We are a passionate team of dreamers who work hard to fight and put an end to human trafficking and sexual exploitation.
Founder & CEO
Amy Thurston is the Founder, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Hope Inspire Love. As CEO, she is passionate about leading the organization’s daily operations and strategic planning efforts. As a seasoned executive, she is guiding the mission of eradicating human trafficking and sexual exploitation, providing freedom to victims, hope to the hopeless, and restoring the lives of survivors.
Fueled by her passion for justice, she has spent nearly two decades building innovative programs that apply a social justice lens to teens and young adults’ experienced trauma. By empowering survivors to outgrow the label of ‘survivor’ and fostering their strengths, she has cultivated critical efforts to uplift, inspire, and encourage others to be their best selves.
Amy is a leader in the movement to end sex trafficking by advancing solutions through advocacy, evaluation and learning, and other innovative approaches to addressing the resilience of survivors as a daily inspiration in the fight to end trafficking. Her work has focused on youth development, education programs, faith-based initiatives, and community building throughout her career. Amy has distinguished herself in leading strategic business development efforts and organizational strategy and is a passionate advocate for people to be seen, loved, and cared for.
Amy is as extroverted as you can get and is a social people person who feels called to love on people. Amy desires to be an agent of life transformation to people wholeheartedly. She thrives in helping people discover their God-given gifts and search for their purpose as they bring honor to God and service to their community.
She currently spearheads Hope Inspire Love’s Trauma-informed Mentorship Program, where she works with survivors of sex trafficking and sexual exploitation. She also sits on the board of Greenlight Operation, a nonprofit that strategically combats human trafficking through educational initiatives and serves sex-trafficked women through a continuum of restorative care.
Prior to founding Hope Inspire Love, Amy was the Connections Director at Victory Church, helping people discover their passions and spiritual gifts and helping them discover their next steps in serving the church and their community. She also thrived in guiding people to connect into groups and helped develop leaders to lead small groups. She also worked in higher education for fifteen years, where she developed a genuine heart for youth, young adults, and ministry. During her tenure, she led the creation of a mentorship program for university students.
Since 2002, she has mentored and advocated for survivors of sexual abuse. Her previous work with human injustice in Chile and Nicaragua has also provided powerful serving opportunities that have changed people’s lives.
Amy is a proud graduate of Southeastern University and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Youth Ministry and Counseling and is all-but-thesis on her Masters in Christian Leadership. Amy is a Certified Clinical Trauma Specialist in Sex Trafficking and Exploitation. She also has certifications in iCare: Recognizing and Caring for Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Victims from Shared Hope International and trauma-informed training from Trauma Institute International. She also is a life coach and a credentialed minister, speaker, and educator.
Amy and her husband Steve also share a passion for missions and spent many years training young adults for missions along with leading teams to foreign countries.
She currently lives in the Lancaster County area but never misses a summer at the finger lakes in upstate New York. Amy and her husband are blessed with two young adult sons and one rambunctious little girl who loves the beach and skipping stones on lakes, and riding unicorns with fluffy feathers in her spare time.
When not trying to make the world a better place, Amy can usually be found in her newest interest, riding her vintage cruiser bike around her neighborhood with her family and dog Lucy Lu.
Mentorship Program Director
Bethany Zimmerman oversees our Trauma-Informed Mentorship Program. She has the heart to see individuals of all ages equipped spiritually, emotionally, and physically as they are transformed by the Gospel; especially those who have been in the trenches due to sex trafficking or prostitution. Bethany loves walking alongside people, through discipleship and mentoring, as well as educating others and bringing awareness of the signs of trafficking.
Bethany served as a missionary in the Philippines for eight years where she helped launch a mentorship program at a ministry school and was the Academic Dean of Student Affairs at F.I.R.E. School of Ministry, Philippines. Bethany is also the founder of Beauty for Ashes, Philippines, a ministry that focuses on reaching out to women trapped in street prostitution. In addition to the work she has done in the Philippines, Bethany has served with ministries in the red-light districts of Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Brazil, and the United States.
Bethany is an ambivert who loves people and thrives on connectedness; but also needs downtime with a good cup of coffee, a book, and her pup. She likes to put her random thoughts into song, singing, and dancing (especially when she is excited or stressed). She can be found at times organizing a random corner in her home to de-stress. She and her husband both have the heart to serve people in the fight against trafficking.
Bethany has a degree in Practical Ministry with an emphasis in Missions from F.I.R.E. School of Ministry. She is an ordained minister through F.I.R.E. International, a Certified Trauma Support Specialist, and has completed Trauma-Informed Care training with IJM and FAAST, along with certificates in training for peer debrief counseling.
Training and Certifications:
- Certified Trauma Support Specialist
- Certified with Faith Alliance Against Slavery and Trafficking (FAAST) Training of Trainers
- Trauma Informed Care Certified, IJM
- Peer Debriefing Seminar
- TESOL Certified
- First Aid & CPR Certified
- Currently pursuing certification as a Trauma & Resiliency Life Coach through the Arizona Trauma Institute
Mary Beth Christofis is the second most extrovert on the team. Growing up in Ohio, she is an avid Ohio State fan in case her picture didn’t make it clear enough. Go Buckeyes! Mary Beth is an avid Chick-fil-a fan as well. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even an afternoon snack, there’s no wrong time of day to eat from Chick-fil-a. In fact, she would prefer to eat a Lunchable for dinner than steak every day of the week. She is blessed to have a strong group of friends in her corner, ready to back her up with whatever life throws her way.
Mary Beth is passionate about being a voice for those who feel as if they don’t have one. She believes being a representative to the voiceless and helping those who cannot help themselves is what we are called to do.
Mary Beth graduated from the University of Valley Forge with a Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education. Working with young children now allows her to be the ally for the child that can’t communicate for themself. And as a volunteer, she’s living out the message to be a voice for those who are barely seen or heard.
As a survivor of sexual abuse, Benita has a passion for working with women by providing hope in any healing journey. She is the owner of Regaining Hope, a business that focuses on inspirational and awareness apparel to help shine a light on rape and sex trafficking.
Giving hope to the hopeless and helping others find healing is at the core of her life.
Benita loves the medical field as well (she has CNA training). She’s an avid reader and loves a mix of inspirational books and novels. She is a natural DIY with craft projects and works wonders when she refinishes furniture, decorates, and crafts with similar projects.
Benita is married to Lemuel and they have one very energetic daughter.
Norma Presler is the poster child of a high-level volunteer. If you look up the word “volunteer” in the dictionary, you will see her picture next to it. Not really, but Norma loves to volunteer and has been volunteering in different capacities over the years. She’s been a volunteer EMT, volunteer firefighter, CPR instructor, has an affinity for skydiving, and is a certified scuba diving enthusiast for many years. As a child of the 60-70s, she’s been a loathing Harley adventurer and enjoys long rides whenever she can find the time.
Norma loves horses, having had several in her teen years, and her dream job would be to work with them in any capacity. Her dream vacation would be to travel out west to a dude ranch and go on numerous rides, camping under the stars with no light pollution, with horses and dogs!
She has a passion for working on opportunities that help provide awareness and prevention of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. She loves using her skills and resources to fight the horrible crime and injustice of trafficking.
Normal has two step-children, a daughter, and a son, along with 2 granddaughters. She also has two yellow labs, she calles them “my girls”, Deco (long “e” sound) and Harley, both named after her favorite hobbies – scuba diving (“Deco” for “decompression”) and of course, her motorcycle.
Anna Knaub is a dedicated stay-at-home mom whose passions reside in making a difference and being servant-hearted. Though she may be forced to watch Moana for the umpteenth time with her daughter, keeping another tiny human alive is a rewarding adventure she loves being a part of. When she’s not chasing her toddler around, Anna loves being outdoors gardening or nerding up with the Lord of the Rings series with her husband Ethan. She has participated in over 10 mission trips across the years, both global and domestic. Nothing says memorable more than 125 strangers and only 2 working toilets.
Anna is passionate about helping and loving on everyone she meets. From working event booths for Hope Inspire Love to showing high schoolers that Shakespeare is far more than tolerable, she is always willing to lend a hand. Not only is Anna a great help to Hope Inspire Love, but she also shares her time and skills with Greenlight Operation who bring awareness to human trafficking as well.
Anna attended the University of Valley Forge where she met her husband and graduated with a degree in Secondary English Education. With already over 15 impactful years of volunteer experience, her passion for making a change in the lives around her will continue for years to come.
Britney Doyle is a professional dancer whose vibrant personality enhances the lives of everybody she meets. When Britney says she can actually dance, she’s not messing around. Besides dancing, she loves visiting new places. She has journeyed to 3 continents, with a total of 10 countries visited. She plans to check another continent off the list this year by traveling to Israel. Through and through, Britney is a country girl who jams out to her favorites like Tim McGraw and Florida Georgia Line. She’ll also be sure to let you know that she will never say no to nachos.
As an extrovert with an authentic, bubbly personality, Britney has a heart for connecting with others. She’s passionate about short-term missions trips and investing in the younger generation. As someone who was adopted, she strives to make sure others know their worth.
She graduated from Eastern University with a Bachelor in Dance. When Britney learned about the heart behind Hope Inspire Love, she knew she had to jump on board to help spread the message that everyone has worth and value.
Missy Knechel is one of our amazing Board Directors. She has worked in higher education for over 10 years as an adjunct professor in the Department of Early Childhood Education. She is also the director of an early learning children’s academy. She is passionate about blogging and is often a guest writer on MGM Lightworkers, Focus on the Family, and educational sites like HiMama. She believes every person has a voice and should be heard which makes it a joy to be a mentor to young adult girls.
Her love for the people and places in Belize takes her there twice a year on short-term missions trips for the past seven years. She takes a team down to partner with the local church to help with their kid’s programs and construction projects. She enjoys listening to Tori Kelly and Hillsong Young & Free, as well as her not-so-secret hobby of learning the choreography to Justin Bieber. She can’t stand to be away from lattes, hot sauce, her curling wand, or dry shampoo for too long unless a trip to the beach with her friends is involved.
Missy’s alma mater is Eastern University where she holds a Master of Multicultural Education. She wouldn’t be where she is today without her family. She has an amazing husband with who she raises four kids and a fur baby.
Sarah Koch is a seasoned traveler to countries like Nicaragua, Argentina, and Mexico. Her travelings are not leisure but as mission trips. She loves mission work with teenagers and how authentic they are. If she can make an impact in one teenagers’ life, she’s lived a good life. Sarah is proud that she can back squat 175 lbs. and loves to CrossFit, reading, and baking yummy treats.
Sarah writes songs on the fly for almost every situation because everything is a musical (she also likes Reality-TV which doesn’t help with publicly sharing her singing talents with others). She has an obsession for llamas and cries whenever a llama comes around out of love.
As an enneagram 2, she has a love for friends and family, knowing they love her and are there for her through it all. Sarah graduated from the University of Valley Forge with a BA in Youth Studies.
Linda Valloor is a wonderful mom and teacher dedicated to empowering people of all ages. She enjoys spending time with her family including her husband John and their 3 girls. One of Linda’s biggest inspirations is her daughters, who motivated her to write and self-publish a book of poetry. As a family, they plan to spend some time traveling around to different parts of the country. You might also find Linda dancing and singing along to her daughter’s favorite pop songs, as well as her favorite musicals like The Greatest Showman and Les Miserables.
Linda’s love for encouraging others, combined with her energetic spirit makes her an incredible individual to have on our team. As a teacher, she is well aware of human trafficking and knows there is more we can all be doing to provide freedom. She’s passionate about encouraging kindness and ensuring all kids know they have the ability to change the world. It’s a reward in itself when Linda sees the betterment and growth of all people.
Linda graduated from DePaul University with a Masters in Education, now teaching English World Literature and Poetry. With her passion for guiding others towards knowledge and helping individuals realize the potential in themselves, there’s no telling the impact she’s already made on the world.
Chief Storytelling Officer & COO
Steve Thurston is an entrepreneur and has a love for storytelling through words and images. As a writer, journalist, blogger, and list aficionado, his career in marketing and communications spans over two decades in the non-profit sector. He leads the strategic marketing, advertising, and brand strategies through print, digital, social, and marketing campaigns as well as public relations. Steve also oversees organization culture, communications, fundraising, finance, human resources, and organizational branding.
When he’s not guiding audience development strategies, his focus is to make sure it’s running seamlessly. He also oversees various creative projects across platforms and is head of creative where he regularly art directs and shoots in-house photography.
As a history nerd, Steve loves to read marketing-related paraphernalia and every once in a while will brush up on his Seth Godin collection of inspiring books. He lives by the motto of investing in people and great ideas.
He also eats a lot of Chedar Chips and recharges his creative cells with a daily cup of Mt Dew. He’s an introverted lab-tested homebody by day and WordPress hacker by night. Steve also has a penchant for 80s rock and collecting intriguing action figures (he prefers the term “collector” to “hoarder”). Steve was mindfully made in Chile, is fluent in Spanish, and loves to brush up his language skills over a cafe helado.
Steve holds a degree in Radio, TV and Film from Messiah University and is married to the most amazing Wonder Woman on this planet, the one, and only Amy Thurston. With two older sons and dad to a mini spunky fashionista daughter who rides a unicorn all day, it is never a dull and uneventful day at Casa Thurston.
Board of Directors
President & CEO
Bill Clarkson, PhD
Chairman of the Board
Dr. Bill Clarkson retired in May 2017 as Full Professor and Chair of the Business Administration Department at the University of Valley Forge. Course teaching a wide range of business and economics courses, Nonprofit Start-Up and Fundraising, and Church Finance.
Bill’s current days are filled with activities centered around his grandchildren, and consulting with nonprofits on a variety of issues that include: start-up, fundraising, sustainability, and founder succession.
For the past 27 years he has been listed in Who’s Who in America, and is one of their 100 Lifetime Achievement Award recipients for 2018. He has been a Kern Fellow, attending Acton University for several years, as well as an Economics Educator/Scholar attending the Hillsdale Free Market National Forum. He has been a PovertyCure Fellow, and was a member of their consulting team in 2015 for Latin American Intermediary Poverty Solutions. He is the co-author of “Poverty in Reading, PA: An Academic Case Study with Adaptable Template,” as well as several other academic works.
Bill holds a Bachelor’s degree from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA and his Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Ball State University in Muncie, IN. He holds a PhD in Administration, with a concentration in Organizational Development & Christian Leadership from Trinity Theological Seminary in Newburgh, IN.
Bill is married to Jan who is a Fortune 500 training consultant and executive coach. Bill & Jan have two adult sons and four grandchildren.
Senior Financial Advisor, Citadel
Jen Mack has worked in the financial services industry for almost 20 years, and recently returned to Citadel Credit Union as a Senior Financial Advisor after previously working for Citadel for over a decade. Previously, she was a Wealth Advisor at Members 1st Federal Credit Union, and has worked in the past for Thrivent Investment Management, Linsco Private Ledger Financial Corp, and Vanguard Marketing Corporation.
Jen has her Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Valley Forge and holds a Masters in Business Administration from Liberty University. She loves to play volleyball and used to volunteer as a volleyball coach and clinician with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). She is married to her husband Jon and has two sons, Jalen and Justis.
Jessica Behmlander, BSN, RN, SANE
Jessica Behmlander is a registered nurse for the state of Michigan. She currently works as a travel nurse in the Emergency department. Jessica also works as a medical forensic Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) at the Bay Area Women’s Center in Bay City, Michigan. Through her work as a nurse, Jessica has worked with and cared for victims of sex trafficking. She has previously worked as a crisis counselor and social worker for the Bay Area Women’s Center in the children’s department. Her focus as a crisis counselor and social worker was with children, families, and adults who were victimized by sexual exploitation and domestic violence.
Since the coronavirus pandemic started, Jessica has been working in an emergency department; she directly cares for those infected with the coronavirus, as well as various other conditions and diseases. She has seen firsthand how this pandemic has affected people and hopes to help bring knowledge and healing to those impacted by the virus in any capacity.
Jessica is also working with various organizations to ensure screening for human trafficking victims. She has created policies for human trafficking screening protocols and has provided education to healthcare systems, business professionals, and many other avenues within the community. She also works with children who are in the foster care system through mentoring and volunteering at camps. Jessica has a passion to help rescue and restore victims of sexual exploitation and human trafficking.
Stephen Stoeffler, PhD
Stephen W. Stoeffler, PhD, LSW is an associate professor in the Department of Social Work at Kutztown University where he primarily teaches in the policy sequence in the undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral programs. He is the chair of the University’s Commission on Human Diversity, Chair of the Clinical Updates Colloquium which focuses on suicide prevention, and faculty advisor for Social Workers and Advocates at Kutztown. His practice experience includes child welfare, probation and parole, older adult protective services, and family homelessness.
He was the recipient of the 2011 Kristin Bowser Outstanding Young Social Worker Award given by the National Association of Social Workers Pennsylvania Chapter, for his contributions and leadership within the profession of social work. He has held academic appointments specializing in macro-oriented social work practice at Widener University, Temple University, West Chester University, and The University of Valley Forge where he served as the BSW Program Director. His scholarship focuses on poverty, community empowerment, and social justice.
He has published in Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work, Journal of Poverty, Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare, Social Development Issues, Social Work & Christianity, Social Work Education, and elsewhere. He obtained a Ph.D. in Social Work from Widener University, an MSW from Temple University, and a BSW from Shippensburg University in 2004, graduating summa cum laude. He lives in Elizabethtown, PA with his wife and four children.
Ken Lang, PhD
An accomplished and decorated law enforcement professional turned scholar, Dr. Ken Lang brings a critical eye to various aspects of criminal justice in his expert analysis. His 25-years of law enforcement experience, 15 years of violent crime investigation experience, and 13 years of service as a forensic artist have equipped him for his role as an expert in the field. Dr. Lang now educates undergraduate and graduate students and regularly appears as a commentator on the Law & Crime Trial Network. His research and expertise center on police sketches, criminal investigations, and restorative justice processes.
Dr. Lang has a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice from Walden University, an M.S. in Criminal Justice Administration from Columbia Southern University, and a B.S. in Criminal Justice Administration from Columbia Southern University.