Executive Director- Karen Roller
Karen Roller has over 25 years of experience living and working in Africa. She and her husband served as missionaries in the Congo, Nigeria and Malawi before returning to live in the United States. She has a diverse background in education, curriculum development, leadership development, literacy training and translation. Karen speaks Chichewa, the native language of Malawi, fluently and also has studied Effik, a regional language of Nigeria, and Swahili.
"In 2005, my heart was broken. We left Malawi and I thought we might never return. I pictured my sorrow like a broken teapot shattered on the floor. In the past few years, as Circle of Hope was founded and began to grow, Jesus changed the picture in my mind. He picked up each piece of my broken teapot laying them into a beautiful mosaic tabletop. On my own, I could only serve a few from my little teapot, but Jesus allows me to feed thousands from His table. "
Karen has a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from Asbury College and brings a strong understanding of the needs of those living in undeveloped countries, a great ability to communicate across cultural boundaries and a tremendous desire to serve the poor. She and her husband, Leonard, have three adult children and three beautiful grandchildren. They live in Wilmore, Kentucky.
Malawi Country Director – Ernest Phiri
Ernest Phiri has over 20 years experience leading people in his community. After attending bible school, Ernest began working in the Msipe Community where our projects are based. His deep understanding of his people, his love for the children and his wisdom in dealing with crises provide a bridge for Circle of Hope to help the poorest of the poor with dignity and compassion. In 2006, Pastor Phiri founded the Grace Alliance Church, our partners in Malawi. Together we are building the Grace Center.
Phiri often says, "You must have a big vision!" His vision becomes reality every day at the Grace Center. Orphaned children have a father; the sick find healing and the opportunity to minister healing to others; the persecuted serve as leaders in their communities; the abandoned and rejected extend Jesus' love and grace to others.
Ernest brings a strong leadership capacity, the ability to relate across cultures, and a deep desire and determination to assist the people of his community. Ernest has five adult children of his own and hundreds more that call him "Daddy". He lives at the Grace Center.
Debbie Brownlow has joined the Circle of Hope Community with more than nine years of teaching experience. Her years in the classroom provide an excellent background for working with children, but Debbie will tell you that the children are not her first reason for joining Circle of Hope. She is deeply concerned for the leadership in Malawi and has dedicated herself to supporting, encouraging, training and developing that leadership. Debbie has traveled to Malawi many times providing leadership and education training.
Debbie brings knowledge and experience in working with children, education, and leadership development plus a deep love for Malawi and her people. She and her husband, Brian, live in Sweetwater, Texas. They have three children, Hayley, Mickenzie and Carson.
Dave recently moved to Marion IN where he is now serving as the Academic Dean at Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University.
Dave's heart for the local church and for pastors as they lead is a driving force which keeps him on the road speaking in conferences and in the classroom preparing pastors for ministry. He keeps our board on our toes theologically with devotions and direction from Scripture. His first concern is always how our decisions will effect the local church in Malawi.
Dave has 16 years of experience as an undergraduate professor, and more recently as the Associate Dean of the School of Theology and Ministry, and chair of the Division of Religion and Philosophy at Indiana Wesleyan University (’00-’10). Prior to his career as a professor, Dave served as a pastor and spent ten years as a Computer Systems Analyst with Nationwide Insurance.
David and his wife, Angie, have two adult children and two beautiful granddaughters. David and Angie live in Marion, IN.
Drew joins the Circle of Hope community as a business man. Drew is a fourth generation cattle rancher, working with his family at Stoker-Kirkpatrick ranches since he was 10 years old.
Drew traveled to Malawi for the first time in 2011. “When we first pulled into the Grace Center, I can still remember like it was yesterday. Cute kids with bright eyes and huge smiles greeted us while we were still on the van. Tonya and Mau recognized each other and both started to cry from the excitement. A big welcome from lots of kids I fell in love with during the next few days and whom I am honored to get to serve.”
Drew holds a bachelors degree in Agricultural Economics/Finance from Texas Tech University (1985). He has served on a number of local boards including the Post Little League Baseball (President), Garza County Soil and Water Conservation (Director) and Post City-Garza County Airport Board. He is a member of the Post School Board and serves as Chairman of his local church board. His extensive experience as a board member has prepared Drew to ask the tough questions to keep our board on track.
“I love the Lord and love my family very much. I am so proud of Tonya and the impact she has had on our community and especially the young people in our town who all adore her.” Drew and his wife, Tonya, live on their family ranch in Post, Texas. Their two sons, Campbell and Carson attend Texas Tech University.
Kaitlyn joins the Circle of Hope Community as an agriculturalist and a child welfare advocate. She traveled to Malawi as an intern for the summers of 2012 and 2013 and the fall of 2013.
Kaitlyn first connected with Circle of Hope while in college at Texas Tech University, where she obtained her degree in Animal Science. Kaitlyn worked on an anemia research project and feeding program in Malawi; combining her passion for agriculture and missions.
“Malawi captured my heart. I was looking to teach animal husbandry and food safety and hopefully read scripture in the villages and so much more happened; I was blessed by the joyful, selfless passion of my Malawian friends and my life is forever changed.“
When Kaitlyn left Malawi for the first time, she was looking for a way to apply all she had experienced in Malawi. She found this verse in Proverbs 31:8-9, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Since that day, communicating about Malawi has been a passion of hers.
Kaitlyn and her husband, Markus, recently replanted themselves in South Carolina and are experiencing all the culture shock of moving to the South from their beloved Texas. They also added "Parenting" to their resume with a 2016 New Year's baby, Rileigh Joann! Welcome to the COH family, Rileigh!
Karly joins the Circle of Hope Community as a Registered Nurse. She traveled to Malawi as an intern in 2012 and 2013
“I think I fell in love with Malawi the moment I arrived. I remember the overpowering urge to breakdown and weep as I stepped out of the van. My love grew deeper and stronger as I got to know the beautiful people of Malawi, and even more so as I had to leave them and return to America.”
Karly obtained her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2014. She brings experience in working alongside the CHE team and preparing medical teaching.
“A big part of Circle of Hope’s mission is focused on transformation as we share the love of Jesus Christ. This mission is dear to my heart because my life has personally been transformed because of my time in Malawi. I am excited to join the board and continue to play a part in this mission even when I cannot be there.”
Karly and her husband, Tad, live in Chicago, Illinois.
Dr. Robert Eaker
Dr. Robert Eaker joins the Circle of Hope family with over 11 years of medical training and a passion for serving families through his medical practice. He owns his own practice and brings a wealth of medical and business knowledge to our board. He has stated that the best part of serving families from the youngest member to the oldest is building relationships and imparting wisdom about life, faith, family, and growth. While in Malawi, his work with in the clinic and serving our children has built those same, lasting relationships as well as great healing but physically and spiritually.
Robert and his wife, Lisa, first travelled to Malawi in 2012 with their oldest two boys. He stated, “We instantly fell in love with the people of Malawi. We admired their strength, faith, and generosity. Our trip to Malawi had a huge impact on our family, by giving us a greater world vision and a renewed conviction for how each of us need to be the hands and feet of God.”
He returned to Malawi in 2014 for his second trip and is looking forward to a third trip this summer; this time with a fulltime, open clinic on the Grace Center campus. He has been, and will continue to be, a vital asset as we look to the future health of our community and start this endeavor in which he is uniquely gifted.
Robert and Lisa live in Sweetwater, Texas with their three boys, Garrison, Grayson, and Elliot.
Circle of Hope International upholds a high standard for our employees and toward the people we serve. The board is made up of five uncompensated members, with leadership from the Executive Director, Karen Roller, and the Malawian Director, Ernest Phiri. The board consists of three women and four men. The board is diverse in their abilities, from education experience to medical careers, from agricultural knowledge to business leaders. All board members have visited our programs in Malawi on numerous occasions. Our board members are experienced members of local school boards and non-profit boards. The board meets on a bi-monthly basis and has the expectation that all members be present for these meetings