Meet Our U.S. Staff
Chief Community Officer
Chief Administrative Officer
Taiwo “TK” Ilesanmi
African Director of Common Ground
Meet Our Board of Directors
As a university student, Jerry Heffel entered a business internship program with the Southwestern Company that proved to be the beginning of a 42 year career with the publishing company founded in 1855 in Nashville, TN. The last 27 of those years Jerry served as President of the company. During that tenure the company grew and expanded internationally.
A leader in the direct selling industry, he has served as Board Chairman of the Washington DC based Direct Selling Association and has been inducted into the DSA Hall of Fame. He has also chaired the 501-c3 Direct Selling Education Foundation.
Mr. Heffel has always had a passion for building character in young people coupled with a strong commitment to education, both formal and experiential. He has served on a number of boards of educational institutions including Belmont University, Brentwood Academy and Oak Hill School. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at the Vanderbilt Owen School of Business.
He has been an active supporter of the Nashville community providing leadership in the United Way and Better Business Bureau.
Mr. Heffel earned a BA from Oklahoma State University where he has been designated an Outstanding Distinguished Alumni. He holds an MBA from the University of Oklahoma and an Honorary Doctorate from Central Penn College.
Currently he serves as Board Chairman of African Leadership Inc. and frequently travels to the African continent. Jerry and his wife Sonnie live in the greater Nashville area. He is an investor who spreads his time between TN, FL and OK where he raises Angus cattle.
VICKI HUNTER ASKEW
Vicki is a self-driven, business development executive with extensive experience growing and maintaining the client base for professional service firms and corporations. Her background includes success in designing and implementing client and people development processes through training, coaching and mentoring.
She specializes in Business development strategies and implementation; client retention strategies; relationship development; training, mentoring and coaching others on business development/client retention skills.
Vicki has served as a consultant to the YMCA of Middle TN, Habitat of Williamson County, Deloitte, BDO/Canada, Miller & Martin LLP, Stites & Harbison PLC, Regions/Union Planters Bank, LBMC, RegionalCare Hospital Partners, Kraft CPAs, and the State of Tennessee, Department of Economic Development.
She and her husband Fred reside in Brentwood. They have 2 grown children.
Since she was a teenager in Indianapolis, Jane Failey Carroll has felt drawn to the people of Africa. As a student at Vanderbilt University, Jane continued to pray for and support friends and others who were ministering throughout Africa while she herself worked with children and families in Nashville's struggling neighborhoods.
After graduating, she married Carlyle Carroll and spent many years being involved in church activities and acting as a busy mom of four. In 2006, Jane took three of their children on a three week trip around Kenya to visit various missionaries, a clinic, and an orphanage. While there, Jane was convinced that the structure that African Leadership uses -- strengthening local church leaders and supporting them as they help their communities -- is the best way to affect Africans for good and for the long haul. She has since traveled back to Kenya and South Africa, as have her now grown children who are involved in various missional activities. Jane is also one of the founding Fabulous Friends for Africa.
Brent Hoppe is a Certified Public Account with over 30 years in the health care industry, most of which were spent with HCA working on mergers and acquisitions. A graduate of Baylor University, Brent has been a member of Brentwood Baptist Church for 34 years and served in numerous leadership roles: chairman, trustee, deacon, Sunday school teacher, member of the stewardship team, and several others.
Now retired, Brent likes to travel and focus on short-term mission opportunities. He and his wife, Mildred Ann, have been married for over 45 years and have three sons and seven grandchildren
Eddy Messick is the former President of African Leadership and is currently the President Emeritus serving as an Executive Advisor for Pastor Training. Eddy is originally from Oklahoma and graduated from The University of Central Oklahoma with a B.A. In Business, then did his Masters of Business Administration courses at Oklahoma State University and a Masters in Education at Tennessee State University. Along with a 35 year business career in banking, publishing, real estate and music, he has worked with African Leadership, Inc. in the non-profit world for over 12 years, served as Worship and Youth Pastor at four Baptist churches in Oklahoma, Tennessee, and South Carolina and is an ordained minister. As an administrator and instructor, he served as Dean of Students and taught Old and New Testament at Franklin Road Academy in Nashville, Tennessee. Eddy and his wife, Becky, live in Brentwood, Tennessee and he is involved in many facets of church work there including teaching and serving in missions.
REVEREND WILLIAM MUGFORD
Bill Mugford has served as a Senior and Associate Pastor in multi-denominational settings in the United States and Canada, radio and television speaker/host, adjunct college educator, liaison to government, journal author and substantive editor of the Encyclopedia of Christian Worship, and founder of the Philip Aziz Centre for Hospice and Palliative Care, Toronto, Canada. In occasional roles as church consultant and seminar speaker, Bill has broadened his experience and served the larger church.
Bill has been serving at Saddleback Valley Community Church in Lake Forest, California since August 2011 alongside Rick and Kay Warren as program visionary, director and primary educator/trainer to build a global/local HIV&AIDS Initiative that ministers to people living with HIV&AIDS and their friends and families in Orange County and surrounding counties in California.
Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Bill met Rose - his Italian-born sweetheart, spouse and ministry partner of 33 years - in Toronto, Canada. They have two married children and Fenway, a gregarious Maine Coon kitten who lives to play tag, hide-and-seek and snag flying objects off the wall like an outfielder.
Bill loves music of all kinds and plays competitive sports; is a railroad steam-engine aficionado and train collector; and hunts and collects fossils as an amateur paleontologist.
Over and above all, Bill's life has been and is dedicated to presenting Jesus Christ, the Hope of the World.
Jim O’Donnell spent 30 years at ConAgra Foods, Inc., where he rose to become Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Corporate Secretary. Prior to that, he was Manager of Cash and Banking Operations for Borden, Inc., and a Commercial Banker with First National Bank of Cincinnati. Throughout his career, Mr. O’Donnell has served on numerous corporate and nonprofit boards. He currently is Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Williamson College and a Board Member of African Leadership, Inc. He holds a B.S. in Finance and Economics from the University of Kentucky and an M.B.A. from Xavier University. Jim and his wife Pam live in Franklin, TN and are the parents of three sons.
Pete Rathbun is General Counsel of American Bible Society and Immediate Past President of the Christian Legal Society. A graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, Mr. Rathbun has counseled nonprofit religious organizations for over 20 years, first in private practice and now in-house. Prior to law school, he spent 15 years in corporate IT management in California. Mr. Rathbun and his wife Peggy now reside in New Jersey and are members of an Evangelical Free Church.
Pete plans to retire from American Bible Society mid to late 2017 with his wife’s full support.
Clement Aderemi Saseun is currently the Director of Quality Assurance for DineEquity, Inc. (the parent company of Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill and International House of Pancake - IHOP). Since coming from his homeland, Nigeria in 1982, he earned B.S. degrees in Agricultural Science, Foods and Nutrition, a Masters in Food Science and an advance degree in Business Management. Dr. Saseun is very active in several Food Science professional organizations such as the Institute of Food Technologists (with a designation of Certified Food Scientist), Food Safety Summit Professional and The American Society of Quality. He has also served as the Chairman of the Southern California Section of the Institute of Food Technologists and the Chairman of the organization’s By-Laws Committee.
In 1989 he joined the African Christian Fellowship (ACF) where he has served in various capacities in the Southern California Chapter as the Secretary, Financial Secretary, Vice President and President of the Chapter. He has also served as the Secretary of the West Region of ACF, and finally on the ACF National Board of Directors as Director of Membership.
He served for several years on the Board of Director of Global Missions International (as the Chairman) and on the Board of Director of The Institute of Biblical Ministries.
Recalling the words of Prophet Isaiah: “And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shall raise up of many generations; and thou shall be called, The Repairer of the breach, The Restorer of paths to dwell in” (Isaiah 58:12), Clement is a passionate believer that African Christians in the diasporas have a huge responsibility not only in giving back to the home land, but also in building (and rebuilding) the broken walls of the continent. To this end, he supports several ministries on the continent, especially in the Franco-phone Central African Republic.
Clement lives with his wife of 31 years, Catherine Oluremi in Rancho Cucamonga, California. They are blessed with three grown up children Christopher Adekunle, Christine Aderonke and Charles Ademola.
Travis is a Professional Engineer and Associate Project Manager with Littlejohn Engineering Associates in Nashville, Tenn. He provides engineering design and management services for a broad range of commercial, residential, institutional, medical and public infrastructure projects throughout the US. His work in urban planning, transportation and site development has allowed him to serve as the founding Chairman of Transit Now Nashville, a member of the Young Leaders group of the Urban Land Institute, and as a Board Member of the Transit Alliance of Middle Tennessee. Travis is also an alumnus of Nashville Emerging Leaders.
Travis earned his Bachelor of Engineering at Vanderbilt University in 2003. Upon graduation, he served as a campus pastor at Vanderbilt with Every Nation Campus Ministries. He is the founding Chairman of Know Think Act (KTA) and has spent the past eight years empowering local leaders in Africa who are working to end extreme poverty in their communities. Travis resides in Brentwood, Tenn. with his wife and two daughters. He attends Bethel Community Church in Franklin, Tenn. where he plays drums and teaches in the children’s ministry.