How many leaders are there in your ministry?

by Peggy Hartshorn, Heartbeat International President

From On the LeaderBoard Volume 1, Issue 1

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Is leadership an art or a science? Is leadership the same in the business world as it is in a Christian ministry?  Is there an essential difference in the way that a man leads vs. the way a woman leads?  Can a person learn to be a leader or is it an innate gift or skill?

Leadership is a complex subject and there are many opinions about the questions above, as well as many other deep, almost philosophical questions that can be asked about this subject. As I think about leadership within a pregnancy help ministry (a center, clinic, maternity home, adoption agency, or any other Heartbeat affiliated organization), one thing I can say for sure, however, is this:  even though one person may be seen by almost all as “the leader,” it is not a healthy situation when there is only ONE person in leadership. This may sound contradictory, but let me try to explain what I mean.

At Heartbeat, in our conversations, e-mails, and person visits to our affiliates, we have observed that often one person, most frequently the director or executive director (sometimes in larger organizations called the CEO or President), feels the entire burden of the organization’s success or failure. This person is often “called” to the position, sometimes is the founder of the organization but often not, is totally dedicated to the mission, is multi-skilled, works very hard, and is looked to by almost everyone else (both inside and outside the organization) as the key person. You might say, “Well, what’s wrong with this picture”?

If this one leader is, in fact, the only person exercising leadership within the organization, if everyone else is a follower, here are some of the consequences that we have seen occur:

  • The one leader will become disillusioned and discouraged and eventually burn out.
  • The organization will eventually stagnate, since one person can only grow an organization so far.
  • The one leader will squelch up-and-coming leaders, the very people who could take some of the burden and help the organization grow and develop.
  • The one leader will eventually be leading the Board as well as the staff and volunteers and the burden will become so great that things will begin to fall apart and become dysfunctional, even to the point of endangering individuals and the organization itself.
  • Eventually, the one leader may be forced out of the organization in a manner that is hurtful and leaves many people wounded.

Leadership, I believe, should be a shared function.  A healthy organization should have a team of leaders working well together. This team is really the “horsepower” of the organization. One of my favorite sights, living as I do in the state of Ohio where we have the largest number of Amish people of any other state, is watching a team of horses, driven by a gifted Amish farmer, plowing the fields. It is a thing of beauty to see how the farmer, with slight movements of his hands on the reins, keeps these powerful beings working in unison. I’m sure it is not as easy as it seems.  It takes a lot of learning and probably years of experience to steer such a team. If one horse is pulling too hard, he may be pulling all the other horses too!  If one horse is not in step, the work is much harder, and there can even be injury.

Who are all the leaders within an organization? Well, that depends on how large the organization is and in what stage of development.  But we can start with at least two in every organization:  the executive director (ED) and the chairperson of the Board.  Each has a sphere of authority in which to lead:  the ED leads the staff and most of the volunteers;  the Board chairperson leads the Board members and any other people who work with the Board (e.g. some Boards may work with consultants or have volunteers who work with the members on committees, etc.). 

If the ED feels like he or she is also leading the Board, something is wrong. Sometimes the ED mistakenly thinks that leading the Board is his or her job (it is not), or the ED begins leading the Board because no one on the Board has “stepped up to the plate.” If the chairperson of the Board is leading the staff and the office volunteers, something is wrong (unless you are in the start-up phase or an all-volunteer organization with no paid staff). Sometimes if the chairperson of the Board is leading the staff, it means that the Board has no confidence in the ED, or the Board chairperson mistakenly thinks it is his or her job to lead the staff (it is not).

The most common reason for NOT having both a staff leader (the ED) and a Board leader (the Board chairperson) is that the Board members do not understand their role in the organization. They may mistakenly think that they are in an advisory role and that their job is to be cheerleaders behind the ED, or simply “prayer partners” for the ED and staff.   They do not realize that there are LOTS of jobs that Board members should be doing and that they have a responsibility to govern the entire organization. These jobs and the govern responsibility are discussed thoroughly in Heartbeat’s Board manual called GOVERN Well™.  Also, Heartbeat consultants are available to come to your organization and provide a specific training for your Board members and ED on Board responsibilities and jobs.

If Board members do not accept their responsibilities to truly govern, the entire organization can be in jeopardy.  In fact, there is a state of organizational development called “Decline and Dissolution” and it is often caused by a failing Board. A Board often fails if and when a strong ED tries to lead both the staff and the Board, a feat that is humanly impossible to do well.

Let me share what a positive scenario looks like, when there is leadership at both the staff and Board levels.  At Heartbeat international, I am the overall leader, although we have many other staff leaders as well. Carla Cole leads the staff in fulfilling our strategic plan as effectively and efficiently as possible. Jor-El Godsey leads the Ministry Services team, and within that team, Betty McDowell leads all the trainers and consultants who work with our affiliates. John Ensor leads the Mission Advancement team whose responsibility is communications and fundraising.

We have a very strong Board chairperson, John Cissel, who leads a Board of 12 members, leaders in their own right, some of whom lead specific functions on the Board (such as financial oversight).

John Cissel (the Board leader) and I (the staff leader), although not living in the same city, meet frequently by phone, sometimes touching base several times a week , by phone or e-mail, to keep each other updated on what is happening within our spheres of influence. I don’t try to do his job and he doesn’t try to do mine. John is always thinking of ways to engage our Board members and help them use their gifts and skills to advance Heartbeat. 

Board members, in turn, often e-mail John or me (with copies to the other to keep both of us in the loop) with ideas or contacts that may help us or that relate to an issue or problem we are discussing at Board meetings. Our Board only meets in person twice each year, but three additional times by conference call. Yet, all Board members know each other well, know our staff, and are engaged in advancing Heartbeat and our mission. This is due to frequent communication between John, the Board leader and chairman, and Board members, and between John and me. John and I plan the Board meetings, and our annual two-day Board retreat, together. John conducts all the Board meetings and leads the Board retreat, but I have a central role in those meetings and in the retreat.

John frequently says to me, “The Board and I are here to support you and Heartbeat.” I feel and treasure that support and my partnership with John. I know that we are on the same team and are pulling together, a little bit like the two lead horses in that Amish farmer’s powerful team.   

John always opens and closes every phone call meeting with me with prayer, so we are constantly calling on the Lord to bless our time together, and to bless each other in our roles as, for the present moment, the two key leaders of Heartbeat International.

It should not go without saying that the leaders whom I have described here are the human leaders of the ministry. But, of course, the power behind these human leaders should be the Lord. In fact, we are powerless to do good without Him. We should be on His plan, not just ask Him to bless ours. All the leaders within your organization must first and foremost be close to the Lord, listen to Him, obey Him, and let His light shine through them to others. You do not want a leader in place who is not in this kind of relationship with the Lord. 

In work like ours that is, at its root, the struggle between good and evil, between light and darkness, the Devil will be working overtime to bring disunity and, even more so, chaos into our organizations. He loves to see us destroying everything good through our own sinfulness – through rivalry, jealousy, power plays, anger, impatience, control, competition – especially between and among the leaders of the ministry.  If we are wounding or destroying each other, we make the Devil’s job easy – our ministries collapse from the inside out. Guard against this with all your might and seek God’s protection and grace to carry out your leadership role in building His kingdom (not yours!).

Heartbeat Welcomes Leaders to Institute


Though the weather has been anything but welcoming, the 17 attendees to Heartbeat's Institute for Center Effectiveness are gaining invaluable insight from the shelter of the great indoors this week in Columbus, Ohio.

Top-notch training from long-time pregnancy help leader Kirk Walden and leadership expert/executive coach Kitty Allen have comprised the week-long event, which has drawn participants from as far away as Southern California and South Carolina--home of Heartbeat's 2014 Annual Conference March 24-27.

The week-long training event includes a tour of Heartbeat International's central operating facilities, including the headquarters for Option Line, Heartbeat's 24/7 pregnancy helpline.

Developing a Thriving Team

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by Debra Neybert, Training Specialist

Since building an effective team will ultimately affect the women and men you are trying to serve, board members and directors looking to strengthen and nurture their team need to take specific steps to positively impact their staff and volunteers.

The Board of the organization is responsible for creating an environment that puts people first, that solves conflict in a healthy and biblical way, and that also allows people to develop and ultimately use their God-given gifts and talents to bless those they minister to.

A healthy leadership team (Board and Executive Director), can be a source of nourishment for an entire organization as they model servant leadership and provide professional development opportunities.

Pursuing Godly Servant Leadership

One characteristic of servant leadership comes prioritizing your relationship with the Lord, which then leads to pursuing a particular God-given mission. Board members should have a calling to follow the mission of your organization. The mission energizes and creates a passion for leaders to take on the responsibilities and jobs that come to Board members. It will also draw others to get involved and energize their passion for the mission.

Servant leaders should value their relationship with fellow members of the leadership team. These relationships must be characterized by love. In 1 Corinthians 13, the Apostle Paul describes the kind of love that God would have us exemplify. Servant Leaders are sensitive to the needs of those they work with (fellow leaders on the team), and to those under their direction. Servant leaders also lead by example and are willing to doing small jobs as gifts to others.

As the Cross drew near, Jesus introduced his followers to servant leadership as a radically new form of leadership, such that the world had never seen.
Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. (John 13:3-5)

Another characteristic of a servant leader is peace. It is always easy to remain peaceful when nothing is rocking your boat, but remaining peaceful is more challenging when struggles begin to surface, whether in relation to finances, personnel, internal or external challenges, transitions or attacks.

A peaceful environment is the result of effective servant leadership. This is an atmosphere of peacefulness that nourishes the organization when conflicts are handled in a biblical way. One extremely helpful resource Heartbeat recommends and uses is Ken Sande’s The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict, a practical handbook for peacemaking based on Matthew 18. When this kind of conflict resolution is modeled by a leadership team, the entire organization benefits.

Cultivating a Professional Environment

Another way the Board can encourage and nurture its team is by proactively investing in professional development opportunities.

A good working environment is crucial, including space and equipment. It is the Board’s responsibility to see that those under their care, especially the Executive Director, are treated with dignity and respect. When dignity and respect are modeled, these virtues also filter down to the whole organization and bear much fruit.

A good salary and benefits for the Executive Director and staff are some of the ways that dignity and respect are shown, and it is always wise to plan ahead and make provision in the budget for continuing education and training for the Executive Director and staff.

Continuing education can be provided in many ways: through the Heartbeat Academy, one-on-one mentoring of the Executive Director by a Board member, community workshops provided by local foundations, a line item in the annual budget to send the Executive Director (and at least one Board member plus other staff and volunteers) to one of the Heartbeat International training events (Annual Conference, Executive Roundtable, Institute for Center Effectiveness).

A commitment to the on-site or online training of Board and/or staff every few years is also a tremendous way to nurture your center, while a prayer retreat for the Board and/or staff is a blessing that can be provided by a local pastor or priest (or both).

Training events also provide an excellent networking opportunity for Board Members and the Executive Director (and staff) with other nonprofits in the local community and, in the case of Heartbeat International events, with similar ministries all over the world.

Order Heartbeat International’s GOVERN WellTM today to find out how you can become a more effective leader in your life-affirming center.
Also, don’t let the chance to invest in your leadership excellence through the 2014 Heartbeat International Annual Conference, March 24-27 in Charleston, S.C.

Rethinking the Center's Corporate Status

Rethinking the center’s corporate status

by Ellen Foell, Esq., Heartbeat International Legal Counsel

From On the LeaderBoard Volume 1, Issue 2

When was the last time your Board actually looked at your center’s Articles of Incorporation or, more to the point, rethought the issue of whether your center should be organized as a 501(c)(3) religious nonprofit corporation, rather than a charitable nonprofit corporation?  I venture to guess that after your center was first organized, the paperwork for the Internal Revenue Service was submitted, accepted, 501(c)(3) status given, the letters locked away in a drawer and no one has seen them since.  It may be time to take that letter out of the drawer, as well as the Articles and by laws, and rethink your center’s status with the IRS. 

Most centers are not set up as religious organizations and indeed, there’s nothing that mandates it.  Many centers typically cite the ability to receive grants as the primary reason for the charitable status.  However, in today’s political and cultural climate, the charitable designation chosen by most centers, versus the religious designation, may not be as effective for achieving the goals of your center.  In fact, because of the ever-increasing attempts of the proabortionists to shut down pregnancy care centers by any means, your center’s lack of religious status may expose your center to problems. 

Some very useful benefits flow to a center that’s established as a religious corporation.  Federal law permits a religious organization to inquire about an applicant’s religious beliefs in hiring for all positions.  Most of the federal nondiscrimination laws don’t apply in hiring.  Many states exempt religious organizations from employment discrimination laws.  Finally, the First Amendment’s constitutional protection would flow to a center with regard to communications.  In the next On the LeaderBoard article, we’ll examine this option further.  For now, take the time to start to rethink the issue.

A Lofty Vision in a World Made of Dirt

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by Jay Hobbs, Communications Assistant

As your pregnancy organization’s board meets to craft this year’s budget, take a moment to give the room a silent once-over.

Are you looking at a gaggle of starry-eyed dreamers or a collection of bone-dry bean-counters? What if you could tip the scales… to the middle?

You see, two kinds of people need to be involved in the budgeting process. You want your organization’s budget to reflect a sort of modest ambition—a reasonable approach that still has the ability to stretch your organization and its mission. A budget that reflects wisdom and reliance upon the leading of God’s Spirit.

As valuable as starry-eyed dreamers are—the rest of us are happy to have you aboard!—these visionaries often need reigned in a bit by faithful, brass-tacks bean-counters who are best-geared to convert a vision to a reality by executing a plan and process from Point A to Point B.

A board full of visionaries may have an ever-increasing treasure trove of great ideas and lofty budgeting goals, but at some point, these ideas need evaluated, vetted, and implemented by folks with calculators, spreadsheets, and bank statements.

On the other hand, a board comprised of bean-counters will lack the kind of ambition your organization needs in order to truly grow and take those “next steps” visionaries are so very fond of.

Peter F. Drucker, who Business Week once heralded as “the man who invented management, had the following to say in his book, Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Practice and Principles:

The people who work within these industries or public services know that there are basic flaws. But they are almost forced to ignore them and to concentrate instead on patching here, improving there, fighting the fire or caulking that crack. They are thus unable to take the innovation seriously, let alone to try to compete with it. They do not, as a rule, even notice it until it has grown so big as to encroach on their industry or service, by which time it has become irreversible. In the meantime, the innovators have the field to themselves.”

So, we ask again… Who is sitting at your board table?

Who is missing?


CAM Conference adds to Argentine Legacy

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Argentina is known for the tango, amazing beef, quality leather goods, and delicious chocolate.

Most recently, it’s also famous for providing the first pope from Latin America, Pope Francis.

In October, Argentina served as host country for the 5th Conference of the Red Latinoamericana Centro de Ayuda para Mujer (CAMs), where more than 200 pregnancy help leaders and volunteers from 10 different countries joined together for information and inspiration.

The conference featured keynotes by a representative from Human Life International, along with Heartbeat International Vice-President Jor-El Godsey, complimented by a list of break-out sessions including Heartbeat’s The LOVE Approach™ (La Propuesta de la Amor) and reaching the abortion-minded client.

CAM centers are growing across Latin America, more than doubling their number to over 130 centers in the past four years! We are blessed to partner with CAM, as—together—we advance the pregnancy help movement worldwide.


An Answer to a Complex Question


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by Mary Peterson, Housing Consultant

It seems like a simple enough question, but it can make even a seasoned leader stumble… "What is success for your program?" Gulp.

As Christians, the question might make us especially squirmy. From a Christian viewpoint, success is modeling a life of love, planting seeds of insight, and observing tiny gestures of conversion of heart. We do our part in the work, and trust Christ to bring about the fruit by His Spirit.

But here’s the rub: Funders or major donors asking about success want to know more. They want concrete, measurable outcomes.

So, how do we go about establishing measurables and metrics? What can—at the very least—point to a pattern that just may be success?

With that goal in mind, leaders in the National Maternity Housing Coalition have begun working on a document to capture common strategies toward achieving various outcomes in practical skills, attitudes, and healthy behaviors.

The simple framework of NMHC’s work-in-progress resonates deeply with common sense, but is also rooted in up-to-date research from the Centers for Disease Control, addressing and preventing "adverse childhood experiences" while building resiliency skills. This framework articulates the work homes have been doing for years, while inviting leaders like you to share the "best of" what you’ve been doing, and considering new methods for serving moms in your ministry.

NMHC’s document is currently a working draft, and we would greatly benefit from your perspective! We are having a working session to collectively fill in the framework of this document on September 12 at 1 pm (CST). You can find details for the session here.

Please consider joining us to add your input to the document!

Our work, so dear to the heart of God, plays out on the stages of both the natural and supernatural. On a supernatural stage, we know God's vision for success is not easily quantified and measured.

But the natural stage is where we are called to articulate a vision for success that advances the excellent, transformative work of maternity homes.

And in doing so, we give God the glory!


The Grace of God's Faithfulness


Grace Chanda Swala was on the verge of giving up.

Having become executive director for Mansa Silent Voices in Zambia just a year ago, Grace and her family had laid the comfort of living in their own home on the altar, hoping to raise support for the fledgling center by renting out their home.

But by the time late July rolled around, and the Africa Cares for Life conference along with it, Grace was on the brink of losing heart.

Her heart burdened for the women and children in her community, and her spirit all but crushed under the weight of financial stress and worry, the five-day bus ride from Zambia to Durbin, South Africa, seemed like an eternity.

Would her center ever reach and rescue the women she passed by on the street every day? Could her ministry thrive under such tight constraints and seemingly insurmountable obstacles?

Would Grace and her family face financial ruin because of their selfless sacrifice on behalf of women and babies in Mansa?

Meanwhile, as Grace traveled the five days from Mansa to Durbin, grace was traveling halfway across the world to meet her, as Heartbeat International’s Director of Ministry Services Betty McDowell arrived for a full week of speaking and teaching at the conference.

Betty’s week started with a visit to Pregnancy Resource Centre, a maternity home in Durbin, and followed up with an in-depth day on fundraising all day Monday and into Tuesday morning.

While teaching two sessions on Heartbeat’s Sexual Integrity™ Program early in the week, Betty delivered two keynotes to the 80-plus person conference, which included representatives from three African nations.

“Vision came through as a major theme at this conference,” Betty said. “These friends face so many hardships we don’t here in the U.S., or even most parts in the west. It blew me away to hear from each organization about the problems they deal with: HIV, high crime rates, and even personal safety at risk on a day-to-day basis, and yet they keep at their work in spite of all these obstacles.”

“Africa Cares for Life did a superb job with this conference, and so much of the credit goes to Shanno Enoch, who was running her first conference as Executive Director,” Betty said. “That group is such an encouraging example of what true learners and servant-leaders look like.”

As the conference, “New Beginnings… Bountiful Harvest,” progressed, leaders like Grace were refreshed, encouraged and better equipped to hold fast to the Gospel of Life in spite of the daunting challenges they face every day.

For Grace, the conference truly proved to be a new beginning. As she boarded the bus back to Mansa, prepared for five days en route home, Grace reveled in the encouragement, instruction, and fellowship that had left her rejuvenated, and freshly ready to pursue her God-given call.

Grace also reflected on God’s faithfulness to provide a harvest. Even after a hard year of working the Zambian soil.

by Jay Hobbs, Communications Assistant



Getting Good Outcomes: More or Better?


by Jor-El Godsey, Vice President

Probably the most common question asked when center leaders get together is, “How many unique clients do you see?”

Presumably, the higher the client number, the better the outreach. And it seems to follow, the better the outreach, the better the outcomes. But does this really reveal the whole picture? The answer in a word... hardly.

Yes, more client numbers generally suggests there are actually more “outcomes.” But does it naturally follow that those outcomes are “better”?

The answer to this question requires a deeper look, beyond focusing on total client numbers, and more closely evaluating the outcomes they represent. We have to ask, “What outcomes are we representing?”

Do we count a last known intention after one visit the same as that of a client we’ve seen several times throughout her pregnancy?

How do we qualify discussions relative to spiritual interactions? As faith-motivated ministries, we recognize the context of a life-and-death decision is every bit as spiritual as specifically choosing to follow Christ. Do we count both as equal in light of our mission?

Forty-plus years into the pregnancy help ministry, we all stand on the backs of entrepreneurs who blazed the trail before us. Those courageous folks—some of whom are still very active in our ministry today—tackled challenges like getting real-time pregnancy test results (before the easy tests were available) and getting listed in the Yellow Pages.

These pioneers learned to successfully draw someone who was not looking for their services (even though they desperately needed it), and that entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in our movement, as we push into the new electronic marketing frontiers and mobile device client intake.

With that, we must continually make room for the intrapreneurs among us—those who may not push the envelope per se, but who work to maximize their ministry’s effectiveness. Intrapreneurs spend time on process, protocol and efficiency (not to be confused with effectiveness).

These in turn help serve better outcomes as well as more outcomes. Pushing into new territory is important, but not to the exclusion of developing the territory we are already in. Thankfully, God provides those with temperaments fit for the task.

Take up the task of becoming a pregnancy help movement Intrapreneur today. You can begin by taking one more look at how you evaluate your outcomes.

Honoring Everyday Heroes

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Just like any other everyday hero, the quartet of life-savers honored as Servant Leaders at the 2013 Heartbeat International Annual Conference quietly go about their business with no expectation of being celebrated this side of heaven.

It came as no surprise, then, when the first winner—Becky Coggin Hyde—stood speechless, even flabbergasted, as Heartbeat President Dr. Peggy Hartshorn, PhD, announced the Arlington (TX) Pregnancy Centers director as the first of four recipients for Heartbeat’s most prestigious award.

Becky was joined by Beverly Kline, Ann Carruth, and Amy Jones, while Mary K. Tiller was tabbed as the inaugural “Heart of the Future Award” honoree for emerging leaders in the pregnancy help movement.

A native of Memphis, Tenn., Becky became Director of Arlington Pregnancy Centers in 1987, and has served in that capacity ever since. In her 26 years, Becky has expanded the center—now called Arlington/Mansfield Pregnancy Centers—to four locations, along with a resale store that funds much of the ministry.

“Becky’s leadership skills are excellent,” one of her co-workers said. “When the Lord lays something on her heart and there is unanimous agreement with the Board, she moves expediently. She waits on the Lord, and she doesn’t move until she is sure He is in the midst of whatever project presents itself.”

Another of the award winners laboring in Texas, Beverly Kline, founded Living Alternatives in 1982 and still serves as executive director for the ministry that has served women and families with everything from pregnancy tests and living accommodations to life-skills training and adoption services in its 31-year history.

Originally based in Beverly’s one-bedroom apartment in Tyler, Texas, Living Alternatives now includes a pregnancy resource center, a resale ministry for teen foster girls (“Keeps Boutique”), a maternity home, and an adoption agency.

The third Texan recognized as a Heartbeat Servant Leader at her home-state Conference was Dallas-based Council for Life Founder Emeritus Ann Carruth.

One of 11 original founders of what was then known as Pregnancy Resource Council in 2001, Ms. Carruth’s vision to support a local pregnancy center began with a single banquet called “Celebrities Celebrating Life,” and has since raised $3.3 million.

Council for Life, who has partnered financially with Heartbeat, began a national affiliate program in 2011, encouraging other major pro-life donors in U.S. cities to unite for the cause of Life.

Amy Jones currently serves as Director of Servants for Life, an international ministry based out of Raleigh, North Carolina, which offers mentoring, coaching, counseling, and training to ministry leaders and boards. She began her life in ministry as a high schooler serving with Youth for Christ, and spent 22 years leading Christian Life Home, a housing ministry for young, pregnant girls.

She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Carolina Pregnancy Care Fellowship and as a consultant with Heartbeat International.

The founder and executive director for Expectant Heart Pregnancy Resource Center in Longview, Texas, Mary K. Tiller was given the first Heart of the Future award for younger leaders stepping into key roles in local pregnancy help organizations across the globe.

Mary K., who holds a master’s degree in Human Services, Marriage and Family from Liberty University, founded Expectant Heart in 2011, and the center began serving clients in November of 2012.

“Mary K. represents what a next-generation leader should be,” Heartbeat Director of Ministry Services Betty McDowell, LAS, said. “We have witnessed firsthand that she is a servant leader and a learner, and because of that, it has been our delight to work with her.”

To view all Heartbeat Servant Leader award recipients, click here.

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