Julie Zara, Board President, January 2018 - Present
Julie graduated from University of Illinois in Springfield with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Education in 1986. Julie taught elementary school and high school special education for a total of 14 years before joining her husband in their business, Zara’s Collision Center, in 2004. Julie is a mother of 3 grown daughters and is a member of Hope Church in Springfield, Illinois.
While working for their business, Julie became involved with a women’s homeless shelter and volunteered there in many different capacities. Julie served on the board there for 6 years, serving as board president for two of those years. Julie went on her first mission trip to Juarez, Mexico in 2014 with AeC Ministries. Julie’s passion for education, children and families was a desire that she was able to fulfill while serving there. In 2015, Julie was asked to join the AeC Ministries board. In 2018, Julie was elected to serve as the board president of Amigos en Cristo Ministries.
Julie states, “I love the work that the Quick’s and other board members are doing in Juarez. I have a strong passion for education, women and children and love having the opportunity to share Christ’s love for them while serving in Juarez.”
Jerry Quick, Founder, Past Board President
Jerry is the founder and past president of the ministry Amigos en Cristo. Jerry and his wife Lisa have two grown daughters, Ashley, son-in-law Jeff Barnes, and Colleen, son-in-law Cameron Mitchell. Jerry and his family first started taking groups to Juarez on short-term mission trips in February of 2000.
Jerry is a graduate of Greenville University. He worked as a financial advisor for 45 with Edward Jones. While serving as a financial advisor, Jerry represented the State of Illinois Financial Advisors on a political grassroots task force calling on Congress in Washington and Springfield Illinois on behalf of Edward Jones and the individual retail investor.
In 2007, Jerry sensed that God was calling him to do more for the people in Juarez. In 2008, we incorporated as Amigos en Cristo Ministries and since then, Jerry’s major charge has been trying to follow God’s leading for the ministry.
Carol Diedrichsen, Secretary
Carol joined the board of Amigos en Cristo in 2011 after retiring from the Illinois State Board of Education working with school improvement and many years as a high school teacher. Following retirement, Carol consulted for the national Center for Innovations in Learning managed by Temple University and the Academic Development Institute. Currently, Carol also serves on the board of Kyrios Ministries based in Vienna, Austria. She has a BA from the University of Illinois/Champaign-Urbana and an MA from the University of Massachusetts/Boston.
She and her husband are active in local ministries in Springfield, IL. Her experience in education and passion for children and families keep drawing her back to Mexico.
Gene Wilken, Fiscal Officer
Gene graduated from Illinois State University with a degree in Accounting and is a Certified Public Accountant. Gene has served on the Finance Stewardship Team at Cherry Hills Church and joined the Amigos en Cristo board in 2010. Gene continues to support this ministry having seen the needs in Juarez during past mission trips there.
Gene retired in 2019 after serving as Executive Vice President of Bunn-O-Matic Corporation for 36 years. Gene and his wife, Pat, have three grown children and seven grandchildren.
Brad Zara, Vice-President
Brad Zara joined the AeC board in 2015 alongside his wife, Julie. Brad, and his wife Julie, married since 1985, have three grown daughters, two son in laws and enjoy frequent travels.
Brad was the founder and president of Zara’s Collision Center, since 1987. Before starting his own business, Brad completed the two-year auto body program at what is now the Capital Area Career Center, and worked at a local collision shop for six years, developing his skills as a technician and in management. Brad lead a team of 27, performing collision and body related repairs of all sizes, on nearly every make and model of passenger vehicle. Zara’s had been recognized nationally for their commitment to training, customer satisfaction, and team/culture development, and had grown to be the highest producing collision shop in downstate Illinois. After 34 years in business, Brad and Julie sold Zara's Collision Center and are now enjoying their time traveling, serving in Juarez and spending time in Florida.
Andrés Téllez graduated from Illinois Central College and Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, where he majored in secondary education and world history with a minor in Spanish. He has taught high school Spanish and history at Glenwood High School in Chatham and Sacred Heart Griffin in Springfield, IL.
Andrés first traveled to Juarez in 2012 with his eldest daughter Abby when she was thirteen, as part of a team led by Jerry Quick. Among the many memorable things from the trip, he recalls a time when Jerry told him that once one travels to Juarez, that person always comes back. Though it took him ten years for that to happen, the people and the ministry in Juarez always remained in his heart and he and his family have supported the ministry ever since.
In thinking about the labor of love happening in Juarez, Andrés reflects on the words of Jesus in the gospel of Matthew 9:36-38. Of his most recent trip to Juarez, Andrés said; "It is an honor to take part in the work of The Lord with so many brothers and sisters in Christ. It makes us get out of whatever bubble we are in, and appreciate the work of God’s love outside of our own little worlds”.
Andrés grew up in Los Angeles, California and he is a native of Nicaragua.
Chris has been on the Board of Directors since it's inception in 2008. He went on his first trip to Mexico in March of 2003 with a team of youth to build homes. He was immediately hooked. "There is something special about being the hands and feet of Christ in the mission field that nothing in this world can compare with. It's like enjoying a small slice of heaven here on earth." said Christian. "God calls us to help the less fortunate out in the world, but somehow when you're doing it, you are the one who is greatly blessed by the experience."
Chris lives in New Hampshire with his wife and their four grown children. "Amigos en Cristo has played a vital role in the life of my family and me. The people we work with and those we serve in Mexico we consider our family. The Friendship and Love we share with them has enriched our lives and we hold near and dear to our hearts."
Currently, Chris is the President of Health Growth Capital. It is a lending company to the Pharmacy Industry.
Maoxiim graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Biology at UCSD and finished her medical degree at U of I at Peoria. She grew up in San Diego and is of Mexican descent. She has three children Damaris age 13, Sam age 15 and Abigail age 23. She has been married for 25 years to Andres Tellez. She has been a family physician in Petersburg, Illinois for 15 years and is also a medical director at Regency nursing home and Sunny Acres nursing home. She has served in Sunday preschool ministry and has led women’s bible studies at Cherry Hills Baptist Church. She speaks Spanish and has visited Tijuana, Mexico on a medical missions trip as a college student. Since then she has had a heart for the impoverished and underserved in Mexico. This was reignited when her family visited Juarez for the first time in 2012. Over the years, she has taken a great interest in how Amigos en Cristo offers a safe environment for the children where they can thrive and learn about the love of Jesus despite their environmental challenges.
Steve grew up in Central Illinois. He is a generalist and this is reflected in his education and work history. He studied Missionary Aviation and Christian Education at Moody Bible Institute where he helped serve in various ministries in Chicago. Steve decided to study psychology and transferred to Southern Illinois University at Carbondale where he finished by getting his bachelor’s degree in Construction Technology - Management. He worked in commercial construction in Chicago as an estimator for a while before deciding that he wanted to be an attorney. He graduated from the University of Missouri - Columbia Law School where he also spent some time working with the Missouri Department of Conservation.
After law school, Steve decided to return to Central Illinois where after working at a law firm for a short time, decided to start his own law firm, Draper P.C., where he is a general practitioner. His clients have included class action clients, small government, state government, homeowner associations, small businesses, charities, and regular people. Steve has been an attorney for over twenty years. During this time, Steve married JoElla Draper. Steve and JoElla spent some years working as foster parents before adopting two children. He is a member at Cherry Hills Church in Springfield, Illinois, where he became familiar with the ministry of Amigos en Cristo and the wonderful work they are doing in Mexico.
In 2022, Steve was asked to join the AeC board. Steve accepted the opportunity and shortly thereafter was able to see the work of AeC first hand. He has worked with big city ministries in the United States, but he has never seen a ministry like AeC in Mexico. Their work with the people in Juarez, Mexico is serving huge needs in the name of Christ and Steve feels privileged to be a part of it.