Jeff, along with some mission-minded friends, founded The Garuna (grace) Foundation in 2001. He serves as Garuna’s Board Chairman and CEO. Jeff (and family) served for 8 years as an LCMS missionary in Bangkok, Thailand where he was SE Asia Regional Director. During that time, he was involved in missionary work in Thailand, but also began to explore outreach in Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia which led to Garuna’s continued emphasis in this region of the world.
Jeff and his wife, Cheryl, reside in Phoenix, AZ and have 3 grown children. They are members at Christ Church-Lutheran in Phoenix. Jeff graduated with a BS in elementary education from Concordia University-NE, a Master of Divinity from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO, and a Doctor of Ministry from Interdenominational Theological Seminary in Atlanta, GA. His dissertation was focused on leadership development.
Jeff served as a vicar in the inner city of Baltimore, MD serving Mt. Calvary and Berea Lutheran Churches. He was called to Christ Lutheran (East Point, GA) where he served for 8 years as sole pastor and director of the school. From there, he served with LCMS World Mission for 8 years before his current role with Garuna.
Cheryl joined the Garuna team in 2016, serving as Director of Educational Ministries. She is married to Jeff and they have three grown children. They live in Phoenix, AZ and are members at Christ Church-Lutheran.
Cheryl graduated with a BS in elementary education degree from Winthrop University (Rock Hill, SC). After marrying Jeff, she worked as a teacher at Pilgrim Lutheran School (Baltimore, MD), at St. Louis University’s International Business Institute, and as lead teacher at Christ Lutheran School in East Point, GA before starting their family. In 1993, the Ehlers family moved to Thailand and served as LCMS missionaries for 8 years, raising their young children in Bangkok. During that time, Cheryl completed her MA degree from Azusa Pacific University in Social Sciences (Leadership Studies emphasis) and served as coordinator for Azusa’s SE Asia MA program.
They moved to Phoenix in 2000 and Cheryl taught in grades 2 and 5 before becoming assistant principal for 3 years and principal for 10 years at Christ Lutheran School. During that time, she completed her colloquy in Lutheran Studies from Concordia-Irvine and coursework from Grand Canyon University in the Doctor of Education (Organizational Development) program.
Tamie has long been a part of the Garuna team, first as a volunteer and mission team member, and now as Garuna Sponsorship Program Coordinator since early 2019. Tamie and her husband live in Tyrone, GA where they are members at St. Paul Lutheran Church, Peachtree City. They have two grown children.
Tamie received her BS in Special Education from Oklahoma State University and her Commissioned Minister of Religion colloquy certification from Concordia University-NE. She has taught for 30 years, both in special education and in Grades K-3. She has worked in both the public and Lutheran school systems in Georgia, Alabama, and in Arizona.
Tamie currently serves as a member of the Florida-Georgia District of the LCMS Board of Directors and is school board Chairperson for St. Paul Lutheran School in Peachtree City, GA. She has also served as chairperson of the principal call committee at her church. She served for 3 years on the Kaleidoscope Grant Committee of the Lutheran Church Extension Fund.
Wendy joined the Garuna team in 2019. She and has helped tremendously in the areas of accounting and bookkeeping.
Wendy brings 20 years of accounting experience to Garuna. Prior to joining Garuna, Wendy worked at US Airways Credit Union as their Chief Financial Officer, managing the finance, accounting and collection departments.
Coming from a family of missionaries and teachers, she shares that working with Garuna is very personal and fulfilling. Wendy lives in Arizona with her husband and two children.