The Buckner Executive Leadership Team is comprised of nine permanent members and four team members serving a one-year Fellowship. The 2023 one-year members of the ELT are:
Jan Cothran, Vice President of Finance
Jan Cothran leads the financial services team. Jan joined Buckner in 2019 and has more than 20 years of experience in accounting and finance. She began her career as an auditor at Coopers & Lybrand and then spent over two decades at Southwest Airlines in a variety of roles providing auditing, finance and accounting.
Jan holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in accounting, as well as a Master of Science in accounting, both from Texas A&M University. She is also a Certified Public Accountant.
Jan and her husband Chad live in Dallas, Texas.
Candace Gray, Senior Director of Buckner Family Hope Center® programs
Candace Gray began her professional career as a Certified Public Accountant with Coopers & Lybrand, as well as PepsiCo Food Systems. Candace transitioned to the nonprofit sector to fulfill her desire of a career with greater purpose and meaning.
Since then, she has provided leadership in the nonprofit realm for more than 25 years. Her roles have included leading the launch of the Foundation for Community Empowerment (FCE), a nonprofit founded by a prominent CEO in the real estate industry. Following her tenure with FCE, Candace launched her own consulting company serving nonprofits, for-profits and foundations to increase their capacity to deliver on their mission.
Candace joined Buckner in 2010 and has led in various capacities. For domestic and international programs, she guided the organization's short and long-range planning processes, developed systems for operational excellence and led program design. She was instrumental in assessing, defining and documenting the Family Hope Center model. Candace has also provided leadership in the site selection process for the Family Hope Center in Bachman Lake, as well as expansion projects in Houston. She currently oversees 10 Family Hope Center locations across Texas.
Ashley Patel, Senior Director of Donor Engagement
Ashley Patel began her work at Buckner in 2006 as the communications and special events coordinator. In 2011, she was promoted to director of donor and ministry engagement where she created a donor sponsorship program to grow the house file and financially support ministry operations. In 2014, she became the senior director of ministry engagement, where she developed and managed a five-year strategic plan for five organization divisions, creating goals, objectives, KPIs, budgets and scorecards.
Ashley continued to develop her skills in donor engagement communications and was promoted in 2017 to senior director of donor engagement. In her role, she executes annual direct response and acquisition campaigns. She also oversees fundraising and donor engagement events and donor stewardship for the organization.
Ashley holds a Project Management for Development Professionals certification and is affiliated with the Association of Fundraising Professionals, International Association of Business Communicators and Boy Scouts of America. She is a board member for the Dallas Running Club and a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Ashley graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in communication and business management from Dallas Baptist University.
Ashley and her husband, Vishal, have two children and are members of Eastridge Park Christian Church in Mesquite, Texas.