Executive Director and Founder
Matt founded Partners in Hope in 2011 while working as a pastor in the Lake Travis-area, after seeing the need for a ministry dedicated to reaching those suffering from social isolation. For Matt, ministry has always involved taking the church outside the walls to people in the community and beyond. He understands the power of connecting people to community and resources so that they will experience the love of Christ.
Matt served in a pastoral role for 20 years at five different churches. Before being called to ministry, he worked in the electrical, mechanical, and petroleum fields. He has a bachelor’s degree in political science, a master’s in public administration, and a master’s in Christian education. God has brought all of his work, ministry, and educational experience together in Partners in Hope. In 2020, Matt self-published Unexpected Connections, where he shares his journey, the history of Partners in Hope, and lessons he’s learned along the way.
Matt has been married to Cynthia since 1993, and they have two grown children they love. After living in a number of cities for work, Matt moved back to Austin (the town where he was born) in 2002. He loves spending time outdoors — admiring creation, hiking a trail, or building something.
“Trust in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.” — Psalm 37: 3-6
B.J. (Bruce) Rogers
B.J. (Bruce) Rogers
Ministry Director –
Cedar Park/Leander (CPL)
B.J. is our first ministry director for Cedar Park/Leander, a new service area for PIH. He is developing new partnerships with churches, schools, and other community organizations, while also recruiting volunteers and working with families who need PIH services.
B.J. comes to PIH with a strong background in ministry. Prior to his new role as a Ministry Director at Partners In Hope-Texas, B. J. served in multiple roles and countries for 16 years with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA). Before the BGEA, B.J. served for twenty years as a pastor, most recently for nine years as Senior Pastor of Asbury Church in Corpus Christi, Texas.
B.J. is married to Lynn and they will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary in 2023. They are the parents to two adult children and have five beautiful grandchildren. He enjoys beekeeping, camping and woodworking.
“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” — John 3:17
Ministry Director –
Lake Travis (LT)
Carissa is the Ministry Director for Lake Travis. She coordinates with local ministry and church partners to identify members of our community who are struggling with isolation and need support with living conditions.
Carissa graduated from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor (go cru!) with a bachelor’s degree in social work and soon after completed her master’s through Texas State University. She started her career with the Local Mental Health Authority in Williamson County, working with children and families navigating tough times. Through that work the Lord has grown her passion to serve the community in which she lives.
Carissa is a newlywed! She was married in November of 2022 to her husband, Kevin. When not working you can find her traveling, playing board games, spending time outside, or trying out a local coffee shop.
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” — Ephesians 4:32 ESV”
Community Connections Manager –
Cedar Park/Leander (CPL)
Susanna works in the Cedar Park/Leander area to locate families and individuals who are dealing with social isolation and need connection. She partners with local churches and nonprofits to bring these families hope through community relationships and resources.
Susanna has worked with children and families in many capacities and has always had a passion for serving people. After graduating from Philadelphia College of Bible, with degrees in elementary education and Biblical studies, she began teaching in the Austin area at private schools and through Head Start programs. She enjoys spending time with her husband (who keeps her laughing), and her four biological children and two bonus daughters who keep her young! When not working, she enjoys baking, traveling, and finding new restaurants or coffee shops to try.
“‘For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” — Matthew 25:35-40
Jill M. Johnson
Jill M. Johnson
Director of Operations
Jill oversees operational, communication, and development strategies with the goal of ensuring that our all of our constituents stay informed about the wonderful things happening at Partners in Hope. Her previous work in ministry gave her a heart for those who need to feel the Presence of Christ through the power of community.
Jill started her career in legislative advocacy, working on pediatric healthcare issues at the state Capitol. She has served as a director and consultant for several nonprofits, and particularly enjoys working with faith-based, healthcare, and education organizations. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor’s in communications (Hook ‘Em!). She and her husband have been married for 31 years and have two grown children. A lifelong Austinite, she loves traveling and exploring all the beauty Texas has to offer.
“Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting — over and over announcing your place, in the family of things.” — Mary Oliver
Amy is originally from the Midwest and graduated from Purdue University with a degree in Financial Planning. She has worked in various accounting roles across a spectrum of industries including hospitality, banking, and public education.
She and her husband met in college and married in 1990 after graduation. In 2004, they were blessed with boy/girl twins who keep them very busy along with two schnauzer puppies!
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will direct your paths.” — Proverbs 3:5-6
Communications and Development Assistant
Samantha helps tell the Partners in Hope story by supporting our communications and development efforts in this part-time role. She is very involved in community service and has another full-time job in youth development. Born to a pastor mother and a compassionate father, Samantha grew up learning lessons on the importance of serving those around her. She hopes to use her role with PIH to make meaningful connections with neighbors and to build her professional skills in service to a bigger ideal of an equitable and just world.
Samantha grew up in Austin and developed a keen eye for photography, design, and seeing beauty in the things and people around her. She went to Texas State University and majored in public relations while serving in various leadership capacities in local organizations. After graduation, Samantha spent two years as an AmeriCorps volunteer helping first-generation college students with their higher education goals. She then received a master’s degree from Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock, Arkansas.
“The end of all knowledge should be service to others.” — Cesar Chavez
Board of Directors
James E. Wilhelm, III (Jamie); President - Jamie is an executive vice president for the Austin-based student housing company American Campus Communities. He is responsible for leading the company’s efforts relating to the successful development of public-private partnerships with colleges and universities across the country. He and his wife (Kathy) have two married children (JD and Jason) and live in Lakeway, Texas. Kathy is active with their church (The Lakeway Church) and is a group facilitator with Bible Study Fellowship (BSF). Jamie and Kathy moved to Texas from Columbus, Ohio. Jamie joined the PIH Board in 2019 and has found that serving on this Board is a great way to participate in an important local ministry. He loves how PIH focuses on building sustainable relationships between families suffering from hardship and social isolation with local church groups. These relationships benefit both parties and result in strengthening the Body of Christ.
Brian Oaks; Vice-President - Brian has been a patent attorney with Baker Botts since 1998. Brian grew up in Montgomery, Alabama, and came to Texas in 1990, where he graduated from the University of Texas at Austin. After law school in Virginia and several years in Dallas, he and his family moved to Lakeway in 2009. They attend Lake Travis United Methodist Church, where Brian serves on the Missions Committee. Brian joined the Board in 2016.
Laurie Hockenberry; Secretary - Laurie and her husband Mike moved to Lakeway in 2013 after retiring from State Farm Insurance. Laurie spent 35 years with the company in various management positions in Finance, Auditing and Compliance. They have one son, Brett, who is married to Ali and lives in South Florida. Both Laurie and Mike are active members of ACTS Church Lakeway. Laurie became familiar with PIH when Mike started working with the organization and several members of ACTS in making improvements to a client’s home. She is excited about the opportunity to be involved in an organization that can have such a positive impact on others.
Renee Philips; Immediate Past President - Renee has lived, served, and worked in the Lake Travis community since 2001. Renee and her husband Bryan have been married for over 30 years, and are both active in their church, Austin Christian Fellowship. Renee recently transitioned to full-time retirement from Independent Bank in Lakeway. She began serving with PIH as a volunteer on Saturday workdays. After retirement, she joined the PIH Board in 2014 and considers herself blessed to be involved with a ministry that offers a unique opportunity to do kingdom work in this little slice of heaven on earth known as the Lake Travis community.
Bob Corless - After living and working in numerous domestic and international locations, Bob and his wife Joni decided to call Austin home in 2013. They have been married for 33 years and have one adult daughter who is studying to become a registered nurse. Bob retired from Chevron in 2016 after 39 years in facilities engineering. Bob is a member of ACTS Church Lakeway and is currently serving on staff as their Facilities Manager. He was introduced to Partners in Hope by helping with Christmas decorations and later led a small project repairing a client’s trailer. Bob initially saw PIH as a great organization that helps the less fortunate in the Lake Travis area but has learned that it is much more. Partners in Hope also benefits members of the Body of Christ by building treasures in heaven that will not wear out, allowing them to get outside of the church walls to share resources and the love of Christ.
Thornton “TC” Cornell - TC is a Product Director for State Auto Insurance Company & is also a Certified Public Accountant. He and his wife of 27 years have six children and live in Steiner Ranch where Shelley teaches 5th Grade. They attend church at Austin Christian Fellowship’s Four Points location. They moved to Austin in 2015 after living in the Fort Worth area for 25 years. TC joined the Board in 2017.
Don Crook - Don is a managing partner of Combined Benefits Group, Inc, an independent insurance agency serving public schools. He and his wife, Dena, began serving with PIH several years ago and Don became a Board member in 2023. Don was introduced to PIH through a partner ministry, Cornerstone Restoration. He quickly learned that PIH was so much more than a simple workday. Instead, he views it as an opportunity to serve not only the needs of the community that often go undetected, but to also feed the souls of those who serve their neighbors. This vision of ministry has also called him to be involved with God of Hope Ministries, which brings the gospel to men behind the walls of our prisons who are seeking hope. Don and Dena attend Austin Ridge Bible Church and have resided in the Lakeway/Bee Cave community since 1993. They have two beautiful daughters, Hannah and Gracie.
Diahn (Dee) Ehlers - Dee’s 10 years with Partners in Hope began with serving as a Board member in 2013 and then as a staff member from 2015-2023. Dee is excited to be back on the Board of Directors, utilizing her experience working with PIH families and volunteers to advance the goals and mission of Partners in Hope. In all of her roles, she loves encouraging others to see their true gifts and potential. Dee is also a certified Life Coach through the Forward Foundation and is working toward receiving her accreditation through the Association for Coaching. “As one who has the tendency to isolate when life gets tough, I know the importance of building and maintaining a healthy community around myself and my family.”
Dallas Gregory - Dallas joined PIH as a Board member in 2023 and works as the operations manager for MLD Services, a local HVAC company. Dallas has lived with her husband Lee in Leander, Texas since 2002. Their blended family includes seven grown children and three grandchildren. Dallas is a member of Life Church in Leander and has worked with CASA as a Court Appointed Special Advocate since 2020. Dallas loves the mission of PIH and working with families as she is able. Her favorite scripture verse is Philippians 4:6: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Tyler Lewis - Tyler and his family have called the Lake Travis area home since moving from Houston in 2012. He and his wife Rebekah of 13 years have two children, Sophia and Jacob who attend Austin Ridge Bible Church. Tyler is the Vice President of TAB Technologies and when not working enjoys spending time outdoors with his family. Tyler joined the Board in 2020.
John Mason - John has served alongside PIH for several years and joined the PIH Board in 2023. He is retired and lives in the Lake Travis area, where he attends Austin Ridge Bible Church. He appreciates how Partners in Hope brings together churches, organizations, and people to help those in need in our community and believes this ministry wonderfully fulfills Christ's instruction to raise up people with a passion to care for, serve, and love our neighbor. John reminds us that a complete understanding of Christ's teaching is summed up in the following Commandment: "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
Keith Morton - Keith joined Partners in Hope as a board member in 2022. He lives with his wife Stephanie in Leander, Texas, where his three adult sons live as well. Keith and his family moved to Austin in 2002, after being born and raised in the Washington, DC area. They call Austin Christian Fellowship their church home. Keith serves on ACF’s Mission Leadership Team, and has been on several national and international mission trips to Managua, Nicaragua where he serves alongside the Nicaraguan Resource Network. It is through his serving in Nicaragua where he came to appreciate that missions is more about “being” than “doing.” Keith works for the National Credit Union Administration, where he serves as the Regional Director and President of the Asset Management Center.
Susan Priddy -Susan works as a freelance marketing strategist and writer. Originally from San Antonio, she is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin. Susan and her husband Chuck moved back to Austin from the Chicago area in 1993, and they have one adult daughter named Morgan. They attend church at Austin Christian Fellowship (Four Points). Susan joined the Board in 2020 after participating in the development of Matt Peacock’s book about the continued growth of Partners in Hope. After learning about the many stories of lives transformed through the organization’s efforts, she was excited to contribute on a deeper level.
Rita Thompson - Rita joined Partners in Hope as a Board member in 2022. She lives with her husband, Bill, in Cedar Park, Texas, and have lived in that area since 1990. They have three adult children who live in Cedar Park, Northlake, and San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua. They are members of Bethany United Methodist Church, where they have served in a multitude of areas, including teaching both youth and adults. Rita serves on Bethany’s lead team, chair of the trustees, prayer team, and inviting ministries teams along with other service roles. Rita recently retired from AT&T where she was an account manager for large government agencies. She is looking forward to continuing Kingdom work with Partners in Hope, as she loves the focus on building relationships between families in need and local church groups with emphasis on sustainability.