Get to know the staff and board of directors of Children of the Nations!
Chris and Debbie Clark founded Children of the Nations in 1995 in answer to a child's prayer.
Chris is a fifth-generation missionary, born in Japan and raised in Liberia and the United States. In 1984, he graduated from Central Washington University with a Bachelor of Science in law and justice. Convinced God’s calling was for him to minister to children, he completed the ordination process and served as a youth pastor for five years. Later, he pursued a career with Youth for Christ, where he worked as a regional director for 10 years. Debbie grew up in Edmonds, Wash., and graduated from Seattle Pacific University in 1983 with a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education. With an interest in special education, she worked as a special education teacher in Western Washington for eight years. Early in their marriage, Chris and Debbie became foster parents, serving many children for more than 10 years.
In 1995, Chris and Debbie traveled to Sierra Leone with Youth for Christ and witnessed an intense orphan situation. The tragedy they encountered—thousands of children ravaged by a brutal war, living on the streets of Freetown without a family to care for them—forever changed their life direction. Because God allowed Chris’ missionary parents to raise their family in Africa for a time, this uniquely positioned Chris to be ready for God’s call.
The vision Chris and Debbie see for the benefit of God's Kingdom is to capture the hearts of orphans and direct them to Christ in a way that positions them for leadership. They believe the leadership of this unique group of transformational leaders will alter the issues currently influencing their societies. Moving beyond compassionate care to a place of true empowerment of children, along with partnerships with nationals, is Chris and Debbie's true desire and remains the single vision of Children of the Nations: raising children who transform nations.
Chris serves as Children of the Nations' international president and on the COTN–USA board of directors. He is also an honorary board member for each of the nonprofit organizations working under the umbrella of COTN: COTN–Sierra Leone, COTN–Malawi, COTN–Uganda, COTN–Dominican Republic, and COTN–Haiti. As the senior director of international operations, Debbie oversees the U.S. Sponsorship Department and travels to each country, working with in-country staff members to maintain the quality standard of care the children receive physically, spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and socially.
Chris and Debbie have three children: Alyssa, Sarah, and Bryce, and live in Poulsbo, Wash.
Board of Directors
Michael Jungkeit, M.D., Chairman of the Board
Founder of North Kitsap Ear, Nose & Throat in Poulsbo, Wash., Dr. Michael Jungkeit has been a COTN board member since 2002. After serving on a COTN medical Venture Team to the Dominican Republic in 2000, he has led medical teams to the Dominican Republic annually, focusing on cleft lip and palate repair, general plastic and reconstructive surgery, and general otolaryngology. He earned his medical degree from the University of California, Davis, in 1990, and is board certified in head and neck surgery, and facial plastic and reconstructive surgery. Dr. Jungkeit serves on the Elder Board at Grace Point Church in Bremerton, Wash.
James Blessing, Treasurer
James Blessing is a senior loan officer with Chase Bank in Seattle. He became an original board member for COTN after befriending founder Chris Clark when they were both counselors at Island Lake Bible Camp in Silverdale, Wash., in 1984. His Venture Trips include a visit to Sierra Leone in 1997 to begin building COTN's first Children's Home in Marjay Town, and a 2002 trip to celebrate the Home's grand opening. He is a member of the Cascade Backcountry Ski Patrol and attends Bethany Presbyterian Church in Seattle.
Jackie Lang, Secretary
Jackie Lang is a marketing consultant in Bellevue, Wash. A graduate of J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University, she brings a wealth of experience in online marketing, as well as offline market channels. She enjoys traveling with her husband and three children.
M. Gregory DeSautel, M.D., M.B.A.
Dr. Greg DeSautel has been involved with COTN for more than 10 years, both on the board and in leading surgical teams to the COTN medical clinic in the Dominican Republic. He has practiced as an ear, nose, and throat surgeon in South Dakota for more than 18 years. He currently works at Sanford Health in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He is married and has four children.
Bruce Donoho is the owner and CEO of California-based Bird-B-Gone, the world’s largest manufacturer and distributor of commercial-grade bird-control products; and is the owner of JB Plastics, a custom injection molding and manufacturing company. He holds a business degree from Purdue University. An Orange County, Calif. resident, Bruce has been a committed advocate and supporter of COTN since he heard Founder Chris Clark speak at his church, Presbyterian Church of the Master, in 2008. In 2010, he took a trip to Sierra Leone and Liberia with Chris to see the ministry firsthand, and explore the possibility of expansion. Bruce has always had a heart for serving the children of Liberia. He spent part of his childhood there while his father, a civil engineer, built the Port of Buchanan and the railway to the Nimba Mountains.
Pastor Mike Jones, D. Min., D.D.
Dr. Mike Jones is the senior pastor at Independent Bible Church in Port Angeles, Wash. He founded the Pacific Rim Bible College in Honolulu, Hawaii, and has taught doctoral classes to pastors in Japan, South Korea, and India. Having known the Clark family for more than 40 years, Dr. Jones joined the board in 2003 after Venture trips to the Dominican Republic and Sierra Leone.
Pastor Matt Hammett (On Sabbatical)
Matt Hammett is the lead pastor of Flood Church in San Diego, Calif., which he founded in 2000. After earning a Bachelor of Science in business administration/marketing from Sacramento State University, he went on to earn his Master of Divinity from Bethel Theological Seminary, San Diego. Matt and his wife, Roxanne, have four children. During a ministry trip to Malawi to address the country’s AIDS epidemic, Matt met a COTN staff member and was impressed with the grassroots effort and the difference he saw in the lives of the children of Malawi. Since then, he has visited Malawi with COTN in 2002, 2004, 2005, 2008, and 2014, and Haiti in 2011. His church has held several successful sponsorship drives that support our children in Malawi, Haiti, and Uganda, and regularly sends teams to partner in COTN's work. He has been a board member since May 2010.
Francisco Tejeda, COTN–Dominican Republic
Francisco Tejeda came to the Lord in his teens, and immediately responded to a call to work in the ministry of teaching the Word of God. Since then, Francisco has thrown himself passionately toward the cause of doing God’s work, becoming the regional youth director of the Church of God, Inc. (Iglesias de Dios) and a founding member of the Christian congregation Rio de Dios.
His passion extended toward serving the children of the Dominican Republic. After earning a law degree from Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo, Francisco went on to coordinate the formation of the Network for the Protection and Guarantee for the Rights of Children and Adolescents. It was through this work that he first became acquainted with mission of COTN.
Francisco has a postgraduate degree in non-governmental organization management and marketing from the University of Catalunya; a diploma in law from the Children and Adolescents (Grupo Humano); a special certificate of education in Management Accounting for Non-Governmental Organizations; did specialized study in laws governing NGOs in the Dominican Republic at INTEC University; and an accounting degree from the Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo. He has also worked as a consultant for other NGOs and as an employee of the Dominican Supreme Court of Justice. He looks forward to expanding the mission of COTN by caring for more children who are in need of help, both in the Dominican Republic and in neighboring Haiti. He is married to Celia Melo, who studied to become an academic counselor. They have three children.
Ezequiel Michel, COTN–Haiti Interim Country Coordinator
Born in Haiti, Ezequiel Michel’s family moved to the Dominican Republic when he was seven years old. He has since spent most of his life in the Dominican Republic but crosses the border often to visit family and friends, having spent many summers of his youth with his family in Haiti.
Mr. Michel comes to COTN–Haiti with a wealth of experience serving in Christian ministries across multiple cultures. He studied theology at the Church of God Seminary in the Dominican Republic, and has earned a certificate in health education from the Okinawa Prefecture in Japan.
From 2009 to 2011, Mr. Michel served as the sponsorship coordinator for COTN–Dominican Republic. In 2015, he graduated with a degree in business administration from the Dominican American Cultural University in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He is fluent in English, Spanish, French, and Creole, and speaks some Japanese as well.
Kibble Ngalauka, COTN–Malawi
Kibble Ngalauka comes to us with decades of experience in leadership and management in the nonprofit sector including time spent at World Vision, The Red Cross, and the Sue Ryder Foundation. He is soon to be awarded a PhD in sociology, has a master's degree in social development and health, and a bachelor's degree in rural development. In addition, he has done other studies in development administration as well as his original training in clinical medicine.
Mr. Ngalauka’s skills in management, research, grant writing, and monitoring and evaluation of programs are vital in this role with Children of the Nations–Malawi.
Sahr Yambasu, COTN–Sierra Leone
Sahr Yambasu joined COTN in June 2013. He came with a passion to see the community participating in their own development process by helping to raise up a generation of Christ-centered leaders.
Mr. Yambasu was raised in the rural village of Komboma, Gbane chiefdom, Kono district, in eastern Sierra Leone. He accepted Jesus Christ as his lord and personal savior in 1990 when he was about to enter teacher training college. He was discipled within the ministry of Sierra Leone Fellowship of Evangelical Students.
Mr. Yambasu holds a master’s degree in gender studies, and has worked in Christian ministries and non-governmental organizations since 2000. He has held various management positions with Scripture Union Sierra Leone, World Vision Sierra Leone, Agricultural Cooperative Development International/Volunteers in Overseas Cooperative Assistance, and Christian Aid Sierra Leone. He manages and coordinates all the departments of COTN–Sierra Leone in a way that contributes to the overarching vision of COTN. He is married to Rebecca and has two children, Sahr Moses and Sia Nanah. He is an elder in the Church of Pentecost Sierra Leone, with a gift of teaching. He loves reading and listening to good, soft music.
Rev. James Okalo Ekwang, COTN–Uganda
"Pastor James" was born in Kampala, Uganda. He attended secondary school in Lira, and was later accepted to Makerere University in Kampala, receiving a government-sponsored scholarship based on marks. In 1998, he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in education, majoring in geography and world history. Later that year, he accepted a teaching position at a secondary school in Kampala and went on to teach at various colleges. God continued to call him into ministry; in 2002, he founded Truth Evangelistic Fountain Church in Lira. The following year, he left teaching behind and entered ministry full time.
Pastor James was first acquainted with COTN in January 2005 when Chris Clark came through Lira on his way to Gulu. At the time, Gulu was a rebel-war hotspot where most NGOs were going. In talking with Chris, James shared that all the problems that were in Gulu were present in Lira. “Why not stay here in Lira?” he asked. The next day, at James’ request, Chris toured the displacement camps with him and witnessed for himself the horrible conditions and immense need. As the COTN team prepared to depart for Gulu, Chris told James, “Pray and perhaps we will return.” He prayed fervently. The following year, COTN returned and began ministry in Lira.
Today, James oversees COTN–Uganda staff, continues his role as senior pastor at Truth Evangelistic Fountain, and oversees 10 Truth Evangelistic Fountain churches planted throughout Uganda.
COTN Senior Management
Mark W. Costa, Senior Director of National Marketing
Mark W. Costa oversees all elements of internal and external marketing communications, community media relations, and strategic event planning for Children of the Nations-USA.
During his career, Mark has held senior management positions within the nonprofit, tourism, and hospitality sectors. He worked for industry giants such as Dallas-based ClubCorp of America, Royal Caribbean International/Celebrity Cruises, and American Classic Voyages. Most recently, he served as chief marketing officer for the Gateway organization, including Gateway Christian Schools and Gateway Fellowship in Poulsbo, Wash.
Aside from his professional achievements, Mark received distinguished recognition for outstanding community service in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors from the United States Congress, California State Senate, California State Assembly, and the Riverside County Board of Supervisors. He presently serves as the Immediate Past President of the Greater Poulsbo Chamber of Commerce and Director of Youth Services for the Rotary Club of Bainbridge Island. He resides on Bainbridge Island along with his wife of 30 years and their high school-age son.
Jeff Davis, Senior Director of Administration and Operations
Born into a pastor’s home, Jeff Davis has spent his entire life in ministry. Roles ranging from serving inner-city children to executive-level nonprofit management have been a part of the journey that brought him to COTN. In this role, Jeff oversees COTN’s finance, facilities, technology, office management, and human resources offices, and the operations side of the Venture, Sponsorship, and Resource departments.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in religious education from Northwest University and a master’s degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He completed his doctoral studies at the Bakke Graduate School in Seattle.
Jeff has been married to his wife, Gloria, for almost 30 years. They have three children: sons Derris and Jettson (his wife Mikayla and daughter Lydia), and daughter Grace, who joined their family through international adoption.
Jeff enjoys spending time with his family. Outdoor pursuits include hiking and walking, and projects around the house. A fun fact about him is that he performed for several years as a yo-yo entertainer at schools and summer camps.
Eric Nachtrieb, Senior Director of National Development
Eric Nachtrieb began his role as Senior Director of National Development with COTN in 2009 after hearing about the ministry during a presentation by Chris and Debbie Clark. Eric joined COTN to bring a background of strategic planning to our field activities in the U.S., focusing on the development of area offices that mobilize local churches, community groups, and businesses to partner with COTN. As a senior leader, he provides staff direction, project management and assessment, training, and coaching.
Eric, an ordained pastor, served for 27 years in the church and worked for Youth for Christ, Navigators, The Pocket Testament League, and Relationship180. He earned a bachelor's degree in organizational and behavioral psychology from San Diego State University, studied at Talbot Theological Seminary, and received a master's degree in global leadership at Fuller Theological Seminary. In 1998, Eric founded CrosstheWorld Ministries, later to be known as Relationship180, a nonprofit based in Mission Viejo, Calif., that still provides Christian tools, resources, and coaching for healing marriages and relationships.
Eric works out of COTN's Tustin office in Orange County, Calif., where he lives with his wife, Lynne. He is an avid road bike rider and loves spending time with his three children and three grandchildren.