• Carolyn Twietmeyer

    Carolyn Twietmeyer

    Founder and Executive Director

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    Family: Married to Kiel Twietmeyer.  Mother to Matthew, Andarge, Kylie, Brendan, Sarah, Rachel, Ethan, Selah, Gracie, Samuel, Hank, Danny, Seth, Sofia, and Isaac….

    How I got involved in Project HOPEFUL:  We live in Guatemala!  It all began with our first adoption when we realized that our child with HIV would not be able to come home at the same time as his brother and sister because of the immigration process for people with HIV.  I was saddened by the idea of explaining to my 4 year old little guy why he would have to wait an extra 3-9 months to join his new family and knew we had to fight to change immigration policy.  (Read more of Carolyn’s Founders’ Story here)

    Hobbies: Writing, reading, knitting, painting, making jewelry, decorating….I make a hobby of wanting hobbies.  I fully intend to make running a hobby so that I can run in our half marathons with Team Truth!

  • Audrey Baker

    Audrey Baker

    Associate Executive Director

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    Family: Married to LaRue. Mother to Kristi, Casey, Austin, Jacob, Dameon, Jesse and Ava.

    How I got involved in Project HOPEFUL: We were about to be empty nesters when we felt a very sudden and strong pull to adopt. I had recently been in Ethiopia and just naturally assumed that would be where our child was waiting...but God had other plans. After speaking with Carolyn and learning the TRUTH about HIV we began our first adoption - from Ukraine! LaRue and I later became foster parents and have been blessed to adopt three more children through the U.S. foster care system. I began working with Project HOPEFUL shortly after our first adoption because I truly believe in the need for education to combat the stigma that surrounds HIV and other special needs. It's a tremendous blessing to work with such a passionate, Spirit-led staff!

    Hobbies: reading, gardening, canning, cooking, chasing chickens and homesteading on our little farmette.

  • Traci Heim

    Traci Heim

    Director of Financial Stewardship

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    Family:Traci and her husband Scott are parents to 10 children through adoption. Her children come from Russia, Ethiopia, and Ukraine and have come home as young as 10 months and as old as 17.

    How I got involved in Project HOPEFUL:  All 10 of my children have entered our family through adoption.  Initially was this was due to infertility, but more recently because God opened my eyes to the needs of His children.  I first began volunteering my time with Project HOPEFUL.  Later, we adopted two of our kids who needed a new home after their mom died due to AIDS.  Our youngest, came to us off of an HIV+ waiting child list. We could not imagine our lives without her.  In 2013, we adopted four children from Ukraine.My desire with Project HOPEFUL is to spread the word about how very hope-filled an HIV+ adoption is so that no one misses out on this joy these children bring.  My passion is to encourage others to advocate for these children as well.

    I believe there is no special need greater than needing a family, and I am passionate about finding families for children and equipping those families to thrive.

    She has held a staff position with Project HOPEFUL for many years, first assisting wherever necessary and then managing FIG grant funds and speaking at conferences and other events. She is now the Director of Financial Stewardship as well as board treasurer.

    Hobbies: My children say they are working on the computer and talking on the phone.  I would say that I enjoy skiing, reading, and spending alone time with my husband. (figure out how we can make that happen!)

  • Lyndsay Boulton

    Lyndsay Boulton

    Spiritual Director

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    Family: Married to Bart since 1993, Mother to Austin, Autumn, Asher, Aidan, Batri, Ruby & Conner.

    How I got involved in Project HOPEFUL: In 2009 my husband and I went on a mission trip to India where we spent time with hundreds of orphans. Our hearts were forever changed. We came home from that trip and immediately began researching adoption and the orphan crisis in the world. We were drawn to the plight of the orphan in Ethiopia and specifically children who lost their parents due to AIDS. We started the process to adopt a child with HIV from Ethiopia. In 2010 I met Carolyn Twietmeyer and Audrey Baker at a conference, I knew I had to be a part of what they were doing for the most overlooked children all over the world. I have been a part of Project HOPEFUL since then. In 2011 we brought home our beautiful daughter Batri from Ethiopia, she was 4 at the time. In 2012 we adopted Ruby, she was 8 weeks old and has Down syndrome. In 2013 we adopted Conner at 3 weeks old, he also has Down syndrome. Ruby and Conner are our 'Wonder Twins', they do everything together. They were both Open Domestic adoptions. They have forever changed us! I am passionate about educating families concerning overlooked and undervalued children. These children have changed our lives in amazing ways and I love playing a small part in other peoples' adoption journeys.

    Hobbies: I love to read, and write, and eat good food. I enjoy yoga. I am a forever student of all things, the more I learn, the more I realize I don't know much!

  • Jennifer Kooshian

    Jennifer Kooshian

    Director of Communications

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    Family: Married to my best friend, Brian since 1992, and I am mother to Peter, Jeremiah, Emma, Noah, and Mercy.

    How I got involved in Project HOPEFUL: I have been passionate about adoption and orphan care since I was a child, but when I started learning the truth about HIV and AIDS in 2010, I was shaken.  I was upset to learn I had believed lies for more than twenty years.  It sickened me that I was one of the Moms who always moved quickly past the photo-listings of any waiting children with HIV out of ignorance and fear.  Now I’m passionate about doing everything in my power to see them adopted into loving families and to conquer stigma with TRUTH!  We have not adopted yet, but are praying God opens that door to us very soon.

    Hobbies: Embroidery, gardening, idealistic daydreaming, and playing board games with my family. Chronic Facebook, Twitter, and Blog junkie.

  • Jenni Johnston

    Jenni Johnston

    Director of Waiting Children and Orphanage Liason

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    Family: Married to my hero, Josh. We have three very loud children, Chloe, Jack (Ethiopia), and Liam… more to come.

    How I got involved in Project HOPEFUL: In 2009, I begged God to give me a purpose. I heard him loud and clear, “ADOPTION!” We then brought home Jack in 2010. I realized I was not done. I, then, asked God to show me what broke his heart. Through crazy God-moments I was lead to Project HOPEFUL. After stalking these wonderful ladies, they let me be on staff. My world has been turned upside-down! I will forever be broken for these children who need hope and love.

    Hobbies: Roller Derby, chasing after my kiddos, obsessing over anything adoption, pretending that I am going to be a hippie, homeopathic, farmer that can cook, and I love playing dress-up.

  • Greg & Charisa Knight

    Greg & Charisa Knight

    Directors of FIG Awassa

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    Family: Charisa and Greg have been married since 1992 and parent 5 kids: Rebekah, Joshua, Rachel, Abenezer (Ethiopia) and Teshale (Ethiopia)

    How we got involved in Project HOPEFUL: It all started with a mission trip to Zambia in 2007 when the children became REAL!! We couldn’t change the channel when it became uncomfortable and it was clear that the Lord was calling us to something. That experience led to the adoption of two beautiful Ethiopian boys and our lives shifted direction in a dramatic way.

    Hobbies: Charisa loves music-particularly worship music that brings me into our Father’s presence. You may find me curled up with a book when I can get a quiet moment. I am also passionate about fighting to end human trafficking.  Greg enjoys time with the family and chasing the boys around to soccer games. He is a family man at heart.

  • Nancy Porter

    Nancy Porter

    Director of HOPE+ Sisterhood Ethiopia

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    Family: Married to Kirk Porter since 1998, adoptive mother to 2 amazing kids:  Haan and Eden

    How I got involved in Project HOPEFUL: I met Carolyn (and Selah) in Ethiopia 2 1/2 years ago when we both had an extended stay in Addis and stayed together in a guest house. I was able to see firsthand how very ill Selah was in Addis and then watch the transformation once she was home. Looking back now, I realize that the extended stay had a larger purpose, and my eyes were opened to the plight of the HIV+ child and the amazing ministry that is Project HOPEFUL. I am so grateful for the opportunity to help further Project HOPEFUL’s mission and spread the word about its amazing work!!!

    Hobbies: Yoga, reading, hiking, making jewelry, advocating adoption, and Friday night dates with Kirk!

  • Carol Wright

    Carol Wright

    Director of Hope+ Guatemala and W.O.W. Public Relations Coordinator

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    Family: Carol and her daughter Grace love their little family of two!

    How I got involved in Project Hopeful: I met Carolyn through blogging back in 2007 while she was in Ethiopia and trying to bring her daughter Selah home. Through a series of events, God opened the door for my daughter and I to serve with Carolyn and her family in Guatemala for 10 weeks during our summer break. During that time, God gave us a very clear call to return to Guatemala full time! I am excited to see what God does through the Walk on Water Initiative in Guatemala and am honored to be a part of His work.

    Hobbies: I enjoy swimming, snorkeling when I get the chance and traveling. I love hanging out with friends, lots of laughter as well as deep conversations. Why do I feel like I just posted on a dating site?

  • Debbie Spikings

    Debbie Spikings

    HOPE+ Ethiopia Assistant Director

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    Family: Married to Rick. Our children: Jennifer, Carrie, Wendy, Christopher, Brian, Elizabeth, Victor, Matthew, Andrew, Jamon

    How I got involved in Project HOPEFUL: After my husband and I married in 2003 we wanted a ministry we could do together. Our youngest child was in high school and we were almost empty nesters. The answer to our prayers came in the form of a three month old baby boy! The Lord really opened my heart and eyes to the need for people to care for orphans, especially those with HIV/AIDS and other special needs. I prayed about how to serve and the Lord and He led me to Project HOPEFUL.

    Hobbies: Playing guitar, singing, collecting antique school books (I know that sounds weird!). I enjoy traveling to our cabin in Michigan with my husband.

  • Lani Rankin

    Lani Rankin

    Waiting Children Coordinator

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    Family: Single mom to my son, Hunter.

    How I got involved in Project HOPEFUL: I was introduced to Project HOPEFUL by Jenni Johnston and ever since God has been at work on my heart. Being part of the Project Hopeful team gives me encouragement and inspiration to help find homes for wonderful children throughout the world. I hope to make other people aware and Hope+.

    Hobbies: Running, pinning on Pinterest, reading, and car radio singing

  • Kimberly Balts

    Kimberly Balts

    Director of FIG Programs

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    Family: I married my high school sweetheart in 1991. In 2004, I became a mom to Ellie, then twin boys, Zander and Connor, and Madison (Uganda)

    How I got involved in Project HOPEFUL: Through our adoption process, God opened my eyes to His heart for adoption and stirred within me a passion for adoption. Since our own adoption, I have been praying for God to break my heart for what breaks His, and to show me an area where I can serve Him. I began learning more about HIV and adoption and that is how I found Project HOPEFUL. I am so excited to share my passion with young people and get them involved with advocating for orphans, and to see where God leads.

    Hobbies: photography (wish I was better at it), reading, playing scrabble, and I love traveling.

  • Yamid HR

    Yamid HR

    Creative Media & Translations

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    Family: Hi there! The little one you see there is Andy, he will make you smile no matter what is going on in your life, so feel free to visit us 😊 , my wife is an amazing and talented dancers, and I'm just someone that wants to create and make beautiful things out of any situation. We want to support and bring hope to orphans everywhere, we want to support their adoption process, before and after, we bring education to schools and places when it's needed to end stigma and encourage others to adopt as we get ready for our first adoption! We are in Beijing, China. Feel free to contact us. Come and dance with us, have some coffee or a good discussion about any book you want 😊.

    How I got involved in Project HOPEFUL: I used to believe that Truth is the most important thing in life, but a few years ago I understood that it’s not just about the things that you think are right, but what you do with the truth that you have… not just trying to resolve an intellectual issue like being pro or against abortion, but being able to respond to those that don’t see another choice in life and be part of a community of people that believes and lives in ways that promote life with everything we do. Truth and Grace brings Love to my life and it’s because of Love that I have Hope.

    Hobbies: Performing Arts and Dance and Communications, and studying languages …

  • Ashley Rippke

    Ashley Rippke

    Special Needs Advocate

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    Family: Married to Nathan Rippke. Mother to Elsa and Nase.

    How I got involved in Project HOPEFUL: My husband and I were in the middle of our first adoption when we felt God calling us to special needs adoption, waiting children in particular. We knew that our paperwork and our hearts didn't line up, and that it didn't make sense for us to wait on a list while there were children waiting. But we weren't sure what reconciling the two looked like. Long story short, over the course of several months some of our friends that are raising HIV+ children, and advocates from Project Hopeful, helped us understand what raising a child with HIV actually looks like. What we believed, and what we learned to be the truth, were two completely different things. And we want to be a part of sharing that truth. After seeing our daughter on a waiting child page a couple of months later we quickly realized that had people not been open and honest with us about HIV we may have never said "yes" to our precious daughter. A thought that still makes my stomach turn. As a family we feel a strong calling to be advocates not only for HIV adoption (and awareness overall), but for all waiting and special needs children. That passion led us to our son just eight months after bringing our daughter home. And more than is comfortable, keeps me up at night. It's also what drew me to Project Hopeful as an organization, and part of why we became a FIG family for two precious girl in the Ethiopia program.

    Hobbies: Graphic design - even though it's also my job, having bonfire with the kids, snuggling dachshunds, advocating for waiting children, watching cartoons, cooking for my kids (if I do it all day long that makes it a hobby right?)