Our Team

Executive Team

Jason Ewart

Lead Pastor
Meet Jason
Jason grew up in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma (where the wind comes sweeping down the plains). Before becoming Hope’s Lead Pastor in 2009, he worked at churches in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Boise, Idaho. Under his leadership, Hope Church has grown from a church of 65 people to its current size.

Jason enjoys cooking BBQ, eating BBQ, working out, taking naps, backpacking, losing board games to his kids, and everything about summer. He and his wife Kathy are raising their three sons in Oconomowoc.

Casey Hushon

Executive Director
Meet Casey
Casey Hushon joined the Hope Church staff in July 2019. She and her husband, Josh, have attended Hope for the past eight years, where they served as volunteers on the greeting team and as support for Hope's communications efforts. Before joining Hope Church, Casey served as Client Services Director at a Wisconsin advertising agency. She grew up in Maine and graduated from Virginia Tech (Go Hokies!)

In her free time, Casey enjoys endurance sports (ultrarunning and half-iron triathlons), raising and showing dairy cows, and introverted activities like reading and puzzles.

Burke Nelson

Operations Director
Meet Burke
Burke joined the Hope Church staff in April 2024 after attending Hope Church and serving as a volunteer for several years. Before joining the team, Burke served in the Army and held corporate roles in a multinational manufacturing company. He has a Bachelor of Arts in History and Sociology from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and he will receive a Master of Business Administration from his alma mater in August 2024.
Burke and his wife Jessica live in Oconomowoc with their children, Aliza and Levi, and their energetic yellow Labrador Retriever, Murphy. In his free time, he enjoys competing in endurance events, playing board games, reading, spending time outdoors, and giving impromptu TED Talks.

Adult Ministries Team

Zach Thwaits

Adult Ministries Pastor
Meet Zach
Zach joined the staff in 2021 and oversees Adult Ministries at Hope. Before being at Hope, Zach was an Associate Pastor in San Francisco, California, for fifteen years.  He has an M.A. in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctorate of Ministry from United Theological Seminary.

Zach is an Oconomowoc native and loves being back in Lake Country. Zach and his wife Meghan have been married for 13 years, have three powerful daughters, and the cutest dog ever. In his free time, Zach enjoys cycling, good coffee, reading, traveling, gastronomy, and pretty much anything outside.

Sean O'Connell

Associate Pastor
Meet Sean
Sean O’Connell serves as Associate Pastor, a role where he works closely with volunteer teams to create a memorable and welcoming experience for each guest who attends Hope Church. Sean also serves as the first point of contact for care requests, ensuring that when a need arises, it is assigned to a pastor or volunteer in a timely manner.

Sean brings a wealth of experience to his role, including time in ministry and the non-profit sector. This role also pairs well with Sean’s greatest strength—the ability to interact and lead all types of people. His friendly, outgoing presence allows him to meet others where they are in their faith journey.

Sean and his wife, Suzanne, reside in the Lake Country area. In his free time, Sean enjoys spending time with his family, reading, working out, playing with his two dogs, and traveling!

Lisa Ruffert 

Ministry Coordinator
Meet Lisa
Lisa and her husband Gregg began attending Hope in 2014 and have served on multiple teams, including the Greeting and Coffee teams. They have enjoyed all of the Groups at Hope and have made many Christian Friendships. They are excited about being at Hope and seeing where their faith journey will take them.

She enjoys being with her two daughters, reading, crocheting, and enjoying their cabin in the Northwoods of Wisconsin.

Next Gen Team

Jennifer "Jenn" Wright

NextGen Director, 5k-4th Grade
Meet Jenn
Jenn was born and raised near Pittsburgh, PA, but she loves calling Wisconsin her home.  She lives with her husband, Chuck, and their two children, Caleigh and Connor.
Jenn started attending Hope Church in 2016, and it changed the direction of her entire life.  She loves sharing Jesus with everyone but especially loves watching kids learn God’s unconditional and perfect love for them. She thinks Sunday is the very best day of the week because she gets to spend the morning at Hope Kids!
When she is not at Hope Kids, you can find Jenn playing serious Uno games with her family, watching hockey, reading books, or playing fetch with Riley and Gus, the two Black Labradors of the family.

Kathy Ewart

Meet Kathy
Kathy was born and raised in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, so she grew up loving everything in Wisconsin! Prior to getting to work with kids at church, she got to teach a little algebra to some great high school kids and then got to stay at home with her three boys while volunteering here and there at church and schools.

Kathy appreciates childlike joy, food, being outside, and music, even if she has to make up her own lyrics. She is incredibly thankful for Hope's amazing kids’ team and can’t wait until Sunday every week!

Alexis Bruce 

Hope Kids 4k, Check-in 
Meet Alexis
Alexis lives in Oconomowoc with her husband, Tyler, and their three children, Ava, Noah, and Leo. She has a background in education and non-profit management. She loves everything about working at Hope, but the most rewarding are the relationships she builds with kids and families. Helping them bring Jesus into their daily lives brings her immense joy and purpose.

In her free time, Alexis loves running (especially outdoors), Peloton strength and boot camp classes, audiobooks, and puzzles. It might surprise you that Alexis is actually an introvert, and alone time is something she cherishes, though you’d never know it by how excited she is to be a part of Hope Kids every Sunday!

Tyrus "Ty" Smith

Youth Pastor
Meet Ty
Meet Ty! Ty is all about youth ministry and building connections. Helping teenagers navigate life's ups and downs and watching them become their true selves is what lights me up.

Ty's also happily married to Lexi, and together, they've made Wisconsin their home sweet home. And let's not forget Jenna, their adorable dog who brings so much joy.

Beyond ministry and family, Ty unleashes his inner nerd – comics, movies, you name it. He's an avid thrift storer and a total foodie, too. Do you have any awesome food spots? Share the love!

Creative Team

Nathan Holland

Creative Director
Meet Nathan
Nathan grew up playing sports and music in the Midwest. He went to Western Illinois University for music and met his future wife, Becky. Since then, Nathan and Becky have gotten married, had four kids, and moved multiple times, eventually landing in Wisconsin to join Hope Church.

Nathan enjoys playing with his kids, dance parties in the kitchen, playing and recording music with his wife, and eating delicious food. Thanks for all the cheese, Wisconsin!

Steve Gotter

Tech Director 
Meet Steve
Steve has been a part of Hope Church since its beginning. After several years of volunteering in various areas of ministry, he was hired onto Hope’s staff in 2012 to provide photography and video production services to support Hope’s mission of reaching and engaging the unchurched. Today, Steve leads Hope's tech teams, including in-person and online experiences.

Steve graduated from UW-Whitewater with a bachelor’s degree in Multimedia Visual Design. He enjoys spending time with his lovely wife, Christina, hanging out with family, waterskiing, basketball, backpacking, PC gaming with his friends, and competitive powerlifting.

Michael Wright

Creative Arts Pastor
Meet Michael
Michael is an Oconomowoc native excited to serve as Hope’s Creative Arts Pastor. He loves helping people to experience Jesus in engaging, creative ways. Michael graduated from Concordia University, WI, with a bachelor’s in Theology in 2017.

Michael loves spending time with his wife, Katie, and their daughter Nyah. He also loves spending time outdoors, playing board games with friends, and creating digital art and photography.

Matt Spransy 

Sound Engineer
Meet Matt
Matt graduated from OHS in 1972 and moved to London to join a rock musical to play keyboards, where he met his Swedish wife, Siv. He has worked designing synthesizers, playing keyboards on several albums, and touring with the Christian rock band Servant. He began mixing live shows in the 1990s at everything from large rock festivals to small clubs. He is thrilled to be mixing sound at Hope Church to help spread the good news of Jesus.

Matt enjoys hanging with his 19 grandkids, restoring antique houses, recording and producing talented musicians, walking around Fowler Lake, and having huge concerts in his front yard and local area parks.

James Furlong

Digital Media Director 
Meet James
James joined the Hope Church staff in March of 2022. He is married to his wife Courtney, who moved to Wisconsin from Illinois. James was doing Student Ministry for seven years, but during the COVID-19 pandemic, they found massive joy in digital media and felt called by God to serve the online community.

James felt Hope’s vision perfectly fit him as he grew up in the church but walked away at 18. He is passionate about bringing people hurt by the church back to a relationship with God.

Admin Team

Judy Gotter

Meet Judy
Judy Gotter has played an instrumental role in each step of Hope Church’s story. From the beginning, Judy was part of the team that believed Lake Country needed a different kind of church to reach those in the community without a church home. Since then, she has been an integral part of the Hope staff, working closely with volunteers to create a welcoming experience for guests.

Judy and her husband have two children and four grandchildren. They enjoy spending time on the water and with their family in their free time.

Janelle Fredrick

Office Manager 
Meet Janelle
Janelle grew up in Central Florida before relocating to Wisconsin 20 years ago. Janelle and her husband began attending Hope in 2012 and have served on multiple teams, including Kids Connect and Parking, and have also served as Group Leaders. Nathan and Janelle enjoy serving others in marriage ministry through the Family Life Madison Team. In her free time, she loves to kayak, read, walk, travel, listen to live music, dance (especially the Polish polka hop), baking/cooking, and quiet retreats in the Northwoods of Wisconsin.

Austin Meyer

Facilities Coordinator 
Meet Austin
Austin serves as the Facilities Coordinator at Hope. He and his wife, Ashley, live in Oconomowoc and stay active with their two kids, Winter and Wells, and two dogs.
Prior to joining the Hope staff, Austin managed facilities for an outdoor education center in Colorado and, more recently, managed rental properties in Wisconsin.

If it’s summertime and he’s not at work, you can find him at the lake, fishing or kayaking. He loves spending time with his family, staying active, being close to nature, and praising the Lord.

Interested in joining the team? 

Have questions? Get the conversation started below