BOARD MEMBERS

Our Leadership

USA

Board Members

Andy Hunt

Board Chairman | Treasurer USA 2022 – 2025

While owning and managing a successful farm in Grundy County Illinois, Andy still finds time to pursue his passion for missions. In addition to his work with the Kids Alive Ministry, Andy has attended FIA trips to minister in Vanuatu and helps to lead teams of volunteers serving the Rama people of Nicaragua.

Paul Jarot

Board Vice Chair | USA 2021 – 2024

Paul has extensive experience in industrial arts and teaching. He educated students in Chicago, Papua New Guinea, and founded Grace International School Chiang Mai, Thailand. Currently, Paul continues to demonstrate his passion for missions and children as he serves as an Ethnos 360 representative, speaking at churches, colleges, and schools.

Ted Illjes

Board Secretary | USA 2021 – 2024

Ted is semi-retired from managing Research and Development at Zeager Bros. Inc. He was also part owner of Zeager Hardwood in Kentucky. Before relocating, Ted has also served as an elder at New Hope Bible Church in Lebanon, PA where he helped create a missions ministry. He has attended trips to further Friends In Action’s impact in Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, and Nicaragua.

Faye Brown

Board Member | USA 2020 – 2025

Faye has been a missionary with Friends in Action International since 2000. She is a registered nurse by profession and holds a Master’s of Science degree in Nursing Education from Drexel University and comes with over 43 years of experience in critical care, trauma, community and home health care nursing. She is also Certified in Pediatric Emergency Nursing (CPEN).

Steve Nehlsen

Board Member | USA 2022 – 2025

Steve was born to missionary parents in West Africa. After spending his childhood growing up in Africa, Steve came back to the U.S. to attend college and prepare to respond to God’s call to the mission field. Steve met his wife, Amy, in college. They were married, planted a church in Kentucky and then set out for service in Ivory Coast. Steve and Amy served in evangelistic ministry, as well as teaching, development, and administration during their 22 years of service there. In 2011, they returned to the U.S., where they taught at Nyack College in the Intercultural Studies Dept. In 2018 Steve accepted the call to pastor the Fulton Alliance Church in Fulton, NY where they are currently serving. Steve and Amy have 3 adult children; Abby, Kari and Peter.

Ralph Beltran

Board Member (Emeritus) | USA

Ralph is one of the seven founders of Friends In Action, Intl. Currently retired, Ralph owned and operated a premier metal recycling center for commercial and industrial recycling. His leadership on numerous nonprofit boards and committees includes service at Child Evangelism Fellowship and a missions agency working in Albania.

Randy Schnieders

Board Member | USA 2022 – 2025

Randy has extensive experience in large-scale construction and heavy machinery projects. After more than 35 years of providing senior superintendent oversight at Mortenson Construction, Randy continues managing field operations in his current role at NewSouth Construction. He has partnered his comprehensive construction expertise with his passion for missions by attending numerous work trips with FIA. His efforts helped build a bridge in Guinea West Africa, a workshop in Vanuatu, and a church in Nicaragua.

Matt Durkee

Executive Director | USA 2022 – 2025

Having served with FIA International since 2008 in various roles in overseas fields and at the home end, Matt Durkee is now serving as the Executive Director for the mission. Based out of the FIA Canada office in Guelph, Ontario (Canada) Matt provides oversight and leadership for the domestic operations of FIA USA and FIA Canada, and is the International Director of the various FIA field projects in Nicaragua, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Bolivia, Moldova and West African operations. Having served in field operations and operations management with the Water of Life Project in West Africa from 2008 – 2019, he has a strong understanding of what it takes to lead and serve the International missions community. In 2018, he began to work alongside FIA International administrative and support staff as the beginning of a 4-year leadership transition which has culminated in January 2022 when he began to serve full-time Executive leadership for FIA International.

Prior to serving with FIA, Matt graduated with an Environmental Engineering degree from the University of Guelph (ON) and worked for several years for Golder Associates, an environmental consulting firm, on projects in Canada and East Africa. Just as he was being asked to step into a management role with the firm, the Lord called him by faith into service with FIA. From 2009 until 2017, Matt has either lived in West Africa with his wife (Megan) and two children (Mireya and Mozes) or in Guelph, ON where they now reside.

As Executive Director for FIA International, Matt steps out of the field and into the role of leading and guiding the mission as a whole, where he strives to join practical experience and leadership with a desire to see the organization engage in greater engagement with mission partners and the evangelical community. In addition to FIA leadership and management, he will be leading teams, developing new partners, speaking about the joys and struggles of international ministry and calling up the next generation to join the work of the mission are all areas that he will engage in.

His desire is simple: to focus on what we do well, challenge others to join with us, and to make it count for eternity.

Canada

Board Members

Roger Wingfield

Board Chairman | Treasurer CAN 2020 – 2025

Roger Wingfield serves as FIA’s Administrative Director of our Canadian division, in addition to functioning as the President of its Board of Directors. Roger lends over 40 years of business administration and systems experience garnered from his career in the insurance industry. One of the original board members of FIA Canada, he has been with Friends In Action since the mid-1990’s. Roger and his wife Drewry operate the FIA-Canada office from their home, with Drewry serving as the Office Administrator and Treasurer. They manage all the FIA Canada work teams and their related travel, Canadian financial requirements (including audits and governmental filings), as well as coordinate Canadian missionary tax filings.

In addition to assisting with fundraising for two of the drilling rigs for FIA’s well drilling in Africa, Roger has also provided missionary and project support to countless of FIA’s efforts abroad. He has attended multiple work trips to Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, and Nicaragua. With his philosophy of “work, pray, plan, initiate, complete and wait for the Lord to show His hand to His Glory alone,” FIA is grateful for Roger’s passion and leadership.

Irwin Pronk

Board Vice Chair | CAN 2021 – 2025

Joining the Canadian board in 2021, Irwin brings a wealth of knowledge and leadership experience gained from developing systems and standards for corporate and government sectors throughout North America and beyond. He has over 40 years of experience in the food processing, animal feed and packaging industries.

Irwin’s work has included leading people through change processes, influencing and developing organization culture, and helping his clients successfully achieve their strategic goals. His love for the Lord is what motivates him in all that he does; it is from this love and his desire to apply Biblical principles in his secular work that the Lord has allowed him to be successful in what he has done.

Along with his wife Joanne, Irwin has been actively involved in supporting church ministry for many years. Most recently (2020) he was a founding board member for the Wellington Pregnancy Care Centre, serving as Chairman of the Board and helping to lay the foundation for the successful launch of the program.

Chris Smerdon

Board Secretary | CAN 2021 – 2024

Chris has lead 6 short-term teams to West Africa to serve in the well-drilling projects while being supported by Ann his wife of 30 years. They moved to Canada in 1991 where the LORD began a work in their lives that first lead them to accept Christ as their Savior then onto a heart for missions.

Matt Durkee

Executive Director | CAN 2022 – 2025

Having served with FIA International since 2008 in various roles in overseas fields and at the home end, Matt Durkee is now serving as the Executive Director for the mission. Based out of the FIA Canada office in Guelph, Ontario (Canada) Matt provides oversight and leadership for the domestic operations of FIA USA and FIA Canada, and is the International Director of the various FIA field projects in Nicaragua, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Bolivia, Moldova and West African operations. Having served in field operations and operations management with the Water of Life Project in West Africa from 2008 – 2019, he has a strong understanding of what it takes to lead and serve the International missions community. In 2018, he began to work alongside FIA International administrative and support staff as the beginning of a 4-year leadership transition which has culminated in January 2022 when he began to serve full-time Executive leadership for FIA International.

Prior to serving with FIA, Matt graduated with an Environmental Engineering degree from the University of Guelph (ON) and worked for several years for Golder Associates, an environmental consulting firm, on projects in Canada and East Africa. Just as he was being asked to step into a management role with the firm, the Lord called him by faith into service with FIA. From 2009 until 2017, Matt has either lived in West Africa with his wife (Megan) and two children (Mireya and Mozes) or in Guelph, ON where they now reside.

As Executive Director for FIA International, Matt steps out of the field and into the role of leading and guiding the mission as a whole, where he strives to join practical experience and leadership with a desire to see the organization engage in greater engagement with mission partners and the evangelical community. In addition to FIA leadership and management, he will be leading teams, developing new partners, speaking about the joys and struggles of international ministry and calling up the next generation to join the work of the mission are all areas that he will engage in.

His desire is simple: to focus on what we do well, challenge others to join with us, and to make it count for eternity.

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