Our Team

Jennifer Carson

Founder & Executive Director

Jennifer Carson is Founder of The Children’s Park of Tyler. She was the original Board President and now serves as the Executive Director. She began the monthly support group Glory Babies in 2001, for couples who have experienced the devastating loss of a baby during pregnancy or infancy and manages the other support groups provided through the Park at Alison’s House.

Jennifer graduated from Texas A&M University in 1989 and from Texas Woman’s University with her MS Degree in Physical Therapy in 1992. She married Billy Dan in 1992 and they have 3 children, 2 on earth and 1 in Heaven. She is also a Home Health Physical Therapist for Paradigm Homecare in Tyler, leads women’s growth groups/bible studies, co-leads a small group with her husband and loves mentoring younger women. She is passionate about coming alongside others who are hurting and in need of comfort and support.

April Chesley

Volunteer Coordinator
E-mail April Chesley

April Chesley joined The Children’s Park of Tyler Foundation in July of 2009. Before then she had been a stay at home mom and had volunteered with various organizations within the community.

She has heart to come alongside others, helping and encouraging them through difficulties and to guide them into their full potential. Her position at The Children’s Park gives her a special place to use those gifts helping others along the way, while attending to her duties for the foundation.

April and her husband Bryan have one son. They are well rooted in the Community. They feel blessed to be raising their son in such a wonderful place like Tyler.

Mary Foster

Social Media Manager

Mary Foster joined The Children’s Park of Tyler Foundation in February 2020. She is a graduate of UT Tyler with a bachelor’s degree in History and minor in Social Studies in 2013. 

While working for the City of Tyler as the Goodman Museum Curator, she was fortunate to gain experience with non-profit organizations and has served on a number of boards within the community such as the Chamber of Commerce, International Toastmasters, Hit the Bricks founding committee, and assisted the Women’s Voting League of Smith County.

Mary and her husband Chris have one son, Cid. They reside in Lindale. She is grateful to be able to assist in raising awareness for such a worthy service-based resource.

Lisa Lujan

Board Secretary

Lisa M. Lujan was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  She and Michael married in 1993 and they moved to Tyler, Texas in 1995.  In 2003, they co-founded Mentoring Minds.

Lisa is driven by her commitment to her family, especially her two daughters, Michelle and Monica who have inspired so much of the Mentoring Minds philosophy and core values.  She is passionate about giving back to the community and is actively serving on the boards of The Children’s Park, Smith County Champions for Children, East Texas Human Needs Network (ETHNN) and the Tyler Chamber of Commerce.

Lindsey Gainer

Board Member

Lindsey Gainer has been active volunteer for The Children’s Park serving as one of the founding board members of The Children Are a Gift Foundation. She is delighted to have an opportunity to share her passion for children; and through her service honor those who have eased the path of personal tragedy.

Lindsey has shared an active role in several not-for-profit organizations and church outreach programs for many years.

Lindsey, a proud graduate of Texas A&M University, earned her MBA from LeTourneau University and certificate in Executive Healthcare Management from the Wharton School of Business, University of PA.  Lindsey currently serves as a member of the faculty for Tyler Junior College and as an adjunct professor for LeTourneau University.

Bobbie Burks

Board Member

Bobbie Burks is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Board-Certified Christian Counselor in Tyler. She maintains a solo practice with her comfort dog, Ginger, at 4:13 Center for Change. She joined the Children’s Park board out of a passion for the hurting, especially in finding ways to facilitate the grief process and move through it to places of growth and peace.

Bobbie received her Master of Arts in Counseling degree from the University of Texas at Tyler, and is currently pursuing her PhD in Advanced Studies in Human Behavior. She is an avid motorcyclist, and enjoys physical activities as diverse as spin cycling and yoga. She is trained in many different areas of counseling intervention, but has a heart for those grieving from losses of any kind. She and her husband, Phil, reside in Tyler. They have four grown children and six grand children as well as several foster-grands and fur-babies.

Pauletta Bonner

Board Member

Pauletta Bonner is delighted to join The Children’s Park of Tyler Board of Directors in 2020. Having lived with her family in East Texas since 1982, she is grateful for this family centered, thriving community. She is a proud mother of three married children, plus grandmother to five delightful grandchildren who call her “Mama B.”

A 33 year veteran in the financial services industry, Pauletta is a Wealth Advisor and Founding Partner of Income Solutions Wealth Management. She is a member of the Women’s Fund of Smith County and both Job Coach and Board President of Christian Women’s Job Corps of Tyler. Additionally, she is a church organist, women’s Bible study facilitator, and a public speaker at local women’s groups.

People are Pauletta’s passion. She looks forward to supporting and encouraging those experiencing loss and grief.

Maureen McCullough

Board Member

Maureen McCullough retired in 2015 from All Saints Episcopal School after 21 wonderful years. A dear friend of the school asked her what she would do when retired? She did not hesitate… Maureen immediately replied that it must be something deeply meaningful. Then her friend introduced her to Jennifer Carson. What a wonderful day!

Maureen and husband Lynn have a daughter who lives in North Carolina with her husband and son, Taylor.

Maureen has been on the Board since 2017. She has learned so much about grief and loss. The Children’s Park has her whole heart.

Neal Franklin

Board Member

Neal Franklin joined the The Children’s Park of Tyler Board of Directors in 2018 and is thrilled to play a small role in the future of this amazing organization. Neal has a passion for those who have experienced loss and a strong desire to help them find peace in their current storm. He considers his volunteer work a blessing.

Neal has been married to Valli for over 33 years and they have three adult children. A graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University, he served the City of Tyler as Fire Chief for many years. After retirement from the fire service, Neal was hired by ETMC EMS as their General Manager. He served in that role for over seven years. Neal is currently with Core Insights providing leadership training and strategic planning.