The Staff

Jessica S. Ryan, PhD, LPC
Executive Director

Dr. Ryan has been serving children and their families in the behavioral health field for over 20 years. A licensed professional counselor, Dr. Ryan is equipped to help the young women involved with UHW become better able to deal with life’s struggles. Dr. Ryan earned her B.A. from The College of Wooster; her M.A. from John Carroll University; and her PhD from Cleveland State University- all located in her home state of Ohio. She has served in many leadership roles in the past for large, non-profit mental health organizations. Her experience spans programming such as residential and crisis care for children; suicide risk assessment; intensive home based therapies for families; mental health court for juvenile offenders; psychological assessment; and clinical administration. Dr. Ryan also currently serves as PRN staff at Thomas Hospital, serving as a therapist at the Harbor, a drug and alcohol and behavioral rehabilitation program and is an adjunct professor at Tiffin University, where she teaches online courses in Graduate Education. Dr. Ryan relocated from Ohio in 2015. She and her husband Kevin, a local attorney, along with their 12 year old triplets, live in Silverhill, AL. The family attends First Baptist Church Silverhill.

Irene Hermecz Lowry
Lead Teacher

Irene Hermecz Lowry, a native of Fairhope, is the lead teacher at Under His Wings. She graduated from Auburn University with a B.S. in Elementary Education and has 37 years of teaching experience. She has a passion for teaching and instilling a love of reading and learning in her students. In June of 2016 after being Florida residents for 35 years, Irene and her husband, Michael, relocated to Baldwin County to be closer to family. Irene is thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the teens at Under His Wings. She believes the girls need to feel loved, encouraged, and accepted as they learn and heal with the strength and love of Christ.


Kari Whatley, LPC
Counselor/Equine Therapist

Kari leads an important part of the healing program at Under His Wings – on a farm near Bay Minette with a team of four-legged therapists.  Equine therapy – like other growing methods such as art therapy – is an experience-based approach that meets each girl “where they are.” Horses are masters of reading body language, intent and emotion.  Working with them weekly, the girls learn to better understand themselves and build the trust often lost in their lives.  Kari is a Licensed Professional Counselor  and an EAGALA Certified Equine Therapist.   She achieved her B.S. in Theology and a M.S. in Professional Counseling at Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA.

Jennifer & Seth Ellzey
House Parents

Both raised in the town Semmes in Alabama, Seth and Jenn Ellzey have a baby boy and have collectively served in youth and children’s ministry for 10 years. Their heart’s desire is to always do Kingdom work, and help young people know their true worth and the depth of Jesus’ love. When God opened the door for the Ellzey’s to serve as the UHW house parents in January of 2017, they could not wait to enter the home and begin pouring out care and love for the girls. As the house parents, the Ellzey’s want to provide a loving, consistent, peaceful, safe and structure filled home life for the girls.

Nicoll Mastin, R.N.
Health Education Director

Nicole is a registered nurse and serves as Health Education Director for the girls at Under His Wings. Nicole received a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Auburn University in 2000 and earned a second Bachelor’s degree of science in nursing in 2012 from the University of South Alabama. She currently works full time as an RN at Mobile’s Children’s and Women’s hospital in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.

Kristina Baswell, April Edward and Diana Moore are all part of the house parent team that provide a loving home environment at Under His Wings.  Structure, discipline and security are essential to the healing process and elements many of our girls have never had in their lives.

A devoted group of volunteers spend time with the girls weekly – offering love, support, and fun activities. Some bring meals, share hobbies, or tutor.

Julie Bierster
Rhonda Brantley
Mary Bunch
Brooke di Cristina
Peggy Franks
Rebecca Giles
Tanya Hunt
Laura McLeod
Mary Nevitte
Elizabeth Ray
Becky Romano
Sandra Ryce
Sally Schmidt
Theresa Suttle
Karen Thomason
Mandy White
Bert Milling, Jr.
Hallie Waitcus

Under His Wings is a 501c3 non-profit created in 2012, managed by a Board of Directors committed to the vision and calling of our mission.

The Board receives legal and financial counsel from an Alabama board-certified attorney and accountant.

Under His Wings is licensed by the State of Alabama as a Group Residential Care Facility.

Board Members:

Pictured (l-r) Sheryl Lindsay; Shirlee Poulos, Becky Harris; Joan Staska; Dr. Nena Hunt; Alex Sweeney