In 2010 Kim Winston Bigler started what would eventually become James Samaritan out of the trunk of her car in California. Over the last 5 years (after moving back to Louisiana), she has built an organization which has an incredible impact on the Louisiana foster care community. She has grown James Samaritan by building relationships with the Louisiana Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS), local churches and an army of community volunteers. Her contributions to the foster care system have received statewide recognition. She has been recognized for her impact on changing how we care for our most vulnerable. Kim has been recognized by many of the top organizations in Louisiana for her service to children and families. These organizations include LFAPA, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation Angel Award, YMCA St. Tammany West Hometown Hero Award, Together We Can Conference, Linda Christmas Award, Louisiana Institute of Children and Families, Angel in Adoption Award, First Lady Edwards Louisiana Fosters, Governor Edwards, Louisiana Institute of Children in Families, and many more.
Director of Northern Louisiana
Jennifer Graves was born and raised in West Monroe, Louisiana where she still resides with her husband and two daughters. She is a 2004 graduate of The University of Louisiana at Monroe with a degree in Social Work. She has always had a passion for working with and helping children and their families. Jennifer began her career as an intern with The Department of Children and Family Services. She then went to work at The Center for Children and Families. Jennifer was employed there for 17 years. During that time she held the position of CASA Advocate Supervisor, Forensic Interviewer, Children’s Advocacy Center Coordinator, and Director of the Children’s Advocacy Center. During her time as a forensic interviewer she interviewed about 1,500 children that were alleged victims of abuse. In her role as Director of the CAC she grew the CAC from a staff of two employees to eight. The CAC provided interviews, counseling, advocacy, prevention services, community outreach, and forensic medical exams to alleged victims of abuse in nine parishes in Northeast Louisiana. Jennifer has always felt called to help victims of abuse and believes no one is equipped to go through this world alone.
Director of Operations
Staci Schwittay is a member of the executive management team, and is responsible for the administration of James Samaritan. Staci developed a strong sense of devotion for the nonprofit sector when she moved to Louisiana and helped with the recovery of Hurricane Katrina. Helping others unleashed something in her spirit that forever changed her world. She has been a part of several organizations including the Samartian Center, Boys & Girls Club, Celebrate Recovery, Church of the King, Bedico Baptist, Saint Tammany Art Association, Art for Madisonville, Ahava Festival and Ozone Songwriters Festival. Staci has a real passion for service and making the world a better place.
Mr. Cook is a Commercial Sales & Leasing Executive for Stirling Properties and serves as the President of The Realtor Land Institute’s Louisiana Chapter. He is a Mandeville High School graduate and received his Bachelorette and Master of Science from Louisiana Tech. He is a strong local advocate for the special needs community as the Program Director for the iCAN Sports League and a Board Member for Special Olympics LA. He also serves as an active Board Member for James Samaritan and the Youth Service Bureau that champion foster and youth services.
Pam Abide is Managing Partner of New Orleans Equity Partners. Her extensive network of contacts has allowed Pam to partner with some of the most respected and experienced people in the real estate industry, producing more than $1 billion dollars of real estate development experience. Pam and her business partners successfully collaborate to manage the complexities of real estate developments. Her vast knowledge of finance, design, environmental, zoning and execution has made her a recognized leader in leader in the business community. Additionally, Pam is a Managing Partner of Paragon Business Capital, which is a firm that provides alternative financing, commonly known as Factoring, for small and mid-size businesses who want to increase business revenue and profitability. Pam believes in nurturing strong business relationships that create a win-win for all parties involved. As a confident, driven professional who reacts quickly to opportunities that produce yield high returns, Pam focuses on project development and acquisitions.
Matt Donley is the Lead Pastor of Cultivation Church in Covington. Pastor Matt has been in full-time ministry for over 18 years where he has served in various capacities such as children’s pastor, youth pastor, and associate pastor in Louisiana and Alabama before he and his wife founded Cultivation Church in 2017. Pastor Matt felt a burden to reach into the foster care system after seeing the enormous need on the Northshore. That burden has led to a church-wide initiative to see hope brought to those effected in the foster system and a big part of that is partnering with James Samaritan.
Caitlin was born and raised in Covington, LA. She graduated from St. Scholastica Academy in 2003 and earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communications at LSU in 2007. Shortly after college, Caitlin moved to the Dallas/Fort worth area where she discovered her love of Product Development in the Beauty Industry. After developing several products for the brand Bed Head, she was relocated to New York City to work in Brand Development for the mass haircare brand, Suave Professionals. In 2012, Caitlin returned with her husband to settle down in Covington. Taking all of her learnings from Texas and New York, she created her own beauty brand, Kismet, in 2013. Since launching her brand, Kismet has been featured in national magazines, subscription bags and even CNBC’s Billion Dollar Buyer. Kismet was also named LSU’s top 100 fastest growing businesses in 2019 and again in 2021. Caitlin is the beauty editor for Edge of the Lake Magazine, keeping the Northshore up to date with the latest hair, makeup and skincare trends. She also is on the St. Scholastica Academy Alumnae Board and she is the SSA Alumnae Coordinator. Caitlin loves to reconnect and bring fellow alumnae together to create an even stronger, female driven community. She also organizes the popular Dove Market, highlighting local businesses and
community outreach. Caitlin is also part of the 2021 Leadership St. Tammany Class. Caitlin currently lives in Covington with her husband, Scott and their three children, Ruby, Henry and Eliza. Nothing makes her happier than driving around their kids to different activities, coaching Ruby's Pee Wee Pep Squad and being room mom
Serving as Director of Finance and Investor Relations with New Orleans Equity Partners, based in Covington, LA, Sharon’s primary focus includes Land Investment, Fossil Fuels Investments and Real Estate Development. She works closely with local leaders and influencers in the markets she is invested in to ensure success in those markets. Her knowledge and experience with acquisitions and structuring of successful projects bring many creative ideas to enhance profitability. Her active participation in the marketplace has enhanced her ability to make a difference locally and to stay connected in a constantly changing and emerging marketplace. Sharon partners with some of the most experienced people in the Real Estate Industry and brings a management team with over $1 billion dollars of Real Estate development experience. Sharon helps to navigate through the complexities of zoning, design, environmental, finance and execution of Real Estate development projects.
David Richard has 30 years of insurance, IT, and executive level business experience. He began his professional career after graduating from LSU and becoming a full-time EMT-Intermediate Paramedic at East Jefferson General Hospital. He then joined the insurance services firm his father started, assuming information technology roles in the growing company. As a former software developer, systems engineer, manager, division president, CTO, CIO, and now Sr. VP for a tech company in Texas, David has worked at the senior executive level of a large, multi-national company (more than 5,000 employees). His past volunteer efforts have been on local and state-wide election campaigns, helping 2016 flood recovery and victims, past president of the SELU CS/IT Advisory board, Education Travel and Culture (edutrav.org) and the Visiting Pet Program.
Rebecca Birkett is the principal of Lyon Elementary school in Covington, Louisiana. She has worked in the field of education for over 15 years. Rebecca received her Bachelors Degree in Psychology from Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia and her Master’s degree in Elementary Education from Mercy College in New York City. Rebecca is an Ohio native and is a proud (and loud!) Buckeye fan! She attended The Ohio State University in 2009 and 2014 where she completed coursework to obtain her principal and superintendent licensure. She married her best friend, Owen, in 2015 and quickly learned when you marry someone from south Louisiana, they bring you back to south Louisiana. Rebecca serves as the Executive Board Secretary for the Children's Advocacy Center - Hope House. She is extremely excited and humbled to join the board where her passion for children and young adults will be an asset to the mission and vision of James Samaritan. Rebecca lives in the city of Covington with her husband, their Yorkie-Poo Napoleon, and their niece who is a junior at Spelman.
Glynn Robinson is Minister of Missions and Evangelism at First Baptist Church in Covington where he has served since 1997. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Southern Mississippi and a Master of Divinity degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Prior to moving to Covington he served in churches in Hattiesburg, MS and Natchitoches, LA. Glynn gives leadership to FBC Covington’s local and international missions efforts. He also leads FBC Covington’s disaster relief response ministry and actively engages in community ministry partnerships with organizations seeking to make our community better and stronger. He is the director of the FBC Covington’s kid’s sports league, Upward Sports. Glynn and his wife Melinda are love spending their Saturdays watching Southern Miss football and hooking their camper up and going places they have never been.
Cleveland Wester was born in Boynton Beach, Florida and graduated from Concordia University in Seward, Nebraska with a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) in 1986. Cleveland earned his Master of Social Work (MSW) with a specialty in Community and Organization from Michigan State University in 2006. Prior to being named CEO of Youth Service Bureau in 2020, Cleveland had recently begun work on his dissertation in business administration from North Central University in Flagstaff, Arizona.
A standout running back at Concordia University, Cleveland was inducted into his college's Football Hall of Fame in 2004. After college, Cleveland briefly played in the National Football League for the Detroit Lions. When his football career was cut short by injuries, Cleveland returned to his original dream of helping others. As far back as 12 years old, Cleveland set goals for himself of graduating high school and college, playing in the NFL, and helping children and families. Since 1988, he has been working in the nonprofit realm helping children and families believe they can succeed through hard work, despite challenging backgrounds or family situations.
Outside of work, Cleveland enjoys being in the gym, traveling, playing golf when time permits, and reading. One day he hopes to return to his love of horseback riding.