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 the desire to see your child grow and thrive.


Leadership and Experience

Mark Upton

CFC President

Experience

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.

Amanda Bragole

Director

Family Care KIDS Director

Experience

Lexie Bryk

Assistant Director

Family Care KIDS Assistant Director

Experience

Hi! My name is Lexie Bryk and I just got married to my Godly husband at the beginning of 2023. God has always been the center of my life, and now it gets to be the center of my marriage as well! 

Being able to spread the word of God to children as young as six months old is such a blessing to me, especially if school is the only place they hear the gospel. I am currently teaching in the infant room and love every second spent with the children. 

Having many years of childcare experience, I also have a bachelor’s degree in Social Work with two minors: disability studies and sociology. I have worked within the child welfare system for many years as well. 

Jeremiah 29:11

Catherine Phillips

Enrollment Specialist

Family Care KIDS Administrator

Experience

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 daycare 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 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!

Connie Bruhn

Teacher

Family Care KIDS Teacher Connie

Experience

Born in Nebraska, BA degree 4.0 earned in Minneapolis in three years with 25 credits a semester and began my first work just a couple of months later in Brussels, Belgium as an editor in Education. 

My three years at the International Correspondence Institute were spent editing, writing sections in Bible courses, computer entries, and adding artwork. I met with each author who came from around the world and learned from them. These completed books then went out into many countries so students could get their degrees without leaving their countries. 

During that time, I began at a Children’s Church in Brussels and often had 35-51 children attending. These kids ranged in age from three to 12 years old. I traveled all over Europe and taught children of the missionaries during a spring missions break in Madrid Spain. Developed VBS programs here in USA in several states and was Director of VBS here in Phoenix for 12 years.  Developed our Home School movement here in Phoenix from the beginning to end of the 1990s and taught in a small charter school which our son, Aaron, graduated from. He was joined at the graduation ceremony with 50 other Homeschoolers.  He has his graduation certificate signed by the State of Arizona.  Married, one son, Aaron, and daughter-in-law, Kori. My step-granddaughter, Sara, from a previous marriage, is 21 and now busy working with autistic children in the state of Wisconsin. Met my husband in Colorado on a blind date, he proposed on the Monday after and we will celebrate 44 years together this July.

Thrive on being with children in the classrooms, and at play and seem to have many grandkids experiences this way.  Currently, in the Infant classroom, I have been learning all I can from the sweet babies. Any future plans will always include children and helping edit College Courses for students who cannot leave their countries to get their degrees, Global University. I have no agenda to be anywhere else. Experiences learning English (for editing purposes, French, Swahili, and how to order food and where to stay in 12 different countries. 

Sarah Grinnell

Teacher

Family Care KIDS Teacher Sarah

Experience

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 a part 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 master’s degree in Christian Leadership at Grand Canyon University.

Eileen Wixon

Teacher

Family Care KIDS Teacher Eileen

Experience

I am a mom to two kids who are now grown and a grandma to four wonderful grandkids. I love to find joy and laughter through life. 

I have been doing childcare for over 30 years; 23 of those years were spent providing childcare out of my own home. I have a joy for helping others always have since I was a young girl, which led me to childcare. I am nurturing and love to help children accomplish milestones. 

Lindsay German

Teacher

Family Care KIDS Teacher Lindsay

Experience

My name is Lindsay German and I am extremely excited to be a member of the Family Care KIDS community! My heart for Early Childhood Education developed as I grew up participating in my mother’s Southern California ECE classroom. When I sought higher education at Sonoma State University in Northern California, I found my “home away from home” at The Children’s School located on campus. The Children’s School team fostered my professional ECE career for nine years, teaching me to support and appreciate the growth of the whole child (social, emotional, physical, cognition, etc.). I earned a degree in Human Development and Early Childhood Education. I then transitioned into a role as an Early Intervention Specialist, partnering with families of children who were striving to achieve targeted developmental skills. I married my husband Joe in 2016. I became a Quality First ECE Coach with Southwest Human Development, supporting schools around the valley to reach their program improvement goals. God placed conviction on the hearts of me and Joe to pour out our love and support to families in need by becoming foster parents. We obtained our foster care license in the summer of 2022. The missional work and connection Family Care KIDS has with Christian Family Care is what motivated me to join the team as a Teacher in March 2023. I look forward to witnessing how God will move and be glorified through the relationships built at Family Care KIDS. 

Vicki Fellars

Teacher

Family Care KIDS Teacher Vicki

Experience

Hi, my name is Vicki Fellars. I began working with infants on June 5, 2023. I’ve worked in the childcare field for 42 years. I knew at the age of 12 that my calling from God was to work in infant care. I’m currently married to my husband Michael for over 42 years. We have two children and two grandchildren. I’m honored to be chosen to be an infant room teacher here at Family Care KIDS.

Samantha Bernard

Teacher

Family Care KIDS Teacher Samantha

Experience

Hi! My name is Samantha. I graduated from Arizona Christian University in 2023 with a degree in child development and a minor in biblical studies. For the longest time, I volunteered in children’s ministry and then I interned and worked for a church in college. During that period, I was blessed with the opportunity to help them start their special education services. I also have the amazing blessing of being able to get married in

December of 2023. God has truly placed a calling on my life to help children and families who are struggling and show them that healing is available. In the fall of 2024, I hope to start my master’s in marriage and family therapy where I can continue to do God’s work with families.

Julia Alvarez

Teacher

Family Care KIDS Teacher Julia

Experience

My name is Julia Alvarez, I never want to be the kind of Christian who portrays themselves as perfect. I have flaws and I have struggles, that’s why I need Jesus. But the longer the tea bag sits in the cup, the stronger the tea. The longer we sit in God’s Word, the stronger our faith. And that starts with having a firm foundation. First Christian Church is my home church, my foundation. During my time at First Christian Church, I’ve been involved with youth and children’s ministry. Planting the seed. I’ve also been part of the worship ministry going on four years. It’s an amazing experience to feel Gods presence in the room through other people. Working at Family Care KIDS has been a great experience. I’m able to grow in my faith as well as love children the way Jesus loves us. Serving God and His kingdom is my purpose and working at Family Care KIDS. Getting to introduce them to who God is and to help the children feel safe, heard, seen, and loved. I’m excited to see how God uses me here in my season with Family Care KIDS.

Sharon King

Teacher

Experience

Hello! My name is Sharon King, and I am blessed to be a young toddler teacher at Family Care KIDS. I grew up in Virginia and lived in “The South” until moving to Arizona several years ago. I have three amazing children and two wonderful grandchildren. I have been an educator for many years, working in Tennessee school systems, and as an owner of a Preschool Center. I have worked as a Job Development Coordinator for adults with developmental disabilities and have worked in the Insurance Industry. Though I have enjoyed many jobs through the years, my passion is teaching and working with young children. I consider my job as a teacher at Family Care KIDS to be a personal mission in sharing God’s love and light to the children entrusted to us.

Eva Avila

Teacher

Experience

Hello! My name is Eva, and I am the oldest of three sisters. Since childhood, I have wanted to be a teacher, which is why my bachelor’s and master’s degrees led me to this beautiful profession. I did all my studies in Mexico and when I finished my degree in education I had to work in a city 12 hours away from my family. There I met my husband, and we are now celebrating nine years of happy marriage. I worked for 11 years in elementary education, and most of those years focused on first and second-grade children. It is a privilege but also a great responsibility to work with children because you can make a difference for them. I have always kept in mind that his parents chose me to take care of his most precious treasure and as such, I have the responsibility to help in the best way in his growth: doing it as Christ would do.

Kasia Krone

Teacher

Experience

Karen Tish

Teacher

Experience

Julianne Hines

Teacher

Experience

Darwin Diaz

Teacher

Experience

I have my Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a Minor in Counseling and started my career serving others during my time in college as I worked with children and families with developmental disabilities and further developed my experience through mentoring youth in the foster care system. Upon graduating, I taught third grade for a year before getting back into social work by becoming a Parent Aide to help supervise visits between children and their biological parents as well as working on skill-building lessons and counsel.

Beyond this, I then worked at CFC as a mentor coordinator to train volunteers on how to work with youth in the foster care system with the aim of recruiting compassionate individuals who reflect the love of Christ and briefly helped supervise other volunteer programs. In an attempt to reconnect with the student population, I recently served as a Student Service Advisor at a local university providing financial advice and student resources needed for their success. I have missed working directly with the youth and look forward to being in a position where I can make a direct impact on children’s lives as well as their families and friends once again.

Marissa Parks

Teacher

Female Silhouette

Experience

Hey there! My name is Marissa Parks. I am graduating from Grand Canyon University in April of 2024 with a major in Justice Studies and a minor in Forensic Psychology. Throughout my undergraduate, I have gained experience in foster care and childcare advocacy working as an intern with Christian Family Care. I find great joy in caring for God’s children and being able to have an influence on them at such a young age is truly the greatest blessing.

Tate Shimon

Teacher

Female Silhouette

Experience

Brandi Ray

Teacher

Experience

Diana Galvan

Teacher

Experience


MEET THE CHRISTIAN FAMILY CARE
BOARD OF DIRECTORS

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.”

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