Board of Directors
Sarah Hales, Executive Founder and Treasurer
In 1996, Sarah felt the call to orphan care ministry after meeting a pastor from South Africa. Following many years of prayer, Sarah's first step toward orphan care was through the journey of international adoption, to become the mother of 2 infants from China. Several years later, Sarah began networking and connecting with interested individuals as well as ministries, both domestically and in Uganda, to begin leading short-term mission trips to Uganda. Through a series of events in 2009, the ministry of ekissa was officially birthed and began its’ focus in Bweya Village, outside the capital of Uganda. Sarah enjoys exercising, working in the yard, and spending time with her 3 daughters.
Debbie Shough, Chairman
Debbie is a business owner in NC and enjoys exercise, being outdoors, and reading. Debbie first traveled to Uganda in December 2010. Since then, she has traveled to Uganda more than 5 times, and is now the mother of two beautiful Ugandan children, Edith and Derrick. She is committed to serving the people of Bweya Village, as well as maintaining a vibrant connection to her children’s heritage. Debbie is married to Steve and they have one adult child, Joshua. They are also proud grandparents to Isabella Grace and Isla Jo!!
Neel Downey, Vice-Chairman
Neel was born and raised in the Lewisville-Clemmons area of NC and currently lives in Lewisville with his wife Mollie and daughter, Emma. Neel earned his Bachelors degree in Construction Management from East Carolina University. Neel is the owner and operator of Downey’s Landscaping and Lawn Care and, B.N. Downey Construction. He followed God's call to Uganda in February of 2012 and fell in love with the people and their passion for Christ and community
Diana Potts, Secretary
Diana is a retired nurse of 37 years and married to Dub Potts. They have two children: Brooke & David and 3 grandchildren. Diana attends Hillsdale Baptist Church, where she teaches a children's Sunday School class, sings in the choir, and manages the prayer requests. Diana accepted the Lord Jesus as her Savior when she was a child and can not live for one day without His guiding hand. The Potts live in Mocksville, N.C. on a farm and have cattle and a large garden.
Dr. Nicole Rice
Nicole is married to Kevin and the mother of three: Cole, Sam & Anna Kate. Dr. Rice is a pediatrician at Winston Salem Pediatrics. She went on her first mission trip with ekissa in 2011, leading a medical mission team and hopes to return in the near future.
Cindy fell in love with the concept of ekissa from its very beginning. She believes God used her “behind the scenes” volunteerism, to lead her all the way to Ukraine 3 years ago, to adopt her now, 17 year old daughter, Irina. Cindy was heartbroken with the reality of so many orphans. This led her to become an advocate of orphan care. Cindy has worked with many families across the U.S., assisting them through their journey of adoption. It’s been a thrill for her as she has advocated and experienced the adoption of many children she thought she had “left behind” in Ukraine!
Betty lives in High Point, NC with her husband, Tom, and her 14 year old daughter. She has a 24 year old daughter in Baltimore. Both girls are adopted, and through the processes Tom and Betty became interested in the needs of underprivileged children. Tom's job has taken the Nelsons to many countries, where they developed a heart for people limited by extreme poverty.
Betty first visited Uganda with Ekissa in 2015, and loves visiting with the children at Ekissa House , (children's home) and seeing the students actively learning at Ekissa Model School.
She worked as a CPA before becoming a stay at home mom, and has a passion for giving children an opportunity to grow and thrive, fulfilling the unique gifts that God has given them.
Chelsea graduated from UNC-Greensboro in May 2015 as a Biochemistry major. She currently works as a supervisor, working with dementia residents of a local nursing home. Chelsea has aspirations of medical school and is in the process of applying.