Our Team



As a 2002 graduate of Baylor University earning a Master of Social Work, Kelly is a licensed social worker in the State of Texas. She has called Waco home for the last 20 years. During that time, Kelly served in a variety of roles in consulting, higher education, religiously-affiliated social service organizations and congregations, with an ultimate desire to help people of faith to “do good well.” Prior to joining the Cove, Kelly was the Associate Director of the Center for Church and Community Impact, of the Garland School of Social Work at Baylor University. Kelly’s passion is to see individuals and families thrive in healthy communities. She came to the Cove in March of 2018 and enjoys working with this stellar team, grant writing and strategic planning. While not at work, she can be found relishing time with her three children and husband, John.


Kelly Atkinson,

LMSW, Executive Director


Kayleigh was raised in Waco for most of her life. This city has a special place in her heart! Kayleigh graduated with her masters in social work from Baylor University in 2009. She has worked with older adults who have had dementia or Alzheimer's, in hospice, and was most recently the STARRY Foster Care Director in Round Rock. When she's not working, she can be found spending time with her husband and daughters exploring fun things in Waco. She loves coffee, people, and organizing!


Kayleigh Cunningham, LMSW, Assistant Director


is a native of Knoxville, Tennessee and four-year Waco resident, is a recent graduate of the Master of Divinity and Master of Social Work program at Baylor University's George W. Truett Theological Seminary and the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work. Before completing an internship at the Center for Church and Community Impact, she served at the Salvation Army of Waco Fresh Start Center - a halfway house for people transitioning from federal prison to their communities. She was also the Children's Minister at First Baptist Church Robinson and a research associate on hunger relief and development at the Christian Life Commission. Most recently, Rachel was a hospital chaplain at Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest Medical Center working in trauma, pediatrics and with new moms and babies. When she's not working, Rachel enjoys exploring Texas, getting to all the reading she didn't have time for in graduate school, and hanging out with her beagle, Marshall. She is passionate about the intersections between policy and people.


Rachel Gillespie,

LMSW, Director of Student Services


She is currently working towards a Master of Divinity and Master of Social Work from George W. Truett Theological Seminary and Diana A. Garland School of Social Work, respectively. Before becoming the Program Specialist, Erin was the part-time Case Manager at The Cove, as well. Prior to The Cove, Erin worked at Family Abuse Center as the Children’s Advocate and also interned at Waco ISD Homeless Outreach. She is passionate about bridging the gap between the local church and the local community as well as being active in social justice initiatives. She is originally from Rockport, TX but has lived in Waco for the past seven years. When she’s not working or in school, she likes doing anything outdoors, spending time with friends and family, and keeping up with her favorite sports teams.


Erin Albin,

Program Specialist


Sherry Hansen has served as The Cove's Business Manager since January of 2018. In that capacity, she oversees financial matters as well as business operations. She holds an M.B.A. in Non-Profit Management from Regent University and a B.S. in Business Administration from Lee University and has nearly 30 years of experience working for non-profit as well as for-profit organizations. She serves on her church’s finance committee and as an officer for the Robinson Drill Team booster club. She is wife to Chris and the mother of four daughters.


Sherry Hansen,

Business Manager


Our Board of Directors 

David Brennan , Board Chair


Rosemary Townsend, Fundraising Chair and Co-Founder


Cheryl Pooler, Personnel Chair and Co-Founder 

Diana R Garland School of Social Work 

Amy Jimenez, Programming Chair

waco isd homeless student population specialist 

Stephen Orr, Finance Chair 

Community volunteer

Mary Perez, Board Secretary

Texas life insurance

Kim Ellis 

Waco isd homeless liaison

Shelly Spinks

Pattillo, brown, & hill, llc

Lute Barber 

Haley & Olson

Denise Anderson

Law office of nora farah

Kattina Bryant

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Lakia Scott

baylor university school of education; director of freedom schools, waco  

Chris Allen

Jobe’s company  

Jill Van Zee

baylor university department of human resources 



Corporate Partnerships


compassionate capitalism...

While maximizing the return to shareholders is a primary driver for corporate owners and executives, many business leaders are beginning to broaden their vision. Business can—in and of itself—be a force for good in communities by providing good products, providing jobs, and bolstering economies.

When shareholder values are maximized, there is often a ripple effect of benefit in a given community. However, when maximizing Profit becomes the sole driver for business decisions, People and the Planet can suffer. The concepts of “compassionate capitalism,” “a triple bottom line,” “social innovation,” “social entrepreneurship,” “Benefit Corporations” and “corporate social responsibility” have become more broadly used in the last decade, decrying a change in the landscape for both for-profit and non-profit entities.

Thirty years ago, some would have said, “You go into business to make money. You go into nonprofit work to make a difference in the world.” Today, those lines are blurred and there are an increasing number of ways for social purposes to be advanced through private enterprise.

The Cove is poised to partner with private corporations in ways that can provide meaningful ways to serve and much-needed resources to marginalized young people in our community.

To learn more about making a difference in Waco through corporate partnerships with The Cove, contact us at (254) 224-6095 or Kellya@thecovewaco.org.