James received his doctorate from the University of Kansas Medical Center and practiced physical therapy and wound care before he and his wife, Marsha, founded Watered Gardens Ministries in Joplin, Missouri, in 2000.
In 2012, James founded the True Charity Initiative to advance nationally the cause of privately-funded effective charity at the most local level. His work has appeared in Heritage Foundation’s Index of Culture and Opportunity, Patrick Henry College’s Newsmaker Series, World, The Christian Post, and The Hill. He and Marsha were honored to receive the World News Group Hope Award on behalf of Watered Gardens Ministries in Washington, D.C. in 2019.
In his role as Executive Director of Watered Gardens and True Charity, James is responsible for establishing vision and strategy for the ministry.
He and Marsha have 5 children who have flown the coop leaving them a bit more spare time to fish the James River in SW Missouri where they live.
Director of Advancement
Travis received his Master of Divinity from Cincinnati Christian University and his Doctorate of Ministry from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. After serving in local church ministry for 17 years, he has worked in development for the past eight, serving full-time at Watered Gardens Ministries since January, 2017.
He is also a lieutenant, serving as a chaplain, for the United States Navy Reserve, and he teaches in congregations and universities on issues of race, culture, and the church. A fellow of the World Journalism Institute, his work has appeared in The Christian Standard and as a guest columnist for local news outlets.
In his current role as Director of Advancement for Watered Gardens and True Charity, Travis is responsible for fundraising and marketing for the ministry.
In addition to 4 children, Travis has 3 grandsons who regularly join him in mischief around the 4-state area of SW Missouri where he lives.
Director of Education
Jeff received his Master’s of Education in Information Science and Learning Technologies from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He and his wife, Jordan, first heard the concepts of True Charity during the inaugural Leadership Forum in 2012 and, afterwards, joined the TCI Education Committee.
When they moved to Tokyo in 2013 for Jeff’s work for the Department of Defense Education Activity, he continued serving at a distance, and upon returning to the US in 2020, he joined full-time as our Director of Education. In that role, Jeff is responsible for developing engaging educational materials that promote principles of true charity and result in sustained practice.
Jeff, Jordan, and daughter, Darcy, currently live in Northwest Arkansas and enjoy hiking and kayaking.
Savannah earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Organizational Communication from Missouri State University in August 2017. After serving as a para-educator in a local school district for a year, she joined the True Charity team in October 2018.
As our Events Director, Savannah plans and coordinates gatherings that inspire and equip charity practitioners to participate in responsible, empowering work. When not overseeing events, she also serves as our Regional Director of True Charity for the Joplin area where she teaches and coordinates greater collaboration between poverty-fighting organizations.
Savannah and her husband, Josh, enjoy outdoor activities—skiing, rock climbing, biking, and running—but she can occasionally be found indoors where she enjoys reading and hunting for good shows on Netflix.
Director of Membership
Nathan Mayo earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Economics from the US Military Academy at West Point. In 2013, he was commissioned in the Army as an Armor and Reconnaissance officer and stationed in Germany with a mission to deter Russian aggression in Europe.
Upon completion of his military service as a Captain, Nathan and his wife, Abigail, spent two years in Haiti building up a network of Haitian-run churches and schools before joining True Charity in 2020.
Nathan is inspired by solving challenging problems with data and translating the insights of experts into applications for practitioners. In his role as Director of Membership, he recruits, equips, and connects poverty-fighting organizations so they can continuously improve their approaches and outcomes.
Nathan and Abigail are avid travelers with 39 countries down. Nathan also enjoys hiking, recreational economics, and movies with gratuitous explosions.
Director of Community Initiatives
Avery received her Bachelor’s in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics from Hillsdale College. While in school, she was deeply involved in the local community, working in both education and poverty alleviation. Her writing concerning rural poverty and community development has appeared in the Front Porch Republic, Philanthropy Daily, and Capital Research.
As our Directory of Community Initiatives, Avery works to share the vision of True Charity principles and applications with nonprofit and church leaders across the country.
Avery lives with her husband, a Marine Corps officer, in Maysville, North Carolina.