2023 Election – Covenant Nominees for Trustee, Elder, and Deacon

Stephanie Yaffee

October 19, 2023

Hello Covenant! The 2023 Nominating Team is delighted to present you with the following slate of officers for your consideration to elect at the Fall Congregational Meeting, taking place on Sunday, October 29th in the sanctuary immediately following worship at 10:45am. All terms are for three years unless otherwise marked. This is a full slate of officers for all vacant positions. The congregational meeting will also dismiss Dr. Hunsicker with gratitude for his service as he embarks on his new ministry in Florida. A reception for the Hunsicker Family will follow in the Fellowship Hall.

Please extend your thanks to members of the 2023 Nominating Team for their outstanding work this year: Bill McDowell (elder), Mary Griffin (elder), Pam Birkholz (Trustee), Steve Sucic (Deacon), and at-large members Cyndi Ludwig, Vicki Cape, Don Searcy, Tom Pendergrass, and Ron Bledsoe.


Ray Rowley

Ray Rowley has been a member of Covenant since 1988. He has led a distinguished engineering career at Northrop Grumman for 36 years, including 6 years of leadership as Director of Engineering. He currently provides technical and management oversight to independent research and development projects. He holds an MS in Mathematical Sciences from Clemson and a BS in Math from Furman, where he met his wife, Kerry. He became a Christian while at Clemson, heavily influenced by the genuine faith demonstrated by college friends. This encounter with Jesus Christ has led Ray on a journey of powerful leadership within our church. He has previously served Covenant as both an elder and as a trustee, has taught youth and adult classes, has chaired or co-chaired two pastoral nominating committees, served on the strategic planning committee “Special Ops,” and last year chaired the Youth and Family Strategic Goal Initiative. Ray and Kerry host the Madison and Monrovia Small group, and together they share two sons (including our Media Specialist Preston!) and recently welcomed their first grandchild. Ray says: “My favorite thing about Covenant hasn’t changed in 35 years: Our church family. Although names and faces have changed, Covenant continues to be filled with loving, caring, welcoming, Bible-centered disciples of Jesus who love God, love each other, and serve in the world.”

Doug Roberts

Doug Roberts holds an MBA from Tennessee Tech and currently works as a Growth Director for Peraton for the Department of State and Justice with 25 years of sales experience in the defense and commercial markets. Previous roles include positions at Hewlett Packard, Northrup Grumman and Lucent Technologies and work with two start-ups. He currently serves on the board of Downtown Rescue Mission. Growing up in an Army family, he rotated often between bases in the States and Germany, with a powerful conversion experience in Young Life as a highschooler. That began a lifelong passion for sharing Christ in relationships. Doug has been living out his faith as an leader in Christian ministry ever since through Intervarsity College Fellowship, Small Groups, men’s ministries and as a Presbyterian Elder. He is the son-in-law of longtime Covenant members Ron and Marge Bledsoe, married to their daughter Shannon. Together they have four children and eight grandchildren. Doug currently leads “Over the Mountain” small group for Covenant folks in Hampton Cover, serves with Covenant’s partnership with Huntsville Assistance Program (HAP), and organizes the Men’s Breakfast group. About Covenant, Doug says: “I am excited about God working in Covenant. There is a wonderful history of a strong community to build on for the future. I think it is amazing to see God working across generational lines within our Church.”

Bill McDowell (1-Year Term)

Bill McDowell is actively serving on Session as an Elder and has been nominated to extend his term by one year to fill an unexpired term. Bill is the Founding Executive Director of Second Mile Development, an organization founded by Covenant in 1986 to bring long-term sustainable transformation to the Terry Heights & Hillendale neighborhood in Huntsville. Bill’s innovative leadership has been focused on building relationships within that neighborhood and bringing the neighborhood’s dreams into reality, turning the $10,000 initial grant from Covenant into a $1.5 million organization that has impacted thousands of lives over the course of 4 decades. As a result, Terry Heights & Hillendale have been recognized as one of the only neighborhoods to significantly change its statistics in the South in the areas of poverty, crime, education, and home ownership since the 1980’s. Bill grew up in Huntsville and graduated from University of Alabama before becoming a program Director with Youth for Christ. He has served often as an Elder and Trustee at Covenant, providing strategic leadership in countless areas in both our Church and North Alabama Presbytery. Bill is Married to Mary, who has pioneered Second Mile’s Parent Initiative program that brings transformation to Parent Teacher Associations across the country in public schools. Together Bill and Mary raised two children here at Covenant and now enjoy hosting “grandparent camp” for their four grandchildren.


Wes Colley

Dr. Wes Colley holds a PhD in Astrophysical Sciences from Princeton University with postdoctoral work at Harvard and MIT and currently serves as a Technical Fellow and Chief Scientist for Strategic Defense at Torch Technologies. Of particular note in his academic career are his 10-years at UAH here in Huntsville, where Wes chartered a new modeling and simulation research center. His research has spanned modeling applications across a wide array of fields including missile defense, physics, astronomy, supply chains, traffic, engineering, business and even NCAA football (google the “Colley Matrix” to check out that last one!) A Presbyterian since his childhood, Wes is an ordained Elder in the PC(USA). His wife, Wendy, has been an active youth leader in our Presbytery and together they share two teenage children, Spencer and Amelia. Wes loves Covenant’s “positive energy.” He shared that “Covenant’s people, programs and worship services radiate an undeniable positive energy that invigorates, encourages and nurtures the Christian spirit in just the way that our family needs and welcomes.”

Richard Cole

Richard Cole had a prominent 34-year career with Pepsi Company’s Frito Lay, Inc, serving as Director of Engineering and Maintenance for 24 years. This included the transformation of the Frito Lay plant in Fayetteville, TN, which Frito Lay recognized as its most efficient plant. As a result of this achievement, Richard was appointed as the National Reliability Manager for Frito Lay. He holds a degree in Industrial Engineering from Auburn, where he was an All-SEC Track and Field athlete. Outside of his corporate career Richard has also served on the University of Tennessee Engineering Board of Advisors and as the Vice Chairman for the Foundation of Industrial Maintenance Excellence Board of Directors and coached little league teams to championship seasons. Richard has started and sold multiple businesses and been on the leadership team for several new church plants in Huntsville that now have flourishing ministries. He is an ordained Elder and Deacon in the PC(USA) and currently serves on Covenant’s Hospitality Team. He is married to Lydia (David Kling’s Aunt!), with whom he raised 3 sons here in Huntsville and now is “Pappy” to 5 grandchildren. Richard’s favorite thing about Covenant is “That as a church we are focused on fulfilling God’s Great Commission – to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28), interpreted in other words ‘to spread the gospel.’ It starts first within our church, then the community and then expands to supporting missionaries both locally and abroad.”

Sara Williams

Sara Williams holds a Master of Science in Agronomy from Auburn University and a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry from the University of Missouri. She currently serves on the executive leadership team and as the Director of Marketing and Communications for GreenPoint Ag – the 7th largest agricultural retailer in the United States, where she has built a marketing and communications department from the ground up. Over the course of her career, she has worked in both wholesale and retail agriculture in a variety of roles from technical agronomy, training, on-farm research, marketing and communications, and leadership. Sara currently serves on Covenant’s Children’s Ministry team and is a lifelong Presbyterian. She has lived in 7 different states since college (ask her about them!) and has experienced congregations of all shapes and sizes as a result. She shares, “My favorite part of Covenant is the proactive role the congregation and staff take in creating a welcoming environment for all, but especially for newcomers. The very first Sunday my husband Corey and I visited, we left knowing we had found our church home. There is a genuineness about the people at Covenant that shines brightly in Huntsville.”

John Grace (1-Year Term)

John Grace has been nominated to fill a 1-year unexpired term as a Trustee in 2024. John is a Senior Cost Analyst for Qualis Corportation, supporting the mission of Redstone Arsenal. John is a graduate of the University of Alabama with a wealth of experience and service in both the church and corporate worlds. John grew up at Covenant and as a child was part of the group of families that founded Covenant in the 1950’s and 1960’s. He has served as both an elder and as a trustee at Covenant throughout his many years of membership. John is married to Jill Grace, who was on Covenant’s staff for many years in our weekday preschool, and together they raised three children at Covenant. They now enjoy spending time with their two grandchildren. John says about Covenant: “I grew up here and have been part of this church since the early days and my favorite thing is …everything! But especially the people, I love the people of this church!”


Betsy Estopinal

Betsy Estopinal is a Registered Nurse with a wide range of experience during her career spanning three decades including serving Emergency Room Burn Victims, oncology, pediatrics and most recently serving Huntsville Hospital’s Vaccination Team in a mobile medical van delivering assessments vaccines all over North Alabama. She has moreover been a tireless civic leader and volunteer in Huntsville, having served as part of Mayor Battle’s Strategic Planning Team, chaired the Huntsville Library Foundation and Friends Inc., and served in multiple capacities at the the American Cancer Society Board, Junior League, the Huntsville Symphony Guild, the Jean Shepherd Cancer Fund, Monte Sano Village and supported many other important causes in Madison County. An ordained Elder and Deacon, she is a lifelong Presbyterian and learned about service to the church and community from her parents, including her mom Patti, who is also a member of Covenant. She is married to Noel, a retired Radiation Oncologist, with whom she raised 4 daughters and now enjoys 2 baby grandchildren. Betsy shares, “My favorite thing about Covenant is all the Christian friends who have supported/uplifted/inspired me over the past 33 years!”

Theresa Hill

Theresa Hill holds a degree in Business Administration and was employed in the aerospace industry before becoming a full-time homemaker. With her husband, Mark, she raised two children here in Huntsville (including our Worship Director Allison Hendrix!) During this season she was an active volunteer in their schools, church and community. She has also been a dedicated servant in our church family since she and Mark joined Covenant. She currently serves on Covenant’s Children’s Ministry and Tech Teams in addition to volunteering with the Huntsville Assistance Program, Meals-on-Wheels, and Morris Elementary tutoring program. Theresa shares that, “There are many things I love about Covenant; I really love the feeling of being part of a family of believers!”

Mark Hill

Mark Hill is a recently retired Engineer from NASA having worked on the Space Shuttle Program and the Space Launch System, serving as the Structures and Environments Lead Engineer for the Spacecraft/Payload Integration & Evolution Office. Mark currently serves on Covenant’s Children’s Ministry and Hospitality Teams.  He is also a volunteer with the Huntsville Assistance Program and Morris Elementary tutoring program.  He served a 3-year term as a Trustee at Trinity United Methodist, the last 2 years as Secretary. Mark is married to Theresa with whom he shares two children (including Worship Director Allison Hendrix!) and three grandchildren. When asked about his favorite thing about the church, Mark shares: “I loves that Covenant is a welcoming and multigenerational congregation!”

Shannon Roberts

Shannon grew up at Covenant! She was raised here in Huntsville by her wonderful parents Ron and Marge Bledsoe alongside her brother Steve and sister Vicki (both of whom are missionaries that Covenant supports). Shannon attended Tennessee Technological University where she met her husband, Doug. Following a number of years in Virginia where they attended McLean Presbyterian, their family returned to Huntsville in 1995 and have been here ever since. Shannon has been active in women’s ministries at both Southwood Presbyterian and Covenant in addition to raising four adult children and being “Nona” to eight beautiful grandchildren. Alongside Doug she currently hosts the “Over The Mountain” Small Group for Covenant folks in Hampton Cove. Shannon shares that “It is exciting to be back at my home Church! Covenant is a wonderful place and has cared for me and so many people over the years. We are so hopeful for the good work God has in store for our Church in the future.”

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