Our Leadership Team
Chief Executive Officer
Thistle Farms’ fearless leader since 2015, Hal embraces the ever-changing nature of his day-to-day role as CEO. Whether leading a board meeting, weighing in on product development, getting to know new residents, or driving the mission in any number of other ways, Hal keeps his eyes on the end goal: healing and employing survivors.
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, Zeumo, as well as serving as CEO of Oasis Center from 2001–2011. Hal has been recognized as “Nashvillian of the Year” by The Nashville Scene and “Best in Business - Nonprofit Sector” by The Nashville Business Journal.
Founder & President
Becca Stevens is an Episcopal priest, a speaker, justice advocate, and the founder and president of Thistle Farms. In 1997, Becca opened one recovery home for five women survivors from the streets to offer them free housing in a loving community for healing. Over twenty years later, Becca's work has helped grow Thistle Farms from its Nashville base to a national network of sister organizations and global partners. Becca has been named a White House Champion of Change, a CNN Hero, and holds numerous honorary doctorates and she has been featured on The Today Show, ABC World News, NPR and in the New York Times and has founded eight social enterprises to date. Becca's active speaking helps grow the community of friends and advocates for Thistle Farms worldwide. Becca has written 10 books, her most recent, Love Heals, was published by Harper Collins.
Sr. Director of Staff & Organizational Development
Long-time Thistle Farmer, Holli has been working with the organization since 2001. Each day, she opens her door and offers generous support to everyone at Thistle Farms (and gives herself a little daily TLC with the help of our Tea Tree Mint Body Balm). Holli keeps the place running, overseeing human resources and company policies. But don’t let the job description fool you; her days are full of laughter and excitement. Holli enjoys kickboxing and yoga, and fits right into Music City as a professional harpist.
Sr. Director of Marketing
Val, together with her team, is the steward of Thistle Farms’ on and offline brand. Having spent the last several years of her career working in the for-profit sector for a consumer products company with multiple brands, Val is grateful to put her hand to a purpose close to her heart.
Prior to joining Thistle Farms, Val was an avid patron of The Café at Thistle Farms, so being able to walk across the street for a Honey Lavender Latte is close to paradise.
Sr. Director of Body & Home
Since 2010, Jim has helped to oversee the ever-growing and evolving manufacturing, purchasing, product development, logistics operations, IT, facility and program house maintenance of the organization. He deals with a lot of details, but his favorite part of the job is seeing the achievements—both small and large—that his survivor-leader co-workers make in their work and their personal lives. When the demands of the day-to-day mount, Jim seeks peace and quiet in the Japanese garden at Cheekwood or by settling in at home with a good book (make it historical fiction) or a new recipe (all the better if it includes bacon!).
Director of Manufacturing
A loyal friend and respected leader, Gwen has given her all to Thistle Farms since graduating from the residential program in 2009. She serves as manufacturing manager and loves working alongside her sisters to produce Thistle Farms’ high-quality, products. A regular day finds her tackling a wide variety of responsibilities, from troubleshooting machinery issues to offering financial advice to new residents and graduates alike. Away from work, she surrounds herself with family and friends and would prefer to spend a day outside over nearly anything else – always with her favorite Lavender Enriching Body Lotion in tow.
Director of Logistics
Kenny was a long time volunteer before joining Thistle Farms in 2018, after spending many years in the music business. He enjoys traveling and photography, using both to provide endless memories.
Sara V. Evans
Director of Residential Services
Sara oversees all Thistle Farms residents’ healing and growth through the course of their two years in the program. She loves supporting residents as they problem-solve and learn new skills and encouraging them as their independence develops. Sara feels at peace anywhere near water, from nearby Percy Priest Lake to the Caribbean Sea in her native Bahamas. At the end of the day, Sara loves to light a Citrus Wood Candle and is thankful for her many blessings.
Director of Development & Community Engagement
Tara Hamilton oversees the Development Department, including volunteer management, donor cultivation and stewardship, and community engagement. Tara has worked with other nonprofits, including Vanderbilt University and Tennessee Performing Arts Center. Tara holds a BS in Family and Consumer Sciences from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and a MS in Strategic Fundraising and Philanthropy from Bay Path University. She loves to read and spend time outdoors.
Sally Anne Harrell
Director of Global Shared Trade
Sally Anne joined our Global Team in early 2018 to build and structure our community involvement with our partner. She worked for the Peace Corps for 2 years in Mongolia as a community and youth development advisor. Sally Anne learned about Thistle Farms back in 2004 and after returning to Nashville, was inspired by the growth of the organization. With a background in international and non-profit development, Sally Anne has a passion to build Global Shared Trade to become a space of information sharing and growth for all.
Director of Education & Outreach
Shelia Simpkins-McClain, 2007 Thistle Farms Residential graduate, is the Director of Education and Outreach at Thistle Farms. Her past trafficking experiences are the driving force behind her desire to help others who have experienced trafficking. Shelia serves on the Human Trafficking Advisory Council for the State of Tennessee, and is a survivor advocate for Grace Empowered, a court-ordered prostitution intervention program operated by the Nashville-Davidson County Office of the District Attorney General. In addition, Shelia completed the Human Trafficking Leadership Academy fellowship program in 2018. She has a B.A. in Psychology and is currently enrolled in the University of Tennessee–Knoxville M.S.S.W. Program with a concentration in Organizational Leadership.
Director of Sales
If you carry Thistle Farms products in your store, you’ll have the good fortune to work directly with Katrina. A 2008 graduate of Thistle Farms Residential, Katrina has been in charge of the company’s wholesale accounts since 2007. Her long history with the organization and her nurturing personality make her an incredible support not only for customers, but for all her sisters at Thistle Farms. Her hospitality extends to her home life, too, where she can often be found hosting a barbeque or fish fry on her back deck, feeding and celebrating friends and family. She is an active member of her community, serving on the Board of Directors of Nashville CARES.
Director of Inventory and Systems Management
Erica is a Belmont University graduate who refers to herself as “an intern who refused to leave.” And we’re certainly glad she stayed! She has put her vast problem solving talents to work at The Cafe at Thistle Farms, our Marketing Department, and has settled comfortably into our operations team. A passion for making a difference in the world and creating a safer world for women keep her motivated, but when she’s home yarn crafts and the comforting glow of our Balance Candle are her relaxation favorites.
Director of Cafe' at Thistle Farms
Courtney started her hospitality career at fourteen-years-old working in her father's two restaurants. In 2013, her deep passion for food, hospitality, and helping others led her to the Thistle Farms community where she opened The Cafe at Thistle Farms, a social enterprise cafe and event space dedicated to healing, empowering, and employing women survivors of addiction, trafficking, and prostitution. She currently serves as Cafe Director at Thistle Farms, creating and overseeing all food, beverage, and hospitality endeavors. This busy wife, mom, and Thistle Farmer has hospitality in her DNA and her passion for welcoming our community into the safety and comfort of the Cafe motivates us to go above expectations.
Director of Quality Assurance
After volunteering for 10 years, Melissa joined the Thistle Farms staff in August 2014. She can be found most days standing at her desk, headphones on and healing oils close by. She is responsible for implementing Thistle Farms’ complex logistics and inventory management systems that begin with the reception of raw materials and end with the shipment of finished goods. Her patient nature—developed during her years as a classroom teacher—makes her a go-to for training and problem-solving. Melissa maintains a bountiful home garden, and her love of nature has led to an impressive collection of bird feathers and heart-shaped rocks.
Director of Finance
Renee oversees all accounting functions with a team of inspiring and talented women. Renee moved from Boston where she worked with the Rose Kennedy Greenway and the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City. Renee holds a Bachelor and Masters of Accountancy from the University of Mississippi. She enjoys spending time outdoors and volunteering at St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church where her husband, Sammy, serves as rector.