We have been blessed with an amazing team of people.  Many are Ethiopians.  Some are foreigners serving on the ground or back in the US.  Others make up our advisory team.  Here’s your chance to meet our growing team.

On The Ground in Ethiopia

The Shannons

Jerry & Christy Shannon’s first trip to Ethiopia was in 2008 when they traveled to adopt their youngest daughter, Hanna.  On that trip, God deposited something in their hearts about serving the poor and marginalized.  In 2009 they moved their family to Addis Ababa, where they have lived since that time, about a 5 minute walk away from the project houses.  About 1 year into their stay in Addis Ababa, they were able to help catalyze the beginnings of EHE.  Jerry and Christy’s roles within the project are to train and equip local staff as well serve as visionaries for the organization and funding.  In 2013 Jerry also took on the role of Senior Pastor of the International Evangelical Church, Addis Ababa.  They have 6 children, Joshua (15), Micah (12), Caia (10), Hanna (5), Kidist (3) and Mihiret (1).



Ethiopia Team
101_0356Alayu Tadesse – ET Director

Alayu is one of the founders of Embracing Hope Ethiopia and serves as the Ethiopian Director.   With a long history in development circles, including World Vision’s micro-enterprise operations, Alayu brings a lot of experience in work among the poor.

Alayu provides oversight to all operations in Ethiopia as well as the Management Team for the organization.   Alayu’s heart for the poor is obvious as he continually is compelled for us to be able to serve more Mothers and Children – so that they might embrace hope in all areas of life.

Alayu originally grew up in Northern Ethiopia before moving to Addis Ababa.  He holds a BA in Theology from Evangelical Theological College, an MA in Leadership from Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology and is completing an MA in Wholistic Child Development also from Evangelical Theological College.  Alayu lives near to Kore’ with his wife Kidist and their son Amanuel who is 4 years old.

EHE Line Staff  

Our Team in Ethiopia has grown to 54 employees  who run the Day Care, School, Spiritual Ministries and other activities.


Some of the Day Care Staff.


Some EHE School Staff


Many of our EHE Staff. Some of their names – Alayu (Director – standing right), Binyam (Project Coordinator – standing 3rd from right), Habtamu (Social Worker – standing 2nd from right), Hamelmal (Finance Mgr – standing 2nd from right), Ayalnesh (Care Giver – standing 1st on left), Desta (standing 5th from left), Sisay (Social Worker – not pictured).







 US Based Team

01_2013_judy cockpitJudy Taylor – Administrator

Judy joined EHE in 2013 as our Administrator and handles many of the office duties for EHE on the US Side. She lives in New Holland, Pennsylvania with her husband John. In 2012 they sold their small farm and Judy left her position as a business manager in a large financial firm to spend time traveling with her husband John before he retires from the airline industry.
Judy holds an Associates degree in early childhood, Bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a Master’s degree in music therapy and expressive arts.
Judy and John have a son Michael and a daughter Eliza, both married; and two grandchildren, Inara and Orion.
If you have administrative questions or would like more information, you can contact Judy at


April Fjeld – EHE Sponsorship Coordinator

April came on board as the Family Sponsorship Coordinator in 2015, though her love for Embracing Hope began in 2012 on a trip to Ethiopia. Since that trip, April has advocated and shared stories about these families every opportunity she and her husband get.

April has been married since 2003 to Joe Fjeld, a man equally passionate about orphan advocacy and family preservation. They have 4 children (the youngest is a foster placement they are in the process of adopting). She has worked independently as a Literacy coach the past 4 years, and recently returned back to teaching Kindergarten in the public schools. Her favorite year of teaching was last year when she was able to homeschool her children.

April has a B.S. in Elementary Ed. from UNCG, a Master’s in Education from Elon University, and a Post Master’s in Gifted Ed. from Duke University. She is a National Board certified teacher in Literacy. April says, “I know education is a way out. It is a way to rise above your circumstance and rewrite your future. I am so grateful for Embracing Hope giving these families this opportunity and so much more!”

If you have any questions related to sponsorship, or you would like information on sponsoring a family, please contact April at .


U.S. Embracing Hope Ethiopia Board of Directors

jerry & christyJerry Shannon

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Education: BA in Sociology and Religion, Thiel College

Currently employed as Executive Director of Embracing Hope Ethiopia and Senior Pastor of International Evangelical Church – Addis Ababa.

Married to Christy for 20 years.  Have 6 children…Joshua 15, Micah 13, Caia 10, Hanna 7, Kidist 4 and Mihiret is 2 years old.

Hobbies: I love to read, write, travel and spend time with family.

Favorite Book: Free of Charge by Miroslav Volf

Why you think its important to see the poor, children and orphans ministered to?    I believe it is important to see the poor, children and orphans ministered to because throughout history we see God’s heart in caring for the most vulnerable of society. Time after time He spoke up for the oppressed and forgotten and He called on His people to lead the charge.  It is in caring for those on the fringes that we also get in touch with our own poverty and we learn more of God’s design and intent for us to imitate Him.  Truly, we need the poor every bit as much as the poor need us, and God will use them to rescue us from our own god-complexes along the way.


van auken familyPaul Van Auken:

Oshkosh, WI

Education: Ph.D. in Sociology from University of Wisconsin-Madison

Currently employed as Professor of Sociology and Environmental Studies at University of Wisconsin Oshkosh

Married to Courtney, two daughters –  Tizita Desta (adopted from Ethiopia in 2008), and Soliana (adopted from Ethiopia in 2012)

Hobbies: I enjoy listening to, discussing, and playing music, hiking/biking/XC skiing, and sports of all kinds

Favorite Book: I don’t know if I can name a favorite book of all time, but I recently read James Loewen’s (a sociologist) book Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong – very interesting

Why you think its important to see the poor, children and orphans ministered to? I think that our extreme global inequality is a tragedy and we all need to do our part to address it in the ways we can. Women and children are on the one hand the most vulnerable but on the other hand are the keys to a better future. Finally, Christians have been commanded to love our neighbors and care for the such people, so not much more needs to be said!


ditzlersKirsten Ditzler

Lancaster, PA

Education: Doctorate of Physical Therapy

Currently employed as Women’s Health Physical Therapist

Married to Jason for 5 years.  One daughter: Julia, age 2

Hobbies:  Gardening, paper crafts, sewing, family time, home cooking, guess that’s more than one…

Favorite Book  Does my Kindle count??  😛  Julia calls it “mommy’s book.”  I guess if you had to pin me down to one…it would be “The Notebook”

Why you think its important to see the poor, children and orphans ministered to? These are the people that need love and comfort and compassion the most.  They are overlooked by most of society and need that love, support and caring no matter what their circumstances.  This ministry gives people hope and from hope all things are possible.


Cindy D’Asaro

Downingtown, PA

Education: Bachelor of Science – Elementary Education

Currently working as 1st grade teacher

Married to John for 19 years.  Have 4 children: Jonathan-16, Rachel-14, Josiah-12 and Andrew is 8 years old.

Hobbies: I love Reading and hiking

Favorite Books: Smith Wigglesworth and The Power of a Praying Parent

Why you think its important to see the poor, children and orphans ministered to? My heart goes out to those in need, especially children.  They need to be given a chance to be loved and fed nutritionally. The poor need hope and an opportunity.  They need to know that someone cares and most importantly, that Jesus cares for them.


Tymm Hoffman

Atlanta, GA

Education:School of Hard Knocks | Street Smarts  (actually went to GA Tech, Southern Tech, GA State, and Augusta College – yet to get a degree!)

Currently working as Senior Designer, Points of Light Institute (HandsOn Network)

Married to Laura with children, Brighton (son), Meron (daughter), and Mebrate (daughter).

Hobbies: running, exercising, mountain biking, playing with family

Favorite Book: fiction I like James Patterson.  Non-fiction I like Radical, Crazy Love, Hole in Our Gospel, Bible

Why you think its important to see the poor, children and orphans ministered to?

Because God thinks its important.


Jen BioJennifer Pascoe

Boise, ID

Education: Doctor of Pharmacy

Currently employed as :
Clinical Pharmacist, Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center
Director, Mission Medics (i-61 Ministries)

Married to Travis, son Ethan

Hobbies: Backpacking, Snowshoeing, reading, and cuddling my baby boy!

Favorite Book: Non-Fiction: Experiencing God (Blackaby/King), Wild Goose Chase (Batterson), Do You Think I’m Beautiful? (Thomas) Fiction: anything by Francine Rivers.

Why you think its important to see the poor, children and orphans ministered to?
Jesus said it best: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” The best way I know to return love to my Savior and Redeemer is to love on His most vulnerable kids.


stephanie_bioStephanie Farley

Bucks County, PA

Education: She has a CPA, holds a B.S. in Accounting from Villanova University and an M.B.A. from Penn State University

Currently Employed as a Chief Financial Officer at a Pennsylvania nonprofit. . Stephanie and her husband live in Pennsylvania with their 5 children.