Brian Andrew Luwis
Co-founder & CEO
I have lived in the Washington Metropolitan area for over 40 years and have been actively involved with adoptions since 1993 – both as a parent and as an advocate for orphans.
After attending St. Albans School, I graduated with honors from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. in 1988 with a Bachelor of Architecture. In 1994 my wife and I founded America World Adoption to assist other former orphans like our first daughter, Fei, and share the blessing of adoption with Christian families.
I work for my family business, a building development, and management company and serve America World Adoption solely as a 40+ hour/week volunteer (no salary). Like the Apostle Paul who made tents, I enjoy having the ability to earn my income from a source that is separate from my primary focus/ministry. My father was a first-generation American born to a poor immigrant family from Yugoslavia; he was a very successful developer in the D.C. area and it was his commitment to hard work that has enabled me to volunteer at America World.
In 2006, I went back to school, and by late 2007 I had earned a Master’s in Nonprofit Management. During school, I applied every project and assignment to America World Adoption and orphan issues. This was a great time for me to learn and study the business side of managing a non-profit organization.
My wife, Renee, and I now have five children: four by adoption and one by birth. God has revealed one of his greatest blessings to our family through His Spirit of adoption and it is our passion to share this with families like you. We are excited about what God is doing through America World and consider it an honor to be building families like yours through God’s design of adoption.
Chief Operating Officer
America World has given me an amazing opportunity to live out my passions daily by working directly with families and helping orphans all over the world. I came to America World in 2004 with the desire to help orphans and families in a very tangible way. It has been truly a gift and life-changing experience to work with hundreds of families as they are united with their children. I feel extremely blessed to be part of such an amazing organization that strives to love and serve God in all areas.
Chief Development Officer
I was born in Southern Illinois and attended Welch College in Nashville, TN. I’m married to my high school sweetheart, Julie, and we have three amazing daughters. I have been in full time ministry since 1990 serving in churches and with non-profits. Our early years in ministry were dedicated to youth and childrens ministry. It was during this time that God began to do a work in our hearts concerning adoption. In 2004, my wife and I applied to America World Adoption and started the process to bring home our youngest daughter from China.
I am thrilled with the opportunity to work for America World in a role that so suits the perfect fusion of my passions, leading others and serving in the God-ordained work of James 1:27.
DIRECTOR OF HR & OFFICE MANAGEMENT
I have the joy and privilege to serve and support the staff of America World Adoption Association. As our staff walks alongside families on the journey of adoption, I am honored to share their joy as they match families with children, share their heart-ache for the children and families that face hurdles in the process, and provide them coffee when the days are long.
I am married to an amazing woman and we have five precious children – all adopted from Ethiopia. I have an Associates in Practical Theology, B.S. in Psychology: Crisis Response, and Master’s in Human Services Counseling: Marriage & Family Therapy. I believe that it is God’s design to build families through adoption and I am so glad I get to play a small role with this tremendous group of people.
DIRECTOR OF AFFILIATE OFFICES & ACCREDITATION
Hello! My name is Julia Norris and I grew up on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. I graduated in 1989 from the University of Richmond with a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations. My passion to work in International adoption began in 1987 when I traveled the world by ship in a college program called “Semester At Sea.” During that trip, I visited orphanages in several third world countries, and those images never faded from my heart. It was then that I knew I wanted to work in International Adoption and someday adopt a child.
After college, I spent 10 years as a Federal Investigator, Private Investigator, and even worked part of that time for the television show “America’s Most Wanted.” Although my career was challenging and rewarding at times, my heart still longed to want to help the millions of orphans in the world. After a lot of prayers, God opened the door for me in 1999 to come to work in the field of adoption with America China Adoption Association (now known as AWAA). I have held many different positions within the organization over the years, but since 2007 I have been overseeing our Affiliate offices.
The Lord has truly given me the desires of my heart through my work with America World and especially through the adoption of my two children- an eight-year-old boy from China in 2001 and a 10-month-old baby girl from China in 2004.
It is such a blessing and honor to be a part of the dedicated staff at America World helping to unite these precious children with loving families!
ABBY KONYNDYK, LSW, LGSW
Director of Corporate Social Services, LSW, LGSW
It is an honor to work for a Christian agency, where you can come together in prayer and fellowship, and play a small role in bringing families together. I have come to appreciate how blessed I am to grow up in a Christian family, and am pleased to work for an organization that is allowing other child the same opportunity. I received my Masters in Social Work from the University in Michigan, and have previously worked in foster care and disaster response.
Director of Programs
For as long as I can remember I have had a heart and passion for helping people. I went to school in Washington state (where I am from) and was blessed to be able to align my passions with my education. I graduated with a degree in Human Services and through this degree, I have gained experience working with various populations, including families in the child welfare system, youth in chemical dependency treatment and children suffering from mental health issues.
I am so grateful to be a part of the America World team. I feel so blessed to be a part of AWAA’s mission to build Christian families and to be helping place the world’s orphans in loving, Christ-centered homes.
DIRECTOR OF MISSIONS
Erica has a BA in Education and an MA in Missiology from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. After a short teaching career, she put her missions experience to work as she oversaw orphanage partnerships in Haiti and Africa. She was responsible for sponsorship programs and sending out over 30 mission teams per year. Erica joined One Orphan/America World in the Spring of 2015 and enjoys sending teams and expanding the mission to care for orphans and vulnerable children where they are.
DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
It was on a mission trip to El Salvador in 1996 that the Lord planted a seed in my heart to consider ways in which I can care for orphans. During this time we were stuggling with infertility and why God was not giving us children? Years later adoption became ‘Plan A’ for my wife and me after attending an America World Adoption seminar and hearing Brian Luwis’ Spirit of Adoption message. On October 22, 2003, we brought our beautiful daughter home from China. It was very clear that this was God’s plan for our family. Then, just 5 months later, our son was born.
We believe God wanted us to see that there was no difference between growing a family biologically or through adoption. I am privileged to be a part of the ministry of America World Adoption since 2004. Sharing the miracle of adoption with others and daily working alongside our amazing staff is such a blessing. I received my BA in Pastoral Ministries in 2001 prior to my role at America World.
RACHEL MELTON STOCKDALE
Assistant Director of Programs
I grew up in the St. Louis area and went to college at Union University in Tennessee where I received my degree in Intercultural Studies with the hope of serving in some international capacity.
A mission trip to an orphanage in Honduras in 2004 is what sparked my interest in serving children who don’t have families. Subsequent mission trips to Kenya and Tanzania further stirred my heart to help international children in some way. I’m incredibly happy to work at America World and have the ability to serve children and families each day! I live in Washington, DC with my husband and our three fish.
CHINA PROGRAM DIRECTOR
I am in awe as I look at the way God has directed my steps over the years to fulfill a passion He has placed in my heart. I have always loved working with children and have wanted to be a part of the adoption process for a long time. I obtained a degree in Social Work and had the opportunity to work with children in the U.S. foster care system. Over the years, God has continued to give me a burden for children all around the world. I was never sure where God would lead me, but one step at a time, He has faithfully shown me that I can trust Him to reveal things at just the right time. I never imagined I’d have the opportunity to serve in orphanages in Romania and China or that I’d move from North Dakota to Virginia to work at America World Adoption. As God continues to open doors, I’m thankful for each opportunity to see more of who He is and to be a part of the process of helping children become a part of their forever families.
India Program Director
My professional career has been spent in the area of adoption for over 25 years with a passion to create a safer world for the most defenseless, by insuring that each child finds their God-given family to call their own. My scope of adoption started when God placed a desire in my heart to adopt at the age of 12 years old. A beautiful and lasting love for the country of India began 31 years ago when my 8 week old baby girl from India was placed in my arms. I am now a parent of seven children, four of whom came to my family through international adoption and a grandparent of ten children, two of whom were adopted from India. My life has been richly blessed by the children God has placed in my life. It gives me great joy to be a part of the miracle of adoption. My experience in the field of adoption encompasses directorships of a non-profit profit agency, branch office director and family services director. I have coordinated adoptions in the countries of Vietnam, Nepal and India. I have extensive training working with parents, specializing in the areas of grief and loss and facilitating reunions for birthparents and adoptees. I personally and professionally know firsthand the joys, frustrations and anxiety that families often experience during and after their adoption. I have the ongoing desire to support families who walk this path and to be a catalyst for change in the lives of vulnerable children by being a part of finding their forever families. I am blessed to be a part of the America World Team.
AMBER LEWIS, LPC
CLINICAL & POST-ADOPTION SUPERVISOR
“Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son.” -Genesis 18:14
God reminded me of this affirmation and promise of his love and perfect timing while I waited in the hospital for my son to be born at 27 weeks gestation. Indeed nothing is too hard for the Lord, and he did give me a son in His perfect timing. I thank God for that experience because it helped grow my faith and it brought us to the point of being ready to adopt a child. We found AWAA in the next year and began our journey toward bringing home our beautiful daughter from China. I once again relied on God’s promise of perfect timing during our seemingly long wait for her. We now have 3 sons and 1 daughter, all wonderful and unique gifts from the Lord. Prior to that, I was born and raised on a cattle ranch in Texas, and earned my bachelors at Texas A&M (whoop!). I met my wonderful husband in graduate school in Mississippi, and we moved to Oklahoma in 1995. While I have spent most of my time since 1997 at home with my growing “brood” of children, I have also enjoyed my work as a part-time Licensed Professional Counselor. I am delighted now to have the opportunity to help others find their place in the beautiful process of adoption, and I believe God’s calling me to work with AWAA is one of the most thrilling things He has ever place in my path.
CORPORATE POST-ADOPTION COORDINATOR
I grew up in St. Louis and moved to the D.C. area in 2016 with my husband. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Juvenile Justice and I’m currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Human Services Counseling: Crisis Response and Trauma through Liberty University.
I have always wanted to work with children who are in need and I couldn’t think of a better way to do this than through helping families through the beautiful miracle of adoption. It’s an honor to be working at America World and playing a small role in helping adoptive families.
Since joining the America World team in 2005, I have had the honor of working with an incredible team here at America World and have been privileged to work with many wonderful families throughout the years. I graduated from Liberty University with a degree in Psychology/Human Services and Youth Ministry. My first exposure to orphans came while working in an orphanage in India and it was from this experience, that God began to stir a passion in me for international ministry and for children around the world.
After returning to the States, I could not get the smiling faces of these precious children out of my mind. My life was greatly impacted by these children’s lives and their stories, and I returned to the States and prayed that God would allow me to find a job that was not only involved in missions but one whose heartbeat was to make a difference in the lives of children around the world. After waiting on God, He truly gave me the desires of my heart and I am blessed to have the opportunity to serve families and children through America World.
Since that first trip to India years ago, God has given me multiple opportunities to minister to children in a number of countries, including special needs children in China, children in Africa, as well as living in South America and ministering to youth and street children. I count it a true blessing to be able to help build families through adoption. “Unto Him who is able to do exceeding, abundantly, above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us…unto Him be all the glory…” – Eph. 3:20
My name is Mary Hamilton and I am originally from the Tidewater Area of Southern Virginia. At the age of fourteen I left home to pursue my education at a Christian-based boarding school in New Market, Virginia. During those years I fell in love with the Shenandoah Valley and chose to remain there. I am a busy mother of three, who are each seven years apart. Presently, my oldest is in her second year of college and my youngest is in Kindergarten, and my son (the middle) is aptly in middle school. After spending the majority of my professional life in the technology sector, I am thrilled to be associated with America World. It is truly a blessing to work with such a warm and dedicated group of people in the service of children and families.
MADGE L. SMITH BASS
I am a graduate of Strayer University with a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and a Master’s degree in Educational Management. I enjoy being able to assist others and help them realize their purpose and passion in life. I appreciate every opportunity I have to be able to serve those around me.
I enjoy meeting new people from different backgrounds and traveling the world. I am married and have three daughters; two in college and one completing her last year of high school.
Intake & Adoption Programs Coordinator
I was born and raised in Wisconsin, moved to central Pennsylvania to attend college, and then landed in Northern Virginia after graduation. Growing up I have always had a passion for working with children; I spent my summers throughout high school and college working at my church’s summer day camp.
I received my Bachelor’s degree in Human Development & Family Studies from Penn State University. As I pursued my education, the joy of working with children developed into a passion to see children and families thrive. It is my privilege to be a part of the America World team, serving our families as they begin their adoption journey!
In the summer of 2010, my husband and I went on a road trip with our then 1 year old daughter from DC to Atlanta. At that time, I was also 7 months pregnant with our second daughter. During that car ride, we had a lengthy discussion about how we envisioned our future, and the Lord opened both our hearts to the possibility of growing our family through adoption. Four years later, we brought our son home from China through America World.
After our son started going to school, I knew that I wanted to go back to work and prayed for a flexible part time job in a field that I was passionate about. I reached out to America World and in the Lord’s providence, there was an opening.
It’s such an honor and joy to be able to support brave adoptive parents who are willing to step out in faith to bring a deserving orphan home
CHINA MISSIONS COORDINATOR
My name is Becki Carlson and I live and work remotely, from the suburbs of Chicago. My husband and I adopted our daughter from China in 2006 through America World, and while I was still in China, I knew that I would be back. I wasn’t sure if I would be back to adopt again or for another reason, but I knew in my heart that was not my last trip. God was breaking my heart for China, the orphans there, and the nannies that work so hard caring for them. Since our adoption trip, God has allowed me to return to China 5 more times on mission trips, both as a team member and as a team leader. Now I have the privilege of working for America World and as a Mission Trip Coordinator. I could not be more thrilled or proud to represent such an amazing organization and to be able to advocate every day for the children that desperately need the love of a family.
KIM CUNNINGHAM, LBSW, LCPAA
Director of Social Services - Texas
Assistant Director of Social Services - New Jersey
Post Adoption Coordinator - Virginia
I am excited that God has led me to represent America World Adoption in Texas. I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to work with you and to help you create your forever family. We have America World Adoption social workers all over Texas that are seasoned adoption professionals. We will help you through your amazing adoption journey and pray with you in the process. We are excited to work with you and to be a part of what God’s design is for your family.
Senior Family Coordinator
It is an absolute honor to be a part of the team here at America World! I am incredibly humbled by and grateful for the opportunity to walk alongside families throughout their adoption journey, having the unique privilege of seeing the amazing power of God’s redemptive love up close each and every day. Having been witness to my parents’ two adoptions from China, international adoption is something that has always been in my heart and a ministry I have always felt called to serve in. Originally from Indianapolis, Indiana, I earned my Bachelors of Social Work from Ball State University, moving to the DC metro area in 2017 to begin working here at America World. I currently reside in Alexandria, Virginia with my husband and our two dogs.
Hi, I’m Janelle! I was born a Missionary Kid in Indonesia and lived there until I was eight. I studied Public Health at Liberty University, where I graduated in 2015, and later the same year I married the love of my life, JT. We have lived in Fairfax, VA since then. I have an amazing older sister and two younger brothers, both of whom my parents adopted through America World.
Since working at America World, I understand more each day why the call to help the fatherless is so tied to the heart of God. God’s loving call to His children is a continual beckoning to care more for the life of another than you care about yourself. In a world that pushes us to be consumed in ourselves, this countercultural heart is what I need more of every day. I am excited to see all God has in store for America World and I feel so honored to be a part of this team.
Nothing gives me a bigger smile in my work day than when I know that some precious child is about to get matched with their forever family. I grew up in the D.C. area and, after graduating from the College of William and Mary, I moved back to Northern Virginia where my husband and I settled down and raised our four children. I began my professional career as an elementary school teacher in both Fairfax and Arlington counties. After teaching in the classroom for several years, I transitioned to working for a law firm, which had a significant non-profit area of practice. I am grateful to be back working to help children. I feel very blessed to be surrounded by people who love the Lord and strive very hard each day to serve Him through such an effective, professional and Godly organization.
CHINA TRAVEL COORDINATOR
Born and raised in western New York, the Lord placed adoption on my heart in 2002 when my family brought my little sister home from China. I had no idea how this little girl would make such an impact on my family or how her story would inspire me to make a difference for the hurting and vulnerable children around the world. As I learned of the many children who were waiting for forever families of their own, my heart was burdened to do something. For over two years, I had the opportunity to live in China and love on the most precious children in a foster home. They impacted my life in more ways than I can count and it was there where the Lord truly broke my heart for what breaks His. When I moved back to the states, I knew I wanted to use my passion and experience to unite families through the miracle of adoption.
I am honored to be able to play a small role in a family’s adoption journey and it is such blessing to serve children and families each and every day.
Director of Social Services - Maryland
Assistant Director of Social Services - Virginia
I grew up in North Carolina and moved to DC to pursue a career as an IT consultant. I then went to law school, and after a career as a corporate immigration attorney, the Lord directed me to America World. My mission trips to orphanages in Bolivia, Malawi and Gambia opened my eyes to God’s heart for orphans. He stirred in my heart a desire to become an advocate for orphans in some way. I am so blessed to be a part of God’s hand in helping these precious children and loving families experience the joy of adoption.
I grew up outside Minneapolis, Minnesota, and went to college at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington. Upon graduating with an Environmental Studies Major and French and Biology minors, I moved to Falls Church, Virginia to participate in The Fellows Initiative, a post-graduate leadership development program, through The Falls Church Anglican. During that year and the following years I fell in love with Northern Virginia, so after taking an opportunity to teach English in France for a year in 2016-2017, I was looking for a way to come back to the area and use the talents God had given me to further his Kingdom and I found America World!
I’ve always intended to grow my future family through adoption, and I am so thankful for the opportunity to serve adoptive families as they go through the process. Communicating with families is the best part of my job, followed closely by getting to work alongside this incredible group of people!
INDIA FAMILY COORDINATOR
I was born and raised in Northern, Virginia. I received my BA in Christian Ministries from Gordon College.
Growing up, I always had a passion for adoption. I had many friends who had been adopted and my heart was opened to what a beautiful blessing adoption is. In 2011, I took a missions trip to Nairobi, Kenya that changed the trajectory of my life. It was on this trip that I had first-hand experience of things I had only heard about. The Lord opened my eyes while breaking my heart for what breaks His. I loved on orphans and knew this was the calling the Lord had placed on my life.
Since then, I have had the privilege of travelling all over the world and being immersed in other cultures. I have been blessed to work with various non-profits both in the United States and internationally. God has given me the desire to help people. I feel honored to have the opportunity to help families in this God-ordained process of adopting orphans.