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OUR BOARD OF DIRECTORS

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Episcopal Liaison

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Board Chairman

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Board Vice Chair

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Secretary

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Board Member

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Board Member

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Board Member

Bishop-Thomas

Personal Bio: Bishop Thomas (Joseph) was born in Paterson, New Jersey in 1953. He attended John F. Kennedy High School in Paterson, graduating in 1970. He went on to college at William Paterson College, graduating in 1974. After college, he worked in the Department of Community Improvements in Paterson, then served as a teacher for the Paterson Board of Education.

Church Ministry: Bp. Thomas was recruited by Fr. John Namie to serve as one of the original camp counselors at Antiochian Village from 1979 to 1982. In 1979 he be-gan studies at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary. He continued his studies until the spring of 1983, and on August 28, 1994 he ordained to the priesthood. Bp. Thomas was elevated to the rank of archimandrite, and on December 5, 2004, he was consecrated to the episcopacy in Damascus, Syria. Bishop Thomas was enthroned as Bishop of Oakland and the East at St. George Cathedral in Pittsburgh on May 6, 2005. He has been chair of the Assembly of Bishops Committee for Youth since its inception in 2010.

Educational/Professional Background: August of 2006, Bp. Thomas graduated summa cum laude with a Doctorate in Education from California Coast University. He sits on the editorial board of the journal Christian Bioethics, which is published by Oxford University Press.

Hopes and Prayer for our New Agency: “That it becomes a hospital for our sins, especially those of our youth, and those who have been charged with the responsibility of leading us in the ministering to our youth, God willing,”

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Bishop Thomas
Episcopal Liaison | Charleston, WV

Eric

Parish: St. Mary, Wichita, KS

Jurisdiction: Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America 

Personal Bio: Eric and his wife Tracy reside in Wichita, Kansas. They are blessed with three adult sons and six grandchildren.

 

Church Ministry: Eric serves as President of the Virginia H. Farah Foundation, a private foundation dedicated exclusively to supporting the work of the Orthodox Church. Both as an attorney and a philanthropist, he has assisted hundreds of Orthodox organizations and ministries. He is the founder of Orthodox Ministry Services, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping Orthodox organizations, parishes and ministries improve their operations and effectiveness. He serves on the board of Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry and is a trustee emeritus of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary.

Educational/Professional Background: Eric holds a B.B.A. in Accounting from Wichita State University and a J.D. from the University of Kansas School of Law. He is founder and managing member of Hinkle Law Firm in Wichita, Kansas, and practices in the areas of employee benefits, taxation, tax litigation, and nonprofit law. He is also a Certified Public Accountant, a member of the National Advisory Council of the Wichita State University Endowment Association, and a guest instructor on tax procedure at the University of Kansas School of Law.

Hopes and Prayer for our New Agency: “This agency was unanimously approved by the Assembly of Bishops reflecting their collective commitment to our youth and young adults. With the support and encouragement of the Assembly, this agency will do transformational and unprecedented work to make our Orthodox Faith alive and relevant to the next generation.”

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Eric Namee
Board Chairman | Wichita, KS

Dn-Justin

Parish: Resurrection, Castro Valley, CA

Jurisdiction: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

Personal Bio: Dn. Justin is married to Annmarie, and they have four children ages 12-18. He is deeply involved in the Boy Scouts of America, having served as a den leader, cubmaster, merit badge counselor, and now as District Chair and Council Executive Committee for the Golden Gate Area Council. Dn. Justin is also a Trekkie, as well as a 49ers, Oakland A’s and GS Warriors fan.

Church Ministry: Converted at Resurrection in 2004. He served seven years on the Parish Council, two years as president. Ordained a Deacon April 2021. Member of Leadership 100, Archdiocesan Legal Committee, SF Metropolis Parish Support Team, and the Board of St. Nicholas Ranch and Retreat Center. Also on the Board of FOCUS North America. Currently completing a M.Div. through the Antiochian House of Studies.

Educational/Professional Background: BA from Franciscan University of Steubenville, JD from University of San Francisco. Partner at Kazan, McClain, Satterley & Greenwood, Oakland, CA. Serves on the Board of his firm’s charity Foundation and on the Board of the Alameda County Law Library.

Hopes and Prayer for our New Agency: “That we will be able to work together as an Orthodox Church to assist our parishes in creating vibrant ministry that will result in faithful Orthodox Christians for generations to come. This will have a transformative effect not only on those young people, but on each of their families as well.”

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Dn. Justin Bosl
Board Vice Chairman | Hayward, CA

David

Parish: All Saints, Raleigh, NC

Jurisdiction: Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America

Personal Bio: Pdn. David and his wife, Shell, live in Cary, NC. They have six children, two of whom are married and on their own (but living nearby), and four of whom are in various stages of college and high school. He is an avid reader, and collector of watches.

Church Ministry: Converted with his family at Holy Dormition Orthodox Church (OCA) in Norfolk, VA in 1988. Soon after they moved to North Carolina and became members at All Saints Orthodox Church (AA) in Raleigh. In 2004, he was ordained to the holy diaconate, and was elevated to the rank of protodeacon in 2018.

Educational/Professional Background: BA (1987) Gardner-Webb University, Boiling Springs, NC; JD (1990) Regent University School of Law, Virginia Beach, VA; and LLM (Taxation – 1991) from the Marshall-Wythe School of Law, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA. St. Stephen’s Course, Antiochian House of Studies (2005). Served as a Judicial law clerk in Virginia’s 13th Judicial Circuit. Office of General Counsel for International Family Entertainment, Inc. (1992-1997). In 1998, Pdn. David joined the Legal Division at SAS Institute Inc., where he now serves as Sr. Vice President and General Counsel for Global Corporate Affairs. Serves on the Board of Trustees of Gardner-Webb University, Orthodox Christian Fellow- ship, and T3D Therapeutics, Inc.

Hopes and Prayer for our New Agency: “[That it] will be a vehicle whereby the lives of people  being transformed into images of Christ – our Board members, Agency leadership, Facilitators,  etc. – can be shared with young people, drawing them ever nearer to Christ and His holy  Church.”

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Protodeacon David Keim
Treasurer | Cary, NC

Nick

Parish: Annunciation, Akron, OH

Jurisdiction: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

Personal Bio: Nick has been a business owner 20 years. His first wife died of cancer, but is now married again, to a wonderful, crazy Orthodox convert. They have five kids between them, dozen grandkids, one of which (wife’s) is HCHC grad along with her husband.

Church Ministry: Nick left the church for a decade, but back through prodding of first wife, to the Akron parish, found a home, and never left. Past parish president, festival co-chair, project manager for $1MM parish atrium and $2MM centennial parish improvements which in-cludes 2Ksqft for foodbank program. Currently serves as an archon, member of L100, vice-chair of metropolis council, member of GOA Finance Committee, and project manager for new metropolis center. Longtime financial supporter of Y2AM, Metropolis Summer Camp, OCF, YAL, OVM/Crossroads, Hellenic College – Holy Cross.

Educational/Professional Background: MS in engineering from Case Western Reserve University. Worked as engineer for years, eventually project management and product/process management, mostly for GE Lighting. Served as VP of manufacturing for smaller companies, then purchased small manufacturing company 20 years ago. He has volunteered for over 20 years as an outplacement counselor for the newly unemployed.

Hopes and Prayer for our New Agency: "We are so over-the-top pleased with any/every effort that is made for the sake of our youth, having personally suffered the lack of connection growing up… [we are passionate about] a Christ-centered experience, of Christ-centered faith”
 

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Nick Lekas
Secretary | Hudson, OH

Rev-Nicholas

Rev. Nicholas Belcher
Board Member and Spiritual Advisor | Little Falls, NJ

Parish: St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church 
 
Jurisdiction: Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
 
Church Ministry: Father Nicholas Belcher serves as the pastor of St. George Orthodox Church of Little Falls, New Jersey and the chairman of the Archdiocesan Task Force for Youth and Young Adult Ministry of the Antiochian Archdiocese. Before these assignments, Fr. Nicholas served as the hierarchical assistant for His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph. Previous to his work for the Archdiocese, Fr. Nicholas worked for twelve years at Hellenic College Holy Cross – nine years as the Dean of Students and three years as the Assistant director of the Office of Vocation & Ministry and director of CrossRoad.
 
Education/Professional Background: He is a graduate of The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, and Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary – where he now serves as a Lecturer in Antiochian Liturgics.
 
Hopes and Prayers for our New Agency: My prayer for OYM is that we are catalyst for a broader reinvigoration of our parishes and families. This ministry cannot exist in its own vacuum, offering programs disconnected from the everyday lives of our young people. To really bring youth and young adults to the fullness of the measure and stature of Christ, to borrow St. Paul's words, they need loving families and communities to support and nurture them, model the Christian life for them, and walk them through their joys and sorrows. In other words, all of us will all find Christ in the proverbial lake together.

 

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Neno

Parish: Holy Resurrection Cathedral, Chicago, IL

Jurisdiction: Serbian Orthodox Church in North, Central, and South America 

Personal Bio: Neno lives in Park Ridge, Illinois. He is a single father to an amazing 7-year old girl, and counts himself fortunate to have a wonderful and supportive large extended family. In his spare time, he is a FAA-certificated private pilot and enjoys flying around the Midwest in his Cessna 172. His favorite sports teams are the Chicago Bulls and the Chicago Fire.

Church Ministry: Baptized and raised at Holy Resurrection Cathedral, his current parish. As a child he served in the altar, read the epistle, and later taught Sunday School. He also served as President of the Board of Trustees of St. Sava Academy. Neno has helped the church and bishops in various capacities, including with communications and governmental outreach.

Educational/Professional Background: BA in political science from George Washington University (2002), and Masters level courses at the University of London. From 2007 he has worked in the insurance and risk management field, earning Certificates in Risk Management and as an Insurance Counselor. Currently serving as Director for Business Development at Origin Specialty Underwriters. He serves as Chairman of the Eastern European Community Engagement Council.

Hopes and Prayer for our New Agency: “To me, if we begin programs that impact young people directly, positively, bring them spiritual joy, give them sustenance in an often confusing world – that is the key to sustainable growth and fruitful ministry as it will expand over time, one meaningful encounter at a time.”

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Neno Djordjevic
Board Member | Park Ridge, IL

Jacob

Parish: St. Elias Orthodox Church, Atlanta, Georgia

Jurisdiction: Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America

Personal Bio: Jacob Ferris grew up in Wichita, KS and since 2018 has resided in Atlanta, GA. Personal interests include golf, tennis, sporting events, hiking, and traveling.

Church Ministry: Baptized at St. Mary Orthodox Church in Wichita, KS. As a youth was actively involved in christian youth programs such as Sunday school, summer church programs, and weekly youth events. Volunteer time through working at church festivals, led college volunteer project at Saint Nicholas Orthodox Church in Lawrence, KS, and actively engaging with local clergy.

Educational/Professional Background: Bachelors of Science in Business Degree from The University of Kansas (2018) with a double major in Finance and Information Systems. Jacob is currently a Corporate Development Investment Associate at Georgia-Pacific LLC, a leading manufacturer of consumer products, paper based packaging, and building products. In this role he is focused on the execution of M&A transactions as well as other strategic projects. Prior roles include positions as a Business Valuation Associate at BDO USA, LLP and Investment Banking Analyst at Truist Securities. 

Hopes and Prayer for our New Agency: “Sustain the current population of Orthodox youth and young adults in their faith and create a unified mission for youth and young adult ministry that will grow the Orthodox Church”

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Jacob Ferris
Board Member | Atlanta, GA

Tassos

Parishes: Assumption, Scottsdale, AZ; and Holy Cross Belmont, CA

Jurisdiction: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

Personal Bio: Tassos grew up in Chicago and currently lives, with his wife and three boys, in the Scottsdale, AZ area. They are all huge Chicago Cubs fans and generally love most Chicago teams (maybe not the White Sox). They have an incredible extended family still in Chicago and are very committed to their relationships with them. The Gianakakos family loves to eat out and travel when-ever they can.

Church Ministry: Tassos grew up in the St. Demetrios Chicago Church – Altar Boy, Sunday school, Greek School – and has been on the Holy Cross Belmont Parish Council since 2014. Katina grew up in the St. John’s Des Plains and St. Nectarios Palatine communities and was Vice President of the Greek School.

Educational/Professional Background:  Tassos has an engineering and economics degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a graduate degree in biotechnology from Northwestern University, and an MBA from Harvard Business School. Since starting in vaccine research at Merck & Co. over 20 years ago, Tassos has started-up multiple biotechnology companies. Most recently, Tassos was CEO of MyoKardia.

Hopes and Prayer for our New Agency: “Our children are experiencing incredible challenges, confronted with darkness at every turn. They need the light that is Christ and Orthodoxy to be bright within them.”

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Tassos Gianakakos
Board Member | Scottsdale, AZ

Melissa

Parish: St. George, Houston, Texas

Jurisdiction: Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America 

Personal Bio: Melissa and her husband have two adult daughters, two beloved sons-in-law, and five grandchildren who all live within just a few blocks of them. Most of their time is spent with them, playing golf and tennis, sharing meals, and just being together. Melissa is also a dedicated power lifter. Church Ministry: The whole family was baptized in Houston, some at St. George and some at St. Joseph. Their main involvement has been in starting The Saint Constantine School, where Melissa is still active as vice chairman of the board. Her husband is currently board chair.

Educational/Professional Background: Melissa has undergraduate degrees from Iowa State, a master’s from Creighton, and a doctorate from Rice, all in history, as well as a J.D. from the University of Iowa. She recently retired after thirty years at Rice, the last fifteen with an appointment as Centennial Historian. She’s still an active researcher and writer in her academic area, the history of American higher education.

Hopes and Prayer for our New Agency: “I hope to give our children the strength they will need to survive as Christians in a world that attacks that faith from all directions.”

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Melissa Kean
Board Member | Houston, TX

Patrick

Parish: St. Herman of Alaska, Fairbanks, AK

Jurisdiction: Orthodox Church in America

Personal Bio: Except for three years in southern Oregon, Sbdn. Patrick (Jeremy) has lived in Alaska his entire life. He and his wife Jasmine have been married for 16 years and they have two daughters, ages 14 and 12. He is Senior Vice President/Commercial Loan Manager at Mt. McKinley Bank headquartered in Fairbanks. His hobbies include golfing, spending time with family at their lake property, and refereeing basketball.

Church Ministry: For the past decade Sbdn. Patrick has served on the Diocesan Council of the Diocese of Alaska, and recently completed two terms as the lay representative for the Diocese of Alaska on the Metropolitan Council of the Orthodox Church in America. He was blessed to serve as a Subdeacon by Bishop Innocent in 1998, later being ordained a Subdeacon by Bishop Nikolai.

Educational/Professional Background: Sbdn. Patrick graduated from the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 2005 with a degree in Russian Studies and a minor in Criminal Justice. He has worked in banking for 20 years (15 years at his current employer). He was selected as a “Top 40 under 40” by the Alaska Journal of Commerce, as well as “Top 40 Under 40” by the Independent Banker in 2020. Sbdn. Patrick recently graduated from the Pacific Coast Banker’s School, a masters level program for bankers facilitated through the University of Washington.

Hopes and Prayer for our New Agency: “With two young daughters, I’m very interested in anything that can help our youth engage and stay engaged in the church. There are a number of siloed resources that don’t cross over jurisdictions. I’m very hopeful that the efforts of this agency will help us unify our ministry to youth and young adults.”
 

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Subdeacon Patrick (Jeremy) Pletnikoff
Board Member | Fairbanks, AK

Anne

Parish: St. Stephen the Protomartyr, Long Wood, Florida.

Jurisdiction: Diocese of the South of the Orthodox Church in America

Personal Bio:  Anne is married to Egerton and lives in Orlando, Florida.  She and Egerton have six grown children and four grand-children.

Church Ministry:  Anne has been the warden of her parish council off an on since 1989, headed several parish capital campaigns, and worked with youth as a Sunday school teacher, Youth Group Leader, and Camp Director.  She also served on the Board of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, serving on and chairing the Advancement and Trusteeship Committees.

Educational/Professional:  Anne graduated from Duke University with a B.A. in Linguistics and a subsequent J.D.  She returned to work ten years ago after taking 25 years off to raise her children and became a partner in the law firm of Marchena & Graham, P.A. She has a general business practice and also practices in trusts and estate planning.

Hopes and Prayers: "That OYM will develop and deploy the resources for our youth to find that the God shaped hole in their hearts can be filled by the God revealed in the Orthodox Church."

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Anne van den Berg
Board Member | Orlando, FL

FrStephen

Parish: Christ the Saviour Orthodox Church

Jurisdiction: Orthodox Church in America (OCA)

Personal Bio: Fr. Stephen Vernak currently lives in Pennsylvania, but is a native of New Jersey. He and his wife Anna are blessed with four children, ranging from 11 to 18 years of age.

Church Ministry: Growing up in a Priestly home, his entire upbringing centered around the life of the Church. Before attending seminary, he served on parish council, taught Sunday School, and served in various ministries. He was ordained to the Diaconate in 2006, and to the Priesthood in 2007. After graduation from St. Tikhon Seminary he was assigned to the community he still serves. He currently serves on the board of Orthodox Christian Charities of Greater Harrisburg (OCCGH); Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF); Thriving in Ministry; and the OCA Office of Pastoral Life. He also serves as President of the Orthodox Council of Churches of South Central PA (OCCSCP).

Educational/Professional Background: BS from the University of Vermont (1999); St. Tikhon Orthodox Theological Seminary (2007). Before ordination he worked as an administrator at Manor Management Services, a company who managed senior housing properties in Alaska, Washington, and Oregon.

Hopes and Prayer for our New Agency: “My hope is that OYM will facilitate connectivity between our various Orthodox jurisdictions – so that our clergy, youth workers, and youth and young adults will realize a more cohesive effort, in our common goal: To encounter Christ, embody His Church, and engage the world in His name.”

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Fr. Stephen Vernak
Board Member | Harrisburg, PA

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