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Franciscan Mission Service has been blessed with many dedicated men and women, both lay and religious, who have given generously of their time and talents to grow this new branch on the tree of the Franciscan Family. Our staff's dedication and enthusiasm has breathed new life and a fresh vision into our organization. The staff members are:

Kim Smolik, Ed.D.
Executive Director

Kim Smolik, a native of Minneapolis, Minnesota, has worked for over 18 years as an educator, activist and administrator in a variety of social justice areas, with special interests in experiential and cross-cultural learning, poverty and race education, and organizational development. In 2008, she finished her doctorate in education at the University of St. Thomas. Her research focused on adult transformational learning and organizational change to promote racial justice in the workplace.

Before becoming Executive Director of FMS, Kim spent a year as an Archibald Bush Leadership Fellow in St. Paul, Minnesota. The fellowship took her to the Middle East, South America, Canada, Europe, and across the U.S., where she expanded her leadership skills studying creative approaches to organizational change and bridging cultural divides. Kim has received several awards and grants for her leadership.

Kim previously worked as the Program Director of a full-time, faith-based service program for Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis, MN. As an educator, she worked in Mexico with Augsburg College's Center for Global Education, and has taught high school in both Minnesota and Ecuador. Kim has led cross-cultural immersion trips to a variety of locations in Central and South America, Cuba, and Europe. Kim also speaks and consults on issues of race and diversity, service and volunteerism, and organizational development.

Kim is thrilled to be part of the rich tradition of FMS. In her own words, "The mission of FMS aligns with my own mission and vocation. I enjoy the challenges and opportunities this position provides, but mostly I enjoy the many people we partner with – lay missioners and Franciscans--who touch my life and spirit.”

Bridget Higginbotham
Communications Manager

Originally from Orlando, Fla., Bridget graduated with high honors from the University of Florida with a bachelor's in journalism and a minor in French and francophone studies. While at UF, she was extremely involved with the St. Augustine Catholic Student Center, serving as its first student webmaster, walking with the Relay for Life team for four years, and going to Kentucky on a spring break mission trip through the Christian Appalachian Project. Bridget came to FMS in October 2011 as an associate in the Nonprofit Leadership Program and joined FMS as a staff member in January 2013. It's a joy for her to use her background in writing, design and videography to support FMS' various pathways to lay mission.

Natalie Helfrick
Program Manager

Before coming to Washington, D.C., Natalie spent a year-and-a-half in Bangkok, Thailand, with Heart's Home offering friendship as a sign of hope to those experiencing isolation and desperation. She found this call to the "charism of compassion" and friendship for those who are suffering while bringing communion to the sick and homebound through Nativity Catholic Church in Indianapolis. As an apprentice of University of Notre Dame's Echo program, Natalie received her master's in theology while working in different parish ministries at Nativity including RCIA, children's sacramental prep, and high school formation and youth group.
"I'm impressed by FMS' well-rounded formation program and resonate deeply with its emphasis on the ministry of presence. I believe that both are essential to any effective missionary service," Natalie says, "I look forward to the privilege of walking with our missioners as they live and unpack the stories they become a part of abroad. I know I'll find great joy in discovering with them the mystery of Christ's love among us when we seek His peace, justice, and mercy."

Sarah Hoffeditz
Operations Manager

From the midwest town of Newton, Illinois, Sarah Hoffeditz graduated from Bellarmine University with a bachelor’s degree in Communications accompanied by a minor in English. With a history of faith formation, service work and traveling around the world to places like Brazil, the Netherlands, and India, she started with the Nonprofit Leadership Program in January 2013 with an eagerness to learn more about nonprofit work, Franciscanism, and the ministry of presence. In summer 2014 she joined the staff as Operations Manager.

Slavka Brigantova
House Manager

A self-professed "simple girl from Slovakia," Slavka Brigantova graduated from Comenius University in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in Financial Management. She spent years working for various Salesian organizations before moving to the United States this August to pursue a Masters of Theology at the John Paul II Institute in Washington, DC. She finds deep spiritual fulfillment in being with others and serving them through hospitality. For these reasons, she is excited to be the new house manager at Casa San Salvador.

Nonprofit Leadership Associates:

Jason Bach
Communications Associate

Hailing from Portland, Oregon, Jason Bach graduated from Oregon State University in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in Spanish. He then spent a year in Mexico and Spain teaching English, and later spent five weeks leading short-term work-study programs in rural Guatemala. He moved to New Jersey in 2011 to pursue a Masters of Divinity at Princeton Theological Seminary. He recently made a decision to move into graphic design full-time and is excited to put his skills to use in service to the Church.

John Quense
Program Associate

Originally from New Jersey, John Quense graduated from Rutgers University in 2011, where he double-majored in Spanish and Political Science. He also brings previous experience as a long-term Catholic volunteer, spending three months in Costa Rica in high school and six months in Mexico during college. He is looking forward to his work planning formation with and for the missioners.

Franciscan Mission Service
P.O. Box 29034
Washington, DC 20017-0034

T: 202-832-1762 | F: 202-832-1778