For over a decade, Jeremy has served families who’ve been terrorized by war in Iraq and Syria. Jeremy and his wife Jessica founded Preemptive Love after moving to Iraq in the middle of the war. A sought-after speaker, Jeremy has appeared on CNN, BBC, NBC, and other news outlets. He’s the author of the books Preemptive Love and Love Anyway. Jeremy lives in Iraq with his wife Jessica and their two children.
Jessica founded Preemptive Love with her husband Jeremy in 2007. She has long believed we should do more than just help refugees survive; we should empower them to reclaim their future. Today, Jessica leads our refugee empowerment program. In 2016, she spearheaded the launch of Preemptive Love’s Sisterhood Collective, bringing refugee-made soap, candles, and more to North America—and putting thousands of dollars into the hands of Iraq and Syrian women.
JR serves as Preemptive Love’s Chief Operating Officer, providing operational leadership and strategic plan implementation for the organization. JR comes to Preemptive Love following an 11 year tenure with AT&T in sales and sales leadership for retail and small business channels. JR has been a part of Preemptive Love from the beginning—embarking with Jeremy on the very first trip into Iraq which forever changed the trajectory of his life. He served on the Board of Directors from 2011 until leaving the board to join the team full time in 2015. When JR is not waging peace around the world with Preemptive Love, he can be found spending time with his wife and three kids, making/recording/mixing music, and occasionally playing a round of golf.
Yemisi has over 25 years in Finance and Accounting, with experience overseeing Human Resources. She earned her Bachelor’s in Accounting from the University of Houston and her MBA from Pepperdine University. Yemisi has spent her life volunteering on numerous mission trips, mentoring at-risk kids, and looking out for the underdog. Her desire to align herself with an organization whose purpose mirrored her heart is what led her to Preemptive Love. In her spare time, Yemisi loves to rollerblade, try new recipes or create her own, and she’s been known to compete in Spartan obstacle course races a few times.
After doing a two-week assignment for us, Ben just refused to leave. So we made him our communications director. Ben loves telling stories that cut through the narrative of fear and violence—stories that prove the world can be remade. He still doesn’t believe he gets to do this every day. Ben is also a dad, an occasional children’s book author, a runner, and an amateur brewer.
Skip has spent the last 15 years crafting digital media strategies and building glorious websites… including this one. He’s also part of the band Roman Candle, which has three studio albums to its name and has toured across the US and Europe. He and his wife/bandmate Timshel and their five children live in Nashville. And because they apparently don’t have enough to do, they also host the “Drinks With” interview series for Paste Magazine, featuring musicians, writers, and comedians like Dolly Parton, David Sedaris, Mumford & Sons, and Arctic Monkeys.
Fred spent many of his early years in the Middle East, including Syria, and has incredible memories of his time. Fred and his wife, Angie, first joined Preemptive Love as donors. Having lived in eight countries and growing up a citizen of the world, he has spent the majority of his life living abroad or working in an international field. Fred loves to help bridge cultures and see people from diverse backgrounds discover what they have in common. Prior to joining Preemptive Love, Fred led the international development efforts for Indiana University and helped develop and manage international capacity building projects in the Middle East, West Africa, South East Asia, Europe, the Caribbean, and Latin America. He believes strongly in the power of collective philanthropy and the opportunity we all have to make the beautiful world we all know is possible through sharing our time, talents and our treasure for the love of humanity and one another. In his free time, you can find Fred spending time with his wife and two teenage kids or working to reverse the effects of aging by training for his next triathlon.
Toni is a Texas native (she pretty much always mentions Texas first in her introductions), but resides in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband Sam and daughter Dylan. With a degree in business logistics and entrepreneurship, she has used her talents to help ministries, leaders, and non-profits in the areas of student ministry, creative marketing, leadership, innovation, strategic planning, and diversity and inclusion. She’s a host and communicator and has had the opportunity to proudly stand on stages like North Point Community Church, Chick-Fil-A, Orange Conference, and MomCon. With a background in helping to build bridges across racial and gender divides and a heart for a radical wave of peace and love to overcome our world, Toni jumped and took a deep dive into the opportunity to be a part of Preemptive Love and the Gathering communities movement.
Jen has significant years of experience in the humanitarian sector serving in the Middle East, Asia, and Central America. She is passionate about coordination, women’s health, and combatting issues of gender-based violence. Intrigued by the posture Preemptive Love takes toward humanitarian action, she is excited at the endless opportunities to make a more beautiful world. When Jen is not fighting injustice, you can find her in a local coffee shop, at a sporting event or enjoying the outdoors.
As an Iraqi boy growing up under Saddam’s regime, Ihsan only had access to a couple of TV channels, most of which just aired regime propaganda. But some evenings, one channel aired movies like Star Wars and Star Trek—little Ihsan was transfixed. Being moved by some of these movies, he knew what he wanted to do with his life. After the regime fell, Ihsan immediately bought a computer and began learning anything he could about multimedia. Today, Ihsan works as our Program Documentarian, working in the field with our program team to document our programs through interviews, photographs, video and anything that will help communicate the stories of the people we serve and the work we’re accomplishing. He also enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter, playing video games, watching movies, and and he’s pretty sure he’d survive the zombie apocalypse longer than you.
Dane started at Preemptive Love as a college intern and stayed to develop community and donor engagement. Dane believes that young people can really change the world. Now he brings Preemptive Love community gatherings to colleges and universities, traveling across the country in his school bus turned tiny home, Dobby. Dane loves to travel to new places with friends, explore book stores and coffee shops, and spending every last moment of summer daylight on the trails and on the water.
Erin first came to Iraq in 2011, to work with children who found themselves on the edges of their communities—such as orphans, boys who sold bags in the bazaar, AND amazing young men who received little encouragement. She used photography as a tool for their personal development, and as a tangible way to reflect back to them their creativity and skills. Since 2013, Erin has made her home in Iraq, documenting the work of Preemptive Love, and today coordinates work across Iraq, Syria, and Mexico. She is a perpetual student of life. A vegetarian, feminist, podcast host, and peacemaker.
Wendy joined Preemptive Love with 17 years of experience in housing and community development. With her passion for storytelling, she enjoys writing about the lives of people in the conflict zones we serve, and helping the rest of the world see not only their urgent needs, but also their amazing beauty and significance to our global family.
Jon serves as the Community Insights Manager. After following Preemptive Love from the beginning, his heart grew to love the mission to the point that he wanted to do more to help. Prior to Preemptive Love, Jon worked at Evernote as Sales and Support Analyst, providing insight into customer interactions, as well as being a Zendesk administrator. When not working, he loves spending time with his wife, daughter, and son playing in their yard. He loves technology and using it to help improve the world around him.
Inas spent years serving her community as a volunteer before coming to work for Preemptive Love. In her hometown of Baghdad she helped women impacted by violence, and later helped families displaced by the war with ISIS. Along the way, she earned a degree in IT and Business Administration. As part of our Programs team, Inas brings the heart to care about people first and foremost, the brains to make programs function like clockwork, and the life experience–growing up amidst the bombs of Baghdad–to understand what the people we serve are experiencing. When she isn’t coaching new business owners, finagling access permissions, or translating the heart-rending stories of those we serve, you might find Inas dancing in her living room with her mother and niece.
Diana is no stranger to pain and the reality that our world desperately needs to be remade. As a former Iraq War Army Combat Medic and a sexual assault nurse examiner, Diana has committed her life to staring pain in the face and choosing to love anyway, to lean in, and to remake the world around her. Diana is also an aspiring author of the book “Why War Wrecked me for Peace,” and is usually the one laughing when everyone else is trying not to.
Jessica comes to Preemptive Love after nearly a decade in journalism and with several years’ experience in fundraising. With a life-long passion for social justice and peacemaking in the world, she does her best to live out the principles of love and mercy on her own frontlines and believes compassion should be extended to all life. Stories of pain transforming into redemption, unlikely reconciliation, and real-life applications of “enemy” love are quick to make her cry. The work she gets to do daily with Preemptive Love is what she believes her heart has been preparing her for most of her life.
Jessica loves spending time with her husband, three sons, and gaggle of pets (cats, chickens and whatever other random animal “needed a home” that week). In her alone time, you can generally find her exploring the lovely little city of St. Petersburg, Florida, cooking up a new vegetarian dish, singing, learning to play the cello, or curled up with a good book.
Michel Tannous had a nice job. He wore a tie and made good money. But a few years ago, Michel just had enough. He put on his tie, inched through traffic, arrived at the bank, and he quit. He got out of the rat race and retreated to his ranch for a little peace. This is when we met him. Today, Michel lives in a sort of race as our Syria Country Representative, traveling and working throughout Syria to make sure families get what they need to hold on and hold out, surviving and thriving against all odds. When he isn’t overseeing your lifesaving impact across Syria, Michel enjoys his new baby, hiking, gardening, skiing, and taking care of his animals.
Brooklyn studied International Relations at college and interned at an immigrant rights advocacy organization assisting citizenship and DACA applicants in Nashville. She also fundraised and ran communications for a refugee resettlement agency in her home of Indianapolis. With a passion for igniting activism in people for real change, she loves speaking with donors who believe in Preemptive Love’s work of bringing hope to difficult situations. Her favorite part about Preemptive Love’s mission is its desire to return power that was stripped from displaced peoples due to war and conflict. Brooklyn loves to talk about everything that’s happening in this crazy, beautiful world. On a normal day, you can find her jamming to R&B music or at a concert with friends in Nashville.
A native of Sulaimaniya, Iraq, Rawand and his family became refugees in 1990, after Saddam’s attacks on Kuwait and Kurdistan. Rawand’s family benefited greatly from the NGOs that began to provide food and rebuild schools and hospitals. These NGOs inspired Rawand and instilled in him a desire to help others in similar situations. Rawand graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering. After ISIS came in 2014, Rawand saw an influx of refugees and internally displaced people arrive in his city and immediately desired to serve them. He spent 2 years working inside refugee camps, providing water and promoting hygiene. Rawand came to Preemptive Love in 2017 to help with finance and managing projects. He was drawn to Preemptive Love’s work on the frontlines and loved how they empowered people to become owners of their own businesses. In his free time, Rawand also enjoys watching football, documentary films, and, most importantly, spending time with family.
Lindsey believes with her whole heart that the gritty work of justice must begin with connection–preferably over a cup of coffee. For the first part of her career, she worked with children and families overcoming trauma, with refugees building new lives in the US, and with community resilience building initiatives. Now, as our Grant Officer, Lindsey loves helping grantmakers connect to the heart and work of Preemptive Love—sharing stories of our work and dreams with donors and organizations and inviting them to join us in creating a more beautiful world together. If you can’t find her grant writing or blogging in a coffee shop, you’re likely to catch her gardening in her Des Moines backyard, hiking with her wife, Rachael, or belly laughing over reruns of The Office.
Nathan comes to Preemptive Love after almost four years at Chip and Joanna Gaines’s company, Magnolia, where he worked in the warehouse, customer service, and ecommerce. After following Preemptive Love’s work for years on social media, he found a place where his passions for people and product could merge as the Shop’s Ecommerce Merchandise Coordinator. His favorite items in our store are the Kinsman Lemongrass and Sisterhood Fig & Date Soaps. Outside of work, Nathan loves cooking new recipes, reading a good book, pop culture, and all things Star Wars.
Lindsay comes to Preemptive Love from a medical practice where she worked to provide the best daily experiences for both doctors and patients. She loves her work at Preemptive Love because she gets to share with customers how their purchases are helping change the lives of those who need it the most. She also enjoys seeing the beautiful items the women in Iraq and Syria consistently produce for the store; they are incredibly talented! When she is not working she prefers to be outdoors playing with her family, which she can do year-round in the sunny state of Florida.
Abigail was initially drawn to Preemptive Love because of their commitment to peacemaking as a central tenant of relief work. She has always desired to work alongside marginalized and overlooked people groups and developed a passion for the refugee community while pursuing her undergraduate degree in human rights. Abigail loves utilizing her experience in marketing and communications to connect with Preemptive Love’s compassionate and inspiring donors on a daily basis. Abigail lives in Nashville. You can find her most often at the cinema or deeply invested in a podcast.
Kim first came to Preemptive Love as a donor and immediately resonated with the messages of loving people and showing up in tangible, practical ways. Prior to Preemptive Love, she worked for twelve years in higher education as an Instructional Designer. Kim lives in Indiana with her three kids, a cat, and a hamster. She loves to run long distances, read, go for walks with her family, and spend time with friends.
Anna was drawn to Preemptive Love’s Sisterhood Collective and was quickly inspired by the mission of peacemaking. Growing up as a missionary kid in Kenya and Zimbabwe, Anna learned to celebrate people from all cultures at a young age. Formative experiences in childhood, such as drought relief for orphans and widows, forged a passion for reaching and raising awareness of underserved communities and marginalized people groups. Through a career in non-profit work and ministry, Anna has always been motivated by a strong desire to empower others. She believes that despite our differences, everyone has a story that needs to be heard. Helping others to reach out and love anyway to bring peace to communities is one of her biggest passions. She enjoys hanging out with her husband and two kids, reading books that inspire change (never just one at a time), attempting to garden, watercolor painting, singing, and being with family and friends.
After graduating as an Environmental Engineer, Saadia worked for the government to ensure compliance of landfills and power generation facilities. She took a pause to raise her family and volunteer for several non-profits, ultimately discovering herself by being an active, responsible citizen in her hometown of Oviedo, Florida. Saadia believes meaningful friendships can be found in unexpected places. Her work to show neighbors how similar we are regardless of ethnic or religious differences led her to Preemptive Love. As a Gathering Coordinator, Saadia hopes to spread this message to communities nationwide. If she’s not participating at an event around town, you may find Saadia picking up after her two girls, reminding her husband where he left his wallet, or saving the last three bananas for her famous banana bread.
Rachel came to Preemptive Love after 6+ years working in various administrative positions in the non-profit sector. She enjoys the tasks that others find tedious and finds great satisfaction in helping Jeremy and the Preemptive Love executive team function as efficiently as possible. In her free time, she can be found running, swimming, mowing her lawn, and shamelessly treating her dog and cat like they are her children.
Matt graduated from West Point and served Active Duty in the Army for two years; in 2018 he left the military as a Conscientious Objector. After experiencing profound shifts in his personal convictions regarding war and violence, Matt wanted to serve those he once trained to fight in combat. He believes that no one is beyond love and everyone is worth listening to. He resides with his wife and two daughters in Nashville, Tennessee.
Kayla Craig believes in the power of story. Passionate about making the more beautiful world, she brings a journalism background to her belief that love is worth the risk. Along with her husband, she’s raising four young kids who joined her family via birth and special needs adoption. Kayla and her husband chase their spirited children and rambunctious puppy across the Midwest, leaving trails of crushed Cheerios wherever they go. She’s stubborn in hope and has a penchant for deep mugs of coffee, deeper belly laughs, and even deeper questions. She hopes to listen and learn from those on the margins, weave stories that cross divides, and sow love instead of hate. You can find her making space for “just one more” old book on the shelf or adding “just one more” new friend to the table. Kayla co-founded and hosts Upside Down Podcast, a place for conversations on spirituality and culture.
Chelsea came to Preemptive Love after several years spent working with refugees and in global humanitarian support. She earned her Bachelor’s in Anthropology from the University of Kansas and, after winning a Fulbright to Indonesia with the U.S. State Department, she completed her Master’s in International Migration and Public Policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science. After seeing firsthand the gaps that large-scale humanitarian aid and development can often leave, she is thrilled to help Preemptive Love try to challenge the way that aid is traditionally done by listening carefully and zeroing- n on the needs of overlooked communities. When she’s not waging peace, Chelsea can often be found playing tennis, learning new languages, experimenting in the kitchen, and shamelessly reading political graphic novels.
Fighting against injustice, standing up for the overlooked and marginalized, and daring to go where others will not makes Alissa’s heart beat faster. From the moment she first heard Jeremy Courtney tell the story of Preemptive Love, she knew she had to be involved with their mission. A year later, Alissa found herself living in Iraq, having joined the team in making the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible. When she isn’t loving people, you can probably find Alissa climbing a mountain, writing honestly about life, wishing she had an oat milk latte, or pretending she can dance.
Charlene believes in the power of images to change lives. An observer by nature, she’s been wandering slowly around the world with a camera by her side for numerous years, observing the many ways in which we are all connected. Photography has played an enormous role in the transformation of her own life, including leading her to Preemptive Love, where she hopes her images will make a difference to those she serves.
Anna was born in Wroclaw, Poland. She first heard about Preemptive Love when she was working in Cambodia for a small bicycle social enterprise called Soksabike. Anna loves social entrepreneurship, anthropology, and printing business cards. She hopes to one day start up her own crazy venture.
Monica began her Human Resources career in 1997. She has worked with companies ranging from 50 to 2,000 employees, developing experience with HR outsourcing, group benefits, benefit administration, unemployment management, payroll, time and attendance, workers’ compensation coverage, and workforce development and training. Monica’s services have allowed many of her employers to place a greater focus on long-term business goals, instead of day-to-day administration.
Lana saw Preemptive Love’s work first-hand when she, along with her family members, volunteered to bring food to children that Preemptive Love was providing heart surgeries for in Iraqi Kurdistan. She has volunteered with various NGOs since middle school, developing a passion to serve others in need of help no matter where they are. Right after graduating from Lipscomb University in Nashville, she immediately began working alongside Preemptive Love to connect with our kind-hearted and inspirational donors. Lana loves to utilize her international business skills to also help our volunteers get creative with their fundraisers and become leaders in their community. Because of her love for people and culture, Lana’s always trying to learn a new language that will help her connect with people from across the globe, and she absolutely loves to listen to music in different languages (especially Korean-pop).
Living through four wars and surviving the last war alone as her family fled Iraq to find safe heaven created the pacifist that Sarah is today. She spent the past 17 years of her life on the peacemaking path trying to provide for, protect, and help the persecuted minorities in the Middle East, while trying to build bridges between all the different religious groups and communities. Sarah has focused all her efforts in the past few years on youth and educational development and women empowerment through reaching out and looking for talented young people and push to create a chance for them, providing lecturing and workshop to those who have no access, and creating jobs and business ideas to change the economical and employment scene in Iraq. Sarah tries to lead by example to change the cultural religious perception of women, youth, and general ethics.
She was awarded in 2016 the Peace and Reconciliation Prize at the House of Lords in London and in 2017 the Tanenbaum Peace in Action Prize (the first Iraqi to ever have the price and the youngest to have ever gotten it).
Ashley knew she would say yes when Jeremy and Jess unexpectedly asked if she’d be willing to move to Iraq. She left her graduate program in London and stepped into the unknown. As a WorkWell Tech Hub Manager, Ashley recruited and led a great team that became her second family. A year and a half later she is still in Iraq, now reporting on the impact of small business grants for our refugee friends and working on her Masters in Sustainable Development on the side. When Ashley is unable to travel home to Texas to spend time with her family, she is likely to be found in one of her favorite coffee shops in London.
Tammy has been a fan and supporter of Preemptive Love since meeting the Courtneys in 2014. She felt an immediate affinity with the organization’s commitment to engage in relief, job creation, and peacemaking from a place of local partnership. Having previously worked in a similar role supporting global advocacy in the Middle East, Tammy is thrilled to be a part of the Preemptive Love team. She lives in the Chicago area with her husband and two sons. She loves to cheer on her sports-loving boys, and believes life is best lived with strong coffee, good books, and in the company of close friends.
Raqiyah Mays is an author, writer based in Los Angeles, California. A long-time activist and community organizer, as a college freshman she helped create the Diversity Union on Penn State’s Altoona campus in response to acts of racism toward black classmates. She went on to organize community events in Brooklyn for non-profits and inner-city youth. As the CEO of her event planning company Broadway Night Out, she coordinated fundraisers and events for film, TV, and nonprofits in New York and Los Angeles. A former journalist and radio personality, Raqiyah wrote stories covering the intersection of social issues and entertainment for everyone from Vibe and Essence Magazine to the Associated Press and Billboard. In 2015, Simon & Schuster released her inspirational debut novel, The Man Curse. The critically-acclaimed book was turned into an empowerment workshop conducted at domestic violence shelters in NYC. The winner of numerous awards, Mays was chosen by retail outlet The Limited, as a dynamic female leader featured in its nationwide “New Look of Leadership” campaign. She was picked by VH1 and featured in its “Future Leader of Black History” commercial series. And she’s written speeches for Women’s March Co-chair Tamika Mallory. Today, she produces and hosts the podcast “Real Black News” where she counts down the top 5 black news stories of the week with newsmakers from the worlds of entertainment and activism. Previous to joining Preemptive Love, Raqiyah worked in communications and major donor fundraising with Amnesty International.
Sabah is from Iraq and studied Psychology at Baghdad University. Sabah and her husband have three kids and one adorable grandson. Six years ago, Sabah and her family came to the US from Iraq as refugees and settled in Clarkston.
Hataw is from Kurdistan and loves to cook. One day she hopes to open her own Kurdish restaurant, but for now she loves to bring in feasts for her coworkers! Hataw and her family came to the US seven years ago. She and her husband have three kids.
Hawar was born in Kurdistan, Iraq. He fled with his family to Iran when he was 4 years old. From a young age, Hawar wanted to do humanitarian work. After graduating university, Hawar began working with internally displaced people in Kurdistan. He organized the distribution of resources, food, and cash, as well as registration of all refugees and displaced people, including Kurds, Christians, Shabak, and Yazidis. Over the years, Hawar has been recognized by various organizations for his humanitarian work. Hawar joined the Preemptive Love family in 2018 and continues to use his passion for humanitarian services to bring hope and help to all he meets.
Zachariah grew up in Kansas, eventually completing both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Theology. Having seen poverty, oppression, and injustice in places like the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, and his own backyard, he was overwhelmed by the global need. His first encounter of Syrian culture was in Athens, Greece in 2018, where he worked and lived in a refugee community. Presently his role takes him across Syria. This is what he loves most: to go where few will, to love those either long ago forgotten or long ago consigned to the fate they’ve made for themselves, and to do it all in the unwavering belief that all things can, and will, indeed be redeemed.
Chad came to Preemptive Love while he was working on the Love Anyway film. He has spent 14+ years making moving pictures for NGOs and will try anything new when it comes to visual media. Chad works to tell the stories that Preemptive Love comes across daily. When he isn’t in the office you can find him snowboarding on the slopes of Colorado or rock climbing anything that looks like a good time 500 feet of the ground.
Chase is a graphic designer and photographer who is passionate about using his creative eye to tell stories that matter. His design career began in his days as a touring musician creating art for friends and it has grown into much more. He currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia with his wife, Gracie. You can find him most Saturdays cheering for West Ham United or trying to book his next trip to document more of the beauty this world has to offer.
Not (yet) pictured: the incredible instructors and staff at our tech hubs creating jobs for those affected violence.
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