Rebecca Boone, LMSW, Program Manager
Rebecca Boone holds a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree from Troy University. She is a licensed LMSW and also a Board Certified Biblical Counselor through the American Association of Christian Counselors. She came to work for CGA in May of 2001. Born and raised in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Rebecca was an active member of her church from a young age. After gaining experience with several social service organizations and advocacy groups, Rebecca’s passion for ministry grew. That’s why she loves working at CGA, where she is able to do be a part of an organization that equips young people through a Christ-centered approach. Rebecca is happily married and lives with her husband in the local area. Others describe her as hard working, compassionate, and family oriented. In her free time, she enjoys being with friends and family, walking her dogs, and taking up new projects such as making jams and gardening.
Christina Hayes, Assistant Program Manager
Christina Hayes is a graduate of Georgia College and State University and earned a B.S. in Psychology. Throughout college Christina volunteered for Young Life, a ministry that mentors and disciples adolescents. During Christina’s time in Young life the Lord developed a passion in her to disciple teenage girls. Christina said, “I always knew the world was broken, anyone can see that but it wasn’t until The Lord brought healing to my life that I began to realize that I was able to help lead others to Christ so that they may find healing as well.” Christina interned at a behavior health center during college and discovered there her desire to be a counselor. After college Christina served as a youth director in southeast Georgia. Christina enjoys being outside, reading, hiking, playing the guitar and writing her own music. Her friends would describe her as someone who is intentional, caring and outdoorsy.
Shanelle Lashley, Assistant Program Manager
Shanelle grew up in Columbus, GA in a Christian family and a dad who was a Pastor. It was in her junior year of high school when she realized she wanted to do something with her life to help hurting people. After High School, Shanelle attended Columbus State University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Minor in Spanish. After graduating college Shanelle served on the Youth Staff at North Highlands Church where she organized youth events and small groups. Now with CGA, Shanelle is able to utilize the gifts and passion to help hurting teen girls. Shanelle serves as a residential counselor at CGA and is most passionate about showing students the love of God. Shanelle loves people and wants to share God’s love with as many people she may reach.
Sarah Gibson, Lead Counselor
Through close friendships in college, Sarah was learned about the ministry of Teen Challenge. In 2002 after college graduation, she relocated to devote her passions to the CGA family. Sarah holds a B.A. in Psychology and has earned multiple certifications for child development through ongoing training and classes. Sarah learned how to trust God through early childhood illness, and has served Him since youth. She wants others to experience the same joy and peace she has enjoyed through the blessing of serving Christ. Sarah most enjoys helping students relate their life experiences with God’s reality through group and individual counseling. She is known to be sociable and gentle, with an eagerness for truth and wisdom. These traits have served her well in her role at CGA as a counselor. Sarah most enjoys her free time spent with family and friends, especially her husband and sons.
Candace Williams, School Administrator
Candace Williams comes to CGA after 25 years as a missionary in Europe. Her profession before her missionary career was Math Education and she has taught High School math for 15 years. Candace is certified to teach math in four states and internationally. Her last teaching position was at Evangelical Christian Academy in Madrid Spain. Candace has been acquainted with Teen Challenge since 1965 when a group of Teen Challenge men shared their testimonies in her father’s church. Candace’s husband joined the Global Teen Challenge team in August 2011 and she joined our team here at CGA in October 2011. Candace enjoys teaching math at every level. She says, “Math seems to be challenging for most, yet with encouragement and skilled instruction, the girls complete their courses successfully.” If her students could use one word to describe Mrs. Williams, it would be “inspiring”. Candace likes to spend her free time enjoying family, church, photography, and gardening.
Pamela Cooner, Teacher
Pamela Cooner, from Smiths Station, Alabama, has been involved in ministry since her teenage years and has taught for more than 15 years. She has taught high school-aged students as well as adult education. She has a Bachelor’s of Religious Education and a Bachelor of Arts. Pamela says, “I’m most passionate about being a positive example to our students and holding up the girls and the ministry in prayer.” She is described by her daughter as fun, quiet, reserved, creative, artistic, and organized. In her free time she enjoys spending time with family, kayaking, hiking, camping, being outside and reading, drawing/painting.
Monica Ford, Teacher
Monica Ford grew up here locally in a Christian home and was always active in church, school, and the community. Monica attended The University Of Alabama where she obtained a B.A. in psychology and a minor in Social Work. During her junior year in college, the Lord revealed to her that part of her calling would be to work with the youth. Monica worked as a counselor for 4 years and then went into teaching. She has been teaching for the past 14 years. Monica likes making learning fun for her students and tries to set an example of Christ to all by having a good attitude. Her favorite saying is “Keep a smile on your face and a song in your heart”. Monica likes spending time with her family, traveling, hiking, reading, and writing books.
Melissa Price, Teacher
Melissa Price was born in Alaska, raised in Hawaii and eventually settled into Columbus Georgia. Through teaching youth at her local church, Melissa developed a passion for teaching and decided to pursue a degree in teaching and business. Melissa believes that being a teacher at CGA is more than just work, it is a calling. She wants to help young people overcome the various trials they have experienced and understands that receiving a quality education is a major contributor to future success. Melissa says, “I enjoy what I do and want to make a difference in the world, starting here at Columbus Girls Academy.” In her free time, she enjoys spending time with family, continuing her education, swimming, and writing.
Kate Fagin, Counselor
Kate was born and raised in Washington, Missouri. In her teen years Kate found the life changing intervention she needed when she walked through the doors of Teen Challenge as a student. After completion of the program and internship training Kate joined the CGA team in 2008. Kate is an alumni of Liberty University with a degree in psychology. She is also a Board Certified Biblical Counselor through American Association of Christian Counselors. Kate knows without a doubt that God had called her to work with adolescent girls. Having completed the Teen Challenge program herself, Kate understands the growing process that has to take place in our students. Understanding and compassionate towards each student, she knows when to listen and when to give direction. Kate says, “I don’t want to keep all that I have learned to myself, I know this program and most importantly, I know how God changes lives.” Kate enjoys reading, relaxing, taking walks and spending time with her friends during her free time.
Ivy Laing, Counselor
Ivy is originally from Albany, GA and from an early age had a deep passion for people and a compassion for the hurting. Growing up in a Christian home Ivy had a sense God would use that passion in her future calling. Ivy later attended Georgia Southwestern State University and earned her B.S. in Sociology with a minor in Psychology. While in college, Ivy started a homeless ministry out of her car. After graduating college Ivy became a missionary in East Africa. She worked as an English teacher and volunteered to help minister to unreached people groups. When she returned stateside, Ivy began working with Mission Change, a non-profit ministry in Albany, GA that stands up for issues that are often overlooked in our surrounding communities. Ivy is a currently a certified minister. Ivy has a heart for discipleship, a desire to see teenage girls fall in love with Christ and for them to know they are daughters of a great King. She wants teenage girls to know that Jesus can heal you from any hurt that life may have left them with. Ivy has a heart for the nations, to see the captives set free, and to see earth look a little more like heaven.
Amanda Giordano, Admission’s Coordinator
Amanda Giordano, a Teen Challenge graduate, was born and raised in Louisiana but has lived in this area since 1994. After graduating high school Amanda attended college in the Columbus area where she studied Criminal Justice and obtained her certification in Paralegal Studies. Amanda says, “I love Columbus Girls Academy and am very grateful for this ministry, The majority of my inspiration comes from watching lives be transformed right here through the love of our Lord Jesus Christ.” In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, shopping and watching movies.
Candace Murphy, Equine Specialist
Candace, a lifelong equestrian, comes to us from Texas. She has a B.B.A. from Sam Houston State University and went on to get her Masters at the University of Houston, UHCL. Candace’s graduate work focused on psychology, sociology, and anthropology. She holds graduate certifications in women’s studies. Her equestrian accolades include multiple Rodeo Queen titles, placing in the top 25 on a world show level, and winning Local, State and Regional Championships in multi-disciplinary events as follows: cowboy mounted shooting, halter, ranch rail, English pleasure, and hunt seat. At CGA, Candace combines her passion for horses with her education to create a program where our students learn to improve their communication, self-confidence, and knowledge through horsemanship.
Hannah Larson, Program Assistant
Hannah came to CGA after attending Atlanta Leadership College. During that time, she was involved in hands on ministry, leadership intensive trainings, and missions in Romania and various locations in Asia. She is continuing her studies at Southeastern University working on a degree in Ministerial Leadership and Psychology. Hannah says that the Lord has taught her much about obedience and has equipped and empowered her to further the Gospel through principles of love, character, and commitment. To her, no one is too far gone for “the Lord’s mercies are new every morning” (Lam. 3:23).
Domonique Merchant, Program Assistant
Domonique was born in Los Angeles California, and raised in Fayetteville Georgia. Prior to coming to Columbus Girls Academy, Domonique was involved in full-time ministry and a student at Valor School of Leadership. Through Southwestern University, she earned her bachelor’s degree in Church Leadership. Domonique brings with her prior experience in residential care for young women as well as mission work in four different countries. Through Domonique’s life experiences she has developed a passion for ministry. She loves that God has called her to work at CGA where she can help students understand their value in Christ and how they are greatly loved are by their Creator.
Annette Prim, Program Assistant
All the way from Gander Newfoundland, Canada – Annette learned about Teen Challenge through reading the several books about the ministry and watching the movie The Cross and the Switchblade. Annette left 21 years of retail experience behind to enroll in the Teen Challenge Ministry Institute for 2 years of preparation to work for a Teen Challenge center. Annette joined the team in August of 2001. A wonderful example to our students, Annette has been a Christian, serving the Lord, for 29 years. She is certified in Teen Challenge’s specialized bible curriculum. Annette is most passionate about working with the students on their bible curriculum, praying with them and encouraging them to be beautiful and successful women of God. The motivation behind what she does at CGA is the fact that she knows she is in God’s will. Annette says “being at CGA is like living in the book of Acts!” Annette is dedicated and loyal. She has a great sense of humor, and is great at getting a good a laugh from the students and her co workers. A true Canadian, Annette enjoys cold weather, traveling and drinking hot tea.
Kaitlin Vied, Program Assistant
Kaitlin is a CGA Teen Challenge graduate and went through the program in 2010. After surrendering her life to the Lord, God gave her a passion for missions and discipleship ministry. After completing Teen Challenge, Kaitlin went to Emerging Leaders College where she earned her Associates Degree in Bible and Theology, and received hands on ministry training. While in college, she felt the call to come back to the Teen Challenge ministry. One of Kaitlin’s greatest passions is walking through the daily process of life transformation with people. She enjoys being outdoors, reading, and playing music with her friends. Her friends would describe her as fun-loving, energetic, and strong willed.
Beth Hill, Residential Staff
All the way from Massachusetts, Beth came down to join our team shortly after graduating college. Beth attended Northpoint Bible college where she double majored in Biblical Studies and World Missions, and graduated with honors. Beth grew up in a Christian family, with her Dad a pastor at a inner city church and Mom a former Christian school teacher. As a teenager she saw the hopelessness of her friends, as some ran away from home, others dropped out of school and even more turned to drugs and alcohol to ease their pain. Beth’s heart burned with a desire and passion to not only help her peers but future generations going down this same detrimental path. Beth has a heart for missions, and is working on her ministerial license.
Erin O’Brien, Residential Staff
Erin was born and raised in Meriden, Connecticut. Erin is a graduate of Teen Challenge in New York, where the relationship between her and God developed. Erin first discovered her passion to work with young people while on an overseas mission trip while she was in Teen Challenge. Erin has completed an Emerging Leader’s program as well as an internship and now enjoys the opportunity she has to work at CGA with teen girls. Erin has a deep love for the Lord, her family, and friends. She also enjoys being outdoors and listening to music, but her favorite pastime is photography.
Brooke Shewman, Residential Staff
Brooke is from the small town of Fitzgerald, Georgia, but has moved throughout the states of Georgia and Florida as her family has dedicated years to serving in various roles within the Teen Challenge ministry. Having spent most of her life growing up on Teen Challenge campuses, there was no question that Brooke would one day officially join the TC family. Through the University of West Florida, Brooke has earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Social Work minor focusing on Substance Abuse. In her free time, Brooke enjoys reading, working on creative projects, and spending time with her family. However, her favorite way to pass time is lending an ear to listen and easy conversation to whoever may be in need to it.
Jessica Taylor, Residential staff
Jessica Taylor is from Alton, Illinois. Jessica came to CGA with prior experience in curriculum development, mentoring, and teaching in the Teen Challenge program. She is currently enrolled at Grand Canyon University and is pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Christian Studies. Jessica got involved with Teen Challenge when she entered the program as a teen. After the program, Jessica entered Teen Challenge Leadership Institute in Minneapolis, where she completed two years of ministry and leadership training. Jessica struggled a lot with rebellion as a teenager which is one reason she is so committed to helping this generation. “I have been in their shoes, and I know what it is like to have absolutely no hope for anything better for your life” says Jessica. Having been through the program, she realizes the importance of community, speaking the truth in love and boldness, and is committed to making each individual girl known and loved. During her free time Jessica likes to take walks, work on her education, and spend time with friends and family.
Rebecca Valchar, Residential Staff
Becca Valchar is from Laurel, Maryland. She is a graduate of Guilford College with a Bachelor’s in Psychology and Criminal Justice. Becca has always had a heart for the broken and hurting. She loves to come alongside those who are struggling to try to help them gain hope- the hope that is found in the freedom of Christ. She loves trying to be an encouragement to others and let them know that the discomfort brought by the struggles of this world isn’t what the Lord intended for us to experience.
Elizabeth Wagstaff, Residential Staff
Elizabeth was born in Los Gatos, California and raised in Westminster, South Carolina. Elizabeth was raised in a family that served troubled youth at a wilderness program located in her town. Through that life experience, she gained a love for the outdoors and learned many skills that she brings with her to Columbus Girl Academy. Elizabeth has enjoyed serving in missions and at various ministries throughout her life. As a young adult, Elizabeth felt that she is called to help struggling people, because of the love and grace that God had placed on her own life. In her free time, she enjoys going to visit her family, traveling, anything outside, hanging with friends and being creative.