CEM provides a safe haven for struggling youth where they can begin the process of the restoration of their physical, emotional, academic, and spiritual lives.
At Christian Encounter Ministries God has gathered together a diverse group of people who are committed to serving Christ as His united body. (Note: all CEM staff can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Executive Director Nate Boyd
Nate graduated from Patrick Henry College in 2009 with a degree in Classical Liberal Arts and an emphasis in Education. He spent six summers working at Wolf Mountain Christian Camp and Conference Center and Camp Del Oro, both in the Grass Valley area. Nate was a CEM intern in the spring of 2010, and worked for an outdoor education program with High Sierra Outdoor Institute in the fall of 2010. He joined the CEM staff in October 2010 and has filled several roles since then, including Men's Ministry House Leader, Director of Internship and Discipleship, Assistant Director and now Executive Director. He received his M.A. in Biblical and Theological Studies in 2017 through Western Seminary. Nate and his wife Alyssa (intern 2012-2013) welcomed the arrival of their first child July 2017.
School Teacher Robbin Adams
Robbin (Merriam) Adams graduated from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, CA in June of 1980 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science with a Pre-Law Concentration. She came to CEM as an intern in September of 1980 serving part of her one-year internship in Grass Valley, CA and part at the Ozark Christian Encounter Ranch in Bunker, MO where she began the women's program. Robbin returned to CEM in Grass Valley in 1985 with her husband, Gene Adams, where she served as the Administrative Office Manager and Executive Secretary to Jim Parker while Gene joined the counseling staff headed by Mike Petrillo. In 1989 she left this position to be a full-time mother and home educator of their four daughters for 22 years. The Adams family served on staff with CEM for 18 years. In 2009 Robbin returned to CEM as the high school English teacher where she continues to serve.
Receptionist Salena Berger
Salena graduated from the University of Northwestern - St. Paul in 2016 with degrees in both Bible and Ministry and an emphasis in Intercultural Studies. Salena served a two-year internship at CEM before joining the staff in August 2018. She has participated in short term missions trips to West Virginia, Illinois, Trinidad, Albania, Thailand, and Japan. Salena originated from the Chicagoland area, where her family still resides. She enjoys music, hammocking, and driving.
Director of Operations/Donor Services Charlie Cazin
Charlie attended Fullerton College and worked in college ministry before coming to CEM in 2001 to serve a 2-year internship. He then pursued a career in the banking industry and worked for and managed a local bank before hearing God's call to move back into ministry. Charlie joined CEM as the Church Relations/Donor Services Coordinator in 2014 and began serving as the Director of Operations in April of 2017.
Assistant Director of Discipleship Paxton Fitzpatrick
Paxton graduated from William Jessup University in 2016 with a Bachelors Degree in Psychology. He served as a summer intern for CEM in 2016 as his fieldwork assignment for his degree. After graduation, Paxton stayed closely connected with CEM while working nearby for two summers as the Teen Camp Program Director for the Salvation Army Camp Del Oro and six months at a group home in Placer County. He has served in this position since August 2017.
Office Manager Caryn Galeckas
Caryn graduated from Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL, with a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education in 1981. She worked as a summer wilderness leader at Honey Rock Camp from 1979 to 1981, and came to CEM in 1982 to work in the wilderness camping program, Discovery Expeditions; she was the director of that program from 1985 to 1994. She taught in Christian Encounter High School from 1994 to 1995, and continues to teach P.E. to the present time. Caryn has been the Office Manager since 1996 and also continues to help lead CEM wilderness trips. She is a certified Red Cross Lifeguard and certified Wilderness First Responder.
Women's Counselor Elise Gallagher
Elise received her Master’s Degree in counseling/psychology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, IL in 1994. She worked as a counselor at CEM from 1996-1999 until her first child was born. She later worked as a psychological assistant counseling women in the church and through the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Coalition in Grass Valley, CA. She rejoined the CEM staff in 2016 where she is excited to be part of the healing work of Jesus Christ in the lives of young men and women.
Director of Counseling Tom Griffith
Tom has been a resident of Nevada County for over 25 years, serving youth and adolescents in the mental health field in Sacramento and Nevada counties since 2001. Tom worked at a secular counseling agency for 14 years, often with children in CPS cases and in the foster care system. During this time, he also opened his own private practice in Grass Valley, enabling him to integrate his faith with his therapy for individuals and families. Upon joining the staff in 2018, Tom says, "The population God has prepared me for is right here.”
School Principal Suzanne Hartley
Suzanne graduated from Humboldt State University in Arcata, California, with a Bachelor of Arts in Recreation in 1990. She worked as a wilderness leader at Honey Rock Camp in Wisconsin from 1990 to 1994. Suzanne came to CEM in 1994 for a 2-year internship, then transitioned to the school, where she teaches government, economics, math, and health. She also runs the CEM wilderness program and assists the students with their medical needs. Suzanne is ACSI teacher certified, Wilderness First Responder certified, and Red Cross Lifeguard certified. In June of 2016 Suzanne earned her Master's Degree in Christian Education from The Institute for Creation Research's School of Biblical Apologetics.
Business Manager Randy Hearn
Randy graduated from Heald Business College in 1965 and had a small accounting practice for approximately ten years. He also worked in the truck leasing industry for twenty years, retiring as the Northern California Zone Manager for Avis in 1982. He built a house in Grass Valley and bought and sold real estate. He was a CEM board member from 2003 to 2008. When a need arose in the CEM Business Office, Randy answered the call, first as a volunteer, next as a consultant, then joining the staff full time in 2009.
Operations Assistant Tom Kern
Tom graduated from the University of Illinois in 1972 with a Bachelor of Social Welfare. He attended Lincoln Christian Seminary from 1972 to 1975, and took graduate counseling classes at Azusa Pacific University in 1981. Tom worked as a Youth Minister in Danville, IL, from 1972 to 1975, and as a missionary teacher in Liberia, West Africa, from 1975 to 1976. He taught for one year at an alternative High School in Springfield, IL. Tom came to CEM to serve as an intern in 1978, and faculty trainee in 1979. He married intern Jan Myers here at CEM in 1980; Tom and Jan were on staff at the Missouri Christian Encounter Ranch until the end of 1980. They returned to the California Ranch in 1982, and Tom has been the Christian Encounter High School principal since then.
Maintenance Assistant David LaRash
Dave graduated from California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo in 1980 with a degree in Forestry, a Masters degree in Agriculture and a teaching credential in Agriculture. Dave taught high school in Carlsbad, CA before marrying Maria Adamo. After spending 3 years in Nigeria working with tree nurseries, Dave and Maria, along with their 3 children, settled in Northern California. Dave taught at Foresthill Divide Middle School for 27 years - teaching all subjects through out the years. Dave retired from his career as an educator in the Spring of 2016 and joined the CEM staff in the Fall of 2016 as operations and maintenance staff.
Communications Zoya Lee
Zoya graduated from the University of California at Davis in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts in Interior Architecture. She has participated in short-term mission trips to Taiwan and Kenya. Just before arriving at CEM in 2010 to begin her internship, she was appointed as a member of African Inland Mission and planned to leave for the field in 2012. God had other plans. In 2012, Zoya completed her two-year internship and remained at CEM serving in various capacities, eventually joining the staff in 2013.
Assistant Director of Operations/Accountant Sharon MacLean Sharon graduated from Colorado Christian University, Lakewood, CO, in 2007 with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration. She is also a 2008 graduate of The School of Leadership Development, Yuba City, CA. Sharon has spent time doing missionary work in Mexico, Cambodia, Fiji, China, Vietnam, and the island nation of Vanuatu. She came to CEM to serve a nine-month internship in 2010 and began working as the Women’s Ministry House Leader in early 2011. Sharon has served as CEM's Accountant, since February 2012 and began serving as the Assistant Director of Operations in April 2017.
Director of Student Life/Intern Director Jensen Near
Jensen graduated from Patrick Henry College in 2010 with a degree in Government and an emphasis in American Politics and Policy. He spent five years in Christian Student Development, working as a Resident Director at PHC for three years and as a RD and the Assistant Director of Discipleship at William Jessup University for two years. Jensen came to CEM in May 2018 after a three-year stretch as the Young Adults Ministries Director at Morgan Hill Bible Church. He received his M.A. in Biblical and Theological Studies from Western Seminary in December 2017. Jensen's hobbies are playing sports, eating good food, and making his wife Elizabeth laugh as often as possible.
Maintenance Coordinator Austin Sather
Bio coming soon.
Food Service Manager Chris Unitt
Born and raised in southern California, Chris worked as a Licensed Vocational Nurse for several years before meeting and marrying her husband, Gary. Chris then proceeded to raise and home-school their three boys. In 2004, the call of the “north” brought them to Nevada County, and they became the proud owners of a campground on Rollins Lake in Grass Valley. A true, family business ensued for the next nine years as they continued to raise their boys and create a spot which offered “family camping at its best." Chris has also been a dedicated AWANA volunteer for almost 20 years! She loves being a part of "training up children to know, love, and serve the Lord." After selling their campground business, Chris was able to turn to another passion in her life: cooking. Chris worked in several local kitchens in Grass Valley before hearing God's call to join the CEM team as our Food Service Manager in late 2017. CEM is a great place to meld all of the things Chris loves to be a part of: mentoring, training, cooking, and all things “outdoors."
Office Hours: M-F: 9a-4p
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Contact: p: 530-268-0877 | f: 530-268-9077 email us PO Box 1022 Grass Valley, CA 95945