Adult & Teen Challenge Announces New Board Chair and Executive Committee

Adult & Teen Challenge (ATC) is pleased to announce that the national board of directors elected Dr. Ava Oleson, a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and former Teen Challenge missionary, as the new board chair. In addition to her thriving practice, Oleson serves as Associate Professor on the faculty at Vanguard University, Evangel University, and Northwest University. Dr. Oleson is a member of The California Association of Marriage & Family Therapists (CAMFT) and is a registered Marriage & Family Therapist Associate with the Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) and a Certified Life Mastery Coach.

Dr. Oleson will serve as chair for a two-year term effective January 1, 2020. She succeeds Steve Trader, Senior Pastor for Trinity Church, who left the board in late 2019 after accepting a full-time position with Global Teen Challenge, where he will support the advancement of ATC mission and vision beyond the borders of the United States.

Additionally, the ATC board of directors elected Dr. Sue Gengler, retired educator, as the new board vice chair and Daniel Ruiz, Manager for the Institute for Learning and Innovation at IEHP as the new board secretary. Retired US Army Officer John Rossi will remain as board treasurer.

“I am deeply honored to be elected as the new board chair and look forward to working with my board colleagues to move ATC’s mission forward,” said Dr. Oleson. “I want to thank the ATC board of directors for its confidence in me to serve as board chair, and I especially thank ATC president Gary Blackard for the momentum and vision has brought to ATC. It truly is an exciting time to be involved in the ministry!”

“We are so fortunate to have such a high-impact and hands-on board of directors,” said Gary Blackard, ATC President & CEO. “I have no doubt that we have assembled a team with the right combination of expertise, experience, and passion for our mission to guide ATC into a new era of ministry and relevance. My sincere congratulations to Dr. Ava Oleson, and my thanks to Steve Trader and the other outgoing members. Your gifts of time have been well invested, and we look forward to seeing the returns in the years ahead!”


With more than 200 residential centers within the US and Canada, Adult & Teen Challenge is a faith-based non-profit headquartered in Ozark, Missouri. Its mission is to provide adults & teens freedom from addiction and other life-controlling issues through Christ-centered solutions. Through effective discipleship, mentoring and life-skills training, ATC and its affiliates have seen positive outcomes and radical life-transformation throughout its sixty-year history.

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At Adult & Teen Challenge, we have been guiding students through addiction recovery for over 60 years. We offer a Christ-centered approach, helping our students discover and triumph over the underlying causes of their addiction and find the love and grace of Jesus Christ.

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