Our Board Members
Founder and CEO
Elizabeth Echevarria is the founder and CEO of Living in Liberty, a Pittsburgh based nonprofit focused on providing services for victims and survivors of sex trafficking in the Western Pennsylvania area. Here first exposure to sex trafficking was in the streets of Belgium where she worked with Breaking Chains while on a short term missions trip. She has worked in the non-profit world for over 20 years overseeing the human resource and financial management aspects of the various organizations.
Elizabeth has an MS in Industrial and Labor Relations and has been certified through the Society for Human Resource Management as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) for more than 17 years. She completed ministry school at the Northeast Ministry School at Allison Park Church in June of 2010. She has been involved with ministry to women in some capacity for over 12 years and has always had a passion for helping underserved and underprivileged women or those going through a challenging time. She recently learned that she is 2018 Recipient of the Women of Courage award for her work with Living in Liberty.
Kelly Bender is a wife, mother, and entrepreneur. She and her husband, along with their six children own a tax and accounting firm and a small sustainable family farm. She is passionate about being invested in the local community, finding tangible opportunities to help people where they are, and remains grounded by her faith and family. Her experience in small business organizations allows her to provide real world financial expertise in the operations of Living in Liberty. By her service, she hopes to make an impact to some of our most vulnerable individuals, and give them opportunities for true freedom.
Mike Hess considers himself to be the luckiest guy in America as he is married to the girl of his dreams and is a new father to a beautiful baby girl. Mike has worked in medical sales for the last ten years following his graduation from Grove City College in 2009. An avid runner, snowboarder, and hiker, Mike loves the outdoor adventures. Mike has been engaged in advocating for victims of sex slavery for the past seven years with several organizations and has a heart to see radical revival take place in America and abroad which puts an end to this horrific industry. Mike is a believer and follower of Jesus Christ and believes that with the mighty power of the Holy Spirit active and at work through our lives that we will see victory in this war against human trafficking..
The Rev. Bruce H. Schlenke is a retired Presbyterian minister. He is an active member of Pittsburgh Presbytery and has served churches in Akron, Ohio and in Greenville and Wexford, PA. Bruce’s wife of 38 years, Libby, is a retired elementary music teacher. They are parents of two grown sons, both public school teachers, and grandparents to two pre-school age young ladies.
Bruce is a die-hard Pittsburgher who loves the city’s streets, hillsides, sports teams, and capacity for invention and the arts. Even more, he deeply values the network of ministries that have been engendered in and faithfully serve our region.
Director of Street Outreach
Bonnie Nichols is known as the Mother Teresa of Pittsburgh from a Pittsburgh Post Gazette and has been working with Living in Liberty since 2013. With her roots in rural Pennsylvania, Bonnie comes to the streets of Pittsburgh by way of India. It was in India on a short term mission trip that she first confronted human trafficking first hand in a red light district and had her conception of the world turned upside down. When the reality that this happens in Pittsburgh became her reality, she drove to New City Fellowship in St. Louis to see what her denomination was doing about commercial sexual exploitation. After spending several days there, she continued learning with them through online trainings and classes. Married for fifty years, mother of five, one of whom is adopted and comes out of a traumatic childhood, and grandmother of twelve, she takes a nurturing spirit to the streets to help build loving community for women engaged in prostitution.
Pittsburgh post gazette article about Bonnie Nichols http://www.post-gazette.com/life/lifestyle/2018/05/04/Jefferson-Award-finalist-Most-Outstanding-Volunteer-of-the-Year/stories/201804300024
Combining her desire to see women rescued from sex-trafficking and her ability with numbers, Barb Clelland serves as the Finance Team Leader for Living In Liberty. Barb is a graduate of West Virginia University with a Bachelor of Science in Business and is employed with a tax accounting firm. Barb and her husband, Bryan, have been married for 35 years, have two children and three adorable granddaughters.
Awareness and Prevention Lead
Karen is a respected Women’s leader in her church at Allison Park. She is retired from a 30 year career in Retail Management. Her first exposure to trafficking was a short term missions trip to India working with the Daughters project. She saw the effects of young women trafficked in the streets of India. She oversees the daily operations of the two store Repurposed stores. She also is the leader of the outreach team in the South Side and has a great desire to see women set free from a life of commercial sexual exploitation.