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Alison Praisewater – Intern Coordinator/Area Coordinator
Alison Praisewater joined Next Step in the fall of 2011 after serving as a summer intern. She has always had a heart for youth camps and missions as they played a huge role in forming her faith. In 2008 she graduated from San Jose State University with a BA in Child and Adolescent Development and spent a year teaching first and second grade. But it didn’t take long for God to remind her of where her passions truly lied and she jumped back into the world of ministry. She served for two years as the Associate Youth Pastor of a vibrant church in South San Jose where she confirmed that her passion was to teach teenagers about God, not just with her words but with her actions, and her life as well. Alison understands how youth missions have the possibility to turn a student’s life upside down in the best ways possible and wants more than anything for students to have a life changing experience every time.
Paul Staats – Area Coordinator
Paul came on board with Next Step in the fall of 2012 to serve as an Area Coordinator for our Milwaukee and West Virginia sites. Paul got his start in the missions field in high school where he participated in multiple short-term trips to Honduras with his home church. These trips set the tone for the rest of Paul's life, and eventually led him to a degree in Biblical and Theological Studies from Bethel University in St. Paul, MN. After graduating, Paul quickly put his hard-earned degree to work by getting a job as a construction worker. He eventually worked his way into construction management, and while his professional experience is mainly in that field, missions has always found a way to weave it's way into Paul's life. The most evident way was a year-long stint leading short-term construction trips down to Chihuahua, Mexico. It was during this time in Mexico that Paul realized his dream to pursue a career in Christ-centered community development. He feels uniquely blessed that this dream is now a reality through his work with Next Step.
Ashley Tameling – Area Coordinator
Ashley's junior year of high school she found herself at a youth conference in D.C., standing in the midst of thousands of teenagers on fire for the Lord and singing words that would become the prayer of her life: to be sent out to the world, to the lost, to the poor, and to the hungry. She prayed the Lord would send her and in that moment she came to know fully her purpose on this earth: to know God and make God known. Since then, Ashley has been doing just that having opportunities to serve in Colorado Springs, Nepal, Thailand, Northern California, and her local Young Life community in Chicago. Ashley was introduced to Next Step Ministries as a trip leader in which her teams served the communities of New Mexico and Nassau, Bahamas. This past summer, Ashley joined the intern staff of Next Step as the Los Angeles Site Director and her world was quickly colored by the vibrant collisions of heaven and earth that she was witnessing daily as students went out to serve Skid Row in the name of Jesus Christ. It wasn’t more than a week until she truly understood the depth of what William Blake once said, ‘To see a world in a grain of sand and a heaven in a wildflower.” Since serving as the Los Angeles Site director, Ashley has begun working on her undergraduate degree in Evangelism and Discipleship at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and has joined the Next Step Ministries staff as the Area Coordinator of Los Angeles.
Azad Lassiter – Area Coordinator
Azad Lassiter interned with Next Step as a Construction Director for 3 summers before coming onto the full time staff. During that time he graduated from JBU with a degree in Construction Management and worked in Alaska with Samaritans Purse. Azad's goal in life is to use construction as a catalyst to reach people for Christ!
John Ploetz – Area Coordinator
From the toddler years of playing with Legos, John Ploetz knew that he was going to be using his hands to be building for the rest of his life. What he didn’t know is how God was going to use him to help rebuild communities in need. In 2012 John graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stout with a BS Degree in Construction Management, which he plans to use to help further build Next Step Ministries and the communities that they serve. John got his start in missions when he served as a Construction Director with Next Step Ministries three years ago in and on the Crownpoint, NM Navajo Reservation where he got his first taste of really dealing with a community, understanding a community in need, and seeing God working through hundreds of students, leaders and community members through a Life Changing week long mission trip. Later he spent another summer with Next Step Ministries in Joplin, MO working with Journey Church, Hearts and Hammers, and the community to help meet the needs of a town devastated by a EF-5 Tornado. He fell in love with this community and now serves as the Area Coordinator of not only the Joplin site for Next Step, but for also the Lorain County Ohio site. John is ready and looking forward to having God to use him in any way, shape or form to serve these communities. He is pumped to be apart of a ministry that not only changed his life, but has seen change many others' lives as well.
Melanie Robertson – Area Coordinator
After spending two summers out in Pine Ridge with Next Step, Melanie recently joined the team and works specifically with the Reservation in South Dakota. From the first summer out in Pine Ridge, Melanie has been gravitated toward this particular community and the ways that God is working in and through the people. With a degree in Business, she hopes to continue to apply her learning toward economic and physical restoration, as well as investing into the spiritual growth of the community. Having little experience of mission trips growing up, she was able to see the ways that the body of Christ can collide in a powerful partnership with the community that students are serving alongside. Melanie has been able to humbly witness the reconciliation and redemption of Christ’s love in a broken world. This drives her to continue to pursue community development and long-term partnership with the community and people of Pine Ridge. She is humbled at the opportunity to use her passions and gifts through Next Step within this community.
Neil Rowe – Video Producer
A self proclaimed student of everything, and a master of nothing, Neil has been passionately involved in the audio visual arts and digital media creation for over 16 years. With a heart for God and a strong entrepreneurial spirit, he formed a faith based independent motion picture and media production company in 1999. Since then he has continued working professionally producing a wide range of film, video, and other audio visual content. Although much of this had been in support of various missions and faith based causes, Neil's desire was to be more involved, and see much more of what he did have a direct spiritual impact on the lives of those it touched. Neil is very excited to work as part of the Next Step staff using his skill and experience in media production to catalyze lasting Christ centered change and spiritual growth in the lives of students and communities around the world.
Beth Heneghan – Office Coordinator
Beth Heneghan joined Next Step Ministries in 2009, but recently came on full time as the new Office Coordinator. Beth serves as the point of contact for youth leaders who are interested in getting involved with Next Step. Inspired by an all-powerful God who changed her life on a mission trip, Beth is passionate about giving students the opportunity to have a relationship with Christ. Before joining Next Step Ministries Beth trained as a professional ballet dancer with the Madison Ballet Company. While she enjoyed her love for dance and aspired to pursue a long time career in performing , she also felt strongly about dedicating her life to missions. After many years of ballet study, she left the dance world to dedicate her time to student mission trips. Beth is currently working towards a bachelor's degree in Social Welfare from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She feels blessed to be a part of a team that shares her passion for Christ and can't wait to see more lives changed by the Gospel. After graduating, she plans to continue in her career with mission and is excited to see where Christ will lead her.