells has been in the field of therapeutic services for almost 30 years. She started as Program Director of Fresh start in 1992. Usually serving in multiple places in the city, from Academy of Urban Learning from 2008-2014 as well as focusing on outreach with under resourced families.  She served at Stukey Elementary K – 5 as a liaison to get services in the Northglenn and Thornton area. It is important to her that she provides services to families and communities that are not able to meet their own needs - to come alongside them to empower them to provide for themselves and their families. She has served as a therapist with the Division of Youth Services since 2006. Joining Denver Area Youth For Christ in 2018, she loves serving the Lord and using her gifts anywhere He sees fit. Anywhere she goes she hopes to touch lives with a smile, a caring hand, listening to their stories, and being a great steward. She is a laborer for the fields that are white unto harvest!  You can email Barb here.