We would be honored to talk to your organization about ways to become involved with the important work of The Porch Light. To request a speaker, please contact Michele.Newsome@ThePorchLight.org.
Jerry T. Haag, Ph.D., CFP®
In 2007, Dr. Haag joined the staff at Florida Baptist Children’s Homes as the ninth president in the 110-year history of the Homes. During his tenure as president, he has led efforts that expanded the number of ministry sites from nine to 22 locations across Florida, launched a successful international childcare ministry to help children in countries around the world and established numerous partnerships with churches and nonprofit organizations. These efforts have increased the number of children and families served by more than 900 percent.
Dr. Haag has been appointed by both Gov. Charlie Crist and Gov. Rick Scott to serve on the Florida Faith-based and Community-based Advisory Council, which serves as a formal policy council to the governor and the Florida legislature and is administered by the Governor’s Office of Adoption and Child Protection. He chaired the Child Welfare Workgroup Subcommittee. Dr. Haag serves as a member of the Citizen Review Panel for Florida Department of Children and Families, which was formed as mandated by the Federal Child Abuse and Treatment Act of 1996. He also chaired the Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO) National Foster Care Initiative – Faith and Foster Care Research Team.
In summer 2009, Dr. Haag was selected to participate in a special summer seminar on Religion and U.S. Foreign Policy, sponsored by the Institute on Culture, Religion and World Affairs at Boston University. The seminar focused on how beliefs, values and lifestyles affect economic and political developments worldwide, with special attention paid to the role of religion in world affairs. Participants for the seminar were selected from leaders in academia, government, religious institutions, media and nongovernmental organizations, both from the United States and foreign countries.
Dr. Haag has led and participated in humanitarian aid, emergency relief, child care and ministry to children and families in countries around the world. He has preached in churches across Florida and Texas. He and his wife, Christi, also speak at marriage and family seminars.
Additionally, he has authored, presented and published academic articles relating to his business expertise and has been honored several times for his business, professional and civic achievements. He was named an Outstanding Young Alumnus by the Baylor Alumni Association in 2005. He was named Baylor University’s Vice President for University Development in 2011, where he served before returning as President of Florida Baptist Children’s Homes.
Dr. Haag and his wife live in Lakeland, Florida, where Christi is a popular speaker with “Women of Purpose Speak.” Their eldest son, Ben, lives and works in Dallas Texas, and their youngest son, Brady, attends Baylor University. They are members of First Baptist Church at the Mall in Lakeland.
Pam Whitaker, Ed.D., LMHC
Vice President of Programs
Dr. Whitaker has received a Bachelor’s of Science (B.S.) in Social Work from Florida Southern College, earned a Master’s of Arts (M.A.) in Counseling Education from the University of South Florida, and holds an Doctorate in Education (Ed.D.) from Nova Southeastern University, majoring in Organizational Leadership with a minor in Conflict Resolution. Dr. Whitaker has been a Licensed Mental Health Counselor since 1997 and is a Qualified Supervisor for counselors seeking licensure.
For the past 15 years, Dr. Whitaker has served as the 3rd and 4th grade Sunday School Teacher at Kathleen Baptist Church, Lakeland, Florida. She also active in assisting the homeless through the church ministry and also works in the church nursery. Married to Gary Whitaker since 1986, they have an adult daughter, Tierney.
Dr. Whitaker is passionate about bringing creative, Christ-centered services to children and families in need and reaching the “least of these.”
To contact Dr. Whitaker:
1015 Sikes Blvd.
Lakeland, FL 33815
Phone: 863.687.8811 or 863.577.4468
Director of The Porch Light
Michele graduated with a bachelor’s degree in criminology from Saint Leo University and served in law enforcement as a police officer and detective for 24 years. She worked as a patrol officer, school resource officer and as a detective investigating crimes against children that include emotional, physical and sexual abuse. Michele retired from law enforcement after her tenure in the Office of Professional Standards Internal Affairs Unit.
A graduate of Webster University, Michele has her master’s degree in mental health counseling. She is a registered intern working toward licensure. She has a history of working with victims of sexual abuse, offenders and those with sexual addictions.
Michele and her husband, Buddy, are co-founders of F.A.I.T.H. Riders, a motorcycle ministry at First Baptist Church at the Mall. Michele and Buddy have been married 18 years and have 3 grown children and 5 adopted children they sponsor in Moldova.
Michele and Buddy enjoy traveling and serving orphaned children in Moldova by partnering with Justice and Mercy International to sponsor orphaned and abandoned children into transitional living. Transitional living affords these children hope and the opportunity to succeed while keeping them from entering a life of crime and trafficking.
To contact Michele M. Newsome:
P.O. Box 8190, Lakeland, FL 33802