Family Care KIDS Staff

Our Staff

For more than 40 years, Christian Family Care (CFC) has partnered with parents, children, staff, and the communities we serve to make a difference in the lives of children. Our mission is to strengthen families and serve children in the name of Jesus Christ.

The staff of Family Care KIDS is committed to these same goals and values. Our team is comprised of loving, nurturing teachers who have a desire to see your child grow and thrive.

Leadership and Experience

Mark Upton

CFC President


Mark is a leading advocate in Arizona for children and families. He joined Christian Family Care in 2007 as the President and Chief Executive Officer. Through God’s guidance and his leadership, Mark has grown CFC to be a $10 million organization serving families and children.   
As a lifelong learner, Mark graduated from San Diego State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business and has completed courses in business, theology, and biblical leadership at Phoenix Seminary, Fuller Seminary, and Harvard Business School.   
Prior to joining CFC, Mark served as the Executive Vice President and Provost of Phoenix Seminary. Today, he serves on the Governor’s Council on Child Safety and Family Empowerment, the Prevention Workgroup of the Council on Child Safety & Family Empowerment, and the Department of Child Safety Community Advisory Committee.  
Mark is a true family man. With his wife of close to 50 years, he enjoys spending time with their three children and 12 grandchildren, four of which were adopted.

Elisa Lake

Assistant Director


I joined the Christian Family Care Family in July 2022 as the assistant director of Family Care KIDS preschool. I have worked in public education for the past 17 years assisting students of different abilities find success.

Two of my favorite things to do is read to children and teach them how to read. Watching a student meet their goals and feel a sense of accomplishment is pure joy!

I moved here from New York 20 years ago with my family and was immediately drawn to the Navajo people. I volunteer on the reservation when I can and enjoy learning about their culture.

Spending time with my three adult children and my 2 cats, also known as my “fur kids” is my favorite thing to do.

Pilar Hernandez



My name is Pilar Hernandez, I am 30 years old and was born and raised in Glendale, Arizona. I am a single Mom to one amazing and energetic young man named Yadi! I have work in early childhood for 5 and half years now.

Most of my experience is with toddlers and two year olds. I just recently earned my CDA in preschool. I am continuing my education through Rio Salado College and hope to earn my Bachelors degree in Early Childhood.

I enjoy going to the movies, hanging out with friends and family, and watching my son play baseball. I hope to see Family Care Kids grow with staff and children. 

Catherine Phillips

Administrative Assistant


I’m a follower of Jesus, wife to an amazing man and a mother of four great kids.

I have always had a love for children and teaching them about Jesus and His love for them. As a young person, I babysat and worked at a day care center. I grew up in Scottsdale and graduated from ASU with a Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education.

Early in my career, I taught 1st grade and 4th grade public school. Throughout the years, I’ve found great joy in teaching and serving at my church with all ages ranging from the nursery to high school girls and also teaching women’s Bible studies. Most recently, I’ve been an assistant director at a preschool and now currently I have the privilege of working at Family Care KIDS in the office. I look forward to how God might continue to use me here with the families that come to our school!

Sarah Grinnell



Hi there! My name is Sarah Grinnell and I graduated from the University of Montana in 2021. Throughout my undergraduate years, I gained experience in childcare while also playing college volleyball! I also have experience with newborns.

I love taking care of God’s children and being around the young lights of the world!

Being apart of their growth and able to experience their milestones is such a sweet blessing. As I work with the children here at Family Care KIDS, I’ll also be pursuing my masters degree in Christian Leadership at Grand Canyon University.

Connie Bruhn



I am a happy wife, mom, and Mama Connie to 18-year-old Sara, who we were blessed with when she was 10. My passion is and always has been with children. I love seeing a child’s eyes light up when they catch onto learning and knowing they can do something new.

My background is in education. I waited five years in between graduating high school and college. I was so ready to go on with life that I completed my college education in three years. Several times I took 24 credits a quarter because my goal was to get back in and go to Brussels, Belgium. When I moved to a small town in Colorado, it meant I opened my own preschool and I homeschooled too.

After moving to Arizona, I helped to develop rules and regulations, curriculum fairs for homeschooling. I am grateful for the opportunity to help children know how precious they are to Jesus.

Sarah-Ann Golden



My name is Sarah-Ann Golden and I’m a teacher in the 2’s classroom at Family Care KIDS. I feel blessed to be in a position where I am able to help guide and teach the children and families we serve. I recently moved to Arizona from Michigan in February after receiving my bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from The University of Michigan- GO BLUE! I have a working background with children of all ages, and I can’t wait to see what God has instore for me this year.

Vanessa Piper



My name is Vanessa Piper. I am 31 years old. I have my Bachelors degree in Psychology. I enjoy working with kids and helping them grow into the person God made them to be! 

I love hiking , snowboarding , rock climbing , going on walks, finding new coffee shops and hanging with friends!


Christian Family Care’s 40 years of experience as an organization is behind Family Care KIDS.

Michael Hunter – Board Chair
Sheila Mengarelli – Vice Chair
Pastor Burke Montoya – Secretary
Bob Stave – Treasurer
Doug Napier – Member at Large
Linda Bowers
Huron Claus
Brad Edson
Bruce Everette
Steve Whiteman
Margie Youngblood

“Teaching is a work of the heart.”