Our Founder


Becca Stevens is an author, speaker, priest, social entrepreneur, and founder and president of Thistle Farms. After experiencing the death of her father and subsequent child abuse ​when she was five​, Becca ​longed ​to open a sanctuary for survivors offering a loving community.​ ​In 1997, five women who had experienced trafficking, violence, and addiction were welcomed home. Twenty years later, Thistle Farms continues to welcome women with free residences​ ​that provide housing, medical care, therapy, and education for two years. Residents and graduates earn income through one of four social enterprises. The Global market of Thistle Farms helps employ more than 1,​8​00 women worldwide, and the national network has more than 40 sister communities.

Becca has been featured in The New York Times, on ABC World News and NPR, and was recently named a 2016 CNN Hero and a White House “Champion of Change.” She was featured in the PBS documentary, "A Path Appears," named Humanitarian of the Year by the Small Business Council of America, and inducted into the Tennessee Women’s Hall of Fame. Stevens attended the University of the South and Vanderbilt Divinity School. She has been conferred two honorary doctorates. ​

Her newest book, Love Heals, will be published by Harper Collins in September of 2017. Becca lives in Nashville with her husband, Grammy-winning songwriter Marcus Hummon, and their three sons.   


In 2015, the Board of Directors hired Hal Cato as the organization’s first CEO. Hal is uniquely qualified to address both the mission and the business of Thistle Farms given his extensive experience in the nonprofit and private sector, which includes founding Hands on Nashville, The Youth Opportunity Center, The Bright Horizons Foundation for Children, and Zeumo, his latest technology company, as well as serving as CEO of Oasis Center from 2001–2011. Hal is known for his servant-style leadership and is equally compelled to chart new growth for the organization as to spend time one-on-one with residents or roll up his sleeves during a lunch rush at the Café.