Ministry Team and Board Members

Jim & Lynne Jackson

Co-Founders and Speakers

Jim and Lynne Jackson, founders of Connected Families and co-authors of How to Grow a Connected Family and Discipline That Connects With Your Child’s Heart have over fifty years combined professional experience working with children, teens, and families. In 1990, after serving as ministry staff in two large churches and bearing two intense and lively kids, Jim and Lynne became very intentional about parenting, and then about helping other parents. Lynne became a pediatric Occupational Therapist. Jim became a director of a ministry to high-risk teens and their families. They added a third child, completing their AAA hat-trick (that is, adding a third child with ADHD, Asthma, and Allergies. Quite an intense bunch!). As Jim and Lynne toughed out those early years, they started developing numerous resources to inspire and equip parents for grace and truth in their relationships at home.

After serving hundreds of parents and thousands of kids it became clear more was needed. In 2002 Jim and Lynne founded Connected Families to partner with churches to build strong families. Their presentations bring real life to audiences through impromptu role-plays, transparent stories of their own successes and failures, and stories of the experiences of hundreds of parents they have coached over the years. They leave parents laughing, crying, encouraged and equipped to uniquely bring God’s grace to life in their homes right away! Whether in the trenches with parents as mentors, on the stage as presenters, or in planning meetings with staff, Jim and Lynne bring a wealth of experience, overflowing passion, and years of wisdom to their service.

Anna Braasch

Executive Director and Speaker

Anna is passionate about encouraging parents who are struggling in their parenting journey. She brings her “in the trenches” personal experience to the Connected Families team: infertility, adoption, attachment and parenting struggles, and loads of grace and healing. Anna has been married to her best friend, Grant, for 22 years. They have two beautiful children (Alex and Almaz, both born in Ethiopia) and a goldendoodle named Fozzie, born in Wisconsin. Read more of Anna’s story.


Chad Hayenga

Director of Church Partnerships and Speaker

Chad Hayenga has been married twenty-five years and has three daughters ages 23, 20 and 16. Chad has spent over 20 years ministering to teens and families as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Certified Life Coach, and speaker. Chad’s desire is that families would understand God’s purposes for their lives and seek to live out that purpose in creative and faith-filled ways.



April Walker

Workshop and Outreach Coordinator

April first learned about Connected Families as an exhausted parent looking for God’s grace in raising her three young children. Together with her husband Eric, they have attended workshops, participated in online courses and sought refuge in the emails that land in her inbox each week. As the Workshop and Outreach Coordinator April is excited about introducing other families to a ministry that has impacted her own family so greatly.  April brings with her a decade of classroom experience as a former elementary teacher and a love for all things purple. Outside of the office she enjoys movie nights with her family, traveling, lattes, the Iowa State Fair and playing “mammarazi” by following her children (3, 6, and 8) around with the camera she has been meaning to learn how to use.

Sharon Meschke

Office Administrator

Sharon is Connected Families’ office administrator, which means she wears all sorts of hats: payroll, bookkeeping, HR, office logistics, and just generally keeping the CF team running. She loves being able to work for an organization that does so much good, especially with families. Sharon enjoys biking in the summer and lives in Minnesota with her two dogs and a revolving door of her grown children visiting.



Stacy Bellward

Online Course Moderator / Project Manager

Stacy is the Project Manager and Online Course Moderator for Connected Families. Married for 17 years and mom to 2 middle school girls, she loves to be the cheerleader in online courses, helping parents bring the Connected Families messages home. Stacy is also an author, speaker, and certified leadership coach but most of all is soaking up all the moments of motherhood knowing that they will be out on their own in the blink of an eye.



Jen Berge

Content & Social Media Manager

Jen had been following Connected Families for years before actually joining the team. She believes strongly in the grace needed both for all of us, as parents, and for our children. She enjoys working with the team to fine tune the weekly newsletters and help in whatever way she can with other projects and online course launches. She has been married for a over twenty years and has six children, four biological and two added through adoption from Haiti. She loves her big family and in her not-so-abundant “free time” she enjoys running, attending sporting events, and spending time as a family.


Lanell Plath

Community Engagement Associate

As the occupier of the front desk, Lanell loves being the welcoming face (or voice) of Connected Families. Lanell handles all the behind the scene details and enjoys the challenge that each new project brings. Outside of the office, Lanell and her husband celebrated 22 years of wedded bliss, she is a mom to two teenage daughters, loves cheering for the Huskers (even in losing seasons), playing volleyball, working around the yard and mountain biking.



Sarah Donatelle

Moderator for Connected Families DTC Alumni Facebook Group

Sarah has been married to Jeff since 2005, but their friendship goes back to the church nursery as toddlers. She is in her dream job as mom, staying home to care for their 4 children, ages 8 and under (3 biological, 1 joining their family through infant adoption, and another adoption in the works). Sarah enjoys spending time with her family, friends, and if there’s a quiet moment, loves to grab a good book to read. After 5 years of soaking up everything she could from Connected Families, she now enjoys the opportunity to encourage and equip parents (and learn alongside them) as the moderator for the Connected Families DTC Alumni Facebook Group.

Board Members

  • Debi Allsup – Secretary
  • Jay Allsup – Treasurer
  • Jim Jackson
  • Dave Scouler – Board Chair