Now hiring a Women's Mentor Coordinator! Learn more

Our Team

Meet the Team

Mary Carol Pederson | Executive Director

Mary Carol leads the amazing team at STEP, and is excited to deepen and expand STEP’s church partnerships throughout central Arkansas, so that more under-resourced children can be provided with a one-on-one Christian mentor or tutor, for the transformation of our city and the glory of God. She is co-founder and past executive director of The CALL, a statewide Christian non-profit mobilizing the Christian community to foster, adopt, or otherwise support children and their families in the Arkansas foster care system. She, and her husband, Jason, live in Little Rock and have two adult children, a “bonus” adult son and daughter-in-law, as well as a “bonus” grandson.

Contact Mary Carol: marycarol@stepministries.org | 501.425.4735

Juli Atkinson | Literacy/Tutoring Coordinator

Juli has led STEP’s After-School Tutoring program and Literacy Camp since 2016. She grew up in Benton, Arkansas, and now lives in North Little Rock with her husband, Ronnie. She and her husband have three children. Juli is thankful to be working with STEP Ministries because of the opportunity it has given her to serve Jesus Christ through serving the families of The Homes at Pine Crossing (formerly Eastgate Terrace).

Contact Juli: juli@stepministries.org | 501.539.3959

Nathalie Hunt | Encourager Program Coordinator

Nathalie has been a volunteer of STEP Ministries in both the Summer Literacy Camp and the Encouragers Program for years before becoming the Encourager Program Coordinator in 2023. She is passionate about children and in helping them know hope. As a kid at heart herself, she has advocated for children through play, reading, and relationships to learn confidence skills, so they too can be overcomers. She cheers for her own three children and husband at their home of 17 years in Cabot.

Contact Nathalie: nathalie@stepministries.org | 501.259.6213

Nikita Jackson | Mentoring Coordinator

Nikita has served as STEP’s Women’s Mentoring Coordinator since 2018. Her connection to STEP began when her daughters started coming to the mentoring clubs, and she eventually attended STEP’s bible study for single moms. This experience led her to authentic Christian community and her deep relationship with Christ. Nikita is thankful to be working at STEP because it gives her a great opportunity to serve her community. She has four children, and lives in North Little Rock with her youngest son.

Contact Nikita: nikita@stepministries.org | 501.837.8833

Jenna Palacios | Office Administrator

Jenna has served the STEP team as the office administrator since 2022. She is thankful to be a part of a ministry with a meaningful mission and vision. She grew up in the Cabot area and still resides there with her husband, Jose, and their two young children.

Contact Jenna: jenna@stepministries.org | 501.266.9331

Rob Smith | Senior Mentoring Coordinator

Rob is a long-time, well-respected member of the STEP team. He has served STEP in various leadership roles since 1998, and currently serves as the Senior Mentoring Coordinator. In the past, he has lived as a missionary overseas, and is active here on the mission field to mentors, children and families of STEP. He and his wife, Melissa, have 3 adult children.

Contact Rob: rob@stepministries.org | 501.425.7837

Cory Wiley | Little Rock Mentoring Coordinator

Cory joined the STEP team in April 2023 to lead the mentoring program at the new Little Rock STEP mentoring center, which launches in summer 2023. His passion to inspire children is fueled by the grace of God in his own life. He believes in the importance of mentoring youth, and now is able to multiply his efforts through STEP. Cory has served as senior pastor of the Holy Cross Baptist Church in Little Rock for six years. He and his wife, Tamra, have five children.

Contact Cory: cory@stepministries.org | 501.786.0556

STEP Ministries Board

matt stagg, board chair

At-Large Board Representative, Christ Community Church
Chief Financial Officer, Splash Car Wash & Oil Change

Christopher Focke, Board vice-chair

Board Representative, The Bible Church of Little Rock
Auditor, Encore Bank

vic nutt, board secretary

Board Representative, Cornerstone Bible Fellowship Church
Software Developer, Blue Cross Blue Shield (retired)

Larry Clary

Board Representative, Fellowship North
Founder and President, CT&T, Inc. (retired)

sharon frazier

Board Representative, First Baptist Church Main Street NLR
Teacher, North Little Rock School District

Jeff nissen

Board Representative, Covenant Presbyterian Church
Transmission Engineering Manager, Arkansas Electric Cooperative

ken wasson

Board Representative, Park Hill Baptist Church
Director of Operations, Arkansas Municipal League (retired)

Our Church Partners