The TeenPact Blog

Get to Know the Office Staff

From left to right: Johnny Leifheit, Serena Walker, Stephanie Shanks, Paul Martin, Pam Minyard, Peter Martin, Laurel Morton, Quinton Cools, Macaela Bennett, Lily Shanks, Aaron Watson

Two weeks ago, we had our annual Office Retreat in which all operational staff of TeenPact converged in Richmond to review the 2015 season and, more importantly, to cast a vision for the upcoming 2016 season. The retreat was spent with a lot of prayer, updates, laughter and discussion about where TeenPact is and where God is guiding us.

In honor of the Office Retreat, we wanted to take some space to introduce you to the people who run TeenPact on a daily basis. Some of these names may be familiar to you already, but all have prayed for you and are excited to see what is to come!

Peter Martin

From: Glastonbury, Connecticut
What he does: CEO
Since when: June, 2010 
Why his work is important:
As the CEO, Mr. Martin is the head of the ministry. He functions not only as the one in charge but also as the TeenPact Dad for all staff and interns.
Dreaming big, where would you like to see TeenPact in the next 10 years?
“I would like to see TeenPact Leadership Schools in all 50 states with over 5000 Four Day students per year.  I would like to see thousands of students and former students making an impact for Christ across the world – on college campuses, in churches, in their communities, in the arts, in business, in missions, in law, etc.  I would like to see a second generation of TeenPact students in dozens of states understanding the political process, serving as staffers and interns, and changing lives to change the world!”

Aaron Watson

From: Orlando, Florida
What he does: Vice President of Operations, Director of Staff Development
Since when: August, 2008
Why his work is important: Aaron is the leader of the intern team as well as the Program Director for Staff Training and National Convention. Because of this, he oversee the largest divisions of TeenPact.
If you could start any new alumni event, what would it be?
“I would love to see TeenPact start a new alumni event called Media Academy, training youth to understand both the structure and the power of the film industry as well as broadcast and print journalism. Storytelling plays a unique and influential role in shaping our culture, and seeing talented TeenPacters entering the media world and dedicating their work to Christ is something I would love to see. While initial plans are in the works to develop this event, there are still significant hurdles to clear before it can be made available. Still, through prayer and perseverance, we look forward to being able to announce plans for the first Media Academy in the near future, as we seek to train a generation of influential storytellers.”

Lily Shanks

From: Roe, Arkansas
What she does: Vice President of Events
Since when: July, 2009
Why her work is important: Next season, Lily will be working with State Coordinators and Alumni Event Directors to manage all event logistics which involves securing camp locations, drafting contracts and overseeing event preparation. In addition, she Program Directs National Convention with Aaron.
If you hadn’t gotten involved with TeenPact in high school, how do you think your life would look different?
“Involvement with TeenPact at an early age gave me a vision for something greater than myself.  Although I learned about government and that I as a 14 year old could have a voice and be an influence, I more importantly realized that we do not live in a vacuum—each of us has the ability to step up as leaders, no matter how small or large the arena. Whether it be serving our families and friends in the day-to-day, running for office, or championing the cause of those in need, we each are called to be a leader on a daily basis.”

Pam Minyard

From: Laurel, Mississippi
What she does: Director of Development
Since when: March, 2009
Why her work is important: A huge part of TeenPact’s income relies on the generous gifts of donors around the country. Without them, TeenPact could not continue to grow and expand. Mrs. Pam works to develop relationships with donors, inviting them to come alongside us in our vision and mission.

Morgan Freeman edit

Who is the most influential person that you have gotten to share TeenPact’s story with?“It was an incredible opportunity to sit with Morgan Freeman, for several moments, at a small event in Mississippi.  He was most personable as I rambled on about my favorite Morgan Freeman movie, Lean on Me, the current youth culture, and of course, one of my greatest loves, TeenPact Leadership Schools.  He was gracious and kind and reminisced about filming that movie and how important it is for our generation to embrace the idea of investing in youth!”

Quinton Cools

From: Portland, Oregon
What he does: 
Director of Communications
Since when: March, 2013
Why his work is important: The Communications Department is essential to any ministry because it is the hub of promotions and management of the organization’s image. TeenPact is no exception in this regard. Quinton has overseen projects such as the new website, Alumni Event promotion, social media campaigns, and the creation of digital and printed materials for the organization.
If you could go back to any alumni event as a student, which would it be and why?
“I would eagerly return to National Convention. The energy and excitement of the week transcends other Alumni Events. The worship music and speakers are inspiring. Perhaps the reason I would most desire to return as a student would be to run for student body president. My good friend Clayton Chambers was elected my final year as a student. While I was elected to a national position that year as well, I think I would greatly enjoy running a campaign for president and attempting to inspire my peers with the principles of Christian leadership.”

Serena Walker

From: Aurora, Colorado
What she does: 
Assistant Director of Communications and Staff Development
Since when: September, 2012
Why her work is important: Serena works with Aaron and Quinton in each of their departments. For communications, she oversaw the creation of TeenPact’s new promo videos and manages the TeenPact Blog. In staff development, she mentors the female interns and is overseeing the staff selection process for 2016.
In what ways has working full-time for TeenPact equipped you to serve in other areas of ministry?
“Serving with TeenPact has taught me a lot about what it means to be humble on a team. I have learned what it means to take initiative and make your teammates look good–even if you don’t get the credit. God has used the training that I received at TeenPact as a staffer, intern, and now office employee to equip me to serve in multiple other ministries in my community.”

Paul Martin

From: Glastonbury, CT
What he does: State Class Field Director
Since when: January, 2008
Why his work is important: Paul works to mentor, coach, and encourage State Coordinators as they run their classes. In the past, he has worked largely with the small New England states and oversees individual state development. 
Where has been your favorite place to travel with TeenPact?
I loved traveling to South Dakota in 2014.  The rugged beauty of the state and the enthusiasm of the people were compelling! I look forward to going back one day.”

Laurel Morton

From: Lee’s Summit, Missouri
What she does: State Class Field Director
Since when: March, 2008
Why her work is important: Like Paul, Mrs. Morton has devoted herself to mentoring, coaching, and encouraging State Coordinators. She is known for fervently praying for those that she works with and has also specialized in opening new states.
TeenPact is now in 41 states, how many of those have you helped to open? What is the most difficult part about opening states? How has God met you in that process?
“I have assisted or led  in opening 7 states so far and what a blessing that is! Lots of prayer goes into deciding if a state is ready for us to come there. The most difficult thing that I encounter when going into a new state is honestly resistance from the leaders of the statewide home education organization within the state when they do not understand what TeenPact is and what depth, excitement and continuity TeenPact will bring to the community in their state. Again, the key is Prayer. I have often clearly seen God moving in front of me, giving me favor and leading me to people we need to be “boots on the ground” in that state. It is exhilarating and faith building to know God is leading the charge and really it is not me leading it at all.”

Johnny Leifheit

From: York, Maine
What he does: State Class Manager
Since when: October, 2015
Why his work is important: Johnny’s role is new this year. His primary objective is to oversee State Classes and support State Coordinators. As the son of the Maine State Coordinator, Johnny knows first hand the amount of work and motivation it takes to serve in that capacity and is well equipped to serve in the coming season. 
What is the craziest thing that has happened to you working with TeenPact?
“It was my first event as an incoming Intern: Back to D.C. 2011. Life was looking up and the future seemed bright. So I thought… The day arrives for a guided tour of the city with the student body divided into groups. While in the subway, I stood corralling my students onto the train, packing them in like sardines. As the last student boarded, the doors shut separating me from them. I then stood in horror as I watched all of their stunned faces roll away. Of course this is when the CEO, Mr. Martin, walks up and asks ‘Hey Johnny, where’s your group?’ I thought my life was over. Ironically, I now work for TeenPact which can only mean redemption is real.”

Stephanie Shanks

From: Richmond, Virginia
What she does: 
Registration Manager
Since when: August, 2015
Why her work is important: Without Stephanie, nobody would be able to come to TeenPact. This is because she manages our custom online registration system. If students or parents ever have a question about registering for a State Class or Alumni Event, Stephanie is the one they talk to!
You were last involved in TeenPact in 2002 in your perspective, what have been the biggest changes? What has stayed the same?
“I went to my first state class in 2002. The ministry has since reached into 12 more states with over 2000 more students involved. But TeenPacters still know how to work hard, how to play hard, and how to throw a frisbee; how to help others succeed, laugh at themselves, and make much of the Savior through corporate worship. From my perspective, the heartbeat of this ministry hasn’t changed a bit, but the vision has broadened. There’s an increasing desire to see students not only engage meaningfully in the political process, but to be skilled Kingdom servants in more and more facets of culture.”

Macaela Bennett

From: Portland, Oregon
What she does: 
Administrative Intern
Since when: August, 2015
Why her work is important: From phone support to packing for events to monitoring office supplies, Macaela does it all! Likely the most important part of her job will happen next season as she plans and ships supplies to all 53 state classes. This is no small task but one that is integral to the success of a class week.
How is traveling on the road as an intern different than working in the National Office?
“Serving on the 2015 Traveling Intern Team was a wonderful experience! While I absolutely love airports and road trips, I’m more than happy to join this incredible team of servant working behind the scenes from Richmond. As the Administrative Intern I can often be found organizing TeenPact Hoodies, printing address labels, or helping to brainstorm new program elements. As I work to accomplish these tasks my view of the Ministry is developing. Each day I learn more of what it actually takes to create, administer, and sustain a Leadership School.”


Photography Credit: Pattengale Photography

Registration is now open for our 2016 State Class Season. To learn more about your state or to register, click here.

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