Dove's Nest's mission is to empower and equip faith communities to keep children and youth safe in their homes, churches, and communities.
Dove's Nest's Steps for Safety:
- Create and implement protection policies
- Train adults: videos, Zoom, in-person trainings
- Empower kids: Circle of Grace curriculum
- Offer consultations for policies and situations
Educate faith communities about child abuse and neglect.
Provide faith communities with worship, education, and outreach resources on how to keep children safe.
Empower and equip faith communities to protect children and youth within their own congregations.
Empower and equip faith communities to protect children and youth within the wider community.
Nancy Major is executive director. She joined Dove's Nest in April 2022. Nancy has extensive nonprofit management and executive leadership experience spanning more than 30 years. She lives in Hales Corners, Wisconsin, with husband, Jesse Bentley, and their two dogs. They have three grown daughters and six grandchildren.
Dove's Nest began as a grassroots movement among concerned Mennonites at the 2009 Mennonite Church USA Convention. This group consisted of volunteers that included pastors, social workers, therapists, and other professionals concerned about the issue of child and youth protection in Mennonite churches.
In 2011, Dove's Nest board president and cofounder, Dr. Jeanette Harder, released her book: Let the Children Come: Preparing Faith Communities to End Child Abuse and Neglect. Thanks to a generous donor, Dove's Nest was able to provide a copy of the book to every Mennonite Church USA congregation. Several training events were started to help churches develop and implement child protection policies.
Also in 2011, a donor stepped forward to provide funding for a copy of the Circle of Grace safe environment curriculum for every Mennonite Church USA congregation. Dove's Nest began marketing the curriculum to Mennonite churches and providing training and resources.
In early 2012, the Dove's Nest Board made the decision to incorporate as an independent 501(c)(3) organization. This decision enabled Dove's Nest to pursue grants and solicit charitable donations. While remaining committed to its core Mennonite constituency, the Board also made a strategic decision to begin the process of expanding beyond Mennonite Church USA and to offer resources and services to other denominations. The Board also pursued funding to hire a program coordinator.
At the beginning of 2013, Jon Stanton was hired as the first program coordinator. Dove's Nest began to actively pursue communication and training with faith communities throughout the United States, making 2013 a year of significant growth. Several training events took place, and every Mennonite Church USA congregation was contacted about the availability of Circle of Grace. Dove's Nest received a grant to provide training on policy development and Circle of Grace to non-Mennonite faith communities in Omaha, Nebraska. Dove's Nest welcomed its first non-Mennonite Board member and began to actively pursue contact with other denominations.
In 2014, Jon Stanton became the executive director. Dove's Nest also hired its second employee: events and volunteer coordinator, Kathy Haake, who had previously been contracted to help distribute Circle of Grace. A significant number of training events occured across the country, potentially impacting thousands of children. The first ever "Protecting our Children and Youth Conference/Worship Gathering" took place in November 2014. Dove's Nest launched a nationwide Speaker's Bureau to expand our capacity to train and offer resources in distant places. Contacts were established with several denominations while Dove's Nest continued to offer resources and services to Mennonite congregations throughout the United States.
In 2015, with significant growth came significant changes. Jon Stanton completed his tenure as executive director at the end of March 2015. Allison Lauritsen joined the Dove's Nest team as interim executive director in May 2015. Dove's Nest expanded its reach, offering training events across the United States and into Canada! A new opportunity also presented itself, with Dove's Nest being asked to help facilitate relationships between the Amish and Old Order Mennonite and Social Services in New York.
Anna Groff was executive director of Dove's Nest from 2015 to 2021. She worked from her home in Tucson, Arizona. Kathy Haake served as interim executive director during Anna's maternity leave in 2017 and then transitioned to the role of associate director upon Anna's return. Kathy, who worked from her home in Lincoln, Nebraska, returned to her role as interim executive director in April 2020 when Anna was on childcare leave. Kathy resumed her role as associate director in July 2020. Upon Anna's departure, the board of directors appointed Nancy Kauffmann, then-president of Dove's Nest, to the interim executive director role, which began in August 2021. Ben Woodward-Breckbill served as acting president.
In April 2022, Nancy Major was named as Dove's Nest new executive director. Nancy Kauffmann resumed serving as the board president, and Ben Woodward-Breckbill serves as vice president. Kathy Haake completed her tenure as associate director in May 2022.
Dove's Nest has seven members serving on its board of directors.
Updated: May 2022
- Executive Director: Nancy Major, Nmajor [at] dovesnest.net
Board of Directors
- Nancy Kauffmann, (President), Former Pastor, Conference Minister and Denominational Minister in MCUSA, Goshen, IN
- Ben Woodward-Breckbill (Vice President), Associate Pastor at Shalom Mennonite Church, Newton, KS
- Carol Knieriem (Secretary), Retired from CASA for York County, Rochester, NY
- Samuel Voth Schrag (Treasurer), Pastor at Peace Mennonite Church, Arlington, TX
- Scott Litwiller, Pastor at Lorraine Avenue Mennonite Church, Wichita, KS
- Renee Reimer, Pastor at Bethel College Mennonite Church, Newton, KS
- Gina Martinez, Child and Youth Worker and Educational Assistant, Kitchener, Ontario