By The Hand’s Board

At By The Hand, we are proud to have a board who cares about students deeply. They believe in our mission to provide abundant life–mind, body and soul to students across Chicago.

“Bringing underprivileged children the message of Christ, physical help and nourishment, and assisting in their intellectual development is surely consistent with what Christ asks of His followers.” —Tom Sawyer, Chairman

Tom Sawyer


AT&T Attorney (Retired)

“As a follower of Christ and lover of Chicago, intervening in the lives of young Chicagoans who are in critical need of such intervention is a great way to join the Power of One movement.”

Sawyer remains active as a licensed attorney after retirement from the AT&T Law Division and Seyfarth Shaw LLP. This enables him to provide legal advice to By The Hand Club For Kids on a pro bono basis—as well as other Christian organizations, such as The Moody Church, where he serves as the vice-chairman of the Elders, a trustee, and a member of the Church’s Leadership Council. Sawyer has a JD from Indiana University School of Law and a BS from Indiana State University. He also has four daughters, two sons-in-law, and two very young grandchildren all of whom still live in Chicago. He and his wife, Jodie, homeschooled their daughters.

Christine Parker


Attorney, Law Office of Christine A. Parker

“These students are powerful. They are breaking the cycle of poverty, broken families and hopelessness and succeeding in school—and life. Witnessing that transformation first hand has been a tremendous blessing to me.”

Passionate about providing children from disadvantaged backgrounds with hope and light, Parker applies her experience as an attorney and school director on behalf of By The Hand. She holds a JD and MBA from William & Mary School of Law and School of Business and a BS from Trinity Christian College. She currently directs a private hybrid school and is actively involved in Safe Families for Children and Compassion International, and also serves on the board of her church’s Adoption Fund and of a private Foundation. Parker loves how By The Hand not only gives kids hope for a successful and fulfilling life, but the tools to realize those hopes—and a deep and loving community. She and her husband live in Chicago and have five children—two biological and three adopted. She lives out the Power of One.

Jonathan Banks

Chief Operating Officer, Urban Outreach Foundation

“By the Hand sees true value and possibility in every child, family and community. Equipping children to maximize their potential drives every heart and program as we serve them with grace.”

Education advocate and passionate coach, Jonathan Banks is motivated to see people connect with God in a deeper way by challenging them to grow and inspiring them to rise. He currently serves as the Chief Operating Officer at Urban Outreach Foundation serving an international group of pastors and leaders. Jonathan is an ordained minister in Chicago where he lives with his wife, Jacinta, and their courageous sons.

James Fellowes

Chairman, Fellowes

“Putting the Power of One into action requires courage and persistence to bring about reconciliation, establish equality for all, and help kids lift themselves from their circumstance.”

Fellowes was about to graduate from college when Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in April, 1968. The tragic event led to a change in plans: becoming a school teacher on Chicago’s West Side which opened his eyes to the inequality of under resourced neighborhoods. There he first experienced the joy of making a difference In the life of a youngster. Throughout his career as third generation CEO and now Chairman of Fellowes Brands, his heart has remained fixed on the issue of racial equality. He has served as Church Elder numerous times and currently serves on the boards of Culver Academies, Crossway Books, and Lyric Opera. He and his wife Deby of 50+ years have both served on By The Hand Boards and love being a part of this ministry.

Jose Gomez

Allstate Agency Owner

“Growing up in a blue collar community, my parents who were educators would encourage my friends to stay in school and think about higher education. I am able to see the difference from ones that took the advice and those that did not.”

With a love for serving people, Gomez became an Allstate agent in 2006, opening his agency later that year. He and his team take pride in assisting their clients in both English and Spanish, and are active members of their communities. Having grown up with a mother passionate about kids and their education, Gomez is especially interested in causes that help children. He says that “All the other programs focus on education, and that is worthy, but no other program combines the mind, body, and soul like By The Hand.” Gomez holds an MBA from the University of Chicago and a BA from Northern Illinois University. He and his wife Maria live in Chicago, close to his daughter.

Sharon Hickey-Kozek

Founder & Owner, Lincoln Park Preschool & Kindergarten

“High-quality education is crucial to their academic, social and emotional development. All children have high potential, yet not all children are given the opportunity. Regardless of their zip code, every child deserves access to high-quality education.”

A leader and expert in Early Childhood Education, Hickey-Kozek founded the nationally accredited Lincoln Park Preschool and Kindergarten in 1993 and has opened 3 locations in the city. LLP strives to nurture curiosity and inspire a love for learning while emphasizing character development and academic excellence. Sharon is committed to coming alongside organizations whose passion and vision is to lift up orphaned and vulnerable children—locally and globally. Lending time, talents and resources, Sharon and LLP are helping ignite the Power of One in our kids.

She and her husband Bill, who is the President, Truck and Parts at Navistar, live and attend Church in Chicago with their three children whom they adopted in 2017. Sharon earned her BS in Early Childhood Education from Bowling Green State University.

Tim Horner

Retired Business Owner/Investor

“After visiting and supporting By The Hand for several years my compassion for the children has grown deep in me. The competent and committed servant leadership of this ministry has resulted in the Lord’s blessing of thousands of kids over 20 years. Amazing ministry that I want to serve and be a part of.”

In recent years Tim Horner has sold and wound down his major business ventures. He invests his free time consulting and spending time with his family and grandchildren who all live in the Dallas area.

Having served on many nonprofit boards over the years, he joined the By The Hand board in 2022 after becoming acquainted with the strong leadership team through Donnita Travis. He knows that effective, significant ministries must have such leadership. Tim and his wife, Peggy, live in the Dallas suburb of Plano. They invest their time and resources in many ministries and attend Prestonwood Church.

Roy Patterson

Community Relations Director, Moody Bible Institute

“I love children. And I am very concerned about the issues they face. When you are part of By The Hand, you are helping to fuel the Power of One by sharing biblical life skills with the children. I love the emphasis on education, salvation and creativity.”

Roy Patterson is the Community Relations Director at Moody Bible Institute (MBI). In this role, Roy is helping to strengthen relationships with churches, pastors and ministry partners, and facilitate racial reconciliation in Chicago. He was the station manager for Moody Radio Chicago for years, and continues to host three nationally syndicated programs, Celebration of Praise, Music for Sunday and Urban Praise. Roy is a preacher, praise and worship leader and vocalist—and has a passion for the body of Christ united through worship and sincere fellowship.

A graduate of Moody Bible Institute and Trinity International University, Roy has served as a youth leader, senior pastor and substance abuse counselor. He has been married to his wife, Lynette, for over 30 years and has three children.

Michael Pitts

Managing Director, Operations & Media, The Moody Church

Michael serves as the Managing Director of Operations & Media at The Moody Church and he oversees day-to-day operations and overall direction for Moody Church Media. He came to The Moody Church in 1992 and became involved through the church’s singles ministry. Before joining the staff as Managing Director of Operations, he worked for consulting firms Towers Perrin and Arthur Andersen. He holds an MBA from Northwestern University and a BA in accounting/business from Cedarville University. He and his wife, Peggy, have a daughter, Emily, and a son, Michael.

Gilbert Russell

Director of Business Development, ASAP Pharmacy, Inc.

“The times in which we live now and the future of our existence globally demand that we make our youth a priority. This can only be achieved by instilling in each one life-sustaining disciplines, principles and truths that will equip them to make the decisions necessary to make a fuller quality of life on this planet for all.”

Gilbert Russell has a deeply personal connection to the kids at By The Hand, as he was one of them—an under-resourced kid growing up in 60’s Chicago. Just like By The Hand does now, someone came to him and offered him a way out in the form of mentorship. He credits them with “showing [him] the world” and giving him the inspiration he needed to define his future. He now strives to be a mentor and a visual model to the kids at By The Hand so they can achieve whatever they put their minds to, despite how heavily the odds appear to be stacked against them.

Keith Searles

Owner and Founder, Urban GIS

“There is no greater calling than to protect, promote and invest in our collective future and our youth. In a city where far too many have been faced with countless environmental and systemic challenges, we have an obligation and awesome opportunity to extend our collective hands to help lift them above the tides of despair.”

Keith Searles is passionate about ministry and youth mentoring, using his many skills to help organizations like By The Hand as well as kids he mentors. Professionally, he is CEO and Founder of Urban GIS, a consulting firm that provides Geographic Information Systems (GIS) services, bridging the gap between IT and public infrastructure. With 24 years of professional experience, he is also the founder of E.D.G.E. a non-profit focused on enhancing diversity, equity and inclusion within the geospatial industry.

Keith holds a BA in Civil Engineering with a minor in International Engineering from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Travis Smith

Resident Director for Men, Olivet Nazarene University and eLearning Media Producer, Life University

“Something is different about By The Hand—the people, its environment. Of course, it is Jesus, the Holy Spirit in the staff and volunteers.”

Travis Smith is our first student alum to join the By The Hand board of directors. He enrolled at By The Hand – Cabrini-Green in 2002 and became our first college graduate in 2012. Currently, Travis is the Resident Director for Men at Olivet Nazarene University, his alma mater. Before that, he was a Branch Manager at Hertz Corporation, Department Manager at Best Buy, and Shift Leader for the Olivet Public Safety Department.

When Travis first attended By The Hand, he was active in a gang. But the genuine love he experienced kept him coming back. Now, quick to share the gospel and his testimony, Travis is a devoted father raising four children with Karissa, his wife—and a beloved member of the By The Hand family.