Board of Directors

Sarah Hales, Founder/COO

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. She is currently finishing up her Master's degree in Social Impact from Claremont-Lincoln University.

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's 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 the 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 Henson

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!

Chelsea Ledford

Chelsea graduated from UNC-Greensboro in May 2015 as a Biochemistry major. She is a 4th-year student at Wake Forest University Medical School, working towards a career in emergency medicine.