meet-the-staff

We are a dedicated group of people who are part of a Christ centered church growing together in faith,
serving others through outreach, and sharing the good news and love of Jesus Christ.

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Senior Pastor, Jay Kowalski

 Jay Kowalski, Senior Pastor

 

 

Jay Kowalski, Senior Pastor

Office Phone: 727-784-9250 Ext. 102
Email: jkowalski@eastlakeumc.org

Thomas J. Kowalski, who goes by Jay, has been a United Methodist pastor for 32 years and has served churches in Tallahassee, Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, Naples and Venice.

 

He has also served as the campus minister at Florida Atlantic University, the director of the urban ministry for the United Methodist Church in Broward County and started a singles congregation at Christ Church in Fort Lauderdale.

 

Jay’s involvement beyond the local church has included the Conference Youth Department, the Outreach Committee (a
subcommittee of the Mission Committee), the District Committee on Ministry, the District Board of Church Location and he is currently the chair of the conference Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministry.

 

Jay also enjoys being involved in the community; he has been a board member of Rotary Clubs (in Miami and Naples), the Theological Center at Naples, the CPE Advisory Board for the Naples Community Hospital, the Mental Health Association of South West Florida, Loveland Center in Venice (dealing with adults with developmental disabilities) and is currently the chair of the Board of Trustees for Village on the Isle in Venice, a retirement community of over 400 people.

 

He was born in New Jersey, but moved to Ft. Myers when he was five.  He has lived all around the state of Florida, moving some 16 times in 15 years.  He served 4 years in the US Navy and then attended Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Florida where he received a BS degree in Behavioral Science.  After working for the State of Florida for two years with children and youth, he then attended Duke Divinity School where he received a Masters of Divinity degree.

 

Jay is married to Eileen, a New York native who has lived in Florida since high school.  She has a background in healthcare marketing and currently has a staging and home decoration business called Eye Appeal. They have two children, Sari who lives in Pensacola and Robert a senior at the University of Florida.

 

Jay and Eileen are Duke Blue Devil’s and Rays fans and their hobbies include tennis, golf, anything on the water, and exercising regularly.

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Judy Keats, Minister of Visitation

Judy Keats, Minister of Visitation

 

 

 

Judy Keats, Minister of Visitation

Office Phone: 727-784-9250 Ext. 114
Email: jkeats@eastlakeumc.org

Judy is our Minister of Visitation here at East Lake. She enjoys reading, getting together with family and friends, walking, and going to the beach. She graduated with a Master of Divinity degree from Candler School of Theology, Emory University, in Atlanta. She hopes that her ministry will further equip all of us to fulfill our mission in serving our Lord Jesus Christ in our church and community by reaching out to the world with the love of God.

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Karen Gambrell, Administrator of Church Operations

Karen Gambrell, Administrator of Church Operations

 

 

 

Karen Gambrell, Administrator of Church Operations

Office Phone: 727-784-9250 Ext. 103
Email: kgambrell@eastlakeumc.org

Karen joined us at East Lake in January 2010.  She is currently serving as our Administrator of Church Operations.  Karen is a graduate of Clemson University, where she majored in Language and International Trade with minors in German and Global Marketing.  She spent 10 years in legal administration and then spent the next 10 years working at being a stay at home mom. Karen has two daughters and spends a lot of her free time at the softball fields, but loves to be out on the ocean or on the beach.
 
Favorite Bible Verse:
 
2 Samuel 22:2-3  The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my Salvation.  He is my stronghold, my refuge and my Savior…
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Danielle Muller, Communications Director

Danielle Muller, Communications Director

 

 

 

Danielle Muller, Communications Coordinator

Office Phone: 727-784-9250 Ext. 105
Email: dmuller@eastlakeumc.org

Danielle joined the East Lake UMC team in June of 2011. She received a B.A. in Mass Communications from the University of South Florida in 2010. She has lived in Florida most of her life and enjoys spending time with her family and two daughters: Aubrey and Lily.

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Anthony Nielson, Bookkeeper

Anthony Nielsen, Bookkeeper

 

 

Anthony Nielsen, Bookkeeper

Office Phone: 727-784-9250 Ext. 109
Email: bookkeeper@eastlakeumc.org

Anthony was born in Hamilton Texas and raised in Iowa- Spencer. (Iowa Great Lakes) He is a veteran of the US Army, in which he served from 1967-1969. He graduated from Anderson University, Indiana in 1974 with a B.A. in Accounting. He worked as an accountant for 35+ years in Indiana, New Jersey, and Palm Harbor, FL.  He has a wonderful wife, Janice N Nielsen, and two great step children, Samantha Feitz from Phoenix AZ and Chris Bell of Palm Harbor, FL.

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Elyse Milligan, Director of Children's Ministry

Elyse Milligan, Director of Children’s Ministry

 
 

 

 

Elyse Milligan, Director of Children’s Ministry

Office Phone: 727-784-9250 Ext. 116
Email: emilligan@eastlakeumc.org

Elyse has completed her coursework to earn her Master’s of Divinity at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington D.C. and has her B.A. in Theater from East Tennessee State University. Elyse grew up as the youngest of three children and the only girl in a Christian home. Both her mother and father are (now retired) United Methodist clergy. Before going into the ministry, her occupations ranged from touring with an international company, the “Missoula Children’s Theatre,” to being a mental health aid worker with teenage girls. She interned for a year with the Federal Bureau of Prisons in their chaplaincy office. Elyse is dedicated to evangelism and the discipleship of children and their families through creativity and relationships.
 
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Elizabeth Collier

Elizabeth Collier, Interim Director of Youth Ministry

 
 
 
 
Elizabeth Collier, Interim Director of Youth Ministry

Office Phone: 727-784-9250 Ext. 104
Email: ecollier@eastlakeumc.org
Elizabeth grew up at East Lake UMC and following high school attended Florida Southern College in Lakeland. While in college she served as a youth intern with our youth ministry. She most recently lead our High School mission trip to New Orleans. Now she has joined our staff as the interim youth director. 
 
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Vickie Downing, Receptionist

Vickie Downing, Receptionist

 

 

Vickie Downing, Receptionist

Office Phone: 727-784-9250 Ext. 100
Email: vdowning@eastlakeumc.org

 

Vickie joined the ELUMC Team in July 2011, after retiring from 29 years of government service with the U.S. District Court.  Vickie is a Florida native and a graduate of St. Pete College.  She lives in the East Lake area with her husband and their German Shepherd.  She has praised God through her love of music since childhood, and continues as a member of the Chancel and Bell Choir.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

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Charles Cheeseman

Charles Cheeseman, Director of Music Ministries

Charles Cheeseman, Director of Music Ministries

Email: ccheeseman@eastlakeumc.org

Chuck Cheeseman is our Director of Music Ministries. Chuck has a committed heart for Christ, over 25 years of music ministry experience and a passion to serve that is unmatched.  In addition to overseeing the music ministry, Chuck is choral director at Tarpon Springs High School.

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Faye Monroe, Organist

Faye Monroe, Organist

 

 

Faye Monroe, Organist

It is a joy to glorify God through music, with my wonderful friends at East Lake UMC! I received a B.A. in Music from East Carolina University and did further organ and church music studies at Westminster Choir College. Since the 1970’s I have taught piano and classroom music and have been a church and synagogue musician.
 
My husband, Charlie, and I have been married since 1996 and are both avid Yankees fans. I am a proud member of the American Guild of Organists, which reinforced my belief, “Solely Deo Gloria” (to God alone be the glory).
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Simon Gjoni, Custodian

Simon Gjoni, Custodian

 

 

Simon Gjoni, Custodian

Simon is from Albania and has been in the United States for 15 years.  He became a US Citizen 10 years ago and has a wife and two daughters.  He and his wife like to go to the beach and the movies.

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Joe Truman

Joe Truman, Custodian

 

 

Joe Truman, Custodian

Joe Truman joined the East Lake UMC team in the Spring of 2012 as a custodian. He is originally from Orlando and moved to Tampa three years ago. He enjoys anything to do with water whether it be fresh water or salt water, such as wake boarding, wake skating, surfing, fishing, and boating. He also enjoys going to the beach.

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