Our Board of Directors

Deon Arnold

Deon Arnold

President of the Board of Directors

I have served on the ABRO board since 2001 and served as President since 2004.

My family hosted several children from 1997 to 2007 and I was also a group coordinator from 1998 to 2007. I have visited Belarus over 20 times .

Currently I am the owner of a HVAC company in Fayetteville, N.C.

You can contact me at: deonarnoldhac@gmail.com

Carsie Denning

Vice President of the Board of Directors

My wife and I have been involved in ABRO since 1995 and became a board member in 1996.  After we hosted our first child in 1995, we could not help but want to do more to help the ABRO Program. I have very much enjoyed seeing the program grow and watching and staying in touch with the children that were brought over through ABRO. The children that we first hosted are all adults now with their own children. In addition to the children, it is also a pleasure to see the host families and how they have stayed in touch with their ABRO children as well.   Being able to see the bonds built through the ABRO program have been a huge blessing to both my wife and I. 

In 2000, we took our son and daughter to Belarus to spend several days with the children’s family that we hosted. That was also a huge blessing to get to know them even more and allow our bond to get stronger.

Prior to retirement, I owned a software development company that dealt primarily with facility management for the education market. 

We look forward to seeing the ABRO program continue to grow over the years to help reach more of the people of Belarus.

You can contact me at carsie@carsie.com

Victor Birchmeier

Victor Birchmeier

Secretary of the Board of Directors

I am a Certified Public Accountant and I am currently the Chief Financial Officer of a manufacturing company headquartered in Charlotte, NC.

My wife and I have hosted our Belarusian family (five sibling girls) since 2018.  The experience has created a bond between our families that has enriched our lives immeasurably.  It is teaching our two small children that the world is a small place, and that kindness has no borders.

You can contact me at vbirchmeier@aol.com

Donald Dawson

Treasurer of the Board of Directors

Board Member 2003 – Donald has worked with the Belarussian Children’s Program through the Little River Baptist Association since 1995. He has served as Coordinator or Secretary of the Little River Group since 1997. He and his wife, Sharon, and daughter, Meghan, have hosted several Belarussian children in their home.

He has made 2 trips to Belarus, Christmas 1996 and Christmas 1999. He, and his daughter, Meghan, have been instrumental in involving many families in the ABRO ministry. Donald is a retired Principal. He served the children of Cumberland County for 34 years as teacher, assistant principal and principal. He and his family attend Friendship Baptist Church in Bunnlevel, North Carolina.

Bill Bangham

Bill Bangham

Founding Member of the Board of Directors

I am a photojournalist, writer and editor living Memphis, Tennessee. My articles on children exposed to radiation from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster led to the founding of ABRO. Later articles helped establish it as a charitable organization. I received a humanitarian award for those efforts. I served as editor for three national and international magazines, and I am the founding editor of a fourth. For my work in photography, writing and design I have been recognized with major secular and religious awards. They include Pictures of the Year international and the National Press Photographers Association Best of Photojournalism awards.
I have worked in more than 70 countries and I am currently teaching, speaking, taking occasional assignments, and working on personal projects.

You can contact me at wahokia@gmail.com

Yasmin Teter

Yasmin Teter

Board Member

My husband and I have been involved in ABRO since 2001 when we hosted out first child from Belarus. We have two daughters, now ages 18 and 21 and both in college. Our eldest daughter was not even a year old when we began this wonderful journey. After 2 years of hosting we became coordinators for our group. We have been hosting and coordinating for 20 years.

We love these kids and believe so strongly in this program. We feel it has taught our family so much over the years. I went to Belarus with the Christmas program in 2012. That was such an amazing experience to see these families in their own country, how they live and deal with life. This was such a reinforcement that we are doing the right thing and that we need to bring these children and reach out to them.

You can contact me at yteter64@gmail.com

George Fleshman

George Fleshman

Board Member

George retired from Branch Banking & Trust in Richmond as a Regional Mortgage Processing Manager several years ago. His banking career extended over 30 years. Prior to that he was in the heavy industrial construction business for about 27 years. These years were spent with the shipyard in Newport News and at Virginia Power.

In addition to this, he worked 10 years teaching adult education in night school. His real estate license in on inactive status and he holds a CMI (Certified Mortgage Investor) designation. He is a member of Cambridge Baptist Church and has been there for more than 20 years. While at Cambridge, he served as Group Cordinator for one year and have been actively involved in ABRO for 10 years.

Serving as owner’s representative at our church during the renovation and addition to the church plant was very enjoyable to him. This was about a two year project. He was invited on the ABRO Board in spring 2001 and served until family issues required he step down in 2015. He rejoined the board in Spring 2020. Serving the needs of others is what he does best. He was married for 58 years until the passing of his wife in Jan. 2020. He accepted Christ in 1951. On a more personal note, he collects crystal dinner bells.

Deborah Griffin

Deborah Griffin

Board Member

I am a writer and photographer living in eastern North Carolina. Over the years, I have held photography and writing positions with Greenville businesses such as East Carolina University, Vidant Health Medical System and The Daily Reflector newspaper. In 1995, my husband and I took a two-year hiatus and lived and worked in Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. When we returned, I started my own black and white niche photography business, using film and her journalistic background to photograph children and handprint the images on fine-art paper. I have been doing that for over 20 years.

Currently, I am a free-lance writer/photographer for several area publications such as Eastern Living and Greenville Magazine. I have recently begun ghostwriting and is a member of the newly formed Carolina Ghost Writers. I have been married for 31 years to Jimmy and we have two boys, ages 20 and 17. We are all members of Piney Grove Baptist Church in Williamston, where I teach Sunday School and serve on the Missions Team. I also volunteer for Royal Family Kids, a branch of For the Children, a non-government agency providing programs and advocacy for child victims of family induced trauma. I heard about ABRO when Bill Bangham, an editor whom I had free-lanced for, asked me if I was interested in being on the board. Having never served in such a capacity, I was honored and a bit nervous. I’m so grateful for the opportunity. It combines two things I love: telling stories that make a difference, and serving children whose circumstances put them at a disadvantage.

You can contact me at deborah@deborahgriffinphotography.com 

 

Jan Westbury

Jan Westbury

Board Member

I am a retired ESL teacher with a heart for internationals and an interest in lending a hand to needy children worldwide. I was Literacy Missions Coordinator for the California Southern Baptist Convention where I trained volunteers to teach English and start ESL ministries in their churches. After moving to Georgia, I continued to be involved in church based programs for internationals.

Currently I am a mentor for our public school system’s Hispanic Mentoring Program. In 1997 and again in 2000, my husband Joe and I traveled to China to adopt our two now grown daughters. I learned of ABRO’s work through conversations with our friend Bill Bangham (board member) many years ago, and by reading articles he wrote about it. I’ve always thought it was a worthy ministry and I’m glad to be a part of it now as a board member.

You can contact me at janwestbury@gmail.com

Executive Director

(ex officio)

Kristen Hinchman

Kristen Hinchman

I was introduced to the ABRO program in the summer of 2003 when my family was asked to host a welcome party for the group at our home. I loved meeting the children and the following Christmas I traveled to Belarus for the first time with the group. I quickly fell in love with the Belarussian culture and the Russian language. I returned home with a passion for reaching Belarussians which resulted in a degree in Russian studies. I took over as summer coordinator from my mom in 2007, returning to Belarus again that same year. In 2012 I joined ABRO’s Board of Directors and in November 2014 became the Executive Director. Since then I have been back to Belarus 4 times, 3 as part of ABRO’s Winter Trip (2015-16; 2017-18; and 2019-20) and once on our first (but hopefully not last) 2 week construction program in April 2017. I have been blessed beyond belief by this program and look forward to seeing the children each year.

As Director, I strive to see this program touch more and more lives every year and I look forward to serving the wonderful people who really make this program what it is! I have seen how hard everyone works and I know that each and every person involved, from the host families, to the coordinators, and our board members, is making a difference.

I am have been married to my husband, Colt for 8 years and we have a beloved golden retriever, Lexi. We live in Winston Salem, N.C.

You can contact me at usabro01@gmail.com.

Emeritus Members of the Board of Directors

Ellen Ross

Ellen Ross

I have been involved in ABRO since 1995. After my husband and I hosted 2 lovely girls in 1995, we hosted chaperones the next couple of years along with 5 trips to Belarus through ABRO. My love for the children and the country was immediate. It remains the same today. I was asked to serve on the ABRO board and served for many years. I love to watch the dedication and unity of the board as they work to help as many children as possible. I am a widow, mother, grandmother, and a great-grandmother. I am 100% behind the efforts of ABRO and its commitment to what it doing for the children of Belarus. After past years of working in pediatric oncology I also realize the benefit of bringing these children out of the radiation area. This is God’s work and I see it no other way.

Sam Petteway

Sam Petteway

I was blessed in the summer of 2000 when our family first hosted a Belarusian child. Since this first experience I have been able to travel to Belarus several times and build life-long relationships. Over the years I have hosted several children as well as served as our group’s local coordinator. I have seen God at work through this wonderful program! I work as a hospital pharmacist. I have a wonderful wife, two sons and a daughter. I play bass guitar in our church praise band and my wife sings and plays piano.

Pello Duncan

Pello Duncan

We remember Pello Duncan, who passed away earlier this year, for his years of dedicated service. He and his wife, Marie, hosted more than 15 children and chaperones and he traveled to Belarus more than 6 times while he was involved in ABRO. We love and miss you, Pello!

Here is what Pello shared about himself while he was a board member:
I was born in Person County, NC. I became a Christian in the early 50s while living in Florida. My 20 year career in the USAF carried my wife Marie and me to several locations of service. Subsequent to that period of my life, I was employed by local government. Marie and I have worked on disaster relief with the NC Baptist Men and have been on several other mission trips. We began to host Belarussian children in 1998 and have done so each year since. Some years we have hosted two children and a chaperone. Marie and I have been to Belarus several times with the Christmas group. Being a part of ABRO has been a great pleasure and blessing.