MEET THE TEAM
Founder & Executive Director
Brenda is a dedicated wife and caregiver. She is the mother of three, step-mother of three, second mom of an adult foster daughter, grandmother of 28, and great-grandmother of four. Brenda is a native rural Iowa girl who has also lived in Texas, Kansas, and California before returning home to her roots. She was raised on a farm in central Iowa, sharing a house with her parents and seven other siblings. Brenda now enjoys living in the wide-open spaces of rural Iowa with her husband Steve and their family pets —two Yorkie’s, and three horses. Brenda is an active member of Heartland Church and a former local real estate agent, with over 17 years of service. In her spare time, Brenda enjoys reading and learning new things. Brenda’s history includes working with CASA for at-risk children, volunteer services with a safe home for young women at risk, and 13 years of foster parenting alongside her husband. She is a graduate of JSMI School of World Evangelism in Fort Worth, TX and has her ministry credentials with Heartland Alliance in Ankeny, IA.
"The belief that everyone is born on purpose for a purpose was the driving force behind my prayerful pursuit of the purpose of my own life. In late January 2015, I found my answer and started the journey of walking in my God-given, God-ordained destiny. Garden Gate Ranch was birthed out of that pursuit, combining an endless passion for God with a deep compassion for His people."
Co-Founder & Operations Director
Lauren grew up on a farm in Central Iowa, developing a determined work ethic and an enthusiasm for adventure from a young age. She received her BA in student ministries from Nebraska Christian College and also holds three life coaching certifications. During her senior year of college, Lauren felt the Lord place the issue of sex trafficking on her heart and, upon graduating, moved to Arizona to intern for a restoration home. One year later, she returned to Iowa, sensing a call that, someday, she would help open a restoration home in her home state. For seven years, Lauren worked management jobs and wondered when she would serve survivors again, never once receiving the vision to open a home on her own. Instead, God used the time to equip her with the tools she would need to assist Brenda in opening Garden Gate Ranch and, at the right time, brought the two of them together. Lauren is passionate about organizational culture, communication and honor. She encourages others to freedom—to defy odds and become all they were made to be— knowing that every person's story has the power to change our world.
Aubrey is a twenty-something creative from the suburbs of Des Moines. She grew up in a Christ-following family of 5 and now lives with her husband and dog. After graduating from Dordt University with a degree in graphic design, Aubrey spent 8 months abroad in 4 different countries, immersed in Christian discipleship and anti-human trafficking training. Through her work with Garden Gate Ranch, she exercises her passions for art, justice, and restoration as the team’s Communications Coordinator. Aubrey desires to see all people awaken to their God-given identity, knowing that freedom and joy are found in the wholeness of His love. She longs to see the Lord complete the work ascribed to Him in Isaiah 61—that all would be set free.
Jim is a "numbers guy." Retired senior vice-president from John Deere Financial after a 40-year career, he makes his home in Urbandale with his wife and their bernedoodle. Grandfather to 13, father to four, golf lover and boating enthusiast, Jim has a servant heart for the Lord. He has helped lead over 14 mission trips to Ghana, Africa to help spread the Gospel, educate about malaria and build wells to improve the lives of others. Past board member of Meals from the Heartland and current volunteer with Lutheran Services of Iowa, Jim enjoys helping others and living out his faith in his daily walk with God. He was called to serve Garden Gate Ranch after attending a seminar at his church about fighting human trafficking. Undoubtedly, God made sure that he was at the right place, at the right time.