Board Of Directors
G. Matthew Thornett
With over 20 years of experience in the financial services industry, after a career start at Arthur Andersen, LLP, Matt Thornett has the experience, expertise, and network to provide his clients with comprehensive financial services. Now as a Senior Family Wealth Director at Keel Point, Matt’s clients trust his guidance across various capacities, from generational wealth transfer planning and family mission statements to succession planning, philanthropic planning, and tax optimization. He works intimately with clients to organize investment portfolios and strategies, from both strategic and tactical perspectives, that meet their immediate and long-range goals.
At the core of his work with clients is the fact that Matt genuinely looks forward to helping others. That’s a trait he learned and embraced from his teachers and parents. It has been prominent throughout his life, both professionally and personally. Likewise, he’s had the opportunity to support and serve orphans and the poor around the world. Locally, he sits on the board of America World Adoption Agency.
Outside of work, Matt looks forward to biking with his four children, coaching them in their sporting endeavors, and traveling with his wife, Jennifer. Their travels have taken them all over the world, including a six-month-long trek to South Africa, Nepal, Thailand, India, Australia, and New Zealand. Aside from time with family, Matt enjoys an occasional round of golf. When he needs a spark of inspiration, spending time at the beach usually does the trick.
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.
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.
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.