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Our Leadership

Deborah Mann

Executive Director/CEO


Executive Director and Founder of Emmanuel Family & Child Development Center, Deborah Mann, has a lifelong mission to meet the needs of children and families in the urban core. She is committed to cultivating a quality early learning environment that promotes kindergarten and school readiness. Her vision is that the children served at Emmanuel will become confident future leaders who love who they are and what they do. 

As someone who grew up in the Prospect Corridor, Deborah started Christian Community Preschool in 1986 because she knew first-hand the need for quality childcare in the southeast KCMO community. Since then, Deborah and her team have grown the organization into what it is today; a childcare campus that serves over 400 children each year through infant/toddler, preschool, and school-age programming. 

Deborah's persevering vision has helped establish her as a leader in the community. She serves on the United Services Community Action Agency’s board, numerous advisory panels and frequently shares Emmanuel’s story with stakeholders and elected officials. 

From 2017-2019, Deborah led a capital campaign to build a new 28,000 sq ft Early Education facility that opened in 2020 despite the challenges presented by the global COVID-19 pandemic. She is currently working to see the completion of the Emmanuel Campus through the addition of a parking lot and the Youth Science and Technology Center. 

Deborah has an AA degree in Early Childhood Development, a BA in Child and Family Studies, and a MA in Counseling and Psychology. She is also a foster parent of eighteen years. Her desire is to one day also counsel low-income children and families that have experienced trauma.

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Melody Messner, 

Chief Development Officer

Melody is certified in fundraising management and holds a PhD in organizational communication working in communications, public relations, marketing, and development in non-profit and for-profit settings for 24 years. Through grant-writing and donor solicitation, she has raised money for unrestricted operational support, student scholarships, and faculty professional development and academic programs. She has 27 years of experience in five higher education institutions as an assistant professor and as a staff director including teaching English as a second language internationally in Seoul, Korea. Her extensive messaging background includes writing and designing communications, development, and advertising campaigns/materials for radio, television, direct mail, newsletters, magazines, newspapers, social media, and email. She also has an extensive background in quality management and process improvement, strategic planning, data analytics and analysis, and statistical analysis, and, served as a member of the Peer Corps for the Higher Learning Commission.

She became acquainted with Emmanuel in 2017 and participated in events and holiday activities over the years as a volunteer. When she retired in 2022, she volunteered in the nursery several mornings a week and through these experiences gained a deep appreciation for the critical work and positive impact of Emmanuel’s teachers and staff. She is thrilled to return to full-time employment in support of Emmanuel’s mission. 


Denise Crawford

Director of Human Resources

Denise holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Finance and a minor in Economics from the University of Missouri – Kansas City in May 2004. As a mother, she feels that it is always important to treat children with a clear mind and kind heart. 

Denise has recently gained a Master’s in Leadership in Early Childhood degree. She feels like these degrees have prepared her to work effectively in a number of HR disciplines, with a focus on leadership, interpersonal and organizational behaviors, and approaches for managing and motivating employees.

Markeya Bragg

Pre K Cooperative Program Manager


Markeya Bragg is a dedicated Pre-K Cooperative Program Manager with expertise in child development and family engagement. She works with the Emmanuel Family and Child Development Center to provide high-quality early childhood education to children and support families in their journey. With a passion for making a difference in the lives of children and families, Markeya's background in child development and commitment to the Emmanuel Family mission make her an invaluable asset to the Pre K Cooperative Program. She works tirelessly to ensure the program's success and its positive impact on the community.


Michelle Briggs

21st Century Program Director

As the School Aged Program Director at Emmanuel Family and Child Development Center, Michelle plays a pivotal role in shaping the experiences of school-aged children in her care. She is known for her creativity and innovative approach to curriculum development, ensuring that every child receives a well-rounded education that fosters their cognitive, social, and emotional growth.

Faith McMillan

AmeriCorps Program Director

Faith McMillan has a Bachelors of Science in Anthropology and a minor in Sociology from Missouri State University. She completed a service year as an AmeriCorps VISTA, and in turn, has become very passionate about National Service.  The amount of work that has been done with the AmeriCorps program is astronomical, and she has a lot of pride to be a part of it.

Faith is excited to be a part of this great community of Kansas City and to be here at Emmanuel and she knows there are and will be some great AmeriCorps interns that will continue to make this organization thrive and help reach our goal of Kindergarten readiness

When you serve at Emmanuel you are providing a child with a stepping stone to a future they may not have been able to reach without you. Almost everyone can name a teacher or an adult that helped them when they were younger and changed their life for the better, and here at Emmanuel, we can be that for a child.

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