Brief Bios of the Contributors

The Kindling has three kinds of contributors: Writers, Proofreaders, and Caretakers. You can read about each particular contributor below.

Melissa Austin
Proofreader
Bio forthcoming.

Mike Austin
Writer
Michael is a teacher and administrator at Veritas Preparatory Academy. He loves geometry and God, and believes that to know mathematics is to explore the mind of God. He is not certain of his salvation, but he is sure of the love of Jesus Christ, and he asks for your prayers.

Will Bertain
Writer
Will was born in the part of the world that served as the setting for the forest moon of Endor. Upon graduating from Thomas Aquinas College, Will migrated to Phoenix from the (People's) Bear Republic of California, in order to work in his dream-job as a teacher. 12 years ago he met the woman who became his wife. He now has 5 kids. While his life increasingly resembles a Jim Gaffigan comic routine, he occasionally has time to watch shows on Netflix. If he is supposed to be awake, a mug of coffee is likely in close proximity. As a Catholic, he is really glad to have access to (and all too frequently finds himself in need of) the Sacrament of Confession.

Javier Bravo
Writer

Javier Bravo is a husband to Marisa and a father to Margaret Mary Bravo. He currently works as the Assistant Principal for Academics at Bourgade Catholic High School. He enjoys reading good books and is working his way through Tolkein's works. He started with The Similarion and is working his way to The Return of the King. When he's not engaged in reading these, he will hop from encyclical to spiritual reading. Otherwise, he's watching his little one practice gymnastics.

John Brungardt
Proofreader
John holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from the Catholic University of America, where he also received the licentiate in philosophy. His undergraduate alma mater is Thomas Aquinas College. He is also a Dominican tertiary. Currently, he is an instructor of mathematics at a college preparatory academy in the Phoenix area.

Michael Clancy
Caretaker
Michael was born in Denver, Colorado, but spent most of his young life in suburban Chicago. He moved to Arizona in 2005. He was baptized Catholic as an infant but was raised in an Evangelical Christian home. He has come “full circle” in his understanding and appreciation of the Roman Catholic faith. He says, “Rediscovering Catholicism has been a learning experience, but the grace and holiness of the Church supersedes questions of doctrine for me.”  Michael is an attorney in Scottsdale practicing family law and is engaged to be married to a wonderful woman, Catherine. If he’s not at the office, you will likely see Michael at a Cardinals game, playing with his adopted cocker spaniel, Dudley, or watching his beloved Chicago Blackhawks when they are on television locally.

Doug Connolly
Writer
Doug Connolly is a happily married father of three (soon to be four) kids. He moved to Phoenix in 2014 after 20 years in Austin, TX. He operates Connolly Asset Management. As for hobbies, he loves to read, especially middlebrow non-fiction. He hosts the podcast for Catholic Phoenix, where he is reminded that he isn't all-knowing. He also enjoys Brazilian jiu-jitsu, where he is reminded that he isn't all-powerful.

Anthony DiStefano
Writer
Tony has been married for almost thirty years, has three children, five cats, and one very cute dog. He teaches Theology at a local Catholic high school, and enjoys drinking bourbon and arguing with friends on his front porch. He also likes to read New Testament commentaries and books by and about Jane Austen, often on that porch, and has dreams of one day moving to Lourdes, France.

Rob Drapeau
Writer
Bio forthcoming.

Andrew Ellison
Writer
A literary disciple of Kafka, Joyce, and Alex Trebeck, Andrew is married to Laura and is the father of six children. He relocated from Indiana to Arizona in 1997 to begin a teaching career at a liberal arts prep school, a move which led him directly to his wife (2001) and to the Catholic Church (2005). For a decade he served as the headmaster of Veritas Preparatory Academy in Phoenix until a protest campaign by the Daughters of the American Revolution and the John Birch Society over his uncanny physical resemblance to Leon Trotsky forced him to step down. An avid guitarist, lutenist, banjo player, fretless electric bassist, and church chorister, Andrew counts among his strongest dislikes 1) the banal anti-culture of postmodernity and 2) tangled Christmas lights.  He and his family are parishioners at Mater Misericordiae in Phoenix, where he serves on the pastoral council.

Laura Ellison
Writer
Bio forthcoming.

Parker Fox
Writer
Parker was born in Peoria, Illinois, and grew up in the Minneapolis suburbs attending Trinity School at River Ridge, then moved to Phoenix where he finished high school at Veritas Preparatory Academy. Parker received a B.A. in History from Hillsdale College, MI, and is a third year law student at Arizona Summit Law School, focusing in Criminal Law. A recent RC convert, he attends St. Thomas the Apostle parish in Phoenix.

Ally Giles
Writer
Bio forthcoming.

Joe Giles
Writer
Bio forthcoming.

Stephanie Gilfillan
Writer
Stephanie Gilfillan is in love with her husband Brett and their two children. While a native of the Northwest, she has found a true home in the desert thanks to wonderful friends and the beautiful Catholic community in Phoenix. She can bench press over 80 lbs.

Bill Haley
Writer
Bio forthcoming.

Bette Hamann
Writer
Bio forthcoming.

Mike Hamann
Writer
Bio forthcoming.

Alishia Hanson
Writer
Alishia is married to Jamie Hanson. She is the mother of six kids, the oldest of whom is 10 years old. She graduated from Seattle Pacific University. She lives in Phoenix, where she grew up.

Jamie Hanson
Writer | Proofreader | Caretaker | Administrator
Jamie Hanson was born in Phoenix. He graduated from Thomas Aquinas College. He used to be a Latin teacher. He is married to Alishia. They have 6 kids. They are parishioners at St. Joan of Arc. Alishia and Jamie also write at Just a Catholic Family. Jamie really likes the book The Dog of the South.

Mike Henderson
Writer | Proofreader
Love, science, and the life of the mind: three ideas that would eventually become the framework for my personal perspective of a life well lived. From childhood I have been unusually concerned with loving people and things, learning about and discovering how the universe works, and the process of learning, thinking, and living. A romantic scientist philosopher with a strong pragmatic approach: to me this describes some chimeric caricature; nevertheless, it is how I would describe myself. Professionally I am a registered nurse. Privately I am married to Kristin and we have four young sons whose ages range from 10 down to 4 (and yes, around our house it’s as crazy as you think). Religiously I am a Protestant who has “apostatized” to the Roman Catholic Church (if all goes according to plan my family and I will be confirmed into communion with the Church at the Easter vigil in 2017!).

Tom Jay
Writer
Tom was born and raised in Scottsdale, AZ, where he still resides. He is a graduate of the University of Dallas (Fall Romer), where he discovered a love for history and travel. He is currently working on a Master's in Humanities from UD. Tom taught junior high at St. Agnes for a while, and now teaches 4th grade at Archway Classical Academy - Scottsdale. Tom thoroughly enjoys Italian food, chianti and books. He dreams of relocating to a small cottage on some out of the way island of the Mediterranean, where he will never again be required to wear a tie. He has a special devotion to St. Brendan, venerating the great Irish saint frequently with a glass or two of his delightful Irish Cream Liqueur, on the rocks.

Kerri Kudla
Proofreader
Born in Salt Lake City, Kerri Kudla moved from Denver to Boulder to Japan to Chicago to Moab before calling Phoenix home. She is a wife, a mother of two, a corporate worker bee, a student of human nature, and the household cook. In 2004, she converted to her Polish husband’s Catholic faith at St. Joan of Arc parish.

Aaron Martin
Proofreader
Aaron was born in Dayton, Ohio and moved to Phoenix after receiving B.A. and Ph.L. degrees in philosophy from the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. Aaron attended the University of Arizona for law school and is an attorney at Snell & Wilmer. He attends St. Thomas the Apostle parish in Phoenix, is married to Jenny, and has three children.

Jenny Martin
Writer
A native Phoenician, Jenny is married to Aaron and they have three children. They attend the same parish where Jenny grew up, and she enjoys watching her children make lots of memories inside and outside of its holy walls just as she did as a child. She always has fresh flowers by the kitchen sink, dark chocolate in the fridge, and a stack of books waiting to be read.

Danya Marvin
Writer
Danya Marvin: 46 year old wife to Joe of 23 years, and mom to 7 kids (3 bio and 4 adopted) ranging in age from 20 to 5 and now some fosters to boot. My hobbies include raising hens, needlepoint, camping and gardening when I get around to it. I also have an eye for design and love to help friends de-clutter, organize, and decorate their homes as energy and budgets allow. I love Our Lord and His Church and rely on them for strength and sustenance in my daily living.

Jessica McCaleb
Writer | Proofreader | Caretaker
Jessica is a fourth-generation Arizonan who sojourned in Hillsdale, MI, long enough for a bachelor's degree and an appreciation for multiple seasons. She likes to read, take walks, and write stuff. She was received into the Catholic Church in 2015, on the eve of Pentecost. Thanks be to God.

Cindy Montanarella
Writer
Cindy Montanarella is a 46-year-old disciple of Christ. She is married to a wonderful Catholic man, Paul. Together they have four grown children and an 8-year-old. Her faith journey started with the LDS (Mormon) church, travelled through many Protestant denominations, until finally settling into the Roman Catholic Church, where she finally developed a true relationship with Jesus Christ. Now she is so full of joy she longs to share that joy and her faith with everyone.

Kris Morris
Writer
Kris Morris was born in a Hobbit hole a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Just kidding. It was Riverside, CA. Kris has been married 32 years and lives in Mesa, AZ, with their son. She and her husband were received into the Catholic Church in 2004 at St. Joseph, Husband of Mary, Roman Catholic Church in Las Vegas, NV. They moved to Mesa in 2006 to be closer to her parents, who had retired to Mesa. She has been a parishioner at St. Timothy’s Catholic Church since 2010, when her son went through Family RCIA. She currently serves in several ministries at St. Timothy’s. Having made her Temporary Promises in May, she is half­way through formation to become part of the Order of Carmelites Discalced Secular. In January she will also begin Mesa Community College with the plans of transferring to Benedictine University to obtain a degree in Theology, God willing.

Doug Paul
Writer
Doug Paul was born and raised in small-town Arizona and earned a Bachelor's degree in history from Arizona State University in 1999. He spent a few years in Ohio and received a Master's degree in US history from The Ohio State University. He works in Government. He has been with his better half, Suzanne, since 2008, and they have five children, the oldest born in 2009 and the youngest in 2016. They are parishioners at St. Thomas the Apostle in Phoenix. Doug's favorite saints are Maximilian Kolbe, John Paul II, Thomas More, the North American Martyrs, Our Lady of Lourdes, and Louis & Zelie Martin, with honorable mentions Ven. Solanus Casey and Servant of God Emil Kapaun. His favorite Bible verse is the Bread of Life Discourse in John 6.

Kenneth Roberts
Writer
Bio forthcoming.

Rebecca Roberts
Writer
Rebecca Roberts was born and raised in Arizona. She holds an AA in Equine Science and is a graduate of the Diocese of Phoenix Kino Catechetical Institute. A mom of 4 kids here on Earth and 2 in Heaven, she is also an aspiring urban farmer and a student of St. John Paul II's Theology of the Body. She is married to Ken Roberts. She and her family are parishioners at St. Stephen's Byzantine Pro-Cathedral here in Phoenix.

John Thorpe
Writer | Proofreader
John moved to Phoenix when he was in second grade and has lived in the Valley ever since. He is married to Meaghan. He used to teach Economics, Latin, and Humane Letters, and is now in law school at Arizona State University. He likes cats, Hatch chiles, and anything good to drink.

Marcus Tork
Writer
Bio forthcoming.

Samantha Tork
Writer
Bio forthcoming.

Jessica Schaefer
Writer

Lover of saguaros in the sunset, sunshine warming air conditioned skin and babies, Jessica is a Catholic convert who often writes about her journey in faith. God answered her greatest prayer just over 10 years ago when she met and married the man of her dreams (most days) and together they have 5 children and 16 chickens.

Tony Sifert
Writer
Tony was born and raised in Scottsdale, AZ. He is married to Tawney, and they have two children, Lawrence and Elinor. He teaches at Veritas Preparatory Academy.

Geoff Simms
Proofreader
Geoff Simms is a behind-the-curtains-type guy.

Luma Simms
Writer
Luma Simms is an Associate fellow at the Philos Project; her work has appeared at First Things, The Federalist, Public Discourse, Crisis Magazine, and elsewhere.

John Thorpe
Writer | Proofreader
John moved to Phoenix when he was in second grade and has lived in the Valley ever since. He is married to Meaghan. He used to teach Economics, Latin, and Humane Letters, and is now in law school at Arizona State University. He likes cats, Hatch chiles, and anything good to drink.

Mignon Thurow
Writer
Mignon has spent her entire life explaining her name to people. She had to disabuse many Texans that she really was not named after the steak, but rather, an obscure French opera based on a poem by Goethe. And she doesn't even know or like German. She is married to an introvert, which poses special problems and mysteries for her, and she is mother to many children, most of whom are in heaven, but two are, blessedly, here for her to delight in and enjoy daily. Recently catapulted into homeschooling a year earlier than she anticipated, she is trying to put all of her prior teaching experience to some good use, and finding the experience more than she bargained for. When she is not making-a-home or, at the very least, living in a home that teeters on the brink of chaos and mayhem (a bit humbling, considering that all her friends have more than twice the number of children to raise), she is reading, thinking, singing, talking, or listening. She is glad for the opportunity to be a part of this special writing community.

Kristen Wegener
Writer
Kristen Wegener grew up in northwest Washington, studied medieval history in St. Louis, became a not quite fluent German speaker in Munich, and moved to Phoenix in 2013, where she teaches history and literature to middle and high schoolers. She was raised in a devout evangelical family and entered the Catholic Church in 2007. In her free time, she accumulates books.

William Wisehart
Writer
Will was born and raised in southern California as the second-youngest in a tight-knit family of six. He has lived and traveled in both hemispheres, but feels most at home in the great American West. Will resides in Glendale, AZ, and is a parishioner of St Joan of Arc. He is blessed to be Lisa’s husband and the father of four children.

April Yeager
Writer
April is a Phoenix native, where she first developed a love for writing in her childhood diary. Wife of nearly 30 years to Scott and mom to five beloved children, April spends her days homeschooling and visiting seniors in assisted living and memory-care facilities. She has many passions, including prayer, camping, backyard farming, and cats. April loves the virtues of hope and humility, of which she is a work in progress.