MEET THE LIGHT OF HOPE TEAM
Light of Hope Board of Directors
LAYLA FREEMAN - FOUNDER/C.E.O.
Layla Freeman is a wife, mother, friend, and encourager to all. She is a passionate disciple of Jesus Christ. Layla is the C.E.O. and Founder of the Non-Profit outreach ministry called “Light of Hope”. www.lightofhopeinc.org.
Light of Hope is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, providing several programs assisting individuals and families faced with the struggles of addiction or life difficulties, and educating children through our school drug education program. On Christmas Eve 2013, Layla lost her oldest daughter Ashley. Ashley was only 23 years old. There is no greater pain than child loss. Layla attributes her ability to face each day, to the overwhelming love of Jesus, who carries her through. This very difficult journey has given Layla the desire to help those who are facing difficult times and to help people see the hope. Her love for helping others is the passion behind Light of Hope.
Light of Hope non-profit ministry has a vast variety of services that encourage, educate, empower and bring change and hope to the lives of those who need restoration and new life. LOH, in partnership with the DEA, also provides a school drug education program to elementary, middle and high schools. This program provides powerful assemblies, as well as a powerful drug education classroom curriculum. This curriculum is taught by Light of Hope educators and lasts 5 to 7 weeks within the schools according to each school district's needs. All of LOH services, including the school drug education program, are free to the community and at no cost to the schools.
Layla is also an author. Her first book publication, HOPE IN THE STRUGGLE, offers hope in the midst of dark times. Layla is also the author of the encouragement blog “Layla’s Light,” found on Facebook or on her website, www.laylafreeman.com. She has been actively writing since 2001. Layla’s personal experience in the extreme difficulties of life gives her a deep understanding of brokenness. Therefore, Layla’s writing and passion behind her desire to help others are empowered by the truth of God’s unconditional love and forgiveness, and the hope we find in God’s promises.
Layla is also a Business Owner/Vice President of Asset Industrial, Incorporated. Her and her husband, Randall, work together providing services necessary for the oil refinery industry.
Layla is also a respected Board Member, serving on the Northeast Oklahoma Workforce Development Board.
In addition, Layla is a Stephen Minister, Congregational Care Minister, Lay Servant/Speaker, and a volunteer for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. (Layla has two daughters who face Type 1 Diabetes daily).
Layla was awarded the Non-Profit “Leading Lady” award of Rogers County in 2018. Layla was also voted #1 community volunteer and awarded the "Best of Claremore" in 2019. Light of Hope was also awarded "Non-Profit of the Year" 2019.
NANCY PHELPS: EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Nancy Phelps’ life mission is to serve others. As a former Educator, Executive Director, Director of Development, and Marketing/Development Professional, Nancy has been an integral component of several non-profit organizations by securing millions of dollars of support through monetary and in-kind donations. Nancy is highly regarded in the State of Oklahoma as a member of numerous organizations, groups, and charitable service providers. She has and continues to serve in the capacity of Executive Director, as well as Director of Development in non-profit management. Her career has afforded her the opportunity to serve on several non-profit Board of Directors for a wide variety of organizations.
Nancy and her husband, Ron, have been married since 1981. They are blessed to have two gorgeous daughters and a successful son-in-law. Their two grandchildren are the light of their lives. Her faith, family, and friends, as well as, those she is honored to serve alongside are incredibly special to her and a gift from God.
OUR BOARD OF DIRECTORS
STEVE REGIER: PRESIDENT
Steve has worked extensively with school athletic programs and staff throughout NE Oklahoma. He grew up in North Newton, Kansas attending Bethel College Mennonite Church. Life growing up was focused on church and school. After graduating from Newton High School in 1978, Steve earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Art from Bethel College in 1982.
Steve and his wife Gera live on Lake Oologah where they enjoy spending time with grandchildren and family as well as gardening and other activities.
Steve was drawn to Light of Hope after the death of his son Zachary in 2015. By sharing the experience
of a parent dealing with a child’s addiction, Steve hopes to bring healing to others dealing with similar issues while bringing healing to his own life.
CINDY GRIFFITH: VICE-PRESIDENT
Cindy Griffith is a graduate of Oklahoma State University and served her entire 33-year career in the Cooperation Extension Service as a county Extension Educator for Family and Consumer Sciences. She loves teaching and working in the community.
Cindy is active in the United Methodist Church in Claremore where she is involved in United Methodist Women and the music programs at the church. She serves as District President for United Methodist Women, is treasurer of the Board of Directors for the Cookson Hills Mission in Cookson, Oklahoma, and serves on the Boards of the Wesley Centers at NEO and NSU.
Cindy enjoys quilting and creating beautiful things from fabrics. She loves to cook for others. She sees community service as a responsibility and a ministry which enables her to share the talents and abilities that God has given her.
ALISHA SMITH - TREASURER
Alisha Smith currently holds the position of Treasury Management Officer Vice President for the five BancFirst locations throughout Claremore, Verdigris and Inola Oklahoma. She graduated from Indianola High School with salutatorian honors in 2006 and attended Eastern Oklahoma State College for two years while pursuing a career in the banking industry.
Smith began her banking career as a teller in 2006 in McAlester, Oklahoma. After a brief separation with the company, she returned in 2010 and promptly promoted to a senior customer service representative.
In 2013 she moved to Coweta, Oklahoma and transferred to BancFirst’ s Claremore region where she began working at their location in Verdigris. She was promoted to Assistant Branch Manager of the Nemar location located in Claremore in June of 2014, and then promoted to Branch Manager in August of the same year.
In May of 2017, with over twelve years of banking experience, she was promoted to Vice President and accepted the position of Treasury Management Officer. She currently over sees sales and marketing for the five locations in the Claremore area market.
Smith is married of 5 years and has a 15-year-old daughter. She loves her job at BancFirst, volunteering in the community and spends her free time at home, or at Lake Eufaula with her family.
SHEILA URBONAS: SECRETARY
Sheila Urbonas is a compassionate wife, mother, and friend. She enjoys spending time with her husband, Bill, and their four adult children. They enjoy attending sporting events, enjoying family meals together, and playing board games.
She has been an educator for the past 29 years, and is currently an elementary assistant principal. Sheila is a strong advocate for children and has experience as a foster and adoptive parent. Currently, she serves on the Mayes County Pre Adjudication Board to help children who are living in foster care.
Sheila has been an active member of Claremore First United Methodist Church for almost twenty years. She is involved in United Methodist Women, serving as co-chair of her circle. Her past involvements at church include Logos Director, Assistant Youth Director, Congregational Care Leader, and pantry volunteer.
Sheila has a bachelor's degree in elementary education. She has a master's degree in counseling from Southern Nazarene University, and is also certified in school counseling. After serving as a school counselor for three years, she completed additional hours to become certified as a school administrator. After noticing the positive response children have with animals, Sheila recently adopted an Australian Shepherd, Remy. Remy has completed her training to be a therapy dog and helps Sheila at school every day. Sheila enjoys playing with Remy and continuing her training.
Sheila uses her skills as an educator, counselor, and school leader to help whenever she can with Light of Hope. She has been on the Light of Hope Board since it's beginning. She currently serves as secretary. Sheila has an understanding for those who have lost special people in their lives. Her son, Jonathan, committed suicide when he was in his late twenties. She is able to use her grief experiences to show empathy toward others who are grieving. Sheila regularly attends LOH group meetings, where she is a co-facilitator.
HERB SMITH: GROUP FACILITATION LEADER/DIRECTOR
Herb Smith was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in the suburbs in nearby College Park, Maryland. After graduating from high school, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps, serving 21 years, including two tours in Viet Nam before retiring as a Captain in 1977. He received a Bachelor of Business Administration, Magna Cum Laude, in 1979, and a Master of Arts Degree in Counseling Psychology in 1983, both from the National University in San Diego, CA. He was licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist from 1983 until2014.
Specializing in the prevention and treatment of chemical dependency, he worked in a variety of settings, including private practice, for more than 30 years. He also designed and implemented an outpatient chemical dependency program for a large psychiatric medical group in San Diego, CA., where he practiced for 10 years. From 1995 to 2000, he worked as a Substance Abuse Prevention Specialist for the U.S. Marine Corps at Camp Pendleton, CA. After retiring in 2000, Herb and his wife, Fran, relocated to Claremore, OK.
Herb attended the Summer on Chemical Dependency for the Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church in 2000. He then became a member of the faculty, and later the Dean of the School, where he wrote and presented several topics and was a small group leader. The school closed in 2012.
Herb is a recovering alcoholic and has been clean and sober for 44 years.
RANDALL FREEMAN: PHYSICAL OPERATIONS DIRECTOR
Randall Freeman is a husband, father, friend, and business owner of Asset Industrial, Inc. Randall has been a small business owner since 2000. Randall and his wife, Layla, have been married since 2004 and have two daughters, Tessa and Savannah, and one daughter, Ashley, in Heaven.
Randall has a passion to help others. He is a dedicated follower of Jesus Christ. Randall is hardworking and dedicated to his family, church, and business. He has a compassionate heart and is willing to reach out to people who are struggling. He is well known for his kindness and humor.
Randall has a passion for restoring antique cars; and enjoys treasuring the history and value of past memorabilia. His years of experience in business, finance, and management give him a wisdom well earned.
MINDIE BAAB: COMMUNITY OUTREACH
Mindie Baab is a wife, mother, friend, and advocate. She has devoted her life to God and is passionate about helping others through volunteering in the community. Mindie believes that volunteering enriches our society and brings us together as a community.
Mindie has been a Court Reporter for the 12th Judicial District of the State of Oklahoma for nearly 30 years. In May of 2014, the Oklahoma Legislature enacted a new statute allowing therapy dogs in a courtroom to protect child victims/witnesses from any unnecessary emotional discomfort and anguish. Having witnessed the emotional impact on children testifying in a courtroom, Mindie felt strongly about implementing a therapy dog program in Rogers County. Soon thereafter she added the title of Court Dog Handler to her job description and the 12th Judicial District Court Dog Program was born. An Aussiedoodle named Jerzy Girl became the first full-time facility dog. “She’s a furry security blanket for child victims of crime”
Mindie enjoys participating in community outreach programs and volunteering with her canine at the airport, hospitals, nursing homes, schools, community events, and Light of Hope. Mindie & Jerzy the Court Dog participate annually in The Tristesse Grief Center’s Camp Erin which is a summer camp for children coping with the loss of a parent, sibling, or grandparent.
Mindie and her husband Drew live in Jenks. They have four adult children Ashley, Alex, Joshua, & Jordan. Mindie & Drew are members of Church On The Move.
CINDY MCKENZIE: GRIEF SUPPORT DIRECTOR
Cindy McKenzie is a wife, mother, and friend to all.
Cindy has the heart to help others. Cindy is a retired nurse and has extensive knowledge in the medical field. Cindy is also a Congregational Care Minister. Her personal knowledge of grief after the loss of her son, Jason, gives her compassion towards helping others process through the difficulties of grief.