Board of Directors

Jane Nitz, Founder and CEO

Into Abba’s Arms

Jane graduated from Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, and began her career as a dental hygienist in Port Neches. After moving to Sugarland, she began attending Sugar Creek Baptist Church. In 1997, after a dream about Africa, Jane felt called to travel to Kenya with a medical mission team from her church.

During the trip, Jane witnessed the deplorable conditions facing Kenyan orphans. Upon returning to the states, she could not stop thinking about her time in Kenya. She felt the Lord leading her to build a home for the orphaned children of Kenya. Nearly 20 years and many children later, the organization she founded is considered a hub for Christian ministry in the central highlands of Kenya.

Into Abba’s Arms provides a home for double orphans and introduces them to the love of Christ. Into Abba’s Arms is also the sole provider of clean drinking water and medical care for its surrounding community. Additionally, visiting teams come to provide educational programs for area schools and police and hospital personnel.

Kathleen Curnutt, Treasurer

Vice President of Finance, 12th Man Foundation

Kathleen is the Vice President of Finance at the 12th Man Foundation, Texas A&M Athletics’ fundraising arm responsible for funding scholarships, program and facilities in support of championship athletics. Kathleen is responsible for managing day-to-day activities and procedures related to all financial and accounting functions, such as financial reporting, budgeting, and cash management.

Kathleen actively volunteers for and serves on Into Abba’s Arms’ Board of Directors. She first traveled to Kenya in 2010 and became very passionate about serving the children at IAA. Her passion for the ministry and its children continues to grow.

Kathleen earned a BBA degree in Accounting, graduating magna cum laude, and a Master of Science in Marketing degree from Texas A&M University. She is an avid Texas A&M football fan and enjoys traveling, volunteering and spending time with her husband.

Banks Chisum, Director of Site Development

President of JB Chisum Company, Inc.

Banks remembers from childhood how his father demonstrated the importance of serving others. His father’s influence was instrumental in leading Banks to employ his practical business and communication skills in various organizations and ministries across the globe.

Banks is an active member of First Baptist Church in Wimberley where he has served as a teacher in Sunday school and in the music ministry. He currently holds a position on the International Missions Committee.

Banks takes his interest in the community a step further and serves as the vice president of Wimberley Fire & Rescue. As such he witnessed first-hand the devastating floods of 2015—one of the worst natural disasters in the history of central Texas.

In his spare time, Banks can be found on the streets of San Antonio surrounded by the homeless as he works with Taking It to the Streets, a ministry in Boerne, Texas. He also enjoys exploring new countries and cultures and spending time with family and friends.

Tom Jones, Board Member

Bechtel Hydrocarbon Technology Solutions, Inc.

Tom is the Manager of Chemicals Technology for Bechtel Hydrocarbon Technology Solutions, Inc. based in Houston, Texas. Tom advises the Petrochemicals business line on technology options/prospects and front-end project technical support. Tom has been with Bechtel for 21 of his 42-year career. Prior to Bechtel, Tom worked for operating companies including Union Carbide Corporation and Indonesian petrochemical operator, PT Chandra Asri. Tom is married to Debra, celebrating 40 years of marriage this year. They have two children and three grandchildren.

David Gardeen, Board Member

Assistant Branch Manager, Wells Fargo Bank

David has been happily married to his wife, Linsey, and together they have two boys. David is currently working for Wells Fargo Bank in Woodlands, Texas. He helps run and manage 20 different employees. Prior to Wells Fargo, David works overseas in Quito, Ecuador, for an International Church. He has also served as the Associate Pastor at English Fellowship Church overseeing administrative and youth ministry aspects. David and Linsey feel called to serve full time overseas and are in the process of being trained by WoodsEdge Community Church to become long-term missionaries. David also serves on the WoodsEdge Spanish service worship team.

David graduated from the North Park in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Organization Management and Leadership. He is bilingual in Spanish and English using Spanish frequently in work and within his personal relationships. David has a heart for displaced people and third culture youth. In his free time, David loves spending time with his family and enjoys playing soccer, basketball, and golf.

Falyn Matsudaira, Board Member

Walt Disney Company

Falyn Matsudaira grew up as a missionary kid in Eastern Europe and graduated from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in 2016. In Houston, TX she worked as a Case Manager for a foster and adoption and facilitated many successful placements and several adoptions. After two years in social work, Falyn transitioned into full-time ministry at WoodsEdge Community Church as the Director of Immigrant and Refugee Ministries. In this role she was introduced to the ministry of Into Abbas Arms. She first visited in 2018 and returned in 2019, leading a team from WoodsEdge. While she was very impressed with the structure of the ministry, she was also amazed by the way the children were cared for by the Kenyan staff.

Through her multicultural upbringing, social work background, and ministry experience she brings a unique perspective to the Board. Currently Falyn lives in Orlando, Florida and works for the Walt Disney Company. She and her husband desire to move overseas in the coming years and are excited to see where God will lead them next.

Advisory Board

Brian Jenkins, CEO, Advisory Board Member

Owner RTP Consulting Group

Brian Jenkins is the owner of RTP Consulting Group. Shaped by a diverse background in business leadership, Brian has cultivated an unparalleled expertise in sales and growth performance. He has served in church and ministry leadership and is a published author, but by far, his greatest passion is in defending the fatherless. That passion has led him to adopt four children in addition to the five he shares with his wife, Candice.

Beth Calvert, Advisory Board Member

Director of Life Skills Ministry, River Cities Community Church

Beth went on her first mission trip with Into Abba's Arms in 2007. She has been a cheerleader for IAA since that time. She and her husband, Dave, returned to IAA in 2011 with a team of 12 adults from their church, who offered a five-day Vacation Bible School to both the IAA Family and the surrounding neighbors. The IAA Family served over 200 children during that exciting week. They have enjoyed seeing their sponsored child, Simon, during those trips.

As an Advisory Board member  eth is available to offer encouragement, insight, and challenge to any situation for which she is invited to advise.

Beth has been privileged to serve at River Cities Community Church, Huntington, WV, in the role of directing the Life Skills Ministry for over 25 years. This ministry serves the church family as well as the community by offering counseling, classes, and support groups.

US Staff

Elissa LaRochelle, Director of Operations

Elissa graduated from Texas Tech University with a Bachelor of Interior Design. She currently lives in Houston, Texas where she began her career as a designer and then a project manager of interior construction projects for healthcare facilities. After over 7 years in the industry, she took some time off from her career to focus on family. Elissa and her husband welcomed their little boy into the world in March of 2020.

Elissa’s passion for Into Abba’s Arms began in 2010 when she first visited Kenya and her involvement continued to grow over the years. In 2016 she joined the Board of Directors and served as secretary for 5 years. In 2021, after spending some time as a stay at home mom, Elissa decided to return to work as the Director of Operations for IAA. She is dedicated to the mission of IAA, cares deeply for all of the children, and is excited to be serving in this way.

Kim Fitzsimmons, Bookkeeper

Kim joined the Into Abba’s Arms family in March 2013 and has over 40 years of bookkeeping, administrative, and computer software experience. She developed these skills while working with private businesses, CPA and real estate firms, non-profits and educational organizations. She is detail-oriented, organized, and skilled in the use of many cutting-edge computer software programs. Outside of IAA, Kim is a wife, mom, and grandma and attends WoodsEdge Church. When Kim isn’t doing IAA business, she enjoys spending time with her husband, children and grandchildren, and loves traveling and reading.

Rachel Warren, Administrative Coordinator

Rachel graduated from Johnson University (Knoxville, TN) in December of 2018 receiving a Bachelor of Science in Human Services. After graduating, Rachel returned to her hometown of Columbus, IN, and began working for Into Abba’s Arms. She currently handles communications with mission teams and child sponsors, media marketing, and various other administrative tasks. In her free time, Rachel enjoys spending time with family and friends. She also has a love for outdoor adventure and animals – especially dogs. Rachel visited Into Abba’s Arms for the first time in 2019, and is excited to get back! She looks forward to continuing the work God is doing with Into Abba’s Arms and building relationships with both the children and staff in Kenya.

Missionaries

Anthony and Chandra, On-site Missionaries

Anthony and Chandra are both from Montgomery, Texas. They currently serve as full-time missionaries at Into Abba’s Arms in Kenya. With combined backgrounds in management, children’s ministry, social work, foster care and real estate/self-employment, they devote their experience and time to live alongside the children and staff at IAA. Several years prior to their
commitment to IAA, Anthony and Chandra experienced God’s preparation in them to do something different than their careers at the time. They were unsure of where God was leading them but continued to follow His direction as things started to fall into place landing them in Kenya. Looking back, it is clear to see that God was preparing them for moving oversees and working with children full-time.

Anthony and Chandra have always had a passion for advocating, caring for, and positively impacting children. They have volunteered for other organizations and ministries in the past. In their spare time they enjoy the great outdoors, camping, and spending time with family and friends.

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