Meet The Team

Leadership

Danielle Wheeler

Founder and Executive Director
[email protected]

Danielle Wheeler sat on her porch one day and had a dream breathed into her heart, a dream of global women linking virtual arms to find connection and courage for their cross-cultural lives. As Velvet Ashes’ founder, she loves watching this dream grow beyond what she ever imagined.  Mother to four, she and her husband ride the waves of life and culture, leaning hard into the One who leads.

Posts by Danielle // Website // Twitter // Pinterest //Instagram

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Danielle Wheeler

Danielle Wheeler

Founder and Executive Director

Sarah Hilkemann

Program Coodinator

In 2013, Sarah Hilkemann left the cornfields of Nebraska for the rice fields of Cambodia. She has been working in a rural area of western Cambodia both in a village setting and a provincial town, and is happy to now be in a place where she has running water and a grocery store! Sarah loves deep conversation, decaf white chocolate mochas, weekly family video chats, and her adorable niece and nephew.

 

Posts by Sarah // Website

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Sarah Hilkemann

Sarah Hilkemann

Program Coodinator

Contributors

Abby Martin

Instagram Team

All Abby Martin ever wanted to do was to be a small-town English teacher, but a summer trip to China in college changed that. Her heart broke wide open for a world much bigger than her small town in the Pacific Northwest and has lived a bit of a nomadic life as an itinerant teacher – teaching TCKs in Asia, homeschoolers in the rural US, adults leaving prison – and now at the age of 32, Abby finally achieved her dream of teaching English in a small town … a small town in southern Mexico, where she bungles her way through speaking Spanish and consumes as many avocados and as much Oaxacan coffee as possible.

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Abby Martin

Abby Martin

Instagram Team

Addie Davis

Facebook Team

Addie's life changed when she moved from Missouri to Kansas City, KS, and here she encountered people from all over the world. God placed a passion in her heart for different cultures, and He led her to Ozark Christian College, where she is now pursuing a degree in Intercultural Studies. When she's not working on homework, Addie loves learning other languages (currently Hindi), practicing taekwondo, eating pineapple, and painting.

Website // Instagram

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Addie Davis

Addie Davis

Facebook Team

Ashley Felder

Writer

Ashley comes from a small town in Missouri and now lives in a city of millions in northeastern China. She first fell in love with other cultures while spending time in Nigeria. She never dreamed of coming to the Far East, but has now fallen in love with those around her, finally beginning to see through the Father's eyes that all people are beautiful and need His love. She has two young boys that keep her laughing and an innovative, encouraging husband that keeps her going. In her dubious amounts of free time, she enjoys reading a good novel (with a cup of chai tea in hand, of course), connecting with others, making lattes, trying new recipes, crafty projects, and perusing for more recipes and crafts.

Posts by Ashley// Website // Pinterest //Instagram //

 

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Ashley Felder

Ashley Felder

Writer

Bayta Schwarz

HYS and Resource Team, Connection Groups Leadership Team

Bayta has spent most of her adult life overseas – 15 years in the UK with shorter stints in France and Russia. Several years in to re-entry to her “passport country” of Germany is still a bit rocky at times but life in the very international city of Berlin is certainly never dull! Being involved in equipping and coaching people as they serve cross-culturally is what she is most passionate about, along with building relationships with expats from around the world who also call Berlin home.

Posts by Bayta 

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Bayta Schwarz

Bayta Schwarz

HYS and Resource Team, Connection Groups Leadership Team

Caitlin Lieder

Connection Group Leadership Team

Caitlin Lieder has lived in Europe since 2006 where she currently works with her husband doing church planting while raising her four lively and sweet kids who were born here. She has a passion for God’s Word and is always reading at least three books at a time. When she’s not reading or taking care of the family, you can find her exercising, cooking some weird vegetable, or sitting down to a cup of tea with a friend.

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Caitlin Lieder

Caitlin Lieder

Connection Group Leadership Team

Chris Wheeler

Logistics and Donor Development

Chris comes to Velvet Ashes after 7 years of developing and running a growing child sponsorship ministry in SE Asia. A proud Texan, she has made her home in the Midwest for the last 27 years.  Her heart for cross-cultural work began when her son and his family moved to Asia to pursue God’s calling. Chris loves to be behind the scenes, helping other shine. She brings passion for her work, desiring it to point to her Creator. When she is not working for Velvet Ashes she is supporting her pastor husband in Michigan and loving her 3 grown children and 6 grandkids.

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Chris Wheeler

Chris Wheeler

Logistics and Donor Development

Cosette Greeno

HYS Team

Cosette's life radically changed when she called to teach English in Central China, shortly after graduating from college in 2013. What was supposed to have been a one-year stint turned into an almost five year journey. She currently is in her 2nd year teaching at a small international school outside of Shanghai where she is the second grade homeroom teacher. When she isn't busy teaching and keeping up with lesson planning, she enjoys cooking, reading, and trying out new and delicious places to eat at. You can follow along with some of her adventures on her instagram account.​

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Cosette Greeno

Cosette Greeno

HYS Team

Danielle Krouch

Writer

Danielle Krouch called Asia home for ten years but has been transplanted back into small-town Minnesota. She has found that God brings you to the most unexpected places to bring you the most unexpected joy.  After meeting her Khmer-American husband, Danielle made the move from the frozen steppe of Mongolia to the tropics of Cambodia.  They moved back to the States in June 2014 with their three children.

Posts by Danielle // Website

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Danielle Krouch

Danielle Krouch

Writer

Dorette Skinner

Instagram Team

Dorette is a barefoot South-African farm-girl who ended up kicking of her shoes in Asia, a life-long learner and adventurer who loves to be around people. She started out as a Physical therapist, became an English teacher, and then volunteered at a local orphanage. When she is not running after her toddler, feeding her baby or busy writing, you will probably find her somewhere in a hammock, reading a book. She blogs regularly at Reporter of Hope.

She also leads the "Moms of Velvet Ashes" Facebook group. Ask to join!

Posts by Dorette//blog

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Dorette Skinner

Dorette Skinner

Instagram Team

Elizabeth Trotter

Writer
[email protected]

After a military childhood, a teenaged Elizabeth crash landed into American civilian life. When she married her high school sweetheart, her life plan was to be a chemical engineer while he practiced law. Instead, they both fell headlong into youth ministry and spent the next ten years serving the local church. When her husband later decided he wanted to move overseas, Elizabeth didn’t want to join him. But now, after three years of life in Cambodia with him and their four children, she can’t imagine doing anything else. Elizabeth loves math, science, and all things Jane Austen. Days find her homeschooling her children, while nights find her eating hummus by the spoonful.

Posts by Elizabeth // Website //  Facebook

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Elizabeth Trotter

Elizabeth Trotter

Writer

Emily Smith

Assistant Connection Groups Coordinator and CG Leadership Team

Emily has found herself back in Minnesota and readjusting to life in her childhood home. The last thirteen years have taken her to Romania and Japan first as a Third Culture Kid and later as a teacher. She collects stamps in her passport and generally has multiple currencies she can’t quite bring herself to take out of her wallet. Coffee, running, sunshine, good books, and writing are interests and activities she can carry easily between cultures and continents. Emily is in a season of waiting to see what God has next while enjoying the comfort and familiarity of home and family.

Posts by Emily // Website //Instagram

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Emily Smith

Emily Smith

Assistant Connection Groups Coordinator and CG Leadership Team

Jenilee Goodwin

Writer
[email protected]

Jenilee Goodwin is a runner, writer, lover of books and a huge coffee fan. She is a mom to three rambunctious, super fun girls and wife to an adventurous, always interesting, outdoorsy guy. Her family works in West Africa. She loves all things techy and you can always find her around around the web as she shares her faith, family travels, cross-cultural journeys and other life lessons.

Posts by Jenilee // Website //Instagram //

 

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Jenilee Goodwin

Jenilee Goodwin

Writer

Joy Smalley

Writer

I am a TCK, a mother of 4 kids, a wife, a lover of God and still a newbie to SouthEast Asia where I am learning to combat the perpetual heat while God shows himself to me differently every day.

Posts by Joy // Blog

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Joy Smalley

Joy Smalley

Writer

Karen Huber

Image Designer, Writer, and Submissions Editor

Karen Huber is a Kansas girl living with her husband and three children in Dublin, Ireland where they serve through the local church, the arts, and community service. When she’s not at home with her kiddos, she’s out drinking coffee with friends, writing in libraries, and laughing louder than is culturally appropriate. You can find Karen’s thoughts on motherhood, marriage, culture and faith at karenohuber.com; or meet her on Twitter at @karenohuber.

Posts by Karen

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Karen Huber

Karen Huber

Image Designer, Writer, and Submissions Editor

Kathryn Bronn

Instagram Team

Kathryn is a photographer, artist, writer, bookworm, and serious coffee snob.  She is based out of Costa Rica, working in media and communications for her organization, traveling throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.  Kathryn also teaches art to people who have been through trauma, working specifically with inner city kids and survivors of human trafficking.

She is a bit obsessed with beach cruiser bicycles (always with a basket!), extra large sunhats, fresh pineapple, and Taco Tuesdays. You can follow her journey through Latin America over at kathrynbronnblog.com or find her @kathrynbronn on Instagram.

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Kathryn Bronn

Kathryn Bronn

Instagram Team

Kelly Delp

Writer
Kelly Delp grew up in Indiana, USA, but has worked on the pastoral team of an international church in Paris, France since 2010. Kelly spent years as a worship leader, writing songs as well as teaching worship conferences in the US, throughout Europe, and in Morocco, but over the last few years has moved into lead roles as well as preaching. She is passionate about developing young women who are called into ministry, and is also passionate about eating baguettes with French butter. Kelly writes regularly at kellydelp.com.
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Kelly Delp

Kelly Delp

Writer

Kristin Tillotson

Facebook Team
My life was all about music until I stepped onto Cambodian soil in 2010. God upended my life in that experience, and three years later I returned and made Cambodia my home. Since then I've discovered my passion for bringing inspiration to people God may be calling to overseas Kingdom work, and being an advocate for the people God has called me to live among. Although my violin brought from the US may not have withstood the humidity well, I still enjoy making music and teaching the occasional violin or piano lessons (in a village in hot season, with mosquitos swarming- or otherwise!).
I happen to be just one of several members of my family serving overseas, so I enjoy the rare times we get to have round-the-world Skype calls or meet up in the States on home assignment (or other places in the world!). I also consider myself spoiled to have my brother and sister-in-law, darling nephew and niece in country and part of my team here!
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Kristin Tillotson

Kristin Tillotson

Facebook Team

Laura Bowling

Writer

Laura is in the early stages of transitioning back to life in the US, which means she’s relearning how to use the ATM and remembering how to drive like an American, not a European. After spending over six years serving in three countries, she has developed a heart for encouraging women who are serving overseas and is thankful for how God has provided opportunities for her to share her stories and thoughts with others. She blogs at Chatting About Life.

Posts by Laura // Website //Instagram

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Laura Bowling

Laura Bowling

Writer

Lauren Pinkston

Writer

From the day she flipped through her first National Geographic magazine as a five-year-old, Lauren Pinkston knew she had to see the world. Since then, she's traveled to five continents, read a lot of anthropology, and tried to figure out her place in a global community. Lauren currently works in SE Asia as a community development consultant while juggling language learning, cultural acquisition, and her own research in expat mental health. She's a husband lover, diaper changer, envelope pusher, justice seeker, and adoption advocate.

Posts by Lauren // Website // Twitter // Instagram  // Pinterest // Facebook

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Lauren Pinkston

Lauren Pinkston

Writer

Lilly

Writer

Lilly and her family make their home somewhere in the Middle East. Originally from the Dominican Republic, she has moved cross-culturally multiple times. The beauty of Jesus Christ compels her life. A recovering perfectionist, she is learning to fix her delight on His perfection. She is passionate about discovering how being one with Christ impacts all of life. She thinks and learns through writing. Crafting words and sentences is one of the main ways she comes alive. As she processes who God is for her in Christ Jesus, her joy is complete when she can share it with others. Lilly loves welcoming people into her home, slow mornings filled with coffee and books, and discovering recipes that satisfy her foodie heart in spite of all her food allergies. Some of her favorites are eating guacamole, making her house a home with all things rustic/indie and singing in harmony. You can find her on Instagram and her blog where she writes when parenting or ministry don't need her somewhere else.

Posts by Lilly// Website // Instagram //

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Lilly

Lilly

Writer

M’Lynn Taylor

Writer

M’Lynn likes to put things in boxes. That’s why she studied accounting in college, and all of her wedding presents received in 2004 are sitting in boxes in a storage container in Texas. The one thing she refuses to put in a box is God. Currently in her 9th year of living in China, she sometimes wakes up in the morning wondering why she’s still in Asia. She’s married to an introverted, pessimistic realist who keeps her extroverted, optimistic feet on the ground in a good way. Her three energetic, creative children refuse to keep their toys in their assigned boxes while emptying boxes of shelf milk faster than the local grocery store can stock them.

Posts by M’Lynn // Website // Instagram

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M’Lynn Taylor

M’Lynn Taylor

Writer

Patty S

VA Leadership, Writer

Patty is a member care provider, leadership coach and trainer, and teacher serving in Asia since 1996 with her uber kind husband and three delightful now-grown kids. Central to her call is nurturing wisdom in others and helping others thrive in the places they have been called. Her favorite past times outside Asia are stargazing in North Dakota, hiking in Tennessee, and doing absolutely anything with family.

 

Posts by Patty

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Patty S

Patty S

VA Leadership, Writer

Rachel Kahindi

Instagram Team

Rachel can often be found reading, drinking coffee, or lying on a beach - or all three! She's an American married to a Kenyan. They and their two sons live, worship, work, learn, and play in Kenya. Rachel shares bits of their lives on her blog and Instagram.

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Rachel Kahindi

Rachel Kahindi

Instagram Team

Raven Cruz

Blog Admin Assistant

Raven Cruz grew up in a small southern town proudly calling a group of people y'all and wanting to chat over a cold glass of sweet tea. Now, she can render herself speechless as she struggles to decide which language to speak and thinks chatting over hot tea and rusks are just as great. She first dipped her toes into overseas service after her first year of university and has spent the last nine years between the States and serving in Southern Africa working among the most beautiful people. Her favorites are baking (when she can find the right ingredients), hiking and kayaking in her home state, and attempting to be a runner. You can get to know more about her life on Instagram.

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Raven Cruz

Raven Cruz

Blog Admin Assistant

Spring Davis

Instagram Team

Spring is a closet writer who enjoys blogging and reading to the light of her kindle. She is a mom of 4 children whom she homeschools. They serve Deaf and live in Belize. Spring is struggling through the process of learning her third language: ASL.

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Spring Davis

Spring Davis

Instagram Team

Board of Directors

Jayna Gallagher

Vice President
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Jayna Gallagher

Jayna Gallagher

Vice President

Kim Nease

President
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Kim Nease

Kim Nease

President

Kimberly Todd

Secretary
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Kimberly Todd

Kimberly Todd

Secretary

Lisa Zeshonski

Treasurer
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Lisa Zeshonski

Lisa Zeshonski

Treasurer

Patty S

Board Member
[email protected]
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Patty S

Patty S

Board Member

Past Contributors

Amy Young

Cofounder and Former Director of Global Strategy and Impact
[email protected]

When Amy Young first moved to China she knew three Chinese words: hello, thank you and watermelon. Often the only words needed in life, right?! She is known to jump in without all the facts and blogs regularly at The Messy Middle. The tag is “where grace and truth reside.” People tend to be drawn to grace, grace, grace OR truth, truth, truth. Either side doesn’t require much discipline, do they? Instead they foster auto-pilot living. But real life happens … in the messy middle, with both. It can be maddening, right? But also exhilarating!

Posts by Amy // Website // Pinterest //Twitter // Instagram  // Facebook

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Amy Young

Amy Young

Cofounder and Former Director of Global Strategy and Impact

Jessica Hoover

Writer

Jessica Leigh Hoover is a wife, mama, writer and grace lover. She lives in the hills of North Carolina but has the red dirt of West Africa in her soul. She blogs about her belief that  grace is the biggest kind of brave  and how life is messy and beautiful in the living, losing and loving. Her favorites are Jesus, family, chocolate, vintage anything and British accents.

Posts by Jessica // Website // Twitter // Instagram // Facebook

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Jessica Hoover

Jessica Hoover

Writer

Julia Martin

Admin Assistant, Prayer Team
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Julia Martin

Julia Martin

Admin Assistant, Prayer Team

Kimberly Todd

Submissions Editor, Writer

Posts by Kimberly

 

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Kimberly Todd

Kimberly Todd

Submissions Editor, Writer

Renee Aupperlee

Writer

Her life in Asia started in a small town whose only western products were Oreos and Coca-cola.  Now, after 16 years living overseas, and in the city of 5 million where she currently lives, Renee continues to savor the journey to which God has called her. She is a mom of 4 creative, confident young men, as well as a wife to a pretty amazing husband.   She has taught English in both American and Chinese classrooms, planned women’s retreats and studies, directed dramas, and mentored women from different cultures.  Discussing theology around the table, playing sports, drinking coffee, and time with the people she loves are on Renee’s top ten list.  Currently she is pursuing a master’s degree in Biblical studies.

Posts by Renee //

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Renee Aupperlee

Renee Aupperlee

Writer

Interested in submitting a guest post for Velvet Ashes?  See our submission guidelines.