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Cliff Wright

Position: Vice President for Strategic Initiatives

About me

I was adopted as an infant and grew up in Greensboro, NC graduating from Grimsley High School in 2002. I went to Centre College were I played four years for the Colonels and majored in Religious Studies while volunteering with and then joining part-time staff with Young Life. Following college I went on full time Young Life staff serving in Roanoke, VA, Fredericksburg, VA, and finally in the Greater Charlotte area. I married Laura (also on YL staff) in 2008 and we have worked side-by-side in ministry ever since. We have four amazing children (Keller, Asher, Pryor, and Ryder) and live in the University City area of Charlotte and are members at Stonebridge Church Community.

How & why I became a MAI Missionary

I am inspired by the idea of seeing people meet Jesus and grow up in Him. The possibilities of one life, fully devoted to the Lord, are astronomical. The platform of sports, especially soccer, to reach people with the Gospel, build into them, and launch them into a life of service and impact is like a hand in a glove. MAI is uniquely positioned to use the platform of soccer across racial, economic, georgraphic, and cultural lines to accomplish these goals like nothing else I have seen.

Cliff Wright

Vice President for Strategic Initiatives

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Dan & Brenda Georgopulos

Position: Executive Director for Mission Support

About me
Happily married to Brenda for 31 years now and both Colorado natives. We have 4 children – Connor, Dalton, Kobe and Karys. Intentional ministry has been been a part of our lives for 20+ years and soccer has been a part of my life since 6 years old. Our aim is to serve the Lord wherever He takes us and to grow in our faith, understanding and passion to share His love and salvation with others.

How & why I became a MAI Missionary
We were first introduced to MAI through our son, Connor. During his college years, he spent summers in Chicago as part of the Chicago Eagles Summer Academy program. We asked a lot of questions, looked into it and found that MAI aligns with our passions for Jesus and soccer. I spent 3 years talking with MAI and seeking and praying about how the Lord might use me/us through MAI to touch lives for His sake. Very glad to be part of a team of missionaries passionate about sharing God’s love and making disciples.

Dan & Brenda Georgopulos

Executive Director for Mission Support

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Dave & Carolyn Urban

Position: President CEO | Director of Human Resources

About me

We are originally from the Philadelphia area and moved to Charlotte in 2013. I spent over 20 years in the field of higher education overseeing enrollment and building strategic partnerships with various different organizations. I also co-founded and am partner in Charter Oak Research, which has provided marketing, research, executive search, strategic planning, and consulting services to over 50 clients, including Christian and private schools, colleges, and seminaries in addition to several other business organizations. I hold both Bachelors and Masters degrees in Business Administration from Eastern University. My wife Carolyn graduated from Eastern University and spent 11 years coaching the women’s lacrosse team there, prior to stepping away to raise our three children.

How and why we became MAI missionaries

Dave started playing soccer at the age of 5 and had the privilege of being coached by his dad until going off to college. The foundation of teaching he received had a significant impact on his life. During his college years he came to know Christ as my Savior through the environment of his college soccer team. He went on to coach at both the HS and Collegiate level which further prepared him for a role that we did not know would be in his future. When the opportunity came up to be a part of the ministry of MAI, whose mission is to glorify God and see lives transformed by sharing the message of Jesus Christ through the global environment of soccer, it was a natural fit.  The mission of MAI is what drew Carolyn in too, because she saw first hand through her lacrosse coaching years, the impact that sports can have on the lives of players through the environment of a team.

Dave & Carolyn Urban

President CEO | Director of Human Resources

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David & Lola Sanford

Position: Executive Director for Advancement

About me

I am married to Lola and we have two sons. Lola is a professional Christian Counselor. Mitch serves with MAI as the Director of International Tours. Luke and his wife, Margaret, and their sons, Cliff and Kai live in Marion, IN where he is head coach of the Indiana Wesleyan University Men’s Soccer Team.

I coached at Wesleyan Christian Academy in High Point, NC through the ’80s and ’90s and  loved using the environment of the sport to mold and impact young men for Christ. My WCA teams won nine State Championships and were nationally ranked several times by the United Soccer Coaches. I was awarded NC High School Coach of the Year three times, United Soccer coaches Southeast COY twice and United Soccer Coaches National Private High School COY once. I am a member of the NC Field of Honor with the NC High School Soccer Coaches Association and a member of the North Carolina Soccer Hall of Fame. I also served as the Middle School Principal my last ten years at WCA.

When MAI opened the office in Charlotte in the early ’90s I connected immediately. While at WCA I would coach teams on Charlotte Eagle International Youth Tours to Europe and traveled with the Men’s pro team to Jordan, Israel and Gaza. In 2003 I joined the MAI Board of Directors and served five years before the board challenged me to come on staff full-time. The Lord confirmed that call and Lola and I moved to Charlotte in 2008 to take on the role of US Director.

In addition to my state-side responsibilities, David serves sports ministry initiatives Mitch and I started in Kenya in 2006. We travel annually to train new coaches and develop existing ones. There are now an estimated 800 teams using the game to express the Gospel of Jesus to their youth and surrounding communities. I also travels to Central and South America as well as Africa and Europe to help MAI train leaders and coaches.

How & why did you become a MAI Missionary

My joining MAI as full-time staff was a long process. By connecting with the Charlotte Eagles leadership, coaches and players to help impact my players at Wesleyan Academy I formed strong relational bonds. I then began helping take International Youth Tours. The next step was serving the ministry through the Board of Directors. Finally, the Lord called us to move to Charlotte and I have been in my ‘sweet spot’ in ministry here with MAI.

I love the community I serve with at MAI and enjoy a great partnership with an incredible financial and prayer support team made up of dozens of individuals and families that make it possible for me to serve with MAI.

David & Lola Sanford

Executive Director for Advancement

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Graham and Lori West

Graham & Lori West

Position: Director of International Training

About me:

The Lord clearly led Lori & me into service with Missionary Athletes International early in our marriage. We joined staff in Charlotte in 1992, after leading MAI’s first women’s international tour to England. Since that time He has allowed us to join in His work around the globe and also locally through various roles within teams, international tours and summer camps. My current role (Graham) is serving as MAI International Training Director. I am privileged to take part in training leaders around the world, and equipping coaches to effectively and strategically reach their communities and villages with the Gospel. The aim of these trainings is to train, equip and empower leaders for an ongoing work in transforming the lives of others through Christ. Both Lori and I are humbled and privileged to take part in what God is doing here and internationally for HIs purpose and glory. All believers are “missionaries” wherever they are planted, and we believe the Lord has called and planted us with MAI and we are so thankful and blessed to partner with you in His Kingdom work. We are deeply grateful for your prayers, support and encouragement for our whole family these many years! ~ Graham, Lori (Matthew & Kelsey)

Graham & Lori West

Director of International Training

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Mark and Dianne Steffens

Mark Steffens

Position: Associate Dir. of Coaches Training & Mentoring

About me

We raised our three daughters on Long Island before moving to Charlotte to join MAI. We now have three son-in-laws and we’re extremely grateful that all three families love and serve our great God. They have 10 children making us grandparents….10 times!
While ministering with MAI, I coached the men’s pro team for 18 seasons. Our emphasis was and is on building men and women to love God and serve others.
Currently, I’m responsible to help identify opportunities for MAI to train and equip coaches on how to be a godly, transformational coach. This role will provide training and mentoring of coaches across the US and be a resource to the Director of International Training.
Diane is currently an assistant kindergarten teacher at Covenant Day School in Charlotte.

How & why I became a MAI Missionary

In 1990, Diane and I went on tour to Italy, Germany, and Poland with MAI. We both caught a vision of “soccer ministry” and how effective it could be. We decided to go on tour the following year to Russia and once again saw the platform a simple soccer ball created. We started praying about God’s call in our lives and in 1997 we joined MAI full-time. Since that time, we have witnessed many people come to saving faith in Jesus through MAI ministry endeavors.

Mark Steffens

Associate Dir. of Coaches Training & Mentoring

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MItch and Holly Sanford

Mitch & Holly Sanford

Position: Director of Tour Development

About me

I am blessed to be married to my beautiful and amazing wife, Holly. We have two sons, Miles and Bennett. We love laughing and playing together, exploring new places and eating new food.
Sports ministry has been a part of my life from a young age. It has blessed me with the opportunity to travel all over the world and meet some incredible people. It is truly a privilege to be a part of MAI and come and see the context of soccer as an access point to know players and coaches and be known by them. My desire is to see men walk in emotional, relational and spiritual maturity so they can fulfill their God-given destiny and leave a Kingdom legacy.

How & why I became a MAI Missionary?

My first experience with MAI was in 1997 as a teenager on an international tour. I remember looking at the director and thinking, “that’s what I want to do when I grow up.” After college I joined the Charlotte staff as an intern and was on staff in some capacity until 2020, mainly working with international tours, international coaches training and Lady Eagles ministry in Charlotte.
I have been on a journey with God who is refining me to better understand myself, my blind spots and how He wants to use me moving forward. It is exciting to reengage ministry with a transformed lens of what it means to do ministry. The opportunity to cultivate opportunities for young men to know themselves and their Heavenly Father better is motivating me. I also hope to use my role to facilitate safe places for coaches and players to truly know one another. These are the things that have drawn me back to MAI and that I believe can transform the way men view the sport and how it can be used in their own lives.

Mitch & Holly Sanford

Director of Tour Development

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Paul and Robin Shedd

Paul & Robin Shedd

Position: MAI Staff Care & So Cal USL2 Team Ministry Director

About me

My parents were missionaries in Bolivia and Chile.  At the age of 15, I moved back to the States to continue my education.   Robin grew up in the Peruvian Amazon Basin as an MK. We both accepted the LORD as our personal Savior as children. We met at Ben Lippen School in Asheville, NC. I attended Wheaton College and Robin received her RN degree at West Suburban School of Nursing. We tied the knot in 1976.

We have lived and worked (Paul as a Spanish teacher and Coach-Robin as a Nurse) in Chicago, Tanzania and St. Petersburg, FL and have been blessed with three children: Erin, Dawn and Matt; 3 wonderful in-laws; and 7 grandchildren.

How & why I became a MAI Missionary

Growing up as missionary children, we were very familiar with mission life.”Although both of our experiences were positive as MKs, we did not feel GOD’s calling us into full time missions until we were in our 40s.  Paul took his high school soccer teams on missions trips 4 different summers. In 1997 we traveled with the team where Robin grew up the Peruvian Jungle.  After that we answered GOD’s call and joined Missionary Athletes International in 2000. Over the  years with MAI we have learned that GOD is always faithful in the good times and not so good times. He has faithfully provided His love, encouragement, grace, mercy and financial support through our awesome support team. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!!!!

Paul & Robin Shedd

MAI Staff Care & So Cal USL2 Team Ministry Director

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Rick & Janice McKinley

Position: Director of International Tours | Coaches Ministry

About me

My wife Janice and I have literally come full circle with MAI. It was while I was in graduate school at Wheaton College that we first explored the possibility of full-time work in sports ministry. In 1987, we joined MAI at their original office in southern California. In 1991, we moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, to assist in the opening of the Charlotte Eagles, MAI’s East Coast office. In 1997, we returned to the Chicago area, to begin the work of the Chicago Eagles.

Having been a school teacher and coach for three years in Puerto Rico, I had seen first-hand the impact that sport, especially soccer, can have on people, young and old. Along with that, I credit a couple of Christian coaches with having a tremendous influence on my life.

While in the L.A. office, I served as MAI’s National Camp Director. In Charlotte, I assisted Brian Davidson in the opening of the Charlotte Eagles ministry, and served for six years in the development of MAI’s largest office. In 1997, Janice and I were blessed to begin the Chicago Eagles. My passion continues to be in training and equipping others in sports ministry.

From 2004-2017, I served as the Summer Academy Director for the Chicago Eagles. In the Fall of 2020, we transitioned back to Charlotte, to serve in the MAI headquarters, primarily serving coaches and training coaches and leaders internationally.

I have led high school and collegiate teams to more than 20 countries. I hold a National “C” Coaching License with the United States Soccer Federation (USSF), and have coached youth to collegiate level for the past 40 years. I am currently coaching boys U17. Married in 1985, Janice and I have four children – Lauren (married to Joe Meekins), Joshua, Lindsay (married to Jordan Langs) and Joe (married to Karolina); five grandsons – Levi, Grayson, Ezra, Ellis and Oliver; and four granddaughters, Everlee, Makayla, Livia, and Eleanor. Janice is a registered nurse, and serves full time as a wife, mother and grandmother.

How & why I became a MAI Missionary              

After serving one amazing year with Sports Life soccer ministry, we were convinced of God’s call into full time sports ministry. We had seen the impact of the gospel through sport, and we had also experienced personal transformation through sports ministry. When Sports Life discontinued operations, we sensed that God was directing us to join MAI. That was in 1987. Since then, we have been blessed to serve in each of MAI’s offices (Southern California ’87-’91; Charlotte ’91-’97; Chicago ’97-’20; MAI HQ 2020 – present).

Rick & Janice McKinley

Director of International Tours | Coaches Ministry

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OFFICE STAFF

Brent Morris

Position: Director of Finance and Administration

Brent Morris

Director of Finance and Administration

Micah Holland

Position: Human Resources & Donations Administrator

Micah Holland

Human Resources & Donations Administrator

Susan Peterson

Position: Senior Bookkeeper

Susan Peterson

Senior Bookkeeper