Brian and Jen Suehs-Vassel — Director and Community Member since January 2014
Brian Suehs-Vassel, his wife Jen, and their dog Charlie Brown are joining Nazareth Farm after four and a half years in Boston, Mass. During that time Brian and Jen enjoyed their time ministering at Merrimack College and Our Lady Help of Christians Parish, respectively. Brian’s deepest passion for ministry involves helping young adults discover their vocation – how their unique God-given talents can meet the needs of God’s people. He is excited about how this passion can be lived out as a member of the Nazareth Farm community and is very humbled to get the opportunity to join in the great work that has been happening at Nazareth Farm for over 3 decades. On a personal note, both Brian and Jen are very excited to move back to Jen’s native West Virginia and into the Sandora house.
Torie Bolster — STAFF member SINCE JUne 2015
Torie may have been born and raised on the Southside of Chicago, but her heart has always yearned for the country roads of West Virginia to take her home. Having sojourned in the summer of 2014, she came to the realization that the staff life was the life for her… and the rest is history! After graduating from Saint Xavier University, Torie traded in her fancy pants and city shoes for work boots, overalls, and a simpler life. Here at the farm, you can find Tor Tor snuggling with Oscar and Ava, being the number-one hype gurl, and hiking/running through the hollow. If you can’t find her in any of those places, she is probably up on a roof, in the garden, or keeping things fun in the kitchen. Wait, no… she’s more than likely still hanging out with the shmushy-faced pups.
Annie McDonnell — STAFF member SINCE June 2016
Annie hails from Dorchester, Mass, where she holds the honor of proudest citizen. Around the neighborhood she’s known as Annie Mac. At Nazareth Farm you’re likely to see her leading the Clean Plate Parade or serenading the volunteers during wake ups. In her downtime, you can find her on b-ball courts, shooting mad threes and boxing out the competition. At Merrimack College, where Annie Mac majored in history and social justice, she led J.C.’s Disciples to the intramural basketball championship. Yet, that is just one of Annie Mac’s winning accomplishments. One time she was awarded a free hat upon demolishing a tandem potato sack race. After finding her way to the farm as a sojo in 2015, she fell in love with the farm and the West Virginia mountains and is wicked excited to now be joining the staff. The rest was HISTORY (get it?!).
Amanda Kuhn — STAFF MEMBER SINCE August 2016
Amanda was born and raised in the western suburbs of Chicago where she spent most of her time playing tennis, badminton, and eating Chipotle. She ventured to the great state of Iowa for undergrad and attended Central College. It was through her faith and the study of Sociology that she became intensely aware, interested, and passionate about God’s heart and the world around her. As a past volunteer and two-time graduate of the sojourner program, she has felt a constant pull and call towards Appalachia and Nazareth Farm. She is finally home in the mountains once again and can be found in the woodshop, being crafty, porching or hanging out with the chickens.
Josh LAFave — Staff Member Since July 2017
Josh grew up in southeast Michigan in the Detroit suburb of Livonia. When Josh was over halfway through the nursing program at the University of Detroit Mercy, he found himself headed to a little place called Nazareth Farm. Little did he know that the Farm would be a life changing experience. Upon coming home from The Farm, he started taking bucket showers, planted an organic garden and become passionate about Catholic Social Teaching. Over time, he felt a tug on his heart to consider doing a year of service. After some time discerning, Josh gave God his “Yes” and returned to Nazareth Farm to immerse himself into the four cornerstones. In spring of 2017 Josh graduated with his Bachelor of Science in Nursing and passed his NCLEX, making his official title Joshua LaFave BSN, RN. (Also making him the first nurse to be on staff at Naz Farm!) Around the Farm, you will probably find Josh jamming on the guitar, carrying heavy sandbags up the mountain, playing frisbee or reading a good book.
COURTNEY SMOLA — STAFF MEMBER SINCE OCTOBER 2017
Courtney comes to us from the northwest suburbs of Chicago. After high school, she became a city girl and attended Loyola University Chicago to study Health Systems Management. When she couldn’t get enough of school, Courtney decided to stay another year at Loyola to earn her Master of Business Administration. Upon graduating, she felt God calling her to the mountains to serve. She may have been disappointed when her high school entrance exam suggested she become a farmer, but after first visiting the farm in 2014, she fell in love with the farm life. You can find Courtney talking about sustainability, promoting compost, chilling in a hammock, and whistling while she works. She is currently the sole member of the Charlie Brown fan club and is actively recruiting new members. Courtney is also in the process of overcoming her deep-seeded fear of germs. We’ll get back to you on that in a year!
remy Shaffer Gomes, M.S. —Director of Development Since July 2015
I joined the Nazareth Farm team as the Director of Development in the summer of 2015. This position enables me to ensure Nazareth Farm’s worthwhile mission continues to transform lives and hearts for many years to come. My first visit to Naz Farm created an auspicious start: I had a ‘birthday match” on my actual birthday! I fell in love with Nazareth Farm, the mission, the setting, and the people while learning to install a tin roof. I feel privileged to support our great work and believe this role beautifully combines my personal beliefs and professional skills. I graduated with a degree in communication from the University of Maryland and a M.S. from Miami University in young adult development and leadership. I also bring several years professional experience in development and external relations to my role at Nazareth Farm. I reside in Owings Mills, Maryland, with my husband Casey and our son Bailey and our daughter Eliana.