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Our Staff

Who We Are

Release Ministries Staff

Dave Wininger, Executive Director

  • With the ministry since: 2005

  • What brought you to Release Ministries? Became a volunteer after my daughter and son-in-law started doing Bible study in the Douglas County Youth Center with Release.

  • Best part of your service to at-risk youth: Seeing God change my heart to be me more like His as I seek to love His kids





Tom Kallman, Director of Development

With the ministry since:  August 2015

What brought you to Release Ministries? I was looking for a way to continue to serve after my military career and God led me here through my best friend's wife. She is a secretary at a local church and received the job announcement. When I met the team and saw their hearts for Christ, I knew this was where I am supposed to be.

Best part of your service to at-risk youth: Seeing the faces of these kids when they realize that they have value, not because of what they can do, but because they are made in the image of a loving God who wants a relationship with them.


Donna Saffles, Administrative Assistant

  • With the ministry since: 2010
  • What brought you to Release Ministries? God’s direction and my heart to serve Him wherever He leads me to serve.
  • Best part of your service to at-risk youth: While I don’t work with at-risk youth directly, I do support those that do. It has been a joy to meet others on staff, hear their testimonies, and get to know each one individually. I look forward to seeing how God will change and use me as a result of my connection with Release Ministries.



​Institutional Staff

Dale Carter, Chaplain at Douglas County Youth Center

  • With the ministry since: 2009
  • What brought you to Release Ministries? The grace and mercy of the Living God. I was born and raised in north Omaha and have experienced some of the same things as the young people with whom we work at DCYC. Relationships with the kids have allowed room for me to introduce Jesus Christ.
  • Best part of your service to at-risk youth: Building relationships with young people without expectation, but accountability to do better.



Homes Staff

Garrett Swanberg, Director of Residential Care/CBI

  • With the ministry since: 2002
  • What brought you to Release Ministries? I have always enjoyed youth ministry but I never set out to work with at-risk youth. I was just a college student attempting to follow Christ. I began as a bible study leader and mentor at D.C.Y.C. After two years, my wife and I had the opportunity to become house parents at the first Release home. Five years later I was offered the opportunity to oversee the houses. There is something about the youth we work with that keeps drawing me to them.
  • Best part of your service to at-risk youth: I love building authentic relationships. Relationship is a core value that permeates every level of our organization. The genuine relationships that we offer to the youth are something we experience every day as staff.


Rachel Cottier, Residential Care Supervisor

With the ministry since: 2017

What brought you to Release Ministries? I needed employment and wanted to be used by the Lord.  This was not what I had expected the Lord to call me in to, but He did.  He has been growing me and healing me while at the same time using me to grow and heal the youth I minister to.

Best part of your service to at-risk youth:  It is amazing to see some of the changes these youth have undergone.  It takes a lot of commitment, strength, and courage to learn and live a new way of life; one that is often at odds with old friends and/or family.  But these kids do it.  I don’t think any of us who have not been through it could truly grasp what battles they are experiencing on a daily basis.


Mentoring Staff

Woody Winchell, Director of Mentoring

  • With the ministry since: 1999
  • What brought you to Release Ministries? I taught and coached at-risk youth at inner city alternative high school where God gave me a heart for these kids. The Lord put me in touch with Bill Ellett, our hearts were knit and Release brought me on board to develop and direct the Mentoring Ministry.
  • Best part of your service to at-risk youth: Knowing that the seeds we plant and water will be used by God to change hearts and lives, bringing Him pleasure as the kingdom is increased




Sandra Preston, Mentoring Coordinator

With the ministry since: 2004-2012, and 2016 to present

What brought you to Release Ministries? In 2002 my Sunday School Teacher, introduced me to Release Ministries where he was volunteering at that time.I attended a volunteer orientation and started volunteering as a bible study leader in the girls units at DCYC.  Later in 2004 Bill Ellett, Executive Director at that time, asked me to come on board as the new part-time Family Helps Coordinator.

Best part of your service to at-risk youth: I am thankful that God never gave up on my son and that He has blessed me to be a blessing to other youth and their families through the Mentoring Program,  using the mentors to bring the power of the love of Christ to these youth and offer them hope, power, love, purpose, vision, and strength through relationships with one another and with God. 






Community Based Initiatives (CBI) Staff

Josh Wininger, In-Home Services Supervisor

  • Bio coming soon







Lauren May, CBI Program Support Specialist

  • Bio coming soon