Jaars Center


Steve Russell


Steve is a natural leader, from serving as a youth pastor in his college years, to joining the U.S. Army and rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel, to serving for a decade in both the Oklahoma State Senate and in the U.S. House of Representatives after returning to civilian life. Prior to serving as JAARS president, Steve served as executive pastor at First Southern Baptist Church in Oklahoma City. There he provided counsel to the lead pastor, oversaw the staff of the 1,250-member church, and implemented churchwide ministries.

Steve’s faith journey began when he became a Christ follower  at age 13. He believes that sensing the call to preach in high school and the call to military service are aspects of his faith journey that give him a strong, personal  understanding of the power of Scripture in one’s own language. Steve and his wife, Cindy, have been married for 35 years and have five adult children, three of whom are siblings they adopted from a Hungarian orphanage.

Senior Leadership Team

Brian Anders

Vice President of People

Steve Biggerstaff

Vice President of Engagement

Johannes Rehm

Vice President of Global Initiatives

Craig Russell

Vice President of Transportation Services

Denise Shockley

Vice President of Finance / CFO

Stephen Sweeney

Chief of Staff

Quinn Varnado

Vice President of Future Operations

Craig Whaley

Vice President of Engineering

Board of Directors

Andrew J. Hood

Board Chair
Retired – Former Financial Services/Regional Supervisory Director, MassMutual

Bonnie Nystrom

Vice Chair
Translation Advisor, Wycliffe USA

Lee Bramlett

Director, Good Dads KC

Dan Dugger

President, Fractrade

Marita Eden

Regional Partner Relations Representative, JAARS

Nydia García-Schmidt

Consultant, Generosity and Stewardship, Wycliffe Global Alliance

Grace Townsend Goreth

JAARS Ambassador

Daniel Johnson

Retired – Director of Finance, Nonprofit and Government Organizations

Ryan Kruse

Test Engineer, Team Penske

Liz Thomson

Director of Planning, Monitoring and Learning, SIL International