30 Years – Part 3 – The Search (continued)

Around Christmas 1982, I picked up a book my grandfather had given me that had sat unread on my bookshelf since I was 12. It was “All the Apostles of the Bible” by Herbert Lockyear.  I pored over the accounts of the lives and martyrdom of Jesus’ disciples and the generation of Apostles that followed them. They suffered tremendously for the gospel.  Most of them died horrible deaths in order to share Jesus with the world.

Would they die for a lie?

Would they deny themselves the core comforts their civilization provided for something they knew to be false?  I know I wouldn’t.  If they had achieved great earthly gain, I would have continued to question the validity of the resurrection, but their sacrifices reached across the millennia to satisfy my doubts.

On Christmas Eve, I took the Bible I had received when I joined the church in 1965. I opened the red cover and smiled as I looked at the inscription that had misspelled my name.  Then I headed to the second chapter of Luke and looked at the wax stains on the page from where I had set the Bible in front of some candles as a Christmas decoration in my room many years before. It was time this book stopped being a decoration and started giving me some answers. I started reading.

Over the next week I read the four Gospels and the book of Acts. The words of Jesus made sense. If everybody lived according to His teaching, the world would be a much better place. I marveled at His parables and contemplated His words.  I also discovered that my understanding of Jesus as somewhat of a wimp was totally out of step with the man revealed in the pages of that long-dormant Book.

Throughout January I continued to read and compare. I reflected on the things that Mary said in our conversations that seemed to be just the thing I needed to hear, and I began to hurl questions at my grandfather.  I didn’t stop studying other faiths, but I began to feel an irresistible pull toward Jesus.

God’s grace to you,

Steve Jennings, Executive Director

 If you haven’t gotten the rest of the story, here are the links.





30 Years – Part 3 – The Search

After the events of November 1982, I spent some time searching. I wanted to know this God who had revealed Himself to me as a personal God.

The only religion I was familiar with was Christianity, but I didn’t immediately turn to this “default religion.” The search I was about to undertake wasn’t just about finding a set of beliefs I was comfortable with; it was about finding the truth.

So I spent the next few months studying religions, New Age, Wicca and other even more esoteric belief systems. I rejected out-of-hand the ones based on “human potential” and those that weren’t based on a god you could relate to on a personal level. My own experience belied those choices.

During my search, God continued to drop divine guideposts on my path to point me to Him. One of those guideposts was Mary Ashby.  As we talked on the phone about arrangements for my move to Texas, she shared brief nuggets of treasure about her faith. I found myself looking forward to our conversations.

Another guidepost was my grandfather, Rupert Kincer. He was a strong-willed man with a powerful faith in Jesus.  He knew the Bible inside and out, and fearlessly shared Christ with whoever would listen.  Not only did his personal relationship with God impact me, but he had given me some books years before that I had never read.  One of them, in particular, would have an impact on my decision.

At first I didn’t think Christianity was unique among religions, but as I examined it more closely I realized I couldn’t have been more wrong. Every other belief system I studied was based on laws, rules or levels of consciousness. Attainment of rewards ultimately depended on the believer’s discipline or adherence to a standard. In most of them, the believer could call on divine help to achieve the goal, and all of them had the potential to grant their followers a level of purpose and contentment. 

As I continued my search, something kept pulling me back to the faith of my childhood. When I began my close study of the core tenets of Christianity, it all made sense.  First, it recognizes that we are all imperfect, and as long as we are in this tent of flesh we will always be imperfect. In looking at myself, people I knew and the world around me, that was an obvious truth.  The Christian faith also recognizes that we cannot attain holiness and righteousness in our own power. Reaping the rewards of the faith does not depend on our abilities. It depends on how much of ourselves we surrender to the leading of the Holy Spirit.  Our salvation comes through the works of another who was worthy.

Christianity’s accurate assessment of the human condition pulled me strongly in its direction. But I still had a problem accepting the resurrection. For some reason, I found that proposition hard to swallow.  Little did I know that God would answer my concerns.

More searching to come.

God’s grace to you,

Steve Jennings, Executive Director



30 Years – November to Remember (continued)

Fast forward to the weekend before Thanksgiving.  I had dropped back into my funky fog as I was headed south on Interstate 81 to Tech. I was indulging in my pity party when I saw the blue lights flashing in my rearview mirror.

I pulled over.

The state trooper asked, “Do you know why I pulled you over?”

“No sir.” I answered

“You were going 14 miles an hour over the speed limit. I tracked you for over three miles at that speed. Were you in a hurry?”

“No. Just going through a tough spot.  I guess I wasn’t paying attention.”

I put the ticket in the glove box and headed more cautiously down the road, fighting back anger at myself for letting my problems get to me so badly. For the first time since I was a young boy, I prayed.

“OK, God. I’m a mess. I don’t know if you’re a personal God or just some cosmic force.  If you’re real, now would be a great time to prove it.”

I finished my meeting in Blacksburg and headed to the nearby town of Dublin to spend the night with my grandmother. My uncle was there, too.  He had come down for a hunting trip.

That night we had a delicious dinner of wild turkey.  As we ate, I noticed my uncle drinking a lot of water.  He was diabetic and I knew what was going on.

When we were out of earshot of my grandmother, I said, “Your blood sugar’s all out of whack. Do I need to take you to the hospital?”

Nah, I’ll be alright.  I cut back on my insulin when I hunt. This morning I took the lower dose, but didn’t go out because it started raining. I’m back on it, now. This will pass in a couple of hours.”

It didn’t.

At 2:30 in the morning, I awoke to the sounds of Tommy throwing up in the bathroom. I went to the bathroom door.  He could hardly stand up. I called for an ambulance, but the dispatcher said something big was happening and it would be 30 minutes or more before they could get there. We couldn’t wait that long, so I called my cousin Tony, who lived nearby. He helped me carry Tommy down the stairs so I could take him to the hospital. Tony stayed to tell my grandmother what was going on. Tommy had to be admitted to the hospital and put on an IV to get his blood sugar under control.

The next day, as I was driving home, I thought about what a coincidence it was that I just happened to be at my grandmother’s on the exact night Tommy went into sugar shock. I found myself thanking God that my grandmother didn’t have to deal with it.

As the miles rolled under my tires, I settled back into my all-too-familiar funk.  “Gee, thanks, God,” I thought. “You’re doing a great job here.”

I was nearing a rest area north of Harrisonburg with my emotions still spinning like a waterspout, my brain foggy and my attitude in the toilet when the most amazing thing happened.  In an instant, my mind cleared and my emotions calmed. Something wonderful washed slowly over me like a bucket of warm honey being poured on my head. It was beautiful and refreshing. I got an answer to my prayer.

“OK, God. You have my attention.”

God’s grace to you,

Steve Jennings

Executive Director

30 Years – Part 2 – November to Remember

I was still reeling from the separation and impending divorce from my first wife. I had never experienced that much emotional pain.  Something like this was never supposed to happen to me, but it did.

At first, I didn’t deal with it well at all. I couldn’t think straight. I had forgotten what a decent night’s sleep was like.  There was this huge, black hole in my heart, filled only with anger, an engulfing sense of unworthiness, and betrayal. 

I hated November 1982. I thought it was the end of love in my life, but it was really the beginning of the most life-altering love I would ever experience. I just couldn’t see it then. The month that began in misery ended with events that would point me down a path of adventure I never could have foreseen.

My newly estranged wife stayed at our house in Richmond.  I moved back in with my parents in northern Virginia; yet another blow to my young adult sense of self-worth. From there, I began planning to head to Texas to work on a horse ranch and test an ovulation detector for horses I was working on with a bio-engineering professor at Virginia Tech. We never could get the thing to give us a stable enough reading, but that’s another story.

I connected with a large horse breeding operation in Texas and started putting things together in November.  On one of my trips to Tech to work on the ovulation detector, I visited my major professor from graduate school and updated him on what was happening. He told me that Mary Ashby, another graduate of the Animal Science Department was working in that area and gave me her phone number.  Perhaps she could help me find a place to live.

The next day I called her.  We had met before but I didn’t know her.  She was helpful and friendly as I shared my plans. I even felt comfortable enough with her to mention my separation from my wife.

In that conversation, something strange happened.  Mary just mentioned “God” in passing.  Normally that would have passed my ears without any consideration, but when she said that word, I became VERY uncomfortable.  After I hung up the phone, I thought, “Whoa, what was THAT about? Why did I get so uncomfortable?”

Next: 30 Years – Part 2 – November to Remember – Continued

God’s grace to you,

Steve Jennings, Executive Director


30 Years – Part 1 – Flashback

In February 1983 I gave my heart and life to Jesus Christ. These last 30 years have been a wild ride and an adventure I will never regret. Please permit me a little self-indulgent reflection on how all of this came about.

My faith journey began as a child.  Our family went to church; I went through confirmation class and professed my faith in Christ in 1965. But as I entered my teen years, I abandoned the faith of my childhood. By the time I started college I gave no thought to the things of God and doubted whether one even existed. Darwinian evolution was the foundation of my understanding of the origins of life. Naturalism was the lens through which I viewed the world.

Until my junior year, nothing had shaken that perspective. Then I took Dr. Watson’s physiology class where I gained an appreciation of how we are “fearfully and wonderfully made”. I marveled at the intricate complexity of the human body and rejected the ridiculous, irrational claims of evolution. We cannot go “from goo to you by way of the zoo” as Frank Peretti puts it.

My rejection of Darwinian evolution had nothing to do with faith or religion. It just no longer made sense.

As an Animal Science student, I could see how an animal from the same family or genus might evolve into different species. Even many creationists believe in that process of speciation or microevolution. That is simply an extension of selective breeding that we use in livestock. You start with a genetically diverse animal. As you select for certain traits you concentrate some genetic traits and eliminate others.  But the idea that you can start with a genetically simple organism, such as a single-celled animal, that rapidly evolves into a genetically more complex organism didn’t (and still doesn’t) make sense.

So where did that leave me?

The only conclusion I could come to was that we are products of a brilliant design. If we are designed there must be a designer. And so I took my first baby steps on my journey of faith. Those steps had no impact on how I lived my life, but I went from being an atheist (or something akin to it) to being an agnostic.  Little did I know what God had in store for me.

Next: Part 2 – The November to Remember

God’s grace to you,

Steve Jennings, Executive Director



By Dina Thompson

[Dina’s church, Providence Chapel Church in Frogtown, Virginia, had their first day of ministry for seniors at a subsidized housing project in their home county.  She was so moved by the experience that she wrote down her impressions the day after. It’s easy to see that when we give we often receive more in return] – Steve Jennings

We  were  greeted  with  smiles  and  hellos  as  we  carried  in  the  boxes  of  canned  food  and  fresh  fruit  to  the  common  area.  Some  had  already  gathered.  They  knew  we  were  coming  and  they  were  waiting  for  us.  We  fixed  small  packages  for  those  who  were  bound  to  their  rooms  to  be  delivered.

 “Mr.”,  we  called  from  the  hall,  “we  have  some  things  for  you”.  We  could  hear  that  he  was  trying  to  get  the  door,  10  feet  away  dragging oxygen tubes and  using a cane.  It  took  several  minutes  for  him  to  eagerly  let  us  in.  We  put  the  food  away  in  his  cabinets  and  invited  him  to  the  common  area.  We  told  him  of  the  people  that  gathered  to  meet  him,  small  children,  and  music.  His face lit up.  We  could  see  and  feel  the  excitement as  he  tried  to  hurry  his  pace.  He  could  leave  his  oxygen  behind  for  just  a  little  while,  he  insisted…..  we  placed  a  chair  close  to  his  door  so  it  would  not  be  so  far for  him  to  walk.

We could barely hear her  call  to  come  in.  As  we  entered  the  room,  filled  with  cigarette  smoke,  all  her  necessities  surrounded  her  so  she  could  reach  them  easily.   An  older  woman,  she  seemed  to  be  confined  to  her  chair.  We  could  not  stay,  as  the  cigarette  smoke  overwhelmed  us,  but  she  thanked  us  gratefully.

A  pink  heart  shaped  welcome  sign  and  angel  wings  decorated  her  door.  As  we  waited  in  the  hallway  at  her  door,  I  thought  the  music  playing  loudly  inside  the  apartment  was  unusual  for  an  elderly  person.  Only  meeting  elderly  so far,  the  sight  of  the  young  woman  with  her  feet  and  body  strapped  to  the  wheel  chair,  instantly  grabbed  at  my  heart  and  put  a  lump  in  my  throat.  I  consciously  held  my  breath  a  moment   so  not  to  gasp  out  loud.  Like  the  angel  wings  on  her  door  foreshadowed,  she  was  beautiful.  She  had  the  face  of  an  angel,  a  vibrant  smile,  and  beautiful  blue  eyes  that  lit  up  with  tears.  “Yes!!”  She  nodded  eagerly.  She  would  like  to  go  upstairs  to  listen  to  the  music. Her  speech  was  difficult  but  the  brightness  in  her  eyes  and  the  yes  and  no  movements  from  her  head  allowed  us  to  understand.  Known  to  love  sitting  in  the  sun,  a  calendar  with  beach  scenes  was  found  for  her.  She  nodded  eagerly  and  marveled  at  the  beauty  of  the  beaches  as  I  read  about  each  on  the  back  cover.  A  small,  stuffed  puppy  was  so  soft that  she  enthusiastically  managed  to  turn  her  hands  slightly  and  her  eyes  sparkled,  when  I  placed  the  toy  in  her  hands.

Song  requests  were  called  out –  “Jesus  Loves  Me”,  “Amazing  Grace”,  “How  Great  Thou  Art”,  turning  the  afternoon  into  a  grand  hymn  sing,  party  atmosphere.

The  elderly  man  sitting  next  to  me  explained  that  he  was  the  victim  of  a  stroke  which  took  his  left  side.  He  used  to  love  to  sing  in  the  church  choir  and  cook  chicken  and  dumplings.  As  Providence  church  members  and  others  sang,  his  beautiful  baritone  voice  would  come  through  in  brief  spurts  of  energy  and  highlight  the  music.

“When can  you  all  come  back?”,  a  woman  asked.  “Yes!”,  the  rest  joined  in.  Another  said  she  would  have  sing  along  books  printed  for  next  time.  Good  times!  A  good  time  was  had  by  all.

Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise. Psalm 98:4


A Lesson in Agape

Garland Strosnider with TOP Volunteer Tobi Rouse
Garland Strosnider with TOP Volunteer Tobi Rouse

The message on Facebook came from Robert Strosnider. His brother, Garland, had passed away unexpectedly.  I was shocked. Garland was still in his 50s.  I had just seen him a couple of weeks before.

Robert’s wife, Melissa, called me seconds after I read the message.  As soon as I answered, she handed her phone to Robert.  He was overwhelmed with grief and uncertainty over making arrangements for Garland.  Our conversation on the phone was punctuated by his sobs. He and Garland argued a lot, but they were still very close. 

I couldn’t sort out all the details of why the police were called to Garland’s house, but they found him in the bathroom. Apparently he had hemorrhaged to death. His body was sent off for autopsy, but police didn’t seem to suspect foul play.

As I listened to Robert, my mind reached back over the last four years that our youth and adult volunteers had been working on Garland’s house.  Through Impact the Valley, Teens Opposing Poverty’s summer mission camp, we painted the outside, demolished a garage that had fallen apart, gave him water, heat, a kitchen and a useable bathroom. He lived in the family home on a monthly disability check he received due to cerebral palsy and couldn’t afford to do any of the work himself.  We weren’t finished, but we had given him a livable home.

But instead of the work, I thought about the beautiful relationships that came from our time with him.  Some of our youth (now young adults) became Garland’s favorite people and he became one of theirs.  I rarely had a conversation with him where he didn’t mention them. It was a powerful, close connection that impacted everybody involved.

I used to love to watch Garland light up when any of us came to his house and to see smiles on the faces of our volunteers, his friends, when they saw him.  They were often like kids playing together.

These four years with Garland and our volunteers gave me a wonderful view of agape, that unconditional love God has for us and wants us to have for each other.  It’s a love that crosses the boundaries of race, economic status, background, education and all the other fences that we put up around ourselves. Agape is beautiful, big and possesses an energy that can be experienced, but never explained.

We will never forget Garland and our special relationship that broke down the walls. It brought true joy into the hearts of lots of people.  We will all miss you, Garland. May you find rest in the arms of Jesus.

Steve Jennings, Executive Director


An Exercise in Thanksgiving

In 25 years of ministry with homeless people, one of the greatest lessons I have learned is gratitude for the little things.  I thought I would share with you what I’m thankful for first thing in the morning. But instead of just being thankful, I thought it might be a more fulfilling exercise to pray for others who don’t share my blessings.

 I’m thankful I woke up this morning in a warm house.

  • I pray for the families of those who recently lost a loved one.
  • I pray for those who have to work long hours or who are going through trials and got no sleep.
  • I pray for those who have no home and for those who can’t afford to heat their homes.


I’m thankful for my wife, who is sleeping beside me, and my daughter, still asleep in her room.

  • I pray for people who are lonely.


I’m thankful I got out of bed.

  • I pray for those who sleep on the streets and have no bed
  • I pray for those who are bedridden. Lord grant them peace and strength.


I’m thankful for going to the bathroom (no, I’m not kidding)

  • I pray for those who can’t walk to their bathrooms or anywhere.
  • I pray for those who call a stream or a hole in the ground their bathroom.
  • I pray for those who suffer from infirmities that take away life’s most basic functions.


 I’m thankful for hot coffee and a tall glass of clean water.

  • I pray for those who have little in this world to give them comfort or pleasure.
  • I pray for those who must drink contaminated water and suffer the diseases that it gives them.


 I’m thankful for the Bible I get to read every day.

  • I pray for those who have never read this love letter from God
  • I pray for those who have read the Bible and have rejected its wonderful message.
  • I pray for those who earnestly desire a Bible but can’t get one.


I’m thankful for my relationship with Jesus and the opportunity to spend time with Him each day.

  • I pray for those who have never heard the Good News.
  • I pray for missionaries and evangelists who spread the Gospel around the world.
  • I pray for those who have turned their backs on the most beautiful relationship a human can experience.
  • I pray for people who do not have the freedom to worship God.


I’m thankful for the Holy Spirit, who leads me, guides me and strengthens me.

  • I pray for those who are wandering aimlessly through life.  Lord, grant them purpose.
  • I pray for people who try to live their lives without following the Lord’s leading.


 I’m thankful for my brief workout in the morning.

  • I pray for those who have lost the use of their limbs and who suffer from other conditions that prevent them from doing even the most basic things in life.


 I’m thankful for eggs and fruit for breakfast.

  • I pray for people who might go through this day with no food.


That covers the first couple of hours of my day.  I think the full day would be a rather lengthy blog, but you get the idea.

Take time to be thankful for the little things and say a prayer for those who can’t share your blessings.

God’s grace to you,

Steve Jennings, Executive Director


A Step Up the Ladder

Have you ever wondered why, despite all of the programs and ministries out there that poverty is still so rampant in our culture?  Recession and slow-to-nonexistent recovery aside, there are many obstacles to overcome before most of the poor can achieve a better lifestyle.

Ladder Out of Poverty
The Ladder Out of Poverty

The diagram is my feeble attempt to show at least some of the points where those of us working with the poor must connect in order to play our part in helping to lift even one person out of poverty.

Each rung of the ladder represents a level of ministry. In truth, many of these levels may overlap.  It’s not necessarily a sequential path, but generally, all of these things must happen to see desirable outcomes for each person we serve.

The bottom rung of ministry has to happen before anything else will work.  How can you expect anyone to make progress if they don’t have enough clothes to wear, a roof over their heads or food to eat?  In all honesty, I have seen dozens of people scratch and claw their way out of poverty without a home, but some protection from the elements is still essential.

Once we meet the basic needs of the people we serve, we must help them get into a place mentally, emotionally and spiritually where they can focus and push through the setbacks they will most certainly experience, whether due to their own failures or to circumstances beyond their control.  This is the rung where those of us at Teens Opposing Poverty place most of our emphasis.  We offer encouragement and Jesus.  Without enough resolve and faith, it will be difficult for anyone to climb to the next rung.

When someone is ready to take on the challenges, they can begin taking advantage of the opportunities for work, housing, rehabilitation or education they will need to “beat the streets.” This stage is where we see most people fall off the ladder.

I never cease to be amazed at the hardships our friends experience when they try to move on to a better life. Here is where those of us in ministry with the poor need to continue to believe in the people we serve, help them believe in themselves and remind them that they have something bigger than themselves to live for. When they slip off this rung, they don’t have to fall off the ladder.  Our job is to catch them at the next rung down and refuel their hearts, minds and souls so they can try again.

The top rung is where the poor can move to a better life.  Mind you, we need to be careful to allow the person we are serving to determine what that better life is.  Some people may be fine without indoor plumbing, but our job may be to help them get to where they can meet their other needs on their own.  Our work in ministry with the poor often doesn’t end when they get to this rung of the ladder.  Sometimes we have to push them to step out of their comfort zones or pull them along with us to take that next big step in life.  Or our job at this point may simply be to follow them on their journey and never stop being a friend.

Holding the rungs of the ladder together are “Resources” and “Served to Servant.” All along the climb up the ladder, those of us in ministry will have to provide resources.  It may be stuff for basic needs or it may be information to help someone continue the climb.  The other support that holds the ladder upright is made up of opportunities to encourage those we serve to become fellow servants.  When the poor cease to be objects of our charity and begin giving of themselves, big things begin to happen.  The opportunities for this can come anywhere along the climb up the ladder.

In TOP’s ministry, it can start with a homeless man sharing the mistakes he made in his life with the youth who are serving him.  In a rural setting it might mean someone who takes on the responsibility of managing a community garden.

I hope you see a place along this ladder where you can help bring someone to a better place in life.

God’s grace to you,

Steve Jennings, Executive Director


And Now for Something a Little Different

The sunlight was as cold and barren as the naked trees in Franklin Square, just a few blocks from the White House. It seemed to offer no respite from the chilly breeze that blew through the park.  John and Walter stood with cups of hot chili in their hands and their collars turned up to keep their necks warm.

 We engaged in small talk for a while.  Both men answered questions and offered opinions between bites of chili and a never-ceasing stream of thank-yous.  Walter talked excitedly about starting a new job after more than two years of searching. 

 John fell silent as Walter spoke.  He cast his eyes into his cup of chili like he was looking for a bit of cracker floating in it.  After a few minutes, John began to share his struggle to find a job.  As the frustration in his voice grew, he stopped eating the chili and spread his arms in a gesture of desperation.

 “No matter where I go, no matter where I apply, I can’t get a job! I’ve filled in over 200 applications and still nothing,” he lamented.  “Because I have a prison record, I can’t even get a job at McDonalds! I served my time.  I paid my debt to society.  Why can’t I get a break?”

 That conversation took place in 1999 during a strong economy.  Jobs were plentiful, but not for John.  His words have haunted me ever since.

 How many people languish in poverty because, no matter how hard they try, they can’t get a job?  Prison record, lack of education, lack of job skills, mental illness and other obstacles create dim prospects for tens of thousands of poor people. Many have marketable skills and talents, but a job is still out of reach for them. 

 That conversation spurred me to look for a way that someone in John’s shoes can learn how to earn an income regardless of their background or mental state.

 Recently, I discovered eBay Giving Works, the nonprofit arm of the giant online auction.  I also began researching Etsy, a marketing system for arts and crafts, the Amazon Marketplace, Fulfillment by Amazon, and other Internet-based commerce platforms.  I believe these methods can provide additional support for TOP and help homeless and other poor people we serve step up the ladder to a better life.  

 We have named this effort TOPwerx. We are launching it right now.  In the first stage, our staff will learn the techniques of selling online. Our initial approach will be sort of an online thrift store, except we won’t sell everything through one site.  We’ll use whatever platform best suits a product. 

As we learn the ins-and-outs of online commerce, we will develop a training program.  Once a core curriculum is in place, we plan to help 2 – 3 clients through a pilot program.  During this stage we will fine tune the system and make careful notes on outcomes.  We plan to bring in youth volunteers wherever we can during the process, especially when we teach computer skills. Finally, we will seek grants to expand so we can serve more people and increase support for TOP at the same time.

 How You Can Help

We are looking for donated items to sell.  Games, toys, tools, horse supplies, electronics, textbooks, reference books, shoes, clothing and anything else you can imagine selling on eBay.  We can arrange pickup in Northern Virginia, the Northern Shenandoah Valley and DC.  If you are somewhere else in the region contact us.  Our goal is to find a repository for donated items in every city where we work.

We are also looking for people who have experience selling on eBay, Half.com, Etsy.com, Amazon Marketplace or Fulfillment by Amazon to help shorten the learning curve for us.

 Please pray that TOPwerx will become an opportunity for those who have little hope in the job market and that it will help TOP expand its ministry with “the least of these.”

God’s grace to you,

Steve Jennings, Executive Director