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United States Leadership Team

Our US Leadership Team

Patrick Atkinson

Founder & Executive Director

Member of Board of Directors

Bismarck, North Dakota-native Patrick Atkinson attended Minnesota State University – Moorhead where he earned a BA in Criminal Justice (pre-law) and a BSW in Social Work (chemical dependency counseling). After graduation in 1981, he turned down several lucrative corporate job offers to work with runaways, prostitutes, and gang members in New York City Hell’s Kitchen. In 1983, Patrick moved to Central America where he began a life-long international career in war-zone reconciliation and post-war reconstruction. He earned a Masters of Nonprofit Management from Regis University and has studied post-graduate studies at Harvard University and the University of Oxford.

A popular university guest lecturer on issues related to human trafficking, international nonprofit management, and street gang issues, he has been knighted, is the recipient of numerous human rights awards (including the Guatemalan Congressional Medal) and is the subject of author Monica Hannan’s biography, The Dream Maker. He is author of several award-winning books, including the international selling Message for My Child and The Powerful You, as well as the founder and executive director of The GOD’S CHILD Project, the Institute for Trafficked, Exploited & Missing PersonsThe Atkinson Center, and several Central American charities.

When not being shot at, knifed, caught in car bombings, or traveling worldwide advocating on behalf of abused, abandoned, or human-trafficking victims, Patrick resides with his family in Central America, in Bismarck, ND, and at Hippo Wallow Pond, his family home outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Contact Patrick:
Info@GodsChild.org
612-351-8020

Kathy Bird

Bismarck, ND Office Assistant and Community Donations Manager

After working in State and Federal Government for 20 years, Kathy Bird decided, upon retirement, to spend her time and energy in charitable ways – helping people in need.

Kathy helps GCP’s incredible donor and community support base from GCP’s Bismarck, North Dakota office, and helps them to best serve underprivileged children and families locally and internationally. Kathy also coordinates the collection and redistribution of tens of thousands of lbs. of donated clothing, school supplies, and medical equipment from North Dakota families and organizations, to GCP’s charities worldwide in addition to needy regional charitable efforts.

Over the years, Kathy has taught English to refugees from Thailand, and served in the “Big Sister” program.  She loves spending time with children and families, and helping others who may need a little extra care during difficult moments in life.

Contact Kathy:
Kathy.Bird@GodsChild.org
701-255-7956

Amy C. Brueckner

HUMAN TRAFFICKING SPECIALIST

Amy C. Brueckner has worked for several years with vulnerable persons, and especially women and children in need of urgent services and resources after surviving domestic and sexual abuse, drug use, and commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking.
 
Her role with GCP and GCP’s dedicated anti-human trafficking sub-program, the ‘Institute for Trafficked, Exploited & Missing Persons’ (ITEMP.org) have range from crisis intervention and advocacy, rescue and victim counseling, survivor case management, and public and university education.
 
When not working directly in the streets with human trafficking victims, Amy also focuses on training others to recognize the indicators of the commercial sex trade so that awareness brings advocacy, and advocacy ends the silence of sex trafficking.
 
Amy states that the strength of each survivor is her passion and motivation to keep moving forward.
 

Contact Amy:
Amy.Brueckner@ITEMP.org
612-351-8020

Brendan Dwyer

Director of Community Engagement – Philadelphia, PA

Member of Board of Directors

Philadelphia-native Brendan Dwyer first worked with The GOD’S CHILD Project and La Asociación Nuestros Ahijados (ANA) in 2009, when he was 16 and joined his first ServiceTeam Experience trip to Guatemala. He immediately fell in love with GCP and the work and would later lead several more trips while recruiting new volunteers to join him.

Brendan graduated with a degree in Finance and a Spanish minor from Villanova University in 2014 and worked for five years at a Philadelphia brokerage firm before moving to Guatemala to work as the ANA’s National Director for two years (2020-2021).

Brendan is now back in the Philadelphia area where he works as a financial advisor, in addition to his role as GCP’s Director of Community Engagement for the East Coast.

As Director of Community Engagement, Brendan leads speaking engagements to support fundraising efforts, generates volunteer and ServiceTeam Experience interest, and raises awareness. He continues to lead ServiceTeam Experiences to Guatemala to build homes, care for baby-patients at Casa Jackson for Malnourished Children, and distribute food and clothing to ANA’s children and families.

Brendan considers Guatemala to be his second home and holds the Project close to his heart. He believes visits to GCP and ANA are crucial for people to witness true poverty first-hand so they can better understand the tools people need to break out of poverty forever.

Contact Brendan:
612-351-8020

Edward P. Hickey

MEMBER OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Edward P. Hickey was a Senior Leader at Vanguard managing a team of Investment Advisors who helped their nonprofit clients achieve their missions. Edward was also responsible for helping to grow and manage Vanguard’s Nonprofit Institutional Services’ $65 billion Outsourced Chief Investment Officer services.

Edward very recently retired from the financial services industry to live in Guatemala where he is learning Spanish and volunteering with The GOD’S CHILD Project-affiliated Nuestros Ahijados program in different leadership projects.

Contact Ed:
Board@GodsChild.org
612-351-8020

Patrick Martin

Executive Assistant

Patrick Martin has lived a life filled with diverse experiences and achievements.

Born and raised in picturesque Michigan, Patrick developed a deep connection to nature’s beauty at an early age, which eventually led him to earn a Bachelor of Science in Geology degree from Albion College.

After graduation, Patrick dedicated the next 21 years to serving his community in a professional career with the Michigan Department of Transportation. He played an integral role in ensuring the quality of the materials used in the development and maintenance of Michigan’s roadways
and infrastructure.

Going beyond his professional endeavors, Patrick’s commitment to community service and leadership is evident. As a youth, he achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, demonstrating his dedication, leadership, and resourcefulness. He continues to possess a diverse range of interests and hobbies.

He is an avid reader and sports enthusiast, with a particular passion for golf. Whether he’s on the golf course, wielding a racket on the tennis court, or exploring the great outdoors through hiking, Patrick’s active lifestyle reflects his zest for life and his appreciation for the natural world.

Contact Patrick:
Patrick.Martin@GodsChild.org
612-351-8020

Kimberly Matts

Office Manager

Kimberly graduated from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota Twin Cities with a BS in Marketing.  She has always had a love for travel, particularly Mexico, and is passionate about helping others and learning about different cultures.  Kimberly began her career in the travel industry and quickly determined that her niche was planning events and creating unforgettable experiences for people to share.  Through her career she was able to work with a wide array of clients, but working with non-profits always held a special place in her heart.  Helping others comes second nature to Kimberly and she has volunteered with numerous local animal rescues and People Serving People in Minneapolis.

After many successful years in event planning, Kimberly decided that it was time to shift career paths to something more meaningful where she could truly make a difference.  Kimberly oversees the daily operations in Minneapolis and truly enjoys working with our team who are dedicated to being of service to others.  The best part of her job is hearing the children’s success stories and connecting with donors and volunteers.  

Contact Kimberly:
Kimberly.Matts@GodsChild.org
612-351-8020

Amelia Miller

PROGRAM MANAGER

Amelia, a native of central Illinois, is a dedicated advocate for education, holding a degree in Elementary Education from Butler University. With a background spanning 15 years, she has passionately pursued her love for education as both a public-school educator and a teacher leader, also contributing to various instructional companies. Driven by her firm belief that everyone deserves access to a quality education, Amelia has found her purpose with The GOD’S CHILD Project.

She is committed to making a positive impact and derives joy from the opportunity to continue creating a difference in our world and building meaningful relationships along the way. Beyond her professional endeavors, Amelia cherishes moments spent with her family, friends, and beloved dogs. In her spare time, Amelia and her husband enjoy traveling, cooking, and playing golf together. As a die-hard Chicago sports fan (Go Cubs Go!), she loves cheering on her favorite teams!  

Contact Amelia:
Amelia.Miller@godschild.org
612-351-8020

Dan Morgan, MSW, DCSW

Member of the Board of Directors

Dan is a native Montanan with degrees from both Montana State University and the University of Montana. He received his Clinical Doctorate Degree from the University of Washington.
 
In 2006, Dan retired after 32 years as a judge and Youth and Family Hearings Officer with the Fourth Judicial District Youth Court. Dan also directed the Clinical Intervention Program where he supervised University Graduate Students performing clinical internships with the Court. Simultaneously, Dan taught at the University of Montana and retains Faculty Affiliation with the Departments of Sociology, Psychology, and Social Work.
 
Dan has had the privilege of presenting over 200 workshops and conferences, published numerous articles and journal reports, and co-authored a school administration required resource book on Depression, Suicide and Resiliency.
 
Dan continues to serve the State of Montana as the Mental Health Team Leader of the Regional Critical Incident Stress Management Team (CISM). As such, he trains acute stress management team members around the state and organizes and leads debriefings of emergency personnel involved in death issues in both Montana and surrounding states.
 
Dan serves on the Board of The GOD’S CHILD Project where he assists the Founder/CEO, consults with other staff and Board Members, promotes GCP in the Northwest US region, and has led over 14 GCP ServiceTeams to Antigua, Guatemala where the GCP serves some of the most impoverished people in the world.
 
Dan is the proud father of his 38-year-old daughter, Jaclyn, her husband Jeff, and his two grandsons, Owen (6) and Anders (3).
 
Dan’s hobbies include studying the Bible, ocean sailing, sailboat racing, skiing, mountain biking, stand up paddle boarding, white water kayaking, camping, and traveling. He is a Christian by faith and attends the Christian Missionary and Alliance Church in Missoula.
 

Contact Dan:
Board@GodsChild.org
612-351-8020

Christy Nicolaisen

Director

My name is Christy Nicolaisen. It is a pleasure and honor to work for GCP! The impact that this agency makes is truly incredible and humbling. From saving babies, to giving an education to children, to building safe and secure homes for families that probably would never have had that opportunity, are miracles.
 
A bit about my background, I did immigration legal work at a non-profit as a Dept. of Justice Accredited Representative and have over 16 years of experience representing clients. At the same time, I was the Executive Director of three non-profits over the last couple of decades. I have over 31 years of experience working within the immigrant, refugee and variety of different religious communities. I was the Director of the Foundation Against Homelessness for four years as well as I taught ESL, GED, Citizenship and Credit English to ELL students at Western Iowa Tech Community College for over 14 years at night and early mornings. I joined the Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors in 2016.
 
I have won several awards helping the immigrant communities in Sioux City, IA and Sioux Falls, SD. I won “40 Leaders Under 40” recognition in 2001 and the “Young Woman of Excellence” Award in 2002. I am very passionate about the work I do and try my best to help all the people I can. I very much look forward to working at GCP!
 

Contact Christy:
Christy.Nicolaisen@godschild.org
612-351-8020

Alyza Streeter

Sponsorship and Program Coordinator

Alyza took her first international trip to Guatemala in the Spring of 2021 where she helped build a house, cared for kids at Casa Jackson Hospital for Malnourished Children, collaborated with volunteers and staff, and distributed food to families in need. In her role as Program Coordinator Alyza helps volunteers, sponsors, and donors have a positive experience.  She especially enjoys working with GCP because she believes it is important to help children who lack access to the basic tools to succeed, such as healthcare and education.

Alyza began her career working for large corporations, but after a few years switched to non-profit employment as she wanted to do work that is more personally fulfilling.  Her first foray into charity work promoted fair trade artists in developing countries using sustainable resources.  Working to improve the lives of families around the world is a cause close to her heart.

Contact Alyza:
Alyza.Streeter@GodsChild.org
612-351-8020

Of Counsel

CHARITY HELD TO THE HIGHEST STANDARDS. The GOD’S CHILD Project and all GCP-networked agencies adhere to the highest standards of financial accountability, program stability, operational transparency, and good governance through the implementation of best practices.
 
More than ever, GCP is called upon to respond on planned and emergency bases to people and communities in need, and quite often to victims of severe crisis.
 
GCP’s leadership team is proud to count on the dedication, skill, and compassion of these nonprofit legal specialists for guidance:

Heidi Christianson, Attorney
Joseph Schmitt, Attorney
Nilan Johnson Lewis Law Firm
250 S Marquette Ave Ste 800
Minneapolis, MN 55401
www.NilanJohnson.com

KrisAnn Norby-Jahner, Attorney
Vogel Law Firm
200 North 3rd Street, Suite 201
Bismarck, ND 58501
www.VogelLaw.com