Program and Residential Directors

Ben Weinert

Program Director / Recruitment Director / Licensed Child Care Administrator

Ben came to work with Heartlight in 2003. He attended George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon and earned a degree in Christian Ministries and Theatre. While attending college, Ben worked at Eagle Lake Camp (Navigators) in Colorado for three summers and was a member of both the program and counseling staff. In addition to this experience with young people, he volunteered at several churches helping out with the youth group programs, and spent two years as a House Staff and House Director before moving into the Residential Director and Program role. Ben’s creativity and energy are evident to all who meet him.

Ryan Blalock

Residential Director / Licensed Child Care Administrator

Ryan has brought much reliability, enthusiasm and laughter to the Heartlight community since his arrival. Ryan is a graduate from Abilene Christian University, at which he received his degree in Business Administration. Although home is nearby Tyler, Texas, Ryan brings experience working with teens all the way from Africa. While Ryan lived in Africa, he spent his time coaching soccer and experiencing life with teenagers. He also worked as a mountain guide in another teen program in Colorado. Ryan relates well with others through his fun-loving and engaging personality. In his spare time, Ryan also enjoys guitar, sports, laughing and being outdoors.

Hannah Figueroa

Residential Director

One of the most active and energetic staff members we have comes to us from Texas A&M University.  Hannah is a proud Aggie and graduated with a degree in Psychology and a minor in Sociology and plans to continue her education with the ultimate goal of becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor.  She loves all kinds of sports and has an infectious competitive spirit.  Hannah spent time teaching at United Methodist Weekday School while attending College, and was highly involved in a student run organization called Sport For Kids which allowed her to share her love of sports with children in the community.  Hannah brings an optimistic personality to the house she lives in and constantly strives to love others the way Christ loves her.

Brooke Lane

Residential Director

Before coming to Heartlight Brooke taught at a private Christian school, volunteered with her church’s youth group, and spent the summers sharing her love of Basketball at youth Sport camps.  She attended Southeastern Oklahoma State University before finishing her Psychology degree through Texas A&M-Commerce.  Her East Texas accent and southern charm make you instantly feel comfortable talking to her and she has a natural ability to make people feel right at home.  She loves, Basketball, volleyball, fishing, and mudding with friends any chance she gets. 

Becky Behnsch

House Director - West

Becky’s zeal for life and enthusiasm are contagious.  She enjoys crafting, dancing, painting, and going to concerts with friends.  She originally attended Heartlight years ago as a resident and went on to graduate from the University of Texas at San Antonio with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology, before coming back as a staff member.   She loves building relationships with the Heartlight residents and has a life mission to “positively impact the lives of teens, because without the help I received as a teen, I would not be where I am today.”

Ryan Beike

House Director - East

Ryan has spent ample time in the church setting, volunteering for camps, weekend retreats, vacation bible schools, and organizing community outreach events.  He thrives when meeting new people and engages well with our relational approach to ministry.  Ryan attended Maryville University in St. Louis, Missouri,  and felt God give him a passion for seeing students grow and mature in their faith as they struggle through life’s ups and downs.  He’s the kind of guy that searches for the outsider and makes them feel cared for and connected.  He enjoys beat boxing, playing the drums, listening to music, and hanging out with family during his time away from Heartlight.

Holly Everett

House Director - West Cabins

Holly has always been passionate about meeting people, building relationships, mentoring, and helping teens through difficult times.  She grew up in Rockwall, Texas and attended Dallas Baptist University, receiving a bachelor’s degree in Youth Ministry and another in Psychology.  After working with Youth For The Nations for four years, Holly felt called to minister in the residential setting with teens and came to be a part of our staff.  She never meets a stranger and brings lots of energy and enthusiasm to everything she does.

Emily Gilreath

House Director - Old Lodge

Emily grew up in Alpharetta, Georgia before attending Auburn University and was active in Young Life and camping ministry during her college years.  She has a servant’s heart and strives to spend her life intentionally caring for others.  Emily loves listening to music, drawing, painting, pottery and welding as well as more active sports like cross country, wake surfing, and diving.  She loves getting the girls excited and involved with our program but is also very approachable when the residents she lives with need to have down time and talk through the struggles they are going through.

Jessica Smoker

House Director - South

Originally from Pennsylvania, Jessica moved to Colorado to attend Colorado Christian University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in Theology.    She loves anything having to do with the outdoors from hiking and biking to skiing and horseback riding.   She spent the last ten years in worship ministry and gained valuable experience as a discipleship advisor for her university.  Jessica loves spending time having conversations with friends over a cup of coffee in a local coffee house or getting outdoors and exploring new areas.  Our residents find it easy to connect with her and cherish the stability and consistency her relational approach provides.

Jacob Tooley

House Director - New Lodge

Jacob comes to us from Ozark, Arkansas and loves being active in nature.  As an avid hunter and fisherman, Jacob knows the value of getting outdoors and enjoying God’s creation.  Prior to Heartlight, Jacob spent his summers with Kanakuk Kamps and has volunteered with church youth groups for the last 5 years.  He’s compassionate and caring in his approach and connects easily with our residents, as he’s a great listener.

Kenzie Stilp

Horse Wrangler

Kenzie is our adventure seeker from Appleton, Wisconsin.  She loves hunting, fishing, snowboarding, and hiking with her dog.  Kenzie was active in her church’s youth group as a worship leader for the past six years, where she also helped organize youth retreats. Prior to coming to Heartlight, she spent time in Colorado attending Timberline Lodge, a bible school in Frasier, CO.  She was also a snowboarding instructor there. Kenzie enjoys spending time with the horses, and is passionate about the therapeutic value of the animals when it comes to riding with residents.

Amanda Dougherty

Residential Staff

Amanda is from Eugene, Oregon and joins the Heartlight team after attending the University of Oregon where she received a degree in Family and Human Services.  All during her college years she was actively involved in youth group and camping ministry.  Her time as an intern for a runaway youth drop-in center gave her experience with teens that struggled with substance abuse, domestic violence, and suicidal ideation.   In addition to this experience, Amanda spent time with the Looking Glass Riverfront School, which is an alternative school for at risk youth.  She loves playing guitar and piano and spending quality time with friends and family.

Clayton Ehlers

Residential Staff

Clayton comes to us from Albert City, Iowa and is another one of our avid outdoorsmen.  He loves spending time in nature hunting, hiking, and kayaking.  Clayton attended Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa and obtained a bachelor’s degree in Christian Education and Youth Ministry.   Prior to moving to east Texas, Clayton spent time ministering at a youth hostel in Amsterdam and as a chapel coordinator for a summer camp.  His outgoing personality helps him engage with our residents and create relationships that will last a lifetime.

Tiffany Pugh

Residential Staff

Tiffany is from Coffeeville, Alabama and has worked with several faith based organizations over the years.  After graduating with a double major in psychology and equine science from Judson College in Marion, Alabama Tiffany spent time gaining experience with teenagers at therapeutic riding facilities throughout Alabama.  She loves nature and can be found spending her time off hiking, mountain biking, and riding horses.