Our Organization

Igniting Potential

Elkhart Philosophy

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Elkhart County, a division of Big Brothers Big Sisters Southern Lake Michigan Region facilitates and fosters mentoring relationships, between youth and adults, to create opportunities and experiences that build confidence and help youth succeed in life. We create positive, generational impact that includes the reduction of risky behaviors and increase lifelong success.

Our Vision

All youth achieve their full potential.

Our Mission

To create and support one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth.

Our Accountability

By partnering with parents/guardians, volunteers, and others in the community we are accountable for each youth in our program achieving:

• Higher aspirations, greater confidence, and better relationships

• Avoidance of risky behaviors

• Educational success

The Results

Big Brothers Big Sisters’ one-to-one youth mentoring has been shown to have a significant and positive impact on the lives of youth, according to the first-ever nationwide impact study of a mentoring organization.

Researchers found that after 18 months of spending time with their Bigs, the Little Brothers and Little Sisters were:

less likely to begin using illegal drugs

less likely to begin using alcohol

less likely to skip school

less likely to skip a class
one-third less likely to hit someone
more confident of their performance in schoolwork
getting along better with their families

Our People

Elizabeth Leachman

Interim Chief Executive Officer

Alexis Bechtel

Enrollment Specialist

Angel Clements

Match Support Specialist

Crystal Gleason

Match Enrollment Specialist

Debra Walker

Case Manager / Outreach Coordinator

Faith Briggs

Northwest Indiana – Area Coordinator

Isabel Rondo

Match Support Specialist

Katie Craft

Director of Programs

Kristin Hanzek

Benton Harbor Area Coordinator

Liz Stoutenour

Marketing & Special Events Manager

Vallerie Bermea

Administrative Services Manager


2022 Board of Directors

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Elkhart County is governed by the Board of Directors at, BBBS Southern Lake Michigan Region.  Local Directors serving on the Elkhart County Committee are:

Adriana Bontreger, Regional Board Vice Chair - Centier Bank
Casey Zitkus, Regional Board Second Treasurer - First State Bank
Adrian Riley - City of Elkhart Police Department
Brent Miller - Everence Financial
Craig Blough - DeLaval Inc.
Curtis Gunter - Forest River
Mike Steinau - DJ Construction
T.J. Miller - Crowe Horwath
Willie Brown – Heart City Health

What is the Partnership for Children?

The Partnership for Children is all about our community's youth! It is an unprecedented collaboration among youth serving agencies to assist Elkhart County youth with challenging needs who attend those programs.

The project provides services to those youth within the partner agencies, using a wraparound themed approach. In addition, the program offers staff development opportunities focused on how to support youth with behavioral health challenges.

What does the Partnership do?

The Partnership for Children helps children who are showing significant difficulties in their youth agency activities or other community contexts.

The immediate goal is to help these children and youth develop the social and behavioral skills to participate effectively in the community's rich array of youth development programming.

The partnership includes:

  • Bashor Children's Home
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of Elkhart County
  • Boys and Girls Clubs of Elkhart County
  • The Crossing
  • CAPS
  • Center for Community Justice
  • Five Star Life
  • The Post
  • Lifeline Youth Ministries
  • Oaklawn
  • Ryan's Place
  • Tolson Center

What will the Partnership accomplish?

Referred youth will:

Achieve personalized behavioral and social skill objectives, enabling them to continue with meaningful participation in community support programs.

Develop a broader personal, family, and social support system.
Avoid the juvenile justice system, school suspension, and high risk, dangerous behaviors.

Partner organizations will:

Benefit from professional staff development to enhance their skills in supporting at-risk youth with challenging behaviors.

Benefit from services in ways that make strategic use of their natural supports and settings.