Dr. Brian Fikkert Founder and Executive Director
Dr. Brian Fikkert is a Professor of Economics and Community Development and the founder and Executive Director of the Chalmers Center for Economic Development at Covenant College. Dr. Fikkert earned a Ph.D. in economics from Yale University, specializing in international economics and economic development. He has been a consultant to the World Bank and is the author of numerous articles in both academic and popular journals. Prior to coming to Covenant College, he was a professor at the University of Maryland—College Park and a research fellow at the Center for Institutional Reform and the Informal Sector.
Dr. Randy Russ Chief Operating Officer
Dr. Randy Russ is the COO of the Chalmers Center for Economic Development at Covenant College. Dr. Russ earned a Ph.D. in marketing from Louisiana State University. Prior to joining the Chalmers Center he served for over 20 years in business and industry, most recently as President and CEO of Community Coffee Company. He has also served on the business faculty at Belhaven University, the University of Louisiana, and Louisiana State University. Dr. Russ has worked with businesses, churches, ministries, and universities in the United States, Latin America and Africa to create sustainable Christ-centered businesses and ministries. A recent article on business as missions in Christianity Today featured his work in Colombia.
Andy Jones Director of Stewardship Development
Andy is the Director of Stewardship Development at the Chalmers Center for Economic Development where he develops and sustains vital partnerships with individuals, churches, and foundations. He is an ordained minister and previously served as the Senior Minister of Peace Presbyterian Church in Cary, North Carolina. Before entering the ministry, Andy worked in Hollywood and Atlanta as a personal financial assistant. He has a M.Div from Reformed Theological Seminary. He is married to Leah and has three children.
Benjamin Thomas Director of Global Communications
Ben has a B.A. in Literature from Covenant College and a M.A. in History and Social Thought from New York University where he concentrated on Postcolonialism in Africa culminating in his thesis on French immigration policies and the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. He also completed graduate work in Human Rights & Transitional Justice at Columbia University’s SIPA Program. Over the past decade, Ben has worked at Endeavor Global, a leading international economic development organization supporting high- impact entrepreneurs in emerging markets; in marketing and communications for a multi-strategy quantitative investment fund; and as a creative director, writer, and marketing enthusiast across the following fields: advertising and branding, economic development, human rights, investment and finance, and nonprofit management. For fun, Ben enjoys foreign policy, writing, and wrangling four kids with his wife.
Jerilyn Sanders Director of US Training
Jerilyn has worked in a variety of educational and youth development programs in the U.S., with an emphasis on urban communities. She has spent nearly a decade in Chattanooga working to increase educational access and opportunities for low-income families. Jerilyn has a B.A. in Psychology from Biola University and an Ed.M. in Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her interests include reading, creative writing, and spending time with her family. She and her husband, Duane, have two children.
Sam Moore Director of International Training
Sam has a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and a M.A. in Intercultural Studies with an emphasis in International Development from Fuller Seminary. He served in Guatemala for five years, assisting in small-scale rural development projects. For the last five years, Sam served with Lifewater International, working in the areas of program management, curriculum design, training, and monitoring and evaluation. He is married to Nickole and has two children.
Steve Corbett Community Development Specialist
Steve Corbett is an Assistant Professor of Community Development at Covenant College and serves as a Community Development Specialist for the Chalmers Center. Previously, Mr. Corbett served as Director of Field Operations and Training for the Chalmers Center. Prior to coming to Covenant College, Steve worked for Food for the Hungry International (FHI) as the Regional Director for Central and South America for two years. Before assuming these responsibilities, he served as the Director of Staff Training for nine years. In this capacity, he participated in the orientation and training of 1500 staff working in 25 countries. Mr. Corbett has a B.A. from Covenant College and a M.Ed. in Adult Education from the University of Georgia.
Dr. Russell Mask International Microenterprise Technical Advisor
Dr. Russell Mask is an Associate Professor of Community Development at Covenant College. He also serves as the International Microenterprise Technical Advisor for the Chalmers Center for Economic Development at Covenant College. Dr. Mask earned a B.A. from Wheaton College, an M.S. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and his Ph.D. in Development from the Land Tenure Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has extensive experience in village-level development practice and research in both Asia and Africa. Dr. Mask is the co-author of “Christian Microenterprise Development: An Introduction”, with David Bussau of Maranatha Trust.
Dr. Lance Wescher US Economic Development Specialist
Dr. Lance Wescher is an Assistant Professor of Economics and the Chairman of the Department of Economics and Community Development at Covenant College. He also serves as the US Economic Development Specialist and is the Director of the IDA Pilot Program for the Chalmers Center for Economic and Community Development at Covenant College. Dr. Wescher earned his B.A. in Economics with a minor in Theology from Wheaton College and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Notre Dame. Lance has worked in banking with Wells Fargo and Company and consulting with Hewitt Associates. His areas of research include Labor Economics, Health Economics, Pensions and Finance. Prior to coming to Covenant College he taught Economics at Wheaton College.
Amy Kuenzel Training Administrator
Amy Kuenzel has a BA in Corporate Communications from the College of Charleston. Her experience includes accounting as a consultant and in small business development, international shipping in the area of expediting and validation, website development, customer service and a home-based religious products supply business, founded and operated during the formative years as a stay-at-home parent.
Gregg Burgess West Africa Program Director
Gregg has a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Southern Methodist University and a Masters Degree in International Business from the University of San Diego. He has worked for the past ten years in business development and anti-human trafficking in Cambodia. Prior to this, Gregg worked in the pharmaceutical and other high-tech industries in the U.S. Gregg and his wife, Denise, have three children.
John Mark Bowers Curriculum Specialist
John Mark Bowers is the Curriculum Specialist at the Chalmers Center where he has overseen the research, development, pilot-test, and publication of domestic and international development curriculum. Using these tools, Mark has trained field partners in microfinance and financial literacy, including church-based facilitators, NGO staff, and MFI lending associates. Mark earned a B.A. in Psychology from Bryan College and a M.A. in Intercultural Studies through Wheaton College while teaching at Quy Nhon University of Pedagogy in Quy Nhon, Vietnam. Outside of work, Mark enjoys reading and writing oral narratives, practicing foreign language, and creating community with friends and family.
Karis Tucker Executive Assistant to Dr. Brian Fikkert and Andy Jones
Karis holds a BS from Belhaven University in Business. Prior to joining the Chalmers Center she spent two years working with Reformed University Fellowship (RUF) at Mississippi State University. Her experience includes working with the local church and donor relations. She has a deep love for the local church and seeing it empowered to help the poor in a holistic way.
Katie Casselberry Communications Specialist
Katie Casselberry is Communications Specialist at the Chalmers Center, where she generates monthly publications and online resources. She also serves as a research and writing assistant for other team members and projects. Katie has a B.A. in History from Covenant College, where she focused on modern international history. In addition, Katie has experience in the fields of public policy, education, and curriculum development. She is dedicated to engaging the North American church in reflective, productive dialogue about how to serve the materially poor without creating dependency.
Marco Perez Director of Operations and Finance
Marco Perez was born and raised in Costa Rica. He served in Costa Rica for 11 years as the Director of Portantorchas Bible School, a member of Torchbearers of the Capernwray Missionary Fellowship. He has also served as a business consultant helping companies co-locate to Costa Rica, and even owned his own ornamental fish store. Marco has a B.S. from Columbia International University, an M.A. from Crown College and an MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management. He moved to Chattanooga in the summer of 2011 with his wife and three daughters.
Smita Donthamsetty Senior Microfinance Advisor
Smita Donthamsetty is currently Senior Microfinance Advisor and works in the Dominican Republic. She researches and trains church leaders and members in economic development strategies that can be implemented by local churches. Previously, Ms. Donthamsetty served as the Program Officer for the Chalmers Center in the head office at Lookout Mountain where her primary roles were creating systems for Chalmers’ efforts to develop prototypes of church-centered, economic development programs and producing training materials for use by church-centered ministries. Ms. Donthamsetty earned a B.A. in Sociology from Davidson College, and an MA in International and Intercultural Management from the School for International Training. Smita’s passions include Jesus, His word, her family, the local church, diverse cultures, being in community with the economically impoverished, and community development. She is married to Johel Adames.
Will Kendall Technical Advisor
Will Kendall is Technical Advisor at the Chalmers Center for Economic Development. He focuses on the technical training and support of Mobile Training Centers throughout West Africa. Will graduated in 2009 from Covenant College where he studied international community development and economics. As a part of his studies he conducted research on church-based savings groups in rural Rwanda. Will's interests include international development, microfinance, and technology. When not working, Will enjoys reading, pop culture, traveling, the great outdoors, and spending time with his wife.