Board of Directors

Mark Gregston

Mark Gregston

Board Chair


Mark Gregston is an author, speaker, radio host, and the founder of a residential counseling center for struggling teens located in Longview, Texas. Mark’s passion for helping teens can be seen in his 40 years of involvement with families as a youth pastor, Young Life area director, and now, as the Executive Director of Heartlight, where he has lived with and helped over 3,000 teens.    

His years of experience have prepared Mark to share his insights and wisdom about parenting pre-teens and adolescents. He does so through radio, seminars, books, parent retreats and conferences held around the country throughout the year. 

Parenting Today’s Teens with Mark Gregston radio program can be heard on over 1,600 radio outlets. His best-selling books, all written to parents to help them understand and counter the effects of today’s culture on their teen, are a must for every parent’s library.  And if some weekend Mark isn’t home on the ranch in Texas spending time with kids and families, he’s traveling the country leading Tough Guys & Drama Queens seminars. Mark’s biblically based mindset coupled with his wit and humor in a presentation that entertains Moms and Dads with practical advice of avoiding chaos, implementing change, and handling difficult situations with their teens.  

He has been married to his high school sweetheart, Jan, for 40 years, and has 2 kids and 4 grandkids. He lives in Longview, Texas with the Heartlight staff, 60 high school kids, 25 horses, his dog, Stitch, 2 llamas, and a prized donkey named Toy. 

To find out more about Mark and his ministry to parents and teens, you can visit www.HeartlightMinistries.org or www.ParentingTodaysTeens.org.   

Marci Mercado

Marci Mercado

Board Secretary


I have a BSW from George Mason University and worked for Concerned Women for America prior to starting a family. I have been married to my best friend, Tito, for over 25 years. We live in Loudoun County, Virginia, a western suburb of Washington, D.C. and are delightfully busy raising our four children, two sons and two daughters. Our two youngest children, Kaylin and Annie, were both adopted as infants from China through AWAA in 2002 and 2005, respectively.  

Our own adoptions have changed our lives and have given us an even clearer picture of what Christ has done for us as God adopted us into his family and called us His own. We want to tell this story to anyone who will listen and encourage them to consider it as well. I am thankful for this opportunity to serve the families of America World and consider it a great privilege to participate on the Board.

David Barwell

David Barwell

Board Member


David Barwell was born in Australia of English parents, and his son were born in the United States. His wife, Barbara was born in South Africa and is in the fourth generation of missionaries. In Australia, he became a qualified teacher of deaf children. After coming to Maryland, he graduated from the University of Maryland as an Audiologist.

My wife and I had talked about adoption for years, but had to do it or put the discussion to rest. I went to one of Brian’s first adoption seminars, and emotionally broke down twice driving home and had to pull off the road. I knew that this day was the turning point in my life, my wife’s life and far more dramatically the life of a baby girl somewhere in China. Two days later we put in our application. On my 50th birthday, we received the photo of Yu Ye and travelled we traveled shortly after. Four years later, the three of us traveled with America World to adopt our second daughter XiaoYu. And later to adopt our third daughter.

I have been happy to serve on the Board since its creation. I am continually impressed with America World’s professional capability and the kindness of each staff member under the leadership of Brian. I am happy to do whatever I can to promote adoptions: do seminars, talk to prospective families in person and by phone (and e-mail but I’m a slow typist), because I know firsthand the sheer joy that God sends to us with our three girls. The excitement and wonder of holding our daughters for the first time has only increased with the years. Some adults may be happy without children, but adoption makes a lifetime of difference to the child. 

Cristine Martine

Cristine Martine

Board Member


Hello from Texas where my husband, Doug and I have four children; 2 biological children (born in 2000, 2002) and two by adoption (10 month old girl from China in 2006 and a 4.5 year old little boy from Ethiopia in 2012).  I keep very busy trying to maintain the chaos of raising 4 children as well as being the highest paid volunteer for my husband’s company, Martine Consulting, LLC.  I affectionately tell friends that I am the COO of the Martine family business.  

Our passion for adoption and orphan care began in 2006 when the Lord blessed our family with a daughter from China.  During that trip, we had the amazing blessing of being the first family ever to enter the walls of the orphanage where our daughter was from. It was in those moments; seeing babies in cribs of metal, laying on plywood, no blankets, no toys, and no sounds of cries that the Lord wrecked our lives for the Fatherless. It was also in those moments that we declared that we would stand at the feet of our Savior one day and our answer to him would be, we pursued what you said is “Pure Religion” (James 1:27 “pure religion is visiting orphans in their distress”) at all cost. 

I am honored to serve on the Board of Directors for America World Adoption. I have and will always be passionate about America World and the ministry of serving families well through the adoption process.   Through the years I have learned that America World is an agency that strives for the highest level of integrity.  It is this exceptional drive for the highest standards by our the America World staff that makes me proud to be a member of this board.  

Ralph D. Rinaldi

Ralph D. Rinaldi

Board Member


I am a life-long resident of Northern Virginia and I currently reside in Loudoun County, Virginia with my wife, Susan, and our son Maxim. I graduated with honors from Randolph-Macon College with a B.A. in Political Science and I went on to graduate with honors and obtain a J.D. from George Mason University School of Law.

Since 1995 I have been an attorney at Cowles, Rinaldi, Judkins, & Korjus, Ltd., and since 2000 I have been a partner at that firm which is located in Fairfax, Virginia. My areas of concentration are construction law, estate planning and administration, general business law and collections, and more recently some aspects of adoption law.

Susan and I are Catholic Christians and are also active members of the People of Praise, which is an ecumenical, spirit-filled, Christian community with branches throughout North America. In 2001 we adopted Maxim from Ryazan, Russia and we are currently underway and proceeding with a second adoption through Russia.

As adoptive parents, Susan and I, along with our extended families, are whole-hearted supporters of the work of America World in placing children from around the world with Christian families.

Debbie Taylor

Debbie Taylor

Board Member


I started working for America World (then America China) in the year 2000 after moving back to the States following seven years overseas.  I wore various hats during my time with AWAA in Northern Virginia including (but not limited to) marketing for the agency and then being given the opportunity to start and lead the Eastern Europe Program.  Until 2006, I had the pleasure of traveling to the countries we worked with to set up and maintain the EE programs, and on the US end of things, I saw many children united with their forever families.  

In 2006, my family moved to Knoxville, TN, for my husband to pursue his doctorate.  I became a social worker for America World and got to see an entirely different side of the process.  This, too, was priceless time, spent with families waiting for their precious children.  What an incredible experience to get to then see those families post adoption and get to know them on a more personal level that I never was able to as an America World Program Director.

In 2010, my family again moved, this time to Montgomery, AL where we now live.  Having been involved in adoption for ten years at this point, I felt led to take yet another direction and serve on the board of America World.  My experience in and passion for adoption gives me a unique perspective while serving, and it is a blessing to remain involved with this wonderful agency that has been part of my life for over 16 years.