We desire to work together to make abortion unthinkable.

Vitae Executive Staff

Brandy Meeks - President

Brandy has led in the pro-life movement for well over a decade. Her passion and energy for the mission increased while she served as a pregnancy center director in her early years. Later, she was recruited as the Director of Marketing and Research Application at Vitae Foundation. Brandy and her husband Matt, would go on to launch Cornerstone Marketing Strategies, building a company that assists pregnancy centers using research-backed digital marketing strategies.

In 2018, Former Planned Parenthood director turned pro-life advocate Abby Johnson asked Brandy to join her as the VP of Operations at And Then There Were None to help more abortion workers leave the abortion industry while the movie Unplanned gained popularity. Together, they also launched ProLove Ministries, a pro-life organization that seeks to fill gaps in the movement.

After the Dobbs decision was announced in 2022, Brandy was pursued by Vitae Foundation’s board of directors to lead as the next President. She now leads Vitae Foundation– an organization that facilitates lifesaving research and applies the findings to create messaging strategies to share with others so, together, we can make abortion unthinkable.

Brandy is a founding board member of Abortion Survivors Network with abortion survivor Melissa Ohden, continues to assist as a board member at And Then There Were None, serves with the United Nations through the Organization of American States as a CSO to protect human rights internationally, and is also a Commissioner with the Missouri Baptist Convention’s Christian Life Commission, the public policy arm of the MBC.

Together, Brandy and her husband, Matt, love strategizing new marketing and pro-life research ideas on date nights, helping with the youth ministry at their church, and raising their five children.

Debbie Stokes - Chief Operating Officer

Debbie Stokes, a 20-year veteran of Vitae Foundation, has been involved with almost every aspect of the organization. Stokes played a critical role in producing Vitae’s television commercials, which the organization was known for, even being referenced as “The TV People” for many years.

Additionally, in 2003, when Vitae made a tectonic shift to call-for-help ads targeted at women experiencing unplanned pregnancies, Stokes was there, going into markets and walking through some of the most crime-ridden neighborhoods in Los Angeles, Washington, DC, and New York City to meet with pregnancy center directors. The information she gathered helped determine not only the right messaging but also where in the large market, to air the ads as well.

In 2007, Stokes helped Vitae transition to its first print ad campaign on the subways of New York City, the abortion capital of the country.

Serving as Vitae’s President, Stokes made sure everything produced was in line with Vitae’s vast knowledge base of research. She helped lead several of Vitae’s research studies working closely with Dr. Charles Kenny, one of the nation’s top consumer psychologists. As an educator, she is gifted with the ability not only to absorb the complicated research but fully share it with others in a way that makes it easily understandable, including how it’s applied. Debbie has a bachelor’s degree in child development from the University of Missouri. She and her husband Rick have been married for 44 years and have been blessed with two daughters and three grandchildren.

Gail Quigley-Logan - Chief Financial Officer

Gail began her career with Vitae in 2006 as an Accounting Specialist. Gail brought to Vitae over 12 years of accounting experience from the Missouri state government. She started out as the Accountant for the Missouri Veterans Home in St. Louis; advanced to Fiscal Accountant at the Office of Administration – Division of Design and Construction; moved up to Fiscal Manager at the Division of Child Support Division; then was promoted to Fiscal Officer of the Missouri State Fair.

Gail graduated from Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, Missouri, with a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a major in accounting.

When Gail is not working at Vitae, she enjoys her furry animals at home along with reading and traveling with her husband around the United States. Her proudest accomplishment is her title of Grandma, made possible by her son, Wesley, and daughter-in-law Melissa (she is “GG” for Grandma Gail). Her marriage to Don also made her a stepmother of 7 children.

Dr. Jeff Pauls, Ph.D - Director of Research

Jeff is a longtime educator who has taught and coached students from second grade through the post-graduate level. He obtained his B.A. in History from Truman State University, M.A. in Educational Administration from Lindenwood University, and earned a Ph.D. in Education with an emphasis in Teaching-Learning Processes from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. 

As Director of Research, Jeff curated content from many of Vitae’s Emotional Research studies and has shared the findings with individuals and organizations across the country. His work has helped establish Vitae Foundation as a prominent research authority on pro-life messaging. He has also worked as the Executive Director of the National Consortium of Pro-Women’s Healthcare Centers and served at Marygrove, a ministry of St. Louis Catholic Charities.

Rebekah Hagan - Director of Development

With nearly 10 years of experience in the pregnancy-help movement, Rebekah Hagan is an asset to the Vitae Team. After joining the Vitae research team in 2023, she led the research study efforts for Vitae’s Abortion Pill Reversal Study. Additionally, she worked closely with professional researchers at Emotional ConteXt to conduct and analyze the research study findings.

In addition to sharing her personal story of unplanned, teenage pregnancies on the international speaking circuit, Rebekah brings past experience in outreach and major gifts fundraising for pregnancy centers and international nonprofits to her role as Director of Development.

“Analyzing Vitae`s cutting-edge, pro-life research findings and equipping organizational leaders to effectively integrate digital marketing trends and pro-woman messaging is an absolute privilege. This work changes and transforms lives,” said Hagan.

Passionate about helping women before, during, and after pregnancy, Rebekah also serves on the board of Reproductive Loss Network, a faith-based nonprofit offering a biblical approach to miscarriage, abortion, and more. She and her family reside in Northern Louisiana.

Kelsey Brown - Director of Communications

Kelsey left the St. Louis Area in 2008 to earn a bachelor’s degree in business management at the University of Central Missouri. Her passion for hospitality led her quickly up the ladder to become the General Manager at Best Western Plus Capital Inn in Jefferson City, Missouri. She began to get involved in the community as a board member of Rotaract, a member of Young Professionals, a board member of Jefferson City Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, and the board President of Discovery Place Daycare.

As she began to build her life in Jefferson City, she fell in love with the community and began as Communications & Member Coordinator at the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce. Again, she found her love for people, her community, and life, growing.

Because of her passion and respect for life, Kelsey sought out a career with the Vitae Foundation. As a multi-media expert, public relations professional, and community advocate, Vitae gladly brought Kelsey on staff.

She and her husband, Craig, are the proud parents of son Jasper and daughter Jade. Kelsey enjoys hosting events at their home bar, attending concerts, and standing up for patriotic and life-affirming causes in her community. Kelsey says her faith is what motivates her to be a better person every day.

Derren Dettloff - Director of Research Application
Derren earned his bachelor’s degree in advertising at Central Michigan University. He has worked for several digital marketing companies, managing large-scale clients in a variety of industries. While Derren enjoyed the work, he felt there was more he could do. Especially considering his own adoption story, which eventually led him to Vitae Foundation.

Derren Dettloff joined the Vitae team first as a Digital Strategist focusing on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and then transitioned into his current role as Director of Digital Marketing, overseeing the Research Application Team, which works directly with Pregnancy Help Centers to manage their digital presence and digital marketing by applying Vitae’s research.

Derren married his wife, Jessi in 2021 and he now has three stepdaughters, Kirstyn, Ayala, and Eloise. He also has a sweet dog named Toggles, who quickly became the “office dog” after frequent “field trips” to the office. Derren enjoys skydiving (how he met Jessi!), CrossFit, Onewheels, and photography.

National Outreach Team

Vitae Foundation’s research has caused a paradigm shift in the Pro-Life Movement in the way pro-life organizations speak with women considering abortion.

To ensure that the research continues its nationwide reach, we’ve assembled a team of experts who have invested themselves in the research and are passionate about sharing the research with others.

To request one of our National Outreach Team members to speak at your upcoming event, please click “More Information” at the bottom of this section.

 

Brandy Meeks

Areas of Expertise – Pregnancy Center branding & Marketing, abortion industry manipulation tactics

Brandy has led in the pro-life movement for well over a decade. Her passion and energy for the mission increased while she served as a pregnancy center director in her early years. Later, she was recruited as the Director of Marketing and Research Application at Vitae Foundation. Brandy and her husband Matt, would go on to launch Cornerstone Marketing Strategies, building a company that assists pregnancy centers using research-backed digital marketing strategies.

In 2018, Former Planned Parenthood director turned pro-life advocate Abby Johnson asked Brandy to join her as the VP of Operations at And Then There Were None to help more abortion workers leave the abortion industry while the movie Unplanned gained popularity. Together, they also launched ProLove Ministries, a pro-life organization that seeks to fill gaps in the movement.

After the Dobbs decision was announced in 2022, Brandy was pursued by Vitae Foundation’s board of directors to lead as the next President. She now leads Vitae Foundation– an organization that facilitates lifesaving research and applies the findings to create messaging strategies to share with others so, together, we can make abortion unthinkable.

Brandy is a founding board member of Abortion Survivors Network with abortion survivor Melissa Ohden, continues to assist as a board member at And Then There Were None, serves with the United Nations through the Organization of American States as a CSO to protect human rights internationally, and is also a Commissioner with the Missouri Baptist Convention’s Christian Life Commission, the public policy arm of the MBC.

Together, Brandy and her husband, Matt, love strategizing new marketing and pro-life research ideas on date nights, helping with the youth ministry at their church, and raising their five children.

Dr. Jeff Pauls, Ph.D

Areas of Expertise – Applying Vitae Foundation’s Emotional Research to abortion decision-making.

Jeff is a longtime educator who has taught and coached students from second grade through the post-graduate level. He obtained his B.A. in History from Truman State University, M.A. in Educational Administration from Lindenwood University, and earned a Ph.D. in Education from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. 

Jeff used his passions when he signed on as the Director of Research at Vitae Foundation. He has also worked as the Executive Director of the National Consortium of Pro-Women’s Healthcare Centers and served at Marygrove, a ministry of St. Louis Catholic Charities.

He is a member of St. Clare of Assisi parish in Ellisville, MO as well as a fourth degree Knight of Columbus. Jeff’s most important roles in life are husband to Amy and father to daughters Lauren and Kendall.

Rebekah Hagan

Areas of Expertise – The abortion-minded perspective, The marketing of chemical abortion, Vitae Research & Education Trainings

With nearly 10 years of experience in the pregnancy-help movement, Rebekah Hagan is a new addition to Vitae Foundation`s Research Team. In addition to sharing her personal story of unplanned, teenage pregnancies on the international speaking circuit, Rebekah brings past experience in outreach and major gifts fundraising for pregnancy centers and international nonprofits to her role as Director of Research.

“Analyzing Vitae`s cutting-edge, pro-life research findings and equipping organizational leaders to effectively integrate digital marketing trends and pro-woman messaging is an absolute privilege. This work changes and transforms lives,” said Hagan.

As the Director of Research, Rebekah led Vitae’s research efforts in 2023 as they conducted an Abortion Pill Reversal study and Abortion Healing Study and was promoted shortly thereafter to Director of Research. She currently serves as Vitae’s Director of Development.

Passionate about helping women before, during, and after pregnancy, Rebekah also serves on the board of Reproductive Loss Network, a faith-based nonprofit offering a biblical approach to miscarriage, abortion, and more. She and her family reside in Northern Louisiana.

Megan Drapa

Areas of Expertise – Women’s healthcare, life-affirming medicine, Applying Vitae’s research to ballot language, natural womanhood, reaching Gen Z, Vitae Research & Education

Megan joined Vitae Foundation’s research team in 2016, as a strong advocate for women and life. Upon graduating from Boston College with a B.A. in psychology, Megan worked at Georgetown University Medical Center as a research project coordinator in the Department of Psychiatry. She coordinated varied research projects focused on the mental health services available to minority women as well as the experiences of battered women. Megan has presented and co-authored papers on women’s health and healthcare including the effects of psychological trauma on overall health and access to healthcare. During her time in Washington DC, Megan also helped build pro-life coalitions on campaign trails and brought the lessons she learned on the campaign to her research work on clinical trials; this is summarized in her paper “Grassroots Campaign Trail Methods to Recruit for Clinical Trials: Recruitment Lessons Learned from Trail to Trial”.

Megan received a second bachelor’s degree in nursing, from Colorado State University, graduating Magna Cum Laude. Megan has used her passion for research and women’s healthcare at Vitae Foundation by helping to build the Pro Women’s Healthcare coalition and by providing resources and strategies for ‘taking back the narrative on women’s healthcare” inspired by Vitae’s seventh Right-Brained Research study, Saving Grace; Planned Parenthood’s Healthcare Brand. She has brought Vitae’s women-focused messaging and branding to life-affirming medical practices as well as to young women as editor of The Happy Girl’s Guide to Being Whole.

In addition to being passionate about healthcare she is actively involved in the renewal of Catholic Liberal Education and is co-founder of Christendom Academy in Omaha that has exponentially grown since opening its doors four years ago in 2019.

She is a member of the International Honor Society for Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International and she participates with the local Catholic Medical Association. Above all, Megan is a wife and mother to five young children, as she aspires to raise them as strong pro-woman, pro-life advocates.

Rob Rysavy

Areas of Expertise – Communicating using Vitae’s research, pro-life school, and church outreach and programming

Rob has a diverse background in religion, military, and education. As an ordained deacon for the Diocese of Colorado Springs, Rob has a fluent understanding of the challenges faced in our culture and the urgency for change. Additionally, Rob’s experience as a retired Air Force colonel and an Air Force Academy graduate make him an effective leader rooted in structure and persistence. Rysavy is also the former president of St. Mary’s High School in Colorado Springs, where he gained insight into the issues young people face in today’s culture.

Rob’s dedication to Vitae Foundation and the cause for life runs deep. He served as Vitae’s past president and previously served as the chair of Vitae’s board of directors. Today Rob speaks all over the country about Vitae’s research study findings, moving the needle on the strategy of the Pro-Life Movement.

His thirty-plus-year commitment to the preborn is rooted in both faith and reason.

Development Team 

Carl Landwehr, Founder & Strategic Advisor

Stacey Kromer, Market Director – Mid Missouri & Dallas, Texas

John Goedde, Market Director – Springfield, Missouri

Bill Francis, Market Director – Kansas City, Missouri

Nick Johnson, Market Director – St. Louis, Missouri

Mary Cronquist, Market Director – Eastern Region

Board of Directors

Doug A. Bax - Chair

Doug is the Vice President of National Sales for Learfield, a collegiate sports marketing and media company which represents more than 200 of the nation’s most prestigious colleges. Doug has been a part of the Learfield team for over 35 years and has had the pleasure of helping this organization build their brands and successfully position themselves to advertise their products and services. Doug has been involved with Vitae Foundation from the very first fundraising event, a backyard barbecue which over the years expanded to eight large banquets which host thousands of people each year. Doug’s experience with media and branding makes him a valuable leader for Vitae Foundation. He and his wife, Kimie, are parents to four sons, two beautiful daughters-in-law, two busy granddaughters, and a grandson.

Larry M. Rohrbach - Vice Chair

Larry served his country for two years in the U.S. Army. He also served his state for twenty years in the Missouri Legislature, which led him to contract lobbying services for several clients. Larry’s dedication and experience working for and with the government makes him a valued member of the board of directors. He has been a faithful supporter of Vitae since its beginning and continues to serve the organization however he can. Larry enjoys his retirement tending to cattle on the family farm and being involved in church and community activities. His wife Beth is a legislator assistant in the Missouri Capitol.

Kyle Menges, CPA - Treasurer

Kyle earned degrees in Accounting and Business Administration from Rockhurst University. He currently serves as the CFO for PFSbrands, the parent company of several food service brands. As a 100% employee-owned business, Kyle takes pride in working with the over 1,500 locations in over forty states across the U.S. to help them improve their financial performance as well as provide strategies to grow their businesses. Kyle and his wife Emily are parents to three beautiful children: Jace, and twins – Joelle and Jackson. 

Deacon Jason Imlay, CFP® - Secretary

Jason works as a financial planner where he works with families, small business owners, and charitable organizations. In 2020, he wanted to serve his community in a greater capacity and was ordained as a deacon.  Jason’s diverse background in both the financial world and the faith community allows him to assist Vitae Foundation in several areas. Jason and his wife Kristee have three children, Kaitlyn, Luke, and Mia.  

Dr. John Bruchalski - M.D., FACOG

Dr. Bruchalski received his M.D. from the University of South Alabama College of Medicine and completed his residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Eastern Virginia Medical Center and the Jones Institute for Reproductive Medicine. He received board certification in 1993.  During his medical training, Dr. Bruchalski performed abortions believing he was helping women. After a spiritual awakening, he realized abortion was not achieving freedom, health, and happiness for women and started his own pro-life medical practice. Dr. Bruchalski’s experience on both sides of the issue makes him an invaluable member of Vitae Foundation’s Board of Directors. 

Melissa Ohden

Melissa is the survivor of a failed saline infusion abortion, but like every survivor, she is so much more than what she’s overcome. Melissa is a Master’s level prepared Social Worker and author. She is the Founder and CEO of The Abortion Survivors Network, the only healing and advocacy organization for abortion survivors and their families worldwide.  Melissa’s firsthand encounter with abortion, and previous involvement as a Vitae Foundation board member, make her a wonderful resource and addition to the Board of Directors. Melissa and her husband, Ryan, reside in Kansas City, Missouri with their two daughters, Olivia and Ava. 

John Sinclair

St. Louis businessman and philanthropist John Sinclair is best known for his community development as co-owner of St. Louis’s most recognizable Auto Groups, Dave Sinclair. John and his siblings have operated several businesses in the community over the last thirty-four years. After growing up watching his mother work in the Pro-Life Movement at Birthright, his pro-life convictions fueled him to become involved. John is dedicated to working alongside Vitae to build a culture of life. 

Craig Husting

Craig is the Chief Investment Officer for the Public School and Education Employee Retirement Systems of Missouri. As CIO, he directs the management of the Systems $55 billion investment portfolio. Craig has been the CIO for the Retirement Systems for twenty-five years. He earned an MBA from the University of Notre Dame and a BA degree from Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. Craig is a member of the Board of Directors for both Benedictine College and Helias Catholic High School. He also sits on the Jefferson City Diocese Lay Retirement Committee and chairs the Helias Investment Committee. He and his wife, Susan, are parents to four sons and two daughters-in-law.

Founder’s Story

Vitae’s Founder, Carl Landwehr has quite the story to tell. Led by a passion for sociology and respect for life, he set out to change the culture with the goal of making abortion unthinkable. A hefty task, but he knew he just had to stay dedicated each day. Here’s his story.

In the center of America, Carl worked with local pro-life leaders to form the Missouri Citizens for Life Education Fund, which opened an office in Jefferson City, Missouri’s state capital. The organization’s mission was to help concerned pro-life citizens and groups educate others about the abortion issue in their respective communities using traditional media.

As these efforts grew, Carl realized that to be effective at the grassroots level, the Pro-Life Movement had to change its approach, in order to be effective in changing hearts and minds on a grander scale. He challenged a new way of thinking by asking “How would you market the product of life if that was your business?”

The response? To bring the life issue into the mainstream public arena in Missouri using mass media. This was done by designing commercials that addressed the abortion issue without politicizing or radicalizing the message in a non-threatening way. The memorable tagline used at the end of the commercials was “Think about it.” This new message strategy aired on TV in Kansas City, Missouri in 1992. Shortly after, Vitae’s commercials aired in all major markets in Missouri.

In 1993, the organization (which changed its name to Vitae Society) began making some changes at its president, Carl’s, hand.  In order to be good stewards of the money invested in creating commercials and purchasing airtime, Carl wanted to research the target audience, women facing unexpected pregnancy. He sought out nationally recognized consumer psychologist, Dr. Charles Kenny of The Right Brain People®. Dr. Kenny developed a powerful and unique methodology to uncover the emotional motivators that drive consumer decision-making. His innovative approach to consumer message development has been used by over 600 of the world’s most successful corporations and organizations, from Fortune 500 companies to mom-and-pop shops.

Carl led Vitae to commission Dr. Kenny to better understand the psychological dynamics that motivate women to feel the way they do about abortion. Additionally, he wanted to learn how to better communicate with those who may support abortion as a solution to an unexpected pregnancy and move them to a more life-affirming position.

A communication strategy emerged from the first study that resulted in a complete paradigm shift within the entire pro-life arena. Gone was the often politically charged rhetoric, absent from the accusatory undertones. This new strategy was woman-centered and non-confrontational while inviting audiences to “think about” the message. Vitae’s Pro-Woman Approach has since been used in seventeen countries around the world and by some of the largest organizations in the Pro-Life Movement (Heartbeat International, CareNet, Sidewalk Advocates for Life, 40 Days for Life, Students for Life, amongst many others).

Carl has led the organization (now called Vitae Foundation) to conduct seven Right Brain Research studies and has since served as the organization’s Strategic Advisor.

The Legacy of Don & Ruth Ann Schnieders

In 1992 Vitae Founder Carl Landwehr knew there was no playbook from which to draw upon for tactics, strategies, or goals. “No one was engaged in attempting to change the American culture by restoring the values that affirm life and families. It was Don and Ruth Ann Schnieder’s belief that the first and most important tactic was to take the Vitae mission and invite people to support the effort,” Landwehr noted.

That is exactly what they did. The Schnieders invited 70 people to the first fundraising backyard barbecue in the spring of 1992. They furnished food and beverages for the attendees and shared with them the importance of what Vitae was doing — educating the public about the value and sanctity of human life. That first barbecue, with 40 people in attendance, raised $18,000 for the organization. The Schnieders continue to host Vitae’s Jefferson City event, with as many as 1,200 people in attendance!