leaders and speakers

"When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, 'I used everything you gave me.'"

- Erma Bombeck

Elizabeth Oates
Author, Speaker, Podcaster

Elizabeth is an author, speaker, (occasional) blogger, and podcaster who is passionate about marriage, foster care, faith, and helping women find their identity in Christ and realize they are not defined by their past.      

She earned a BA from Baylor University and an MA in Christian Education from Dallas Theological Seminary.  After writing for over ten years, she founded Collab Conference for writers to equip and encourage women seeking what she once wanted out of a writer's conference. 

In 2019, she teamed up with Kara-Kae James to bring you a new podcast . . . "Asking for a Friend: Helping Women Rethink the Way They View Themselves, the Church, and the World." 

Elizabeth and her husband, Brandon, live in Waco, Texas. Together they are raising an eclectic crew of kids, including three biological and two they adopted through foster care. When she's not driving kids around in her 12-passenger van, she enjoys teaching yoga, running, and reading (but not all at the same time). 

You can read more about Elizabeth at www.elizabethoates.com

"Let me live, love and say it well in good sentences."

- Sylvia Plath

Kara-Kae James
Author, Speaker, Podcaster

Kara-Kae is an author, podcaster, and encourager who is passionate about seeing women’s lives changed and impacted through the truth of the gospel. 


As a pastor’s wife and adoptive mother, she lives her life by the words of Jesus to “love your neighbor” and desires to see a change in the way the Church and Christians function and show love. She cares deeply about social justice, adoption, racial reconciliation and creatively reaching people for Jesus. One of her greatest honors is being married to her husband of 12 years, and together raising their four children. 


Kara-Kae is the co-host of the Asking for a Friend podcast, which tackles challenging questions women have about themselves, the Church, and the world. She is also the founder and Executive Director of Thrive Moms, a ministry dedicated to seeing moms step out of survival mode and into the thriving, abundant life that God calls them to. She loves writing books, drinking a lot of sweet tea, and secretly watching Saved by the Bell reruns with her preteens.


You can find Kara-Kae at www.karakaejames.com

"In your presence there is fullness of joy.”

- Ps 16:11

Alaina Mayes
Blogger, Writer, Speaker

Alaina, is a blogger, writer, speaker, teacher, social media marketing entrepreneur, and self-proclaimed professional podcast guest! 

She is a native Houstonian and loves being a mama to three girls . . .  a set of 4-year-old twins and a 16-month old!


Her greatest joys are being a mama and empowering women to see beyond today, to choose bravery, and to live with intention!

You can read more about Alaina at www.unashamedgrowth.com

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.


Marianne Hering
Writer, Editor

Marianne is the Senior Associate Editor for Focus on the Family magazine and author of the popular Imagination Station book series for children. She comes to us with more than 30 years in the Christian publishing industry, including  10 years as a book editor, 12 years as a freelance writer, and more than 1 million books sold. 


She enjoys speaking at homeschool conferences where she's the Captain America of fiction . . . at least to boys ages 8 to 12. At home, however, no one cares about her books. Even so, she currently enjoys parenting two grown children and her dog. 


Ask her about her recent trip to Australia or what it means to be an owner of a golden retriever!

"This is my command - be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

- Joshua 1:9

Courtnaye Richard
Author, Speaker, Online Entrepreneur

Courtnaye is the founder of Inside Out Media Group, LLC - a faith-based PR, Marketing  & Mentorship Agency. In her 15 years of experience, she has worked with platforms such as PBS, Yahoo.com, CBN, & TCT Networks, as well as local television and print publications. Courtnaye is also the founder of Inside Out with Courtnaye, a ministry that helps women grow in their walk with Christ from the heart and equips them to fulfill their God-given purpose.


Courtnaye authored the book, IDENTIFIED: Knowing Who You Are in Christ & Moving Forward in Your Purpose and she is a contributing writer for ibelieve.com and Women’s Ministry Tools. She is also a speaker at a host of women’s conferences.

Her blog, Inside Out with Courtnaye reaches thousands of women across the globe and was listed as one of the Top 50 Christian Women Bloggers Every Woman Must Follow. She's passionate about helping women mature in their faith, while also mentoring those who are ready to start or grow their ministries and businesses with skill, balance, and grace. 

You can connect with Courtnaye by going to www.insideoutwithcourtnaye.org and 


"When we are who we are called to be, we will set the world ablaze."

- St. Catherine of Siena

Melaina Hagerup
Photographer, Social Media Strategist

Melaina is a social media strategist and personal brand photographer. Those are just fancy words to say she helps entrepreneurs know what to share on social media in order to grow their following and turn those followers into paying clients.

She and her husband, Jason, are the photographers and strategists behind Be Known Photography and the Social Game Strong Academy.

When she's not sitting in a desk beside Jason, you can find Melaina homeschooling their two daughters, reading the latest business strategy book, or watching Parks & Recreation

You can find Melaina at www.beknownphotography.com and you can check out Social Game Strong Academy by going to www.beknownphotography.com/waitlist

There is not one square inch of the entire universe where Christ,

who is sovereign above all, does not claim MINE.

- Abraham Kuyper

Sarah Martin
Author, Speaker

Sarah is a wife, mom, mentor, author, speaker and wanna be artist. Her life mission is to grab women by the hand and lead them into awe and wonder of God and a vibrant life in His presence.


She is the author of two books with the most recent one titled, Just RISE UP!: A Call To Make Jesus Famous.


When Sarah is not typing away at her computer, you can usually find her on a date with her husband, shooting hoops with her son, or making an epic mess in her art room.

Connect with Sarah at www.liveoutloudblog.com

"The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.”

- Isaiah 61:1

Blythe Daniel
Literary Agent, Author

Blythe is an author, literary agent and marketer with 25 years of experience in media and publishing. She is a speaker for writers conferences and writes for publications such as Focus on the Family.


Her passion is helping authors share their unique stories. She links bloggers with readers through BlogAbout and publicity campaigns.


Blythe is also the co-author of Mended: Restoring the Hearts of Mothers and Daughters with her mom, Dr. Helen McIntosh. She lives in Colorado with her husband and three children. 


To read more about Blythe, check out www.ourmendedhearts.com and


It's not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.

- Mother Teresa

Camille Wilder
Writer, Hospitality Director

Camille Wilder is originally from Colorado, but figures after living in Texas for 20 years and marrying a native, she can officially call herself a Texan. She relocated to Waco from Fort Worth in 2017 and has fallen in love with its unique amenities and charm.

Camille has been married to her dream guy, Chris, for 14 years and is blessed with three amazing kids: a bonus son, Addison (28), a bonus daughter, Alexandra (27) and her sweet son, Harrison (6).


After recently resigning from her 20-year position as an assistant editor for a non-profit organization, she now enjoys freelance writing, yoga, hanging out with her family, trying out new recipes, blessing her friends with baked goods, and eating lots of chips & queso . . . which she believes should be considered its own food group.

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