Staff Directory

Great Lakes Adult & Teen Challenge
Women’s Team

Milwaukee Teen Challenge
Rev. Craig Harper, Executive Director

Craig has been working with Great Lakes Adult and Teen Challenge since 1992. Craig obtained a Bachelor’s in Math and Chemistry Education from Louisiana State University in 1987. He has done graduate work at Cardinal Stritch University and Marquette Graduate School of Business. In 2007, Craig was awarded a scholarship to attend classes in the Executive Education Program at Harvard Business School. He was chosen for this opportunity by members of the Harvard Business School Club of Wisconsin and attended additional classes in 2009 and 2014, both at the business school and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Craig served on the National Teen Challenge Board of Directors as a National Teen Challenge Regional Representative from 1996 to 2002. He is an ordained Assembly of God Minister and Nationally Appointed Home Missionary. He is the past President, Vice President, and Treasurer of the Northwest Milwaukee Chamber of Commerce. He is a member of the U.S. Swimming Foundation, U.S. Golf Association, the Northshore Republicans, the Harvard Business School Club of Wisconsin, Milwaukee Rotary, and Milwaukee Rotary’s Partners in Education Committee.

Milwaukee Teen Challenge
Rev. Jennifer Harper, Associate Director of Programs and Services

Jennifer Harper serves as our Associate Director of Programs and Services. Jennifer’s background is in missions and church planting. This passion for building the church and establishing bible schools led her to Europe, Asia, and South America for several years after graduating from Rhema Bible College in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A Pennsylvania native, Jennifer has enjoyed living in Wisconsin since 2006, when she moved there to work for Lake Country Family Church. She is a Board Certified Mental Health Coach, member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, ordained minister through the Rhema Ministerial Association International. She is a graduate of Harvard Kennedy School of Executive Education.

Jennifer enjoys working alongside her husband, Craig, and the amazing team of staff at GLATC every day, pursuing excellence in the program to best serve the men and women who come through the doors seeking freedom. She enjoys cooking, kayaking, spending time with her family, and almost any outdoor adventure.

Milwaukee Teen Challenge

Kourtney Thyrion, Women’s Program Director

Kourtney is from the south suburbs of Chicago, IL. In 2016, she entered the doors of the Great Lakes Adult and Teen Challenge. She graduated from the program in 2017, which is a testament to God’s grace in her life. After completing the program, she was hired as a staff to be the Dean of Women. Her heart’s desire is to help women get from where she once was to fully become the women that God intended them to be.

In 2019, Kourtney married her husband, Brandon. They have two sons and a daughter. Kourtney loves seeing God move right before her eyes through the transformation that happens in women’s lives at the “Robbie Dawson Home for Women.

Teen Challenge counseling

Carol Barbuch, Women’s Recovery Coach

Carol is the Women’s Recovery Coach. She is originally from Saukville, WI. As a graduate of the program, Carol loves working with the ladies side by side and seeing the transformation in their lives from the first day until they graduate.

In May 2021, Carol graduated from MATC with an associate’s degree in Human Services. She is certified as a Mental Health Coach and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. She is continuing her education at UWM to obtain a bachelor’s degree in Social Work. Carol has two daughters.


Teen Challenge counseling

Candace Chandler, Food Pantry Coordinator

Candace is originally from Van Buren, Arkansas. She moved to Kenosha, Wisconsin in 2018. She completed the one-year program at Great Lakes Adult and Teen Challenge in 2021. After graduation, she continued to complete the one-year Emerging Leaders Program, where she served in various roles. Candace now serves at the Robby Dawson Home for Women as Direct Care Staff. She is passionate about mentoring the ladies, has compassion for healing, and a love for laughter. She is currently enrolled at MATC to pursue her Associates Degree in Human Services.  


Teen Challenge counseling

Melanie Leitinger, Education Director

Melanie was a student at Great Lakes Adult and Teen Challenge at the very beginning. She went on to complete the program at Nashville Adult and Teen Challenge in 2001. After graduation, she attended Bible school at Teen Challenge Ministry Institute in Jacksonville, FL in 2007. She was hired at Great Lakes Adult and Teen Challenge in Milwaukee in 2008. She also holds associate’s degrees in both accounting and early childhood education.

Melanie has worked in many roles here over the years! She has done accounts receivable, women’s program staff, merchandising manager at SuperThift, and most recently the Education Coordinator. She has a heart service and always gives her best to the students.

Teen Challenge counselingDenise O’Brien, Finance Coordinator

Denise grew up and has lived in the Milwaukee area all her life. As a student at Custer High School, she took a class in accounting, which started her on a path for Bookkeeping. Denise has been a bookkeeper for over 30 years working for a mortgage broker, preparing taxes, and at Adult and Teen Challenge. Denise has been the Finance Coordinator for Adult and Teen Challenge for over ten years. Her goal is to be a servant for Christ and use her skills for the ministry.

In her spare time, you will find her spending time with her children and grandchildren, walking her dog, shopping, and helping around the condo complex where she lives and is on the board.

counselingKrystle Pierce, Special Events Coordinator

Krystle is from Fond du Lac, WI and is the proud mother of three boys. She completed the one-year program at Great Lakes Adult and Teen Challenge in 2022. After graduation, she continued to complete the one-year Emerging Leader Program, where she served in Special Events and mentorship. From overcoming challenges to celebrating successes, Krystle attributes all achievements to the grace and guidance of God. With a heart filled with gratitude and humility, she endeavors to serve others with compassion and kindness, reflecting the love and mercy she has received. Krystle uses her newly found, God given gifts and talents, as our Special Events Coordinator.