Dr. Graham Sweeney, Chairman
Graham is Chairman of the Board for Agape Asia Foundation. He presently serves as Superintendent of Schools for the Boles Independent School District in Quinlan, Texas. A native of Detroit, Michigan, Graham is a graduate of Abilene Christian University with Masters degree in Education, as well as Doctorate in Education from Texas A&M University, Commerce. He has served at Boles for over 30 years and has been in education arena for more than 42 years. Graham serves as the president on numerous boards including: the Greenville Chamber of Commerce, the Texas Rural Education Association, the STAR of Texas (Student Transfer Access Rural Texas), the Dallas Metroplex Red Cross, the Greenville Rotary International, and the Loan Star Credit Union. Graham is married to Laura and they have two adult children, and two grandchildren.
John is the Secretary/Treasurer of the Board for Agape Asia Foundation. John has broad base experience in environmental/public health arena and venture capital investing. He holds a B.S. in Biology, an M.S. in Industrial Management as well as post graduate studies at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. Upon completing his academic endeavors, he was employed in numerous technical positions as an environmental & manufacturing professional for both public and private sectors. Recently John has transitioned to investing in venture capital and private placement endeavors. He has been appointed as a technical advisor and board member for several start-up companies and investment groups. John currently resides in Rochester Hills, Michigan. He has traveled extensively to over 50 international destinations and has participated in various U.S. and international Christian missions traveling as part of a team as well as individually – including a journey in March 2015 to the China orphanages in the Agape Asia network.
Christy Hesslen is a career educator and lives in Greenwood, Arkansas. She has a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education from the University of Arkansas and a master’s degree in Secondary Education from Arkansas Tech University. Christy serves as Secondary Instructional Facilitator for grades 7-12 in Greenwood, serving on the Leadership Team and Right to Intervention Team at each campus. She holds various professional licenses and certificates, including an Arkansas Educator’s License in English Language Arts, Gifted and Talented, and PRAXIS III assessor. Christy has been married to her husband Kevin for 27 years. Also an educator, he serves as the Assistant Superintendent for the Greenwood School District. They have two married daughters and a son who is a senior in high school.
David Jenkins recently retired from his own construction management company, a field he worked in most of his life. He is a graduate of Abilene Christian University. He and his wife Marla have been married for 43 years and have 4 children and 4 grandchildren. In the past, he served as a board member of HUG (Humanity United in Giving Internationally), an NGO working primarily in orphanages and group homes in Romania. During that time, he led teams of Americans to Romania assisting state employees as well as paid HUG staff in training and improved child care methods. A few years of this volunteer work led David and Marla to adopt two teenage girls from an orphanage in Russia. Both girls have now completed college. One has completed a Masters degree in Social Work and is employed in that field. The other is married and working full time. Recently after several years working as a volunteer David joined the board of directors for India Discipleship Network (IDN). David has a heart for missions and especially hurting children and plans to dedicate his retirement years to such efforts.
Julia served as Managing Director of our China Mission from Jan 2014 until August 2019. Prior to this, she had 30 years of experience in the finance and accounting area, her last 19 years in the industrial gases business, first with the BOC Group plc and later with the German-listed Linde AG Group as Regional Finance Director for Asia Joint Ventures and Finance Director, Global Electronics. A Singaporean by birth, Julia graduated with Bachelor of Accountancy (Honors) in 1983 in Singapore and obtained an MBA (Distinction) in 1993 in Manchester Business School in the UK. She has lived in Hong Kong for the last 22 years and traveled extensively on business to China and the rest of Asia.
Dr. Kecia Ray
Dr. Ray’s career includes designing technology within the Frist Center for the Visual Arts and directing technology research through Vanderbilt University School of Medicine Science Outreach programs. As a district administrator for Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, she led the award-winning design, implementation, and evaluation of instructional technology programs including instructional design for online and blended learning environments, redesigning physical learning environments, establishing the virtual high school, and redefining school libraries. Dr. Ray is published and recognized internationally for her work in online and blended learning as well as flexible learning environments. Dr. Ray is a member of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) and is past president of the ISTE Board of Directors. Dr. Ray also serves on the board of eLearn Institute and the board of Learning Bird Inc. In 2015, she was invited to serve on a US Department of Education technical working group focused on evaluating education technology. She is a four-time recipient of the Presidents Volunteer Service Award and the ISTE lifetime achievement ‘Making IT Happen’ Award. Dr. Ray was named ’20 to Watch’ by the National School Board Association, Woman of the Year by the National Association of Professional Women, one of the top 10 EdTech Leaders by Tech and Learning magazine, and most recently named a Top 100 EdTech Influencer by EdTech Digest. She is an instructor at Johns Hopkins University in the Graduate School of Education and after leading the Center for Digital Education for three years, she now leads a leadership community forum, K20Connect and other passion projects.
Dan was born in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and lived there 42 years before moving to the Washington, DC, area. He and his wife Angie have 6 children from ages 38 to 18. Dan attended Western Christian College in Saskatchewan, Canada, and continued his education in trade school. He owns a plumbing business with over 200 employees and has been in the construction business for the past 40 years. He has served on many construction associated boards and Christian school boards along the way.
Steve is a professor of Mass Communications at Harding University. He started his career in Little Rock where he was a news photographer for KATV Channel 7. He also owned and operated a photography studio and advertising agency there. Steve went on to be the director of public relations at the University of the Ozarks before moving back to his hometown area of Chicago. In Chicago, Steve worked in the printing and direct marketing industry. In 2002 he created Image Marketing & Communications, an integrated marketing communications consultancy firm. In addition to teaching advertising and public relations classes he also teaches an ESL level communication principles class for Chinese students. During the summers since 2010, Steve has been a visiting professor in China at Universities in Hengyang, Wuhan, Xi’an, Guangzhou, Changsha and Zhuhai. He has hundreds of Chinese former students that have welcomed him into their lives and homes throughout China. Steve continues to be a mentor and a family-away-from-home for his Harding Chinese students. His students gave him the Chinese nickname Xie Yeye, which means, “Thanks Grandpa.” You can read about his travels to China on his blog, www.yeyegoestochina.com. Steve is currently a member of the International Association of Business Communicators-Arkansas, the Publicity Club of Chicago, The Chicago Association of Direct Marketing, a member of the Roosevelt University Alumni Board of Governors. He has also served as a board member and secretary for The Windy City Habitat for Humanity. He has a long list of professional awards and accomplishments, including recognition as a Distinguished Toastmaster, “Outstanding Young Man of America,” DMA awards and way back when, he was the Arkansas Collegiate Press Association’s “Photographer of the Year.” He is currently an elder at the Downtown Church of Christ in Searcy, Arkansas, and previously served as an elder at the Naperville Church of Christ in Naperville, Illinois. Steve has been married to his wife Donna for 43 years. They have two sons both of whom are married. They are also delighted to have four grandchildren (three boys and one girl).