President and CEO
Dr. Steven Reece
Steven D. Reece is founder and President of The Matzevah Foundation, a nonprofit organization incorporated in Georgia in 2010. He leads members and volunteers of the Foundation to educate the public about the Shoah (the Holocaust) and to restore Jewish cemeteries in Poland. Its purpose is to remember and honor the Jewish heritage of Poland, to restore what was lost due to the Shoah, and to reconcile Jews and Gentiles through a common mitzvah, or good deed.
Dr. Reece is an adviser for the European Jewish Cemeteries Advisory Network (EJCAN). EJCAN is a network "of more than 30 international experts representing a range of professional skills and expertise related to Jewish cemeteries who can be contacted for advice on a number of issues." He is also certified to teach about the Holocaust through Yad Vashem and Tel Aviv University.
For ten years, Dr. Reece worked as a photojournalist before entering religious and charitable work. He is an ordained Baptist minister and is a graduate of Baylor University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Dr. Reece received his Doctor of Philosophy in Leadership at Andrews University in 2020.
Board of Directors
Director of Development
Elaine Brown is Director of Development for The Matzevah Foundation. She is a native of Nashville, Tennessee and has worked for many years at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Elaine has been a member of Brentwood Baptist Church (BBC) for a number of years and first went to Warsaw, Poland in 2011 to work in the Warsaw Jewish Cemetery as part of a BBC mission journey to clear and clean a portion of the large cemetery. She has returned to Poland for six additional projects in partnership with The Matzevah Foundation and Brentwood Baptist Church. “I enjoy working quietly in the Jewish cemeteries across Poland, having the opportunity to see the beautiful matzevot (headstones) marking the resting place of Jewish people who were part of a once vibrant community of Poles and Jews before the war. It is painful to reflect on the horror of the Holocaust and devastation of the Jewish population in Poland that has left most of the Jewish cemeteries abandoned and in poor repair. It is an honor to work alongside Polish people, Jewish descendants, and other volunteers in this mitzvah.”
Elaine hopes to see other parts of Poland, especially the beautiful Baltic region someday. She hears that after a storm across the Baltic Sea one can walk along the beaches of Poland and simply pick up chunks of amber washed up after the storm!
Director of Communications
Rachel McRae serves as the Director of Communications for TMF. She is a native East Tennessean but has called Nashville home for many years. Rachel first became interested in Eastern European history in middle school and developed that interest more through college. While taking a class in the Holocaust in college, Rachel made a note that one day she hoped to go to Poland. That dream became reality in 2007 when she made her first trip with Brentwood Baptist Church to work with Steven Reece in the Otwock, Poland Jewish cemetery. Rachel has since been a part of 13 cemetery restoration projects, mostly in Poland and one in Ukraine. With each project, Rachel finds a special connection to the Jewish community that was once part of that corner of Poland and she considers it a privilege to serve the memory of those who lived there.
Rachel is a firm believer that you can’t leave Poland until you do 3 things: shop for Polish Pottery, eat pierogi, and have at least two scoops of their lemon lody (ice cream).
John Mark Folker
Director of Operations, US
John Mark serves as the Director of Operations in the US for The Matzevah Foundation. He’s our go - to guy on anything to do with technology! He currently resides outside of Atlanta, Georgia. John Mark first went to the Otwock, Poland Jewish cemetery with Steven Reece in 2006. He ended up living in Warsaw for two years and helped with several cemetery projects during that time. John Mark finds several aspects of the work satisfying but especially how the physical work that is done creates a visible difference in the community and that it will hopefully bring unity and reconciliation for the community and their Jewish past.
He has a clear memory of being in his 7th grade history class and learning about the Holocaust. He remembers thinking how one day maybe he’d be able to visit Auschwitz. Who knew at that time he would not only go to Auschwitz many times but also be involved in Jewish cemetery restorations in several cities in Poland.
After living in Poland for a few years and several trips back since, John Mark developed a taste for fine Polish cuisine such as blueberry pierogi, kielbasa, kotlety schabowy, and just about any kind of Polish soup.
Director of Operations, Poland
Przemek Panasuik serves as the Director of Operations for TMF in Poland. A native of eastern Poland, he now calls the bustling city of Warsaw home.
Przemek has been a part of numerous TMF projects that have taken him all across Poland. He enjoys working with a variety of volunteers from around the world to join us in our work. He is also adept in putting up with the crazy Americans from TMF that keep showing up in his country year after year.
Kevin Little serves as the treasurer for TMF. He is a proud Oklahoman who currently calls middle Tennessee home where he works as a mortgage banker just outside of Nashville. Kevin has worked with TMF president Steven Reece for 12 years and has served on 11 cemetery restoration projects in 6 different cemeteries around Poland. When he learned of an opportunity to work in Jewish cemeteries in Poland he was immediately interested as it hit on two important things in his life: Kevin’s grandfather was a pilot in WW2 and told him many of his stories which has made Kevin appreciate the war and the many different countries and people involved. As a follower of Christ (a Christian) Kevin has always been interested in the Jewish part of his faith. The work in Poland allowed him to combine both of these passions into one work.
Kevin’s favorite thing is always the people: Jewish, Polish, American, French, and many more. He enjoys the opportunity to work with people who are not like himself and to learn about them and what makes them tick. He also loves working on common ground for a common goal.
Kevin says, “My favorite food is a toss-up between kielbasa, potato & cheese pierogi, and loyi (ice cream). And while I love Warsaw and have many friends there, Krakow is my jam!” He also hopes to venture out to see The Baltic (Gdansk) and Zakopane one day.
Joann Siegienski serves as the secretary for TMF. She is employed as an HR Systems Manager with Quadion LLC and has been with the company for 40 years. Joann grew up in Minnesota and moved to Tennessee in 2001. At that time she joined Brentwood Baptist Church and within a few years volunteered to be part of a team going to Poland to work in a Jewish cemetery there. Her roots lead back to Poland and she wanted to do something to honor the Lord’s chosen, so it seemed like a good fit. Joann had no real understanding of the way Poland was affected by the loss of its Jewish population due to the Shoah (Holocaust). As she gained understanding, she wanted to share that information and help others understand. That desire is what led her to be a part of The Matzevah Foundation.
Thompsons Station, TN
Cindy was born and raised a preacher's kid with roots in the Salvation Army. She was basically born with missions in her blood. Cindy first became involved with the work in Poland in 2008 thru a desire to serve and learn the history of the Shoah at the same time. Little did she know that she would be overwhelmed with the scale of all she saw and learned. She has been studying the history of Jews in Poland, the Shoah, and Judaism ever since. Cindy has been to Poland for nine different projects with The Matzevah Foundation and is a permanent volunteer.
She loves meeting and working with students from all over Europe and also working with and sharing dialog over meals with Jewish descendants.
Polish soup, soup, and more soup is the meal she looks forward to every year.
Fort Davis, TX
Bruce Mussey serves as a maintenance person for the equipment used by the Matzevah Foundation on their cemetery projects. He also serves as a "medic" for minor injuries when they occur on site. He has worked in Poland with Steven Reece since 2003. He became interested in God's chosen people after reading The Source by James Michener as a young man, and has been a student as well as a teacher about the Jews and their ancient land of Israel.
A retired public school teacher of 25 years, Bruce now serves as a Field Ambassador for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in far West Texas. He continues to be in contact with the friends made while working with The Matzevah Foundation. His favorite foods include everything everything he has ever eaten in Poland!