Staff

Dietrich Kirk - Executive Director

"Deech" Kirk has been in youth ministry for 20+ years. He served as the youth minister of Brentwood United Methodist Church for six years before becoming the Executive Director of the Center for Youth Ministry Training in 2006. He continues to serve as one of Brentwood's associate ministers.  He is the author of Raising Teens in an Almost Christian World: A Parent's Guide and one of the co-authors of Now What? Next Steps in Your New Life with Christ.   When he is not leading the CYMT, speaking at youth events, or training other youth workers, Deech enjoys spending time with his wife Keeley and daughters Carlisle and Hallie.
Email Deech

Lesleigh Carmichael - Director of Coaching

Lesleigh directs the coaching process for the CYMT students. She has been with CYMT from the beginning and transitioned to her role of Director of Coaching in the Spring of 2008 from the many jobs she had before. She is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). When she is not working at CYMT, Lesleigh enjoys spending time with her husband, Jamey, and their two daughters, Anna Lauryn and Karaley. Lesleigh also serves as a lead consultant with Youth Ministry Architects.
Email Lesleigh

Andrew Zirschky - Academic Director

Andrew holds an M.Div. and a Ph.D. in Practical Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary. He oversees the development of our academic program and also teaches many of our youth ministry courses offered through Memphis Theological Seminary. He has 20 years of ministry experience as a youth and college minister at churches in Idaho, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. He has also been named a Timothy Scholar by the United Methodist Foundation for Evangelism based upon his research emphasis in youth and young adult ministry.
Email Andrew

Margaret Ikard - Development Director

Margaret is the Development Director for CYMT. She joined the team in 2014 with a background in fundraising and special events. She is responsible for achieving the CYMT’s fundraising goals and engaging donors in our ministry mission. Margaret is a native Nashvillian and lives in Brentwood with her husband, Matt, and their children Matthew and Eleanor.
Email Margaret

Kris Konsowitz - Memphis Regional Director

Kris has been the Director of Youth Ministries and Young Adults at Collierville United Methodist Church in Collierville, Tenn. for more than two decades.  She is married to Bob and they have three children: Melissa, Chris, and Laura. Kris serves the Memphis region coaching, supervising coaches, and partnering with churches to build foundations for effective youth ministry.
Email Kris

Keeley Kirk - PR & Admissions Coordinator

Keeley specializes in public relations, marketing, graphic arts, and business organization. Keeley lives in Brentwood, Tenn. with her husband, Dietrich, and their daughters Carlisle and Hallie Mae.  Keeley manages all public relations activities and coordinates the admissions process for the CYMT.
Email Keeley

Julia Canada Wilburn - Editorial Director/Operations Manager

Julia directs the editorial efforts for the Resources section of cymt.org and manages operations and events for CYMT. She has an extensive background in marketing in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors. Prior to joining CYMT she was a freelance marketing consultant. A native Tennessean, Julia, her husband Jonathan, and their son Malone live in Nashville with their dog, Elwood.
Email Julia

Jim Edwards - Director of Finance

Jim Edwards volunteers his time as our Director of Finance.  Jim is retired from a life in business with Sage Employment.  He and his wife Katie have one son, Steven, and enjoy spending their time traveling and playing golf.
Email Jim

Mark DeVries - Co- Founder

For over 20 years, Mark has served as Associate Pastor for Youth and their Families at First Presbyterian Church, Nashville, Tenn., where he continues to oversee the youth ministry on a part-time basis. Additionally, Mark is the founder of Youth Ministry Architects, a hands-on coaching service for churches whose youth ministries are in transition (intentional or unexpected) or churches who hope to see their youth ministries move to the next level. Mark has trained youth leaders across the United States, as well as in Russia, Canada, Uganda, and South Africa, working with a wide variety of denominations. He is the author of Family Based Youth Ministry and Sustainable Youth Ministry.

COACHES

Tony Akers - Coach

Tony Akers has a Master’s degree in Christian Education/Youth Ministry from Asbury Theological Seminary and recently entered his ninth year serving as the Minister to Youth and their Families at Trinity United Methodist Church in Huntsville, Ala. He is privileged to be married to Debbi and dad to Madison, Samuel, and Hannah Grace. When not doing youth ministry, Tony can be found at a soccer game, on the river, or reading.
Email Tony

Christy Beesley - Coach

Christy Beesley has worked with youth in the Episcopal Church for 15 years at parishes in Nashville, Atlanta, and Memphis. She has been involved with Episcopal youth events, retreats, and camps on the diocesan, provincial, and national levels. She currently lives in Nashville and works at St. Augustine’s Chapel, Thistle Farms, and DuBose Conference Center. She loves live music, college football, and adventures.
Email Christy

Robin Blakemore - Coach

Robin serves First Christian Church Birmingham as the Minister to Children and Youth and has served in youth ministry for more than 16 years. She and her husband Stan live in Birmingham, Ala. with their two daughters, Linnea and Kallan. Robin is also the Director of the Academy for Student Ministry in the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church and has a passion for equipping youth workers. In her spare time Robin enjoys reading and playing in the dirt.
Email Robin

Earle Burkley - Coach

In various capacities, Earle has served the students of Galloway Memorial UMC in Jackson, Miss. for more than 25 years. He has also volunteered in a prison ministry for 20 years. When not involved in ministry, Earle spends enough time practicing as a CPA to be able to buy whatever he wants from the local thrift shops.
Email Earle

Mark Curtis - Coach

Mark Curtis is the pastor at Lake Forest Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, TN. Mark has nearly 20 years experience working in youth ministry. Mark is married to Diana, and has two boys, Daniel, 6, and Asher, 1, and spends most of his time chasing them around. When he is not on the move after them, he loves playing softball, and riding his bike through beautiful East Tennessee.
Email Mark

Darin Easter - Coach

Darin Easter is both the Director of Student Ministries and Director of Discipleship at Medina First United Methodist Church in Medina, Tenn. Before coming to Medina FUMC in 2010, Darin ministered to students in three churches throughout North Alabama. Darin is married to Kelly in 1994, and they have two incredible kids Thomas and Sarah, and a Dalmatian named Lily. Darin holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Auburn University and completed a Master of Divinity from Memphis Theological Seminary in the spring of 2001.
Email Darin

Autura Hampton - Coach

Autura Eason Hampton is an ordained elder in the Memphis Conference of the United Methodist Church and has served as the pastor of Capleville UMC in Memphis,Tenn. since 2008. Previously, Autura has served in many youth ministry roles including Associate Director of Connectional Ministries. Since 2006, Autura has facilitated Formation For Ministry classes at Memphis Theological Seminary enjoying the opportunity to walk alongside seminarians of all ages as they respond to God's calling on their lives. She is also a devoted mother of four cute kids: Ayanna, John, Terence, Jr., and Gwendolyn.
Email Autura

Samantha Hassell - Coach

Samantha has served the Cumberland Presbyterian church as a Christian Educator working with children and youth for nearly 12 years. She has served the denomination as well as presbyteries and churches in both Tennessee and Kentucky. She and her husband, Victor, currently serve the Sturgis CPC in Sturgis, KY. Samantha and Victor have three children: Victoria, Mallory, and John.
Email Samantha

Hank Hilliard - Coach

Hank has been in full-time youth ministry since 1995. He is currently the Director of Youth Ministries at Franklin First United Methodist Church in Franklin, Tenn. Previously, Hank served as Director of Young People’s Ministries Development for the General Board of Discipleship of the United Methodist Church where his focus was training and equipping church leaders, creating youth ministry networks, and developing original resources. Hank has had two resources published: The Leadership Lab and Reentry: What I Learned on My Mission Trip. Hank is a graduate of Birmingham-Southern College. He currently lives in Franklin, Tenn. with his wife Amy and two sets of twins: Tanner and Kendall and Connor and Will.
Email Hank

Darin Miller - Coach

Darin Miller is the Family minister at The Cove UMC in Huntsville, Alabama.
Email Darin

Jason Sansbury - Coach

Jason Sansbury is the youth minister at Belle Meade United Methodist Church in Nashville, Tenn.  Previously, Jason has worked in youth ministry, serving churches in Franklin, Tenn. and Georgia as well as being on staff for Young Life.  Additionally, Jason was one of the founding partners of Crossed-Up Ministries, a ministry specializing in putting together large worship events for youth groups.  He has a heart for helping young people find their call into ministry and succeeding early in their ministry and careers. For fun, Jason loves movies, music, and television. He is a fount of useless pop culture trivia and dreams of being a winner on the TV show “Jeopardy.”
Email Jason

Jennifer Smith - Coach

Jennifer Smith is the Director of Children, Youth and Family Ministries at St. Elisabeth's Episcopal Church in Memphis, TN where she has served since 2008. Jennifer has coordinated the Happening movement for the Diocese of West TN for the past six years. She has served children and youth in churches in Missouri and Florida as well as staffing "Youth Week" at Kanuga Conference Center in Hendersonville, NC since 2007. Jennifer enjoys spending time with her family, watching movies and reading. And once...she was a contestant on The Price is Right!
Email Jennifer

Bart Styes - Coach

Bart Styes is the youth minister at Bluff Park UMC in Hoover, Alabama. Email Bart

David Thompson - Coach

Rev. David Thompson has been that Pastor of Student Ministries at Trinity UMC in Birmingham since May 2005. David was born and raised in Tuscaloosa, Ala. and is the son and grandson of United Methodist pastors. David earned a B.S. in Art from the University of Alabama and is currently in seminary at Memphis Theological. He is married to Tina and they have three daughters, Madelyn, Anna Blakely and Lily. David is a member of the USA Team Handball team.
Email David

Dee Wells - Coach

Dee Moore Wells is a third generation Disciple minister and has spent many years at Bethany Hills as a counselor or director of camps. She earned her Masters of Divinity from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. and is serving as Senior Minister at First Christian Church in Livingston, Tenn. She is married to Al Wells, and they live together on a 10 acre mountainside with dogs, cats, a brood of chickens and a host of goats. She has two children, David and Dana, and two grandchildren, Lizzy and Clay. Dee enjoys camping, boating, golfing, backpacking, entertaining friends, vegetable gardening, watching good movies, and reading.
Email Dee

Sean Williams - Coach

Sean began working in youth ministry in 1997 and has served as Youth Minister in United Methodist Churches in Texas, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. He is currently the Youth Minister at West End United Methodist Church in Nashville, TN. Sean graduated from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, TX with a B.A. in Theology. Sean lives in East Nashville with his wife, Jenn, their son Parker and daughter Sybil. He likes watching movies & TV, reading for fun, anything with a frisbee, napping and hanging out with his family.
Email Sean