Learn more about our founder and the Joni and Friends leadership team.
Joni Eareckson Tada
Joni is one of the world’s leading international advocates for people affected by disability. A diving accident in 1967 left her, then 17, a quadriplegic in a wheelchair. After two years of rehabilitation, she emerged with new skills and a fresh determination to help others in similar situations. She founded Joni and Friends in 1979, which quickly grew to provide Christ-centered programs to special needs families, churches, and communities. Joni survived stage III breast cancer in 2010, and still keeps a very active ministry schedule.
Joni has written over 50 books, including her best-selling autobiography, Joni, which was made into a feature film. Her new award-winning daily devotional, A Spectacle of Glory, contains fresh biblical insights from her battle with cancer and chronic pain. Joni also served as General Editor of the Beyond Suffering Bible, a special edition published by Tyndale for people who suffer chronic conditions and their caregivers. She and her husband Ken were married in 1982 and reside in California.
Since coming to Joni and Friends in 1999, Doug has taken the vision of Joni Eareckson Tada and helped make Joni and Friends the authoritative voice on Christian outreach to the world’s 1 billion people affected by disability and their families. He is a sought after public speaker, especially on the topic of disability as it relates to Christianity, and is a long-dedicated volunteer with a variety of non-profit organizations. Doug has a heart for disability ministry partly because of his son, Ryan, who has cerebral palsy, blindness, and severe developmental issues.
He also brings award-winning skills in corporate leadership. Doug’s distinguished career in the automotive industry included serving as the senior American executive for American Suzuki Motor Corporation where he wrote the marketing plan that successfully launched Suzuki automobiles in this country. Under his leadership, the Suzuki Samurai was named one of the top 10 marketed products in the United States and became the subject of a Harvard case study. Mazza later joined Hyundai Motor America as its top American executive, serving five years as Chief Operating Officer.
With a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Troy University and previous experience as a business owner, Laura’s ability in financial analysis, fiduciary oversight, departmental integration, and strategic planning make her the perfect person to serve as our EVP and CFO. Before joining Joni and Friends, Laura founded her own business, The Protocol Institute, LLC, where she developed world-class eLearning courses on character education, etiquette, and protocol. She was the first to introduce such tools for helping to instill these qualities in young people, and wrote extensively on the topic for national publications.
Steve is responsible for the execution of ministry programs around the world as well as spiritual encouragement for ministry staff. He is a published author and co-author with Joni Eareckson Tada of Beyond Suffering: A Christian View of Disability Ministry. His latest book, with Doug Mazza, is Another Kind of Courage: God’s Design for Fathers of Families Affected by Disability. Steve and his wife Melissa know firsthand the joys and challenges of parenting a child with special needs, as their own son, Caleb, was born with muscular dystrophy and autism. Steve holds a B.A. in Theology and Missions, a Certificate in Christian Apologetics and an M.A. in Organizational Leadership. He is a licensed minister and has served as a pastor and missionary. Prior to joining Joni and Friends, Steve was VP of Business and Finance at William Carey International University in Pasadena, CA.
Eric oversees Joni and Friends’ national and international ministries. As an ordained pastor and former Joni and Friends Texas Area Director with extensive experience with disability ministry, Eric brings a well-rounded knowledge base to his position. A Georgia native, Eric received his undergraduate degree from Atlanta Christian College before moving to California to attend Fuller Theological Seminary. Since graduating with his M.A. in Christian Leadership, Eric has furthered his education at California Baptist University with continuing education courses in Disability Studies, such as the Beyond Suffering Course developed by Joni and Friends.
Our International Board of Directors
We thank our International Board of Directors for their service and leadership in support of the vision and mission of Joni and Friends.
Joni Eareckson Tada, Founder
Peter Schulze, Chairman
Greg Wood, Treasurer
Carin Amaradio, Secretary
Rev. Michael S. Beates
Jan S. van den Bosch
Cordell Brown — Director Emeritus
Ann Furrow — Director Emeritus
Lynn Guerin — Director Emeritus