STAFF AND BOARD

Who are the leaders of PYWA?

PYWA is currently led by a volunteer Board of Directors that consists of youth workers and pastors from across the country. The Board of Directors provides leadership to fulfill PYWA’s mission to connect, uphold, and inspire youth workers. If you’ve got questions for Board Members or just want to pick our brains, you can email us at [email protected] Or you can contact Rev. John Leedy or Shannon Guse, one of two board co-moderators if you’d like to speak with one of us directly and she will be happy to help you!

 

Current Board of Directors

Brian Kuhn

Brian Kuhn

Director

Brian has served the youth, families, and community at Webster Groves Presbyterian Church in St. Louis, MO since 1999 and been in a paid position at Webster Groves Pres. since 2000. Adolescents, families, mental health, and faithfulness are his passions in life and he works hard to continually bring all of those elements together no matter what he is doing and looks forward to guiding PYWA to do the same. He frequently teaches workshops and speaks to groups about topics like the adolescent brain, sex and sexuality, suicide, and building a youth ministry and congregation that is not afraid to address and embrace the challenges of adolescence, parenting and being a community.

Brian has a Master of Arts in Profession Counseling and is a Licensed Profession Counselor in the State of Missouri. The combination of his ministry and clinical work has given him a unique view of today’s adolescent, the challenges they face, the needs of the adults (youth workers, parents, and others) who are in their lives, and how the church can and should be a sanctuary for youth and their families. Brian has formally served as Moderator of the PYWA Board and briefly as the Interim Director. He has a great vision and passion for the association and is looking forward to discovering, together, what the true callings and possibilities are for PYWA.

In addition to his youth ministry work at Webster Groves, Brian has worked with Ministry Architects consulting, coaching and teaching and Soul Shop where he trains Youth Workers, churches and community leaders in faithful suicide awareness and prevention training. He is also the co-author of Soul Shop for Youth Workers and Soul Shop for Youth and author of Soul Shop for Collegiate Ministry Leaders and Soul Shop of Campus Ministry.

Brian lives in Manchester, MO, with his wife Jennifer and their two children Chase and Paige. Brian loves being a husband and dad, traveling, coaching softball and baseball, learning, running, and movies. The Kuhn family are avid St. Louis sports fans with the Cardinals and the Blues on top of their list!

John Leedy

John Leedy

Board Member and Co-Moderator

John Leedy is the Associate Pastor for Christian Formation at University Presbyterian Church in Austin, Texas and is a lifelong Presbyterian. John holds a B.A. in Youth & Family Ministry from Abilene Christian University, an MDiv. From Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, and is a currently pursuing a Doctor of Ministry degree. He lives in Austin with his wife and pastoral colleague, Krystal, along with their daughter Lorelai (yes, as in Gilmore Girls). John has a passion for exploring the connections between youth ministry and the liturgy, and enjoys playing the bagpipes and going on Christian pilgrim journeys around the world.

Rev. Pepa Paniagua

Rev. Pepa Paniagua

Board Member and Co-Moderator

Rev. Pepa Paniagua is a cradle Presbyterian, and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. She loves the ocean and mountains, she is a SF Giants Fan, and roots for the 49ers, even when they make it hard. She attended Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wa- the town so nice, they named it twice!

After graduating, with degrees in Religion and Gender Studies, she moved to Austin, Texas where she attended Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Despite a proclamation that she would “never live in Dallas”, Pepa has been living in the DFW area, and serving in Grace Presbytery for more than 13 years. After serving congregations in a youth and families capacity, In 2020, Pepa pursued a call to create a more inclusive and affirming space for our LBGTQIA siblings, and those who are not comfortable in “traditional church”, and kin∙dom community was born! Pepa and her wife, Kelli, live in McKinney with their dogs, Posey (after Buster Posey of the SF Giants), Opie and Tyson who regularly remind them why they can’t have nice things.
Kiersten Hill

Kiersten Hill

Board Member and Secretary of the Board

Kiersten Hill is the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries at Wellshire Presbyterian Church in Denver, Colorado. She is originally from San Diego, CA. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Communication from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and is currently pursuing an mDiv from Fuller Theological Seminary. She is passionate about authentic community and loves helping people discover life in the Spirit. She enjoys long walks and deep conversations, biking, skiing, and occasionally trying new baking projects. She is married to Josh, an almost-Colorado-native who works as a civil engineer in Denver.

Andrew Esqueda

Andrew Esqueda

Board Member

Andrew Esqueda is the Associate Pastor for Family Ministries at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, GA. He is originally from San Diego, CA. He attended Whitworth University, and graduated from Fuller Theological Seminary. He has a keen interest in the integration of theology and ministry and exploring what it looks like to do church in a post-Christian world. He enjoys coaching wrestling, playing music, eating good food, and considers himself a connoisseur of coffee and other fine beverages. He is married to Megan and they have a 6 year old son named Isaiah and an 8 month old son named Desmond.

Robert Hay

Robert Hay

Board Member

In 1997, Robert retired from his position as the Associate Executive for Nurture from the Presbytery of Sheppards and Lapsley; a position Robert held for 20 years. He and his wife moved to Peachtree City, GA, to be closer to family, particularly their grandchildren. Shortly after moving, Robert spent a year serving as Interim Campus Minister at First Presbyterian Church of Auburn, AL. He followed that with serving as their Interim Youth Director until March 2019. He keeps busy while also enjoying retired life, but he knows God’s not through with him yet and he is open to wherever God leads him, whether for pay or volunteer work.

Maggie Johnson

Maggie Johnson

Board Member

Maggie is a Master’s of Divinity student at Columbia Theological Seminary and a seminary intern at Shallowford Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, Georgia. A native of Little Rock, Arkansas and a graduate of the University of Tulsa (OK), she has been raised in Church spaces and loves to encounter God through communities and connections. When not studying or spending time with the congregation of Shallowford, she is usually reading books from her Goodreads list, practicing yoga as an act of radical self-care, or sitting in the sun at her favorite coffee shop.

Jacob Kennedy

Jacob Kennedy

Board Member

Jacob Kennedy is the Associate Pastor for Youth and Mission at Fort Hill Presbyterian Church in Clemson, SC. A life-long Presbyterian, Jacob holds an undergraduate degree in Religion and Christian Education from Presbyterian College and a Masters of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary. Jacob loves to teach and share the stories of God with all people. In his spare time, Jacob loves to cheer passionately for his favorite sports teams. If he is not doing that, you might find him reading, singing, going to concerts with friends, or sneaking out to play golf at the end of the day.
Emily Powers

Emily Powers

Board Member

Emily is the Director of Children’s and Youth Ministries at First Presbyterian Church in Lexington Kentucky. She grew up in the Kansas City area and studied English and History at Northwest Missouri State. After college, she spent two years as a Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) for the PC(USA) church. Emily has over seven years of experience in ministry, both in non-profit & youth ministry positions. Growing up in the PC(USA) world, she is a self-proclaimed Presbyterian nerd, who is passionate about mission, social justice, and education. When Emily is not working, you can find her exploring or at home with her cats, Atticus & Boo! She loves finding new coffee shops, book stores, baking and exploring trails. On the weekends she loves to hang out with family and friends; whether that’s hanging out outside, reading, eating BBQ, playing board games, or binge watching TV shows.
Eileen VanGieson

Eileen VanGieson

Board Member

Eileen is the Associate Pastor at Christ Presbyterian Church La Costa in Carlsbad California. She is a Colorado native and California local. Eileen attended the University of Southern California and earned a Master’s of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary. She has been involved in Youth Ministry since 2003 in various capacities and continues to love working with Middle School and High School students. Whenever possible Eileen will jump on a plane to discover beauty and joy around the world seeing God in all places and people. Her goal of visiting every continent is nearly complete. At home she loves cooking, taking Henri (the coolest dog on the planet) for walks and fetching sessions, and watching sunsets with her best friend and husband Richard.

Tully Fletcher

Tully Fletcher

Treasurer

Tully Fletcher is the Associate Pastor for Youth and Families in Rockdale County, serving three separate congregations about 30 minutes outside of Atlanta, GA. He likes to organize things via spreadsheet, invent games for youth to play, and the challenge of making boring things interesting (particularly with PYWA). His unique ministry model is embracing the adage “sharing is caring” by bringing together resources, staff and volunteers from three churches to do one ministry.