Leadership Development Team

Rev. Shannon Stringer
Rev. Shannon StringerDirector of Leadership Development
As the Director of Leadership Development, Reverend Shannon Stringer draws on more than 25 combined years of leading in education, ministry and staff supervision. Shannon’s personal educational background includes a Master’s in American Government with an emphasis in Constitutional Law and a Masters of Divinity and Ordination in the United Methodist Church. As an educator Shannon was awarded the US Congressional Recognition of Excellence in Education, the Coaching Excellence Award from SCORE, Coach of the Year two different years from the Fontana, CA Chamber. In her pastoral ministry, Shannon served three churches before moving to conference staff. She currently lives in Indianapolis with her husband, Dave, and their two dogs.
Emily Krach
Emily KrachAssociate Director of Leadership Development - Emerging Leaders
Emily Krach is a part of the Leadership Development team, specifically working with emerging leaders. This also includes working closely with adults who support young people.She is a veteran youth leader with a passion for empowering and developing leaders of all ages for the sake of the next generation of the church. She attended Huntington University for her undergrad in Youth Ministry and Indiana Wesleyan University for her Masters in Organizational Leadership. Currently, she is also a mentor for young professional women through the Edge Mentoring program. Emily has been a part of the United Methodist Church all her life and is a native Hoosier now residing in Fort Wayne where she can have her nieces and nephews in her home regularly. She finds great joy in walking her dog (Bear), exploring parks, and sitting near a body of water.
Rev. Matthew Leffler
Rev. Matthew LefflerAssociate Director of Leadership Development - Ministerial Services
As the Associate Director of Leadership Development – Ministerial Services, Matthew serves asanadaptive thinker who ensures consistency throughout the candidacy process and strategically ensures the Board of Ordained Ministry’s actions, policies, and procedures are being consistently followed by all its entities. Matthew brings years of leadership experience with him including serving in leadership roles on boards for non-profit organizations. He also served as a student representative on the Board of Trustees and as Student Council President while attending United Theological Seminary. Matthew, a second career pastor, spent 14 years as a manufacturing engineer in the automotive and glass industries prior to entering the ministry. He was first appointed as a bi-vocational Supply Pastor in 1998, and then ordained as an Elder in the former Northern Indiana Conference in 2007. He has a Bachelor’s Degree from Ball State University and Masters of Divinity from United Theological Seminary. His hobbies include golfing, reading, singing and spending time with family. Matthew and his wife, Tracey, have two children, Mickala and Matt.
Luska Natali
Luska Natali Conference Assistant - Leadership Development
Luska came to the United States from Brazil in 1988 with her family. Since that time, she has volunteered at a large number of churches as a music librarian, drama ministry leader, Hispanic ministry church planter and interpreter. She has also taught Sunday school classes to high schoolers, college agers, and women.
Luska has three sons, Thiago, Andre, and Lukas, as well as 10 grandsons. Her daughters-in-love add the right measure of sweetness to the mix of energy and craziness that comes from having a family of 13 guys.
From a very young age, Luska developed an interest and love for foreign languages and cultures, and she is fluent in English, Portuguese (native tongue) and Spanish, with the ability to interpret and translate. She is a member of the American Translators Association (ATA). She has a Bachelor’s and Master ’s degrees in Business Management from Indiana Wesleyan University, and an Education Specialist degree (EdS) from Liberty University. She also completed all the coursework for a doctorate degree in Educational Leadership at Liberty University (dissertation not completed).
Luska enjoys time with family, taking pictures, traveling, writing devotionals, editing, dining out, going to the movies, volunteering, mentoring, teaching English as a Second Language (ESL), networking, knowledge-sharing, writing letters with confetti in them, and teaching her grandchildren about Jesus.
Michele Phillips
Michele PhillipsAdministrator of Ministerial Services
In her previous role with the Conference, Michele served as the Part-Time Administrative Assistant for Local Pastor Education for the Indiana Annual Conference for a number of years — overseeing and managing registrations, providing guidance to students in class selections, assisting the Director of the Indiana Course of Study Extension School, and working closely with the University of Indianapolis to provide adequate facilities for learning and is the liaison between the students and their instructors.

In her current role, Michele serves as the Administrator of Ministerial Services, working alongside Rev. Shannon Stringer as part of the Leadership Development Team. Michele began serving in that role on November 4, 2019.

In addition to her position as Administrative Assistant, Michele works full time at Saint Joseph UMC in Fort Wayne where she serves as the Director of Church Operations. She has been in her position for six years. Michele also serves at Saint Joseph as a volunteer worship leader and wedding coordinator. Michele has been married to her husband Jeff for 26 years and has two daughters ages 20 and 17.

Britt Leslie
Britt LeslieDirector of Local Pastor Education
Britt Leslie is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church with about 10 years of pastoral experience, having served in urban and rural congregations. He does not currently serve in a local congregation, but spends his time teaching in adult education. He has a PhD in New Testament, a ThM in bible, a Masters in Theology and a Masters in Divinity. He has taught at Manchester University in North Manchester, IN; at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, OH; and at South University’s Online Doctor of Ministry program. He has been teaching Bible courses in Course of Study at United Theological Seminary, Methodist School of Theology in Ohio, and the Indiana Extension COS since 2011. He is also the director of Local Pastor Education for the Indiana Conference of the United Methodist Church since 2018. He lives in Lafayette, IN with his wife, who serves as Sr. Pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church, and their dog.
Nick Yarde
Nick YardeDirector of Camping Ministry
Nick Yarde has a deep connection to the Camping Ministry. It was at Junior High camp that he solidified his faith. While finishing his Master’s degree in Natural Resources Agency Management at Purdue University, Nick served as a youth pastor at Battleground UMC. After brief stays at Lincoln and Turkey Run State Park, Nick returned to full-time ministry as the Director/Manager of Camp Rivervale. Prior to becoming the Association Director of Camp in the North Indiana Conference, Nick and his family were hosted at Camp Indicoso and Camp Lakewood. Currently, Nick serves as the Associate Director of Camps and Retreats Ministries. His wife, Nanette, has served along of him in each role at the various UMC camps while raising their three children.
Emma Bennett
Emma BennettChildren Matter Most Intern
Emma Bennett serves as the new intern for the Children Matter Most initiative. She is a senior at Indiana University studying Accounting, Finance, and Law/Ethics. Originally from New Jersey, Emma will be moving out to Chicago in the summer of 2022. Currently Emma volunteers at the Middleway House. Working with children has always been a passion of hers, which is part of why she is so excited to join this team. She look forward to helping with the various goals and initiatives of CMM and hopes to make an impact throughout her time here.