Back Bay Mission is blessed to have a dedicated staff and board of directors.

Our Staff

Administrative Staff

Rev. James Pennington| Executive Director

Rev. James Pennington, is our Executive Director.  Rev. Pennington, a Mississippian, has most recently served as Senior Pastor at UCC churches in Phoenix, Arizona, and Minneapolis, Minnesota.  His accomplishments in these two ministries included providing extensive services for feeding people experiencing homelessness; being an advocate for migrants at the border; and  conducting recovery groups, transgender support groups, and racial reconciliation groups.  He was recognized by the Minnesota Conference Office for exemplary leadership. Particularly notable in his body of work is merging Spirit of the Lakes, a predominantly LGBT congregation with a historic church of mostly older members, and Minnehaha UCC to create a new church, Living Table, which became wildly successful and provided ministry to a diverse congregation.


To learn more about our Executive Director, please CLICK HERE

Ms. Shawn Sullivan | Chief Financial Officer

Ms. Shawn Sullivan is our Chief Financial Officer. Shawn is a graduate of The University of Mississippi with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management. Before joining our Back Bay Mission staff, Shawn was the Chief Financial Officer and Office Manager at Premier Craneworks in Biloxi, Mississippi. Shawn was raised in Ocean Springs, where she currently resides. She has one child. Kade is a graduate of The University of Mississippi with his Bachelor’s Degree in IMC. Shawn enjoys spending time with her family and friends, watching the Saints play football, riding her golf cart, boating, and traveling.

Mrs. Sarah Smith | Director of Client Services

Mrs. Sarah Smith is our Director of Client Services. A native Floridian, Sarah has lived on the Gulf Coast twice. Sarah is a graduate of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and the University of Southern Mississippi and has her Masters from Liberty University in Criminal Justice Public Administration. She worked in law enforcement before becoming a child support specialist at the Mississippi Department of Human Services. She is a member of Northwood Church of Gulfport, and lives in Biloxi with her  two daughters. She loves living and serving in this community.


Ms. Amanda Roberts | Administrative Assistant/Bookkeeper

Ms. Amanda Roberts is our Administrative Assistant/Bookkeeper. Before joining our Back Bay Mission staff, she was a Customer Service Representative at Cable One and Administrative Assistant at the IP Casino. She is currently attending Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and plans to transfer to USM to obtain her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management and Marketing. She was raised on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. She currently resides in D’Iberville with her husband Chris and their two sons, Hunter, and London. Chris is a Police Detective, Hunter attends Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and will transfer to USM to obtain his degree in Construction Engineering, London is a sophomore at D’Iberville High School where he is the running back for the football team and is pitcher and plays 3rd base for the baseball team. Amanda attends church at CenterPoint Church in Ocean Springs. She loves spending time with her family and friends, singing, boating, fishing, going on cruises, and traveling.

Program Staff

Mrs. Mary “Mimi” Smith | Home At Last Caseworker

Mrs. Mary “MiMi” Smith is our HAL case manager. MiMi is currently attending Southern New Hampshire University. Before joining Back Bay Mission she was employed with MSDHS and The Salvation Army. She is blessed to be the mom of three awesome children. MiMi is currently a dance, football, and a band mom. She is also the head cheer coach for the Gulf Coast Warriors. She leads a women ministry and is a active member of GMWA (Gospel  Music Workshop of America) MiMi loves spending time with her children and helping others.

Mrs. Meredith Monforton | Emergency Assistance Case Manager

Mrs. Meredith Monforton is our Emergency Assistance Case Manager.

Originally from North Carolina, Meredith and her husband, Chris, moved to the MS Gulf Coast several months after Hurricane Katrina. Meredith’s first job on the coast was Emergency assistance case manager with Back Bay Mission. Family demands and the birth of her 2 children, made her leave employment with BBM 2 years later. Although she stayed involved with BBM volunteering many years with the Christmas basket program.  After 16 years, she is back as emergency case manager and thrilled to be serving the east Biloxi community again.

Meredith has a Bachelor of Science in Health Education/Promotion from Appalachian State University and course work towards her master’s in social work from N.C. State University.  She has over 20 years of social service experience working with varying populations and agencies including hospitals, health departments, government social service agencies and most recently as a pre-employment transition counselor at one of our local high schools.

Most of Meredith’s free time is spent carting her two active teenagers around, but in her spare time she enjoys kayaking, sitting on a beach, watching football under the Friday night lights and volunteering to support local schools and their students. 

Ms. Elizabeth Sandoval | ESG Case Manager

Ms. Elizabeth Sandoval is our ESG Case Manager.  Elizabeth graduated from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College with an Associate’s Degree in Human Services and is currently seeking a Bachelor’s Degree in Family Relations at the University of Southern Mississippi. Elizabeth is a proud mother of 3 boys Kane, Sam, Aidyn and their dog Echo. She is a native of Gulfport, Mississippi.  

Ms. Kirsten Hebron | Day Center Case Manager

Ms. Kirsten Hebron | Day Center Case Manager. Ms. Kirsten graduated from University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Park with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Master’s Degree in Social Work.  She worked for Gulf Coast Mental Health Center for 4 years until she moved to California in 2005.  In California, she worked for a non-profit agency as Director of Social Services. She also worked at a mental health agency as Clinician. Kirsten moved back to the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 2017 with her husband and two dogs to be with their families.  

Mrs. Raysha “RayRay” Harvey | Micah Day Center Coordinator


Mr. Everett Lewis | Executive Director, Gulf Coast Housing Initiative

Mr. Everett Lewis is the Executive Director of the Gulf Coast Housing Initiative. Everett has worked in affordable housing since 1996, when we started on of the first homebuyer education and assistance programs in South Mississippi. He came to Back Bay Mission in 2008. In his time at the Mission, he has overseen the planned development of Bethel Estates, HomePort I, HomePort II, and an acquisition-rehab program. Prior to working in affordable housing, Everett worked in banking for more than 20 years. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in finance from the University of Southern Mississippi.

Ms. Sandra Nimmo | Day Center Assistant

Ms. Sandra Nimmo is the Micah Day Center Assistant. Sandra was born and raised in Germany. She has been living in the United States since 2007. She moved to Biloxi in 2019 with her husband Derek, who is a paralegal in the United States Air Force. Together they have two children, Michelle and Chloe. Sandra went to college at Geshwister School and graduated with her Registered Nursing degree. Sandra has worked as a preshcool teacher, barista and as a nurse. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, stained glass, and spending time with her family & friends. Sandra always wanted to give back and Back Bay Mission ws the perfect place to do so.

Mrs. Carlin Duncan | Secretary

Mrs. Carlin Duncan is our secretary. A Biloxi native, Carlin was born and raised right here on the Coast. Carlin graduated from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and the University of Southern Mississippi with a bachelors in criminal justice and a minor in psychology. She is a wife and mom of 4, and loves serving in her community. 

Ms. Samantha “Sam” Bell | Associate for Housing Recovery

Ms. Samantha “Sam” Bell is our Associate for Housing Recovery. Samantha “Sam” Bell is a graduate of Biloxi High School and Virginia College Biloxi.  Sam has her Associates in Human Resource Management.  Before joining Back Bay Mission, Sam was a Legal Assistant at Davis and Crump Law Firm in Gulfport. 

Sam is the proud mother of three daughters, Shanice Johnson, Angel Ainsworth, and Nikel Bell.  She also has two chihuahuas, Scooter and Hoss, that are great family additions.  Sam loves spending time with family and caring for her mother and her disabled daughter who has Cerebral Palsy nonverbal and non-ambulatory.  Sam knows that each of her daughters are a gift from heaven.

Sam enjoys riding her bike, reading a good spiritual book, and eating delicious foods that is when she can find some spare time.  She is a member of the First Missionary Baptist Church of Biloxi.  She has a deep desire to be a servant in her community and has the highest hopes of being able to do so through the amazing programs offered at Back Bay Mission. 

Mr. Craig Steenkamp | Construction Manager

Mr. Craig Steenkamp is our Construction Manager. Born and raised in Durban, South Africa, Craig came to the United States on a soccer scholarship in 1992. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology, with a minor in education, from William Carey University in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Before coming to Back Bay Mission, he worked with a real estate investment company development high-end real estate. He joined the Mission staff in 2007. Back Bay Mission is his church and where he belongs.

COMING SOON | Construction Supervisor

Bio Coming Soon. 

Ms. Shemiko Brown | Community Health Coordinator

Ms. Shemiko Brown is one of our community health coordinators. A native of Mississippi, Shemiko “Miko” Brown graduated from William Carey University with a Bachelor’s in Psychology and her Master’s in Counselor Education. She’s worked for the Harrison County School District as an alternate interventionist and aspires to advocate for the community. 

Mr. Richard Dorsey | Community Health Coordinator 

Mr. Richard Dorsey is one of our community health coordinators. Richard served in the US Army for 9 years and is also a proud member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. He is also fueled by passion to serve his community including his involvement with the Harrison County Drop Out Prevention Board. 


Mr. Dorsey is also an accomplished gospel artist & comedian, recently being nominated for “Comedian of the Year” for the Gulf Coast Gospel Music Awards!

Fundraising and Communications Staff

Ms. Laura Payne Breeland | Development Coordinator

Ms. Laura Payne Breeland is our Development Coordinator. Laura is a native of Biloxi, Mississippi, and started her career in retail working for companies like Disney, Nike, and The Limited Brands. After 20 years in retail management, Laura entered the nonprofit sector with the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce. She graduated from Leadership Gulf Coast in 2013 and came to Back Bay Mission in 2015.  Laura serves on the Biloxi Bay Area Chamber of Commerce Board and served as the Co-Chair for the Lighthouse Business and Professional Women.  She is a proud wife, mother and grandmother.

Mr. Kevin Kotula | Development Associate

Mr. Kevin Kotula is a Development Associate. Kevin assists with branding, content creation, and community outreach for Back Bay Mission. He has an associate’s degree in graphic design and obtained a bachelor’s degree in film with a minor in marketing from the University of Southern Mississippi. A lifelong resident of Biloxi, Kevin is excited to help build the community from within. He also has a dog & a cat and in his spare time he enjoys cooking, traveling and sports.

Our Board of Directors


Ms. Crystal Ward Allen | Ohio | President

Ms. Crystal Ward Allen has been a Strategic Consultant with Casey Family Programs, a national operating foundation focused on safely reducing the need for foster care, for three years. Crystal worked at Public Children Services of Ohio for 24 years, 13 as the executive director; her early experience included as a juvenile probation counselor in Appalachia, Virginia; adolescent group care in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and child welfare in suburban Minnesota.  She is a Virginia Tech Hokie as well as an OSU Buckeye, loves to ride her bike, hike and enjoy music – but most importantly she has two amazing adult children. Crystal is passionate about ensuring every child and youth has someone that is unconditionally crazy about them – thus, strengthening families is a must.

Ms. Joyce Bathke | Missouri | Vice President

Ms. Joyce Bathke was the Chief Administrative Officer for the American Red Cross until her retirement in 2014. She has a BS in Liberal Arts from Washington University and Nursing degree from St. John’s Mercy Hospital. Joyce served on the United Church of Christ’s Wider Church Ministries and Common Global Ministries Boards and later the newly formed United Church of Christ Board. She served as Moderator for the United Church of Christ Missouri Mid-South Conference and currently serving on the United Church of Christ AIDS Network Leadership Team. Joyce is a member of Faith United Church of Christ in Wentzville, Missouri.

Mr. Raymos McMillon | Mississippi | Immediate Past President

Mr. Raymos McMillon is a retiree of Mississippi Power Company where his employment covered 28 years. He held several positions with the company in Human Resources, Customer Services, Marketing, and his final role in Economic Development. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. Mr. McMillon held several leadership roles in the community as President of the Gulfport East Jaycees, Bay-Waveland Rotary, and United Way of South Mississippi. He is a member of Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church where he serves as President of the Deacon Board.


Rev. Liz Nash, Ph.D. | Texas | Secretary

Rev. Liz Nash, Ph.D., is the Association Minister for the Heart of Texas Association of the South Central Conference of the United Church of Christ, serving in this position for Heart of Texas and the former Brazos Association since 2006. Liz has a Master of Divinity from Pacific School of Religion and a Ph.D. in Ethics and Social Theory from the Graduate Theological Union. Prior to going to seminary, she earned graduate degrees in Agricultural Economics and in Statistics at Texas A&M and the University of California, Berkeley. Liz has served on nonprofit boards, done extensive wider church work, and served on academic committees.  She and her husband, Reuel, live in Austin, Texas, where they are members of the Congregational Church of Austin.

Mr. Eric Kravette  | Mississippi | Treasurer

Mr. Eric Kravette is President at The First, A National Banking Association in Harrison County. He was born in Dallas, TX, and grew up in Baton Rouge, La. Eric graduated from Bishop Sullivan H.S. in Baton Rouge and attended college at William Cary University, where he  received a BS degree in Business and an MBA. He moved to the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 1988 and has called it home since. Eric has held a variety of jobs in the banking industry in his career, and has spent much of his time getting involved in his community, serving as a board member for a variety of local organizations and chambers of commerce, being recognized as “outstanding” or “volunteer of the Year” multiple times. 


Rev. Dr. Bella Brown-Winters | Missouri

Rev. Dr. Bella Brown-Winters received her bachelor’s degree in Business (BBS) from the University of Maryland University College; Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and a Doctor of Management (DMgt) from Webster University, St. Louis, MO. Moreover, Bella’s call and belief in the inherent truth of the Bible inspired her to receive a Master of Divinity (MDiv) from Eden Theological Seminary in Webster Groves, Missouri.

Bella’s passion for justice has led her to become an active member of Empower Missouri, Jobs for Justice, Metropolitan Congregations United and Mothers Against Violence. Bella is a member of Epiphany UCC where she actively teaches Christian Education and actively preaches to the congregation. Also, Bella is a part-time supply pastor to Bethany-Peace United Church of Christ while they await transition. She is married to Rev. Rodney E. Winters, an Eden Seminary graduate, and they have a son, Jamaal, who ministers in the Washington, D.C. and Maryland area.

Randall Shipley | Mississippi


Mr. Scott Pietrowski | Mississippi


Rev. Matthew Crebbin | Connecticut

Rev. Matthew Crebbin has been Senior Minister of the Newtown Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, in Newtown, Connecticut, since 2007. He has served faith communities in New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. He has preached, lectured and taught in faith communities, Seminaries and secular settings across the country.

Matt grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley where he received a BA in Legal Studies in 1988. He received his M.Div. from Andover Newtown Theological School in 1994. He has served in leadership capacity on a number of local, regional and international organizations including: Rotary International, Habitat for Humanity, U. S. Department of Justice Newtown Victims Grant, Newtown Action Alliance, and various other Advocacy, Health, and Human Services organizations.

Matt is married to Martha and they have four children and a black lab. When not doing ministry or transporting his children to their various activities, Matt enjoys playing music, singing, working on endless projects around his house and playing basketball and golf.

Ms. Sue Earl | Texas


Ms. Mary C. Ruth | Tennessee

Ms. Mary C. Ruth, raised Congregational (UCC) in Hebron, Connecticut, retired from Elon University as Director of Alumni & Parent Relations and prior to that served as Executive Director of Allied Churches of Alamance County in Burlington NC where she coordinated a Ministries Center that included an Emergency Night Shelter, Soup Kitchen, Adult Day Care, Dispute Settlement Center, Christian Assistance Network and helped manage 900 volunteers. Mary has a Bachelor of Arts from Elon College in Mathematics and Religious Education and at one time worked at the Connecticut Conference of the United Church of Christ. Since 2003 she and her husband, Bill (a retiree of Travelers Insurance Company), have been United Church of Christ Partners in Service long term and short term residential volunteers at church related non profits all over the USA.  They have 5 grandchildren in North Carolina and Texas and their home is now at Uplands Village, a CCRC in Pleasant Hill, Tennessee.

Rev. Dr. Rosa Smith-Williams | North Carolina

Rev. Dr. Rosa Smith-Williams has been a pastor for more than twenty-eight years. She served as pastor of Plymouth Congregational UCC in Beaumont, Texas for twenty-five years. While there, she served on the Board of Directors for the South Central Conference, Chairperson of the Committee on Ministry, and Moderator of the Houston Association.  When her father became ill, she returned to North Carolina and served as pastor of Cedar Grove Church and Kyles Chapel and is presently the pastor at Avery Grove AME Zion Church in Smithfield.

Being involved and supportive of the work of the church is important. Presently, Rosa is a member of the Board of Directors for Back Bay Mission, serves as Evangelism chair and newsletter editor for the Raleigh District, is an Old Testament and Ministerial Ethics instructor.