Meet Our Staff

Champions For Children

 

Staff Members:


Andria Horton, M.A., NMC
Executive Director

Andria Horton has been working in the area of community outreach since 2001, primarily serving in Tyler, TX. After graduating from Ouachita Baptist University with a BA in Biblical Studies and Sociology, she returned to East Texas (having grown up in Longview) and spent the next 17 years serving in Local Missions for Green Acres Baptist Church, where she developed a local multi-housing ministry, served in various community outreach efforts, and helped plan and coordinate both local and international missions. During this time, Andria completed a Master of Arts degree in Ministry-Based Evangelism at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. In September 2019, Andria joined Champions for Children as the Director of Development and completed a Certificate in Non-Profit Management in 2020. In 2021, Andria began serving as Executive Director of Champions for Children, where she is passionate about preparing the next generation to be strong leaders and making Smith County a safe and nurturing community for children to grow and learn.

Michelle Kenyon
Director of Development

Michelle Kenyon has had the privilege to work with children of all ages, beginning with young children in 1997 as a pre-school teacher and as a Special Education Assistant at a local school district in East Texas. Her career then transitioned to school photography where she was in management and sales. In 2016 she began working in the Children's Ministry at Marvin UMC and Pollard UMC, while working in the Children’s ministry she worked on various mission projects with children and families.in Tyler and the surrounding counties. In 2019, she spearheaded the sports zone at City Fest, in downtown Tyler. Michelle studied journalism and photography at Troy State University, Women in Leadership, and Diversity and Inclusion from Cornell University. Certifications and Continuing Education include; Ethics and Boundry Issues, Diversity and Inclusion, Foster Care, and Kinship Writing. She has had the opportunity to be a Docent at the Tyler Museum of Art and volunteer for several local charities in East Texas. Working for an upstanding organization such as Champions for Children is such an honor to Michelle and she is incredibly excited to be a part of the growth and development of Champions.

Melanie Thomas, LPC
Professional Counselor

Melanie received her Masters in School Counseling at the University of Texas at Tyler and completed her LPC training at Stephen F. Austin State University. She has 29 years of experience working in education, with the past seven years as a school counselor at Jack Elementary. She also has experience working with middle school and teenage girls while being a Licensed Professional Counselor-Intern for Hope Haven in Lindale, Texas. She has experience working with trauma, anxiety, depression, ADHD, and behavioral disorders. Melanie is thrilled to be a part of the Champions for Children team and is passionate about working with children, parents, and our community.

Joanna Richardson



LPC-A, under the supervision of Kim Camp, LPC-S
Joanna received her Masters from the University of Texas at Tyler in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. She completed her internship at the Children’s Advocacy Center of Smith County, where she worked with children who had experienced some form of a trauma. Joanna also has a passion of working with the disabled population. She has experience with working with both children and adults with disabilities, where she counseled and lead social skill groups. She also has experience working with trauma, depression, ADHD, anxiety, Autism, and behavioral disorders. Joanna is excited to be working with Champions for Children and helping the families of East Texas.
Kristin Omo, B.S., CDA-PDS
Child Development Specialist, Trainer

Kristin is a Professional Trainer and Child Development Specialist with Champions for Children. In addition to providing training, she assesses children for behavior and learning challenges and works with parents, directors and teachers to develop intervention plans for the success of the child. Kristin received her B.S. from UTEP in Pre-Clinical Lab Science, with a double degree in Psychology and Biology. She is a licensed Nurturing Pathways® Instructor and a licensed Brain Gym® Instructor/Consultant. She is a Professional Developmental Specialist for the CDA Council for Professional Recognition and an adjunct professor for Tyler Junior College.

Kristin has worked as a pre-school teacher, a certified Parents as Teachers Educator for TISD for the Teen moms and as an Early Childhood Intervention Specialist-FQ for ECI. She is a published researcher and assisted with the development of Champions' All Ready to Learn curriculum. Kristin is dedicated to making children’s lives better.

Becky Swindall, M.S., CDA-PDS, CHES
Child Development Specialist

Becky is a Professional Trainer and Child Development Specialist with Champions for Children. In addition to providing training, she assesses children for behavior and learning challenges and works with parents, directors and teachers to develop intervention plans for the success of the child. Becky received her M.S. from UT Tyler in Health Sciences and obtained her Certified Health Educator Specialist credentials from NCHEC. Becky has worked as an early childhood educator for 23 years. She has experience in teaching birth through twelve year olds, as well as music, physical education and drama. For 9 years she was the director of a licensed child care center followed by another 9 years as the owner of a licensed child care home. She is a Professional Developmental Specialist for the CDA Council for Professional Recognition. Becky understands the importance of the early childhood years and works towards building a better childhood through education opportunities for children, parents, caregivers and educators. Because children matter!

Kathy Fergueson, B.S.Ed, CDA-PDS
Child Development Specialist, Trainer

Kathy is a native of Tyler and received her Bachelor's degree in early childhood education from UT Tyler. She worked with Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) in Tyler as an Early Intervention Specialist and Intake Coordinator. She also spent several years working in the foster care field, as a case manager and later as a guardian ad litem and advocate for children involved in CPS cases. She and her husband have enjoyed working in children’s ministry for 20 years, and are also privileged to spend time working with children and families who are in family crisis situations. Kathy joined the Champions’ team in 2021 as a Child Development Specialist where she trains and mentors childcare providers and helps children and families with their developmental and behavioral challenges. She is a Professional Developmental Specialist for the CDA Council for Professional Recognition.
Leigh Evans, B.S.
Trainer

It's all about the children! Leigh has spent her life working with and for children. Leigh graduated with a B.S. in All-level Art from Hardin-Simmons University and has an Early Childhood Certification from Texas Tech University. She worked nine years as a Sunday Division Coordinator for young children and 21 years as the director of Green Acres Baptist Church Early Education Center. Leigh has taught both private and public kindergarten and has operated a registered home childcare. She is co-owner of E&E Heartsavers teaching CPR and First Aid to childcare teachers, parents and churches. Leigh believes it's all about educating teachers to help children's growth.

Kira Smith
Medical Billing Specialist

Kira completed the Medical Coding Professional Program at Tyler Junior College and has 16 years of medical billing experience. She has experience with billing and collections for Home Health, Dermatology, and Urgent Care. Kira also currently serves as the church secretary at her church. Kira is excited about joining the Champions for Children’s team. She believes that every child deserves the opportunity to be great!

Rachel Ashcraft, B.S.
Director of Marketing

Rachel helps to ensure the continued success of the specialized programs to help children succeed through her marketing and graphic design skills. She has been working with nonprofits since 1997 in various capacities including marketing, public relations, grants, special events, graphic design, and donor/volunteer recruitment. She has a BS in journalism and an AA in commercial art. Rachel believes that early intervention is key for special needs children. Rachel’s goal is to spread the word about Champions for Children’s mission and the importance of its great programs.

JJ Jan Johnson Administrative Assistant at Champions For Children
Jan Johnson (JJ)
Front Office Manager

JJ is Champion's front office manager. She assists with the website, calendar schedules, mailings, conference registrations and curriculum sales.  She also helps with our Resource Room and Lending Library.  JJ received her Child Development Associate credential from the Council for Professional Recognition and has over 31 years working in the child care field.

JJ has served as a Director, Assistant Director and Preschool teacher of all ages during that time. She has worked with children in her church as the Children’s Coordinator. She has also served as Vacation Bible School Director and as a Children’s Discipleship Training teacher.   JJ believes if a child is taught the basic essentials for development of life at a very young age, they will be able to conquer any obstacle throughout their life and succeed.

Mission

Champions for Children empowers children to reach their full potential by providing education, mentoring, tools, and support to caregivers, teachers, and families.

Our Goals

  • Promotion of healthy caregiver relationships
  • Prevention of adverse childhood experiences
  • Intervention as needed
Learn More AboutChampions For Children

Upcoming Events for
Childcare Providers

December 2022
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Upcoming Events for
Parents and Guardians

December 2022
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