President & COO
Board of Directors
Chairman of the Board
Sigmund ‘Sig’ Cornelius is currently President and Chief Operating Officer of Freeport LNG. He retired in 2010 as Senior Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer from ConocoPhillips after serving over 30 years with the company in a variety of assignments.
Mr. Cornelius currently serves on the public company Board of Directors for Carbo Ceramics Inc., Parallel Energy Trust, NiSource Inc. and Western Refining. He also serves on two non-profit boards; Citizens for Animal Protection (CAP) and Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS) in addition to Lutheran Social Services of the South.
A native of Iowa, he earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Iowa State University and has Master of Science degrees from Stanford and Purdue.
Vice Chairwoman of the Board
Sharon Smith is the Founder and Executive Director of the National Trauma Institute (NTI) in San Antonio, Texas, a 501(c)3 nonprofit she created to raise federal funds and advocate for clinical trauma research. Ms. Smith has administered 16 national clinical research studies taking place in 35 cities and 22 states.
Prior to her work with NTI, Ms. Smith was the Executive Director/Trauma Division Administrator of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. She founded the Trauma Institute of San Antonio, Texas (TRISAT), a military/civilian entity.
Ms. Smith has held a number of executive positions in the healthcare industry and as a Healthcare Management consultant in San Antonio, including Psyquel, LP, Humana Hospitals, the Children’s Regional Healthcare System, and Santa Rosa Children’s Hospital.
Ms. Smith joined the Upbring Board in February 2015. She received a BBA at Texas A&M University and a Master of Science/Healthcare Administration at the University of Houston-Clear Lake.
Brett Carleton is a founding partner of Heritage Wealth Management, an independent financial planning firm that provides comprehensive financial planning and asset management.
At Texas Lutheran University, Mr. Carlton earned a B.A. in Business Management and Marketing. He began working in the financial services industry in 1989 at Lutheran Brotherhood Securities Corp. He is a Certified Financial Planner™, a designation granted by the CFP® Board of Standards in Denver, CO, and a Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC), a designation granted by the American College of Financial Services in Bryn Mawr, PA. He is also a member of the Financial Planning Association.
Mr. Carlton is actively involved in committees for several organizations. He is the chair of the Texas Lutheran University Corporation Board and the O.G. Beck Society. Previously, he served on the TLU Development Board, the Lutherhill Ministries Board, the Upbring Krause Children’s Center Advisory Board and various church committees. He also participated on a strategic planning committee with Bishop Rinehart of the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod, and he is a member of the President’s Associates at Upbring and an active participant on the Upbring Golf Committee.
Mr. Carlton lives in Sugar Land with his wife Laura and their three daughters.
L. Wood Franklin, a Licensed Professional Engineer in Texas, is the Director of Public Works/Assistant City Manager for the City of Lubbock. He has been with the City of Lubbock Engineering Department for more than 15 years. As the Director of Public Works, Mr. Franklin is responsible for overseeing the engineering, water, sanitary sewer, storm water management, street maintenance and traffic – along with a current capital budget for these areas in excess of $400 million.
A native of Lubbock, Mr. Franklin earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Texas Tech University and is currently 2nd Vice President of the Texas Society of Professional Engineers South Plains Chapter and past Vice President of the Water Environmental Association of Texas. He has also served as a Board of Director for the Lubbock South Plains Food Bank.
In an interesting historical coincidence, Wood Franklin was adopted as an infant by Larry and Mary Lee Franklin through Lutheran Social Services of the South.
Billy Coe Dyer
Billy Coe Dyer is a Partner with Vinson & Elkins LLP. He has received many honors and accolades, including selection as “Texas Super Lawyer” by Texas Monthly and as one of “The Best Lawyers in America” in Eminent Domain and Condemnation Law. Mr. Dyer has served on the faculties of the National Institute of Trial Advocacy (NITA) and the Trial Advocacy Training Program at Louisiana State University Law School. He is Board Certified in Civil Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is member of the American and Texas Bar Associations.
Mr. Dyer completed his undergraduate work summa cum laude at Trinity University in San Antonio with a B.A. in History and Economics. He received his J.D., with honors, from the University of Texas School of Law.
Billy Dyer and his wife, Elisabeth, have three children and live in Houston, Texas.
Mark Etheredge is a Senior Finance Executive with more than 20 years of financial, technology, and project management experience. He was previously the leader of Hitachi Consulting’s SAP Business Planning and Consolidation (“BPC”) focus, and has worked extensively in the Industrial Products, High Tech Products, Financial Services and Consumer Foods industries.
Mr. Etheredge has significant experience in the Pharmaceutical, and Aerospace and Defense industries. He has served in several finance and financial reporting capacities, including Chief Financial Officer of three private companies. Throughout his career working for multiple consultancies, he has helped dozens of clients solve complex financial and technology issues through the implementation of business intelligence technologies.
Mr. Etheredge graduated from Rice University with a Master of Business Administration and Texas Lutheran University with a Bachelor of Arts, Business Degree.
Mary Beth Gaertner
Dr. Mary Beth Gaertner, Ph.D. is the Director of Educational Ministries at Salem Lutheran School in Tomball, Texas.
Dr. Gaertner has been an educator and administrator for over 30 years. She served as an educator and speech pathologist in the Alief, Aldine, Spring and Magnolia, Texas public schools, and as an adjunct professor at Sam Houston State University and North Harris County Community College for over 10 years. Her experience in private parochial education began at St. Matthew Lutheran School in Spring, Texas, and she has served as the principal for Salem Lutheran School in Tomball, Texas since 2000, having begun the early childhood program there in 1981.
A graduate of the University of Houston, Dr. Gaertner earned her bachelor’s in speech pathology and audiology. She went on to earn a master’s in elementary education from Sam Houston State University and a doctorate in educational administration from California Coast University.
In 2011, Dr. Gaertner wrote the book “Way to Go” to help other schools achieve positive communication between parents and teachers using a simple, research-based method.
Dr. Gaertner lives in Magnolia, Texas, with her husband, Dean. They have two married daughters and six grandchildren.
Pastor Emmanuel Jackson is head of staff and Lead Pastor of Living Word Lutheran Church in Katy. As Lead Pastor, he oversees the spiritual health and vitality of his church community, ensuring that Living Word remains focused on its God-given mission and vision. He was first called to Living Word in 2008 as Associate Pastor, and became Lead Pastor in 2012. Pastor Jackson is a gifted preacher and visionary; always exploring new ways to be church in a changing world. He is a graduate of Carthage College and the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago.
Pastor Jackson is a native of Liberia, West Africa. He was a child coming of age during a 13-year civil war in Liberia, during which time he, his parents and eight siblings traveled from village to village in search of refuge.
Mr. Jackson immigrated to the United States in 2001, and settled with his family in Lincoln, Nebraska. He then attended Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where he completed his undergraduate degree in International Political Economy and Sociology. Mr. Jackson later graduated from the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago, and was ordained in 2008.
“My story is a reminder that the Christian family is way bigger than any location,” he said. “My hope is helping people see beyond their own world.”
Terry Kieschnick’s professional career included 17 years as store manager and gemology consultant in the wholesale fine jewelry business. She has also served in many volunteer capacities, as Chair of numerous community and service organizations, including PTA, Garden Club, Symphony League, Ballet Society, Junior Forum Senior Citizens Home, and Business Woman’s Club.
Ms. Kieschnick’s volunteer work in the Lutheran Church includes founding planner, organizer, and presenter at pastors’ wives retreats; keynote speaker at Lutheran Women’s Missionary League conventions across the nation; advisory board member of Pastoral Leadership Institute; and member of the Concordia University Mequon Women’s Leadership Institute Advisory Board. Her role as pastor’s wife for more than 40 years has provided opportunity for her to support Jerry Kieschnick’s ministry as Mission Developer and Parish Pastor, District President, and National Church Body President.
Ms. Kieschnick has been a member of the Board of Directors of LSS/Upbring since February 2011. She attended Nixon Clay Business College and the University of Texas in Austin.
Michael Newman has been in pastoral ministry since 1987 and currently is the President of the Texas District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod for South Texas. He has also served churches in Texas, Minnesota, and the Chicago area. He has been active in mission outreach, writing, radio ministry, and in a variety of preaching and teaching venues.
Rev. Newman is the author of several books including his latest, “The Life You Crave: It’s All About Grace” (Concordia Publishing House, 2014).
He currently serves as an advisory member on the LINC San Antonio Board of Directors, an advisory member of the ACTS Network Board of Directors, the chairman of the Center for United States Missions Administrative Cabinet, and as the staff liaison to the Texas District LCMS Board of Mission Administration.
Rev. Newman received his B.A. from Concordia University, Ann Arbor, Michigan, majoring in Philosophy and Biblical Languages. He received his Master of Divinity degree from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri.
Roxanne Riefkohl, Ph.D. is the owner of Renewing Hope in Houston, Texas. She earned her bachelor’s education from Sam Houston State University, her masters in counselor education from Prairie View A&M University, and her Ph.D. in counselor education from Sam Houston State University.
Dr. Riefkohl has served as an adjunct professor at Houston Baptist University and Sam Houston State University. She has also served as a counselor and teacher at several schools in the Houston area.
A member of the Texas Counseling Association and the Texas Association for Counselor Education and Supervision, Dr. Riefkohl has written multiple publications and presentations on various counseling topics.
As an active volunteer at Upbring Krause Children’s Center, she serves the Healing Hearts Gala committee and provides counseling services for children in our care. She also serves as president of Fort Bend Counseling Association.
M. Jordan Scott is a Community Advocate & Investor in Austin, TX. After graduating from The Colorado College with a BA in Economics, Jordan started an Austin-based hedge fund Lonestar Capital Management. He took a one-year break to work as an assistant to his grandfather George Kozmetsky where he focused on project management and economic development in the Rio Grande Valley. In his off hours Jordan worked with friends to create a SaaS product tracking corporate travelers eventually launching Flightlock Inc. After selling that company to Control Risks, a London-based global security consultancy, Jordan worked as Senior VP of Tracking until 2006 at which point he left to pursue private investments.
He spends his time as community volunteer, an investor, and a dad to his three boys Cole, Callum, and Campbell.
Jordan believes firmly that we can all do our part to make this great state even better. He recently finished a term as an Alderman with the City of Rollingwood. He enjoys serving on several community boards including the RGK Foundation started by his grandparents Ronya & George Kozmetsky. Jordan’s philanthropic passions include early-childhood education, & children’s medicine. In his spare time he enjoys coaching youth soccer, wake surfing, watching the sport of cricket (yes… cricket…), Texas Football, vintage Cadillacs, and live music. Additionally, he currently serves as President of the newly-formed Reissa Foundation, based in Santa Monica, CA. His wife Laila recently started her own 501(c)3 Pop-Up Birthday that strengthens the relationships between foster children and their caregivers through personalized birthday experiences.