Director of Operations (Part-time)
Elizabeth Bannister joined the staff in November 2018 as the Director of Operations. She manages the upkeep of the building and grounds, custodial services, office operations, facility use, and the audio-visual ministry. She also coordinates work with various facility contractors. Elizabeth has a master’s degree in Engineering Management and has worked for more than 30 years in the areas of construction and facilities management before she retired in early 2018. Elizabeth has been a member of Paradise Valley United Methodist Church for more than 20 years. She was trained as a Stephen Minister and has served on the Caring Ministry Team, Board of Trustees, and Women’s Retreat Planning Committee. Elizabeth has a passion for adventure and loves to travel, play tennis and hike.
Minister of Engagement (Full-time)
Lauren joined the PVUMC staff in March 2019. As the Minister of Engagement and Evangelism, she helps equip staff and volunteers for ministry to live into the full potential God has for them. Lauren began her career as a Director of Family Ministries and graduated with a Masters of Divinity from Fuller Seminary Southwest in 2016. While in seminary, Lauren continued to work in Family Ministries at The Spring Church and in advertising as a Project Manager. As a Project Manager, Lauren helped create and implement a variety of processes that improved efficiency for large teams. With over ten years of ministry experience, she enjoys organizing and equipping teams to help bring people closer to Jesus.
Lauren and her husband, Derek, have a fairly busy home, complete with three children, Claire, Sam, and Keith (all under two!), two Puggles, and two cats. They enjoy traveling, trying new food, and quiet days at home.
Staff Accountant (Full-time)
Tan joined the PVUMC staff as a temporary bookkeeper in February 2018. In June, 2019, he was hired as the church’s full-time Staff Accountant, effectively merging the financial assistant and the bookkeeper responsibilities. His job duties include maintaining and processing accounts payable, entering journal entries into the General Ledger, posting contributions to proper accounts, processing semi-monthly payroll, and producing monthly financial reports.
Tan graduated from Arizona State University with a BS in Finance. He has worked as a staff accountant since 2002 for various industries, including one year of experience with a non-profit organization.
Tan enjoys traveling, eating out, and watching soccer.
Care Minister (Part-time)
Debbie Doran joined the staff in July 2018 as the church’s new Care Minister. She joined the Church in 1997 and has a passion for caring for others. She is an active member of the Caring Ministry and Missions teams and serves as Church Council secretary. She recently took on the responsibility of scheduling volunteers for the Feed My Starving Children monthly food packing events and serves on an Open Table. She is a member of Saguaros, the Funeral Reception Coordinator and a member of the Prayer Card Ministry.
She loves spending time with her daughter, Kristina and son Nick along with his wife Kara and son Wyatt. She loves dogs and has taken care of many over the years.
Debbie graduated with a BS in Sociology from Montana State University and retired in 2013 after working 32 years for the Federal Government.
New Connections Director (Full-time)
Katy Engels joined the staff in June 2019 as the New Connections Director. She leads the charge of creating a welcoming culture by educating, inspiring, and inviting members and guests to step into life here at PVUMC.
Katy graduated from Illinois State University with a BS in Recreation & Park Administration – Recreation Management and a minor in Sociology. Her career spans the park district system in the Chicago suburbs, the Boy Scouts of America and an alternative investment company both in northern Illinois, as well as the chamber of commerce industry in southeast Wisconsin and here in Arizona. She belonged to the United Methodist Church for over 23 years where she served on the Staff Parish Relations Committee, Church Council, sang in the choir, was a member of United Methodist Women, taught Sunday School classes, and was the lay leader delegate to annual conference. She also served as the chairperson of the 1st Impressions Team at another church in southeast Wisconsin.
Katy and her husband Steve are both from Illinois and moved to Arizona from Wisconsin in the summer of 2017 with their black lab, Jasmine, and orange tabby, Friskie. Katy’s daughter lives in Florida and Steve’s daughter lives in Illinois. Katy and Steve love to travel, spend time with family and friends, and are so happy not to have to shovel snow anymore.
Dr. Andria Fennig
Worship Accompanist/Director of Contemporary Worship Arts
Andria received her Doctorate of Musical Arts from Arizona State University in 2002. She has previously taught on the faculties of the University of Hawaii-Manoa and Paradise Valley Community College. Dr. Fennig has a wide and all-encompassing piano performance background including solo performance, collaborative artistry, chamber music, and pit orchestra work for touring Broadway shows and entertainer acts (Wicked, Color Purple, West Side Story, Jackie Evancho, Il Divo, and Three Irish Tenors). An advocate for new music performance, she has performed with the Albuquerque-based LINKS Ensemble, Phoenix-based Crossing 32nd Street Ensemble, and the Arizona State University-based New American Piano Music Ensemble. Dr. Fennig founded and served as both the musician and management representative for the successful flute, cello, and piano trio Paradisa!, which performed several chamber concerts throughout the Southwest United States, including the annually celebrated Red Rocks Music Festival in Sedona, AZ, and the Abiquiu Music Festival in Abiquiu, NM. As well as working part-time at PVUMC, leading the band at the IGNITE service and serving as accompanist, she is on staff as a pianist/accompanist/coach at Grand Canyon University and teaches a large body of private piano students in the Phoenix metropolitan area.
Assistant Director of Music
Donte´ Alexander Ford joined the music staff at Paradise Valley United Methodist Church in December 2018. He has several degrees (B.A., M.S.M., M.M., M.Div.) and is currently pursuing a Ph.D in Musicology with a minor in Choral conducting at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona.
A native of Philadelphia, PA, Donte´ is a proud graduate of the Girard Academy Music Program (2010); The Pennsylvania State University (2014); and Southern Methodist University (2016, ’17, ‘18), respectively. A dynamic conductor, composer, drummer, organist, pianist, and tubist, Donte’ s many gifts and talents have afforded him countless opportunities to serve as a conductor, clinician, lecturer, liturgist, Minister of Music, and staff musician. He was a proud member of the Penn State Tuba and Euphonium studio lead by renown tubist, Velvet Brown.
The eldest son of Pastor McDonald and Minister Elisa Ford, Donte´ heard and answered the call to the Gospel Ministry of Jesus Christ. Donte´ delivered his initial sermon and was licensed on Sunday, August 8, 2010 at the Christian Fellowship Community Church, under the leadership of his father. After graduating from Penn State, Donté chose to further his education in both music and theology by pursuing the Master of Sacred Music, offered by Perkins School of Theology. As a student at SMU, Donté was active in both the Perkins School of Theology and Meadows School of the Arts. He served as the assistant director and graduate assistant for Diva Dolce and Meadows Chorale, student director for the Seminary Singers, and pianist for the Meadows Jazz Orchestra. Donté contributed to the worship life at Perkins by serving in many chapel services and even leading services of his own (Gospel and Jazz). Most recently, Donté served on music staff at First Baptist Church of Hamilton Park as well as the teaching faculty of First Baptist Dallas School of the Arts. He is the proud founder and artistic director of Sankofa Chorale and is honored to serve as a commissioned officer in the United States Navy as a Chaplain Candidate.
Youth Minister (Part-time)
Sam joined PVUMC in January 2016 under Christopher Wurpts, the Youth Ministries Director, to create and grow a Middle School Program. The program was called Squad 57 and includes students from 5th to 7th grade. He was promoted to the position of Youth Minister in July 2018. He oversees the day-to-day operations of the youth ministry program and works primarily with the older students (grades 8-12). Before coming to work at PVUMC, Sam had worked and traveled in Asia and Africa. While overseas, his adventures included teaching English, owning a youth hostel, and partnering with local and international organizations to help women and children receive an education.
602-840-8360, ext. 145
Denise began working at PVUMC as our part-time cashier in the summer of 1999. Denise also manages the Columbarium and fingerprinting for staff, and she assists the Accounts Payable clerk as well as with the Stewardship campaign. Previously, she worked in the banking industry and in legal offices.
Mini Singers Director (Part-time)EMAIL SHARI
Shari L. Paris is an Early Childhood Music Specialist and is currently the Mini-Singers Director at PVUMC. Shari brings the Children’s Message to the 11 am service and has been an active member of the congregation for more than 20 years. She has a full and thriving Suzuki Violin Studio, and is also the Music and Movement teacher in Preschools located throughout the Valley. In addition to teaching, Shari is a clinician and has presented Early Childhood Music demonstrations in state, regional and national settings.
Administrative Assistant to the Senior Pastor
602-840-8360, ext. 129
Betty Price relocated to Arizona from the Chicago area in January, 2010, leaving her job as Director of Administration at Kingswood UMC in Buffalo Grove, IL, and her church home at Glenview (IL) UMC. During her 15 years at Glenview UMC, she was lay leader, lay delegate to annual conference, chair of the worship committee, chair of the invitation team, a member of the spiritual growth committee, UMW, and the choir. Since becoming a member of PVUMC in January, 2010, she has chaired the Welcome Team, she sings in the Chancel Choir, and has served on the Strategic Planning and Pathways task forces. In April, 2010, she began working at Tempe First UMC for then Senior Pastor Dave Summers. She continued to work there after he became senior pastor here at PVUMC, and joined our staff in August, 2014, when Betty Cochran retired, again working as Pastor Dave’s administrative assistant.
602-840-8360, ext. 113
Mickey, our Church Administrator, has a Bachelor of Business in Accountancy and Information Science from Western Illinois University, as well as an MBA from the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University. He joined the PVUMC staff in August of 2002, bringing with him 25 years of accounting and management experience. He oversees day-to-day operations of the administrative staff and our church property, and works closely with the Trustees and Finance ministry teams.
Marketing and Communications Director
602-840-8360, ext. 122
Pam joined the PVUMC staff in March 2012 and handles the day-to-day operations of both the internal and external communications of the church. Her responsibilities include the weekly Looking Ahead and Paradise E-News, the bimonthly newsletter, the website and social media channels. She is also staff liaison for the Marketing and Communications Ministry Team. Pam has worked in the area of communications and education since graduating from Valparaiso University with a BA in Journalism in 1985. For 10 years, she served as Director of Publications for Thunderbird, the American Graduate School of International Management. She received her MA in English Linguistics from Arizona State University in 1997.
Youth Ministries Assistant
5th-7th Grade Coordinator
602-840-8360, ext. 147
Rachel Smith is the Youth Ministries Assistant and leads Squad 57, students who are in 5th-7th grade. Her church leadership experience includes serving in children’s ministry, serving on a conference-wide youth leadership team, small groups and writing youth group curriculum. In addition to her involvement with youth leadership, she also co-leads the young adult group at PVUMC, representing the 18-24 year olds. She began working with Squad 57 in 2016 as a volunteer before being brought on as a staff member in August, 2018. Rachel’s mission experience includes evangelism in Poland; Hurricane Ike relief in Galveston, TX; children’s ministry in Belize; and house building in Mexico. During the summer, she was on staff at Mingus Mountain Camp — a ministry of the United Methodist Church and an ACA-accredited camp in Prescott, Arizona. Rachel says, “Church has always been a part of my life and I’m enthusiastic about living that out in my career.” She’s also a college student, studying Computer Science.
Ashley Snavley Strawser
Music & Arts Ministries Director/Organist
602-840-8360, ext. 138
In December of 2014, Ashley graduated from Arizona State University with a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from ASU, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education from the Cook Honors College at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Ashley was appointed the Director of Music and Arts Ministries at Paradise Valley United Methodist Church in 2015 after serving as organist and assistant director. Prior to working at PVUMC, Ashley held a position at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Paradise Valley, where she served as interim choirmaster and organist as well as the youth and children’s music associate and handbell director.
Known as “Teacher Mindy,” Mindy is director of the Paradise Valley United Methodist Church Preschool. She has taught at the school since 1986 and has also taught parenting classes through various community organizations. Mindy holds a B.A. in Education and Special Education and has done graduate work toward a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education, including work in Family Studies and Child Development. Since 1978, Mindy has been certified by the Arizona State Department of Education in Elementary and Special Education. Since 1992, she has been a validator for the National Academy of Early Childhood Programs and National Association for the Education of Young Children.