Rev. Gary W. Wagner
President & CEO
Gary Wagner has served as President of Rainbow Acres since 1996. Under his leadership, Rainbow Acres has grown into a state-of-the-art residential facility and educational community serving adults with developmental disabilities. Wagner has over 40 years of experience in public relations, marketing and fundraising for higher education at Phillips University in Oklahoma, Alderson Broaddus College in West Virginia, the American Baptist Assembly in Wisconsin, Bacone College in Oklahoma, the University of Sioux Falls in South Dakota, and Colgate Rochester Crozier Divinity School in New York. His educational credits include a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Religious Education and Sociology from the University of Sioux Falls in South Dakota and a Master’s Degree in Divinity in Pastoral Care from Colgate Rochester Divinity School in Rochester, New York. He has done advanced studies in Christian Organizational Development at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.
Gary has been an active member of the Association of Fundraising Executives, and his name has appeared in Who’s Who in Education, Who’s Who in the South, and Who’s Who in America. Wagner is past President of Camp Verde Kiwanis Club and has served on the board of the Camp Verde Chamber of Commerce. In 2017, Rev. Wagner celebrated the 45th anniversary of his ordination with standing in American Baptist Churches USA. Gary and his wife, Jussara, have a son, Isaac, and a daughter, Abigail.
Chief Financial Officer
Paul Higgins joined Rainbow Acres in 2010 as Vice President of Finance and was subsequently named Chief Financial Officer. Prior to joining Rainbow Acres, Paul served as Vice President of Finance at the American Baptist Assembly/Green Lake Conference Center for 13 years, where he also served as Vice President of The Golf Courses of Lawsonia, Camp Grow Ministries, and Worldwide Gifts of Green Lake. Earlier in his career, Paul managed computing systems used for communications and research, developed software, managed a retail store, and monitored product quality in a brass mill.
Paul is on the American Baptist Churches Board of General Ministries. He previously served as Treasurer of ABC of Wisconsin and served on committees for ABC of the South and ABC of the Pacific Southwest. Paul has participated in church leadership in the areas of preaching, teaching, computer and network administration, stewardship and finances. Paul has a B.S. in Information and Computer Science from the University of California, Irvine. He simultaneously earned an M. Div. and an MBA at Emory University in Atlanta. Paul and his wife Jeri enjoy traveling and experiencing new things.
Director of Organizational Development
Brenda Redel joined Rainbow Acres in 2020. Brenda’s BFA degree in creative art and advertising from the University of Oklahoma has provided a natural bridge to leadership roles in human and social services for over 20 years. Her experience includes overseeing residential services, adult day health centers, in-home care, and foster care. Brenda also maintains an Arizona Assisted Living Facility Manager certification and is a Certified Healthcare Safety Professional.
While serving people with developmental disabilities in the Phoenix Valley, Brenda collaborated with a variety of entities to begin unique programs including a creative therapy program for adults with developmental disabilities and Kindervention, a specialized curriculum for preschoolers with developmental disabilities. Brenda has received formal training in implementing Gallup Employee Engagement techniques and praises the exceptional colleagues that she has worked with through the years. Brenda and her husband, Kenny, were thrilled to relocate from the Phoenix Valley to the Verde Valley in 2017. They currently are collaborating on a series of short stories when not enjoying the beautiful, northern Arizona outdoors.
Chief Advancement Officer
Blythe joined Rainbow Acres as veteran in strategic marketing, brand management and business development in both the nonprofit and for-profit sectors. Over the last decade, her passion for community service has led to formidable work assignments for Stand for Children, Easter Seals and Starlight Children’s Foundation. Earlier, Blythe performed corporate in-house and agency work for companies in the convenience good and consumer durable industries, including Circle K Convenience Stores, Weyerhaeuser Real Estate, and Sears Financial Network. Blythe’s campaigns have produced successful results through product and service development, sales promotion, launch and new market entry campaigns. She has been recognized by the American Marketing Association for Best Sales Promotion Campaign and PRSA for Best Community Relations and Best Public Affairs campaign.
Volunteerism is an important part of her daily focus. Blythe has served in leadership roles for Big Brothers Big Sisters, American Cancer Society and Phoenix Symphony to name a few. Perhaps her proudest personal achievement is leading fundraising and development campaigns that achieved nearly $275 million for important human service, health and cultural charities.
Director of Admissions
Jen Murphree was raised in the Southwest by two special educators and has had a lifelong commitment to those with special needs. Her passion is helping families realize their dream for their loved one. Jen has served adults with special needs in a residential setting since 2001. She previously served as a direct support residential staff member as well as Activities Coordinator at Riverview School on Cape Cod in Massachusetts and as a founding staff member and Personal Finance Coordinator at Casa de Amma in San Juan Capistrano, California.
Jen joined Rainbow Acres in 2013 and served as an Admissions Counselor before becoming Director of Admissions. Jen believes that God has called her to a life of service to individuals with developmental disabilities. Jen received her Bachelor’s degrees in International Affairs and Spanish from Northern Arizona University and her Master’s degree in Leadership from Grand Canyon University. Jen has two sons and a devoted husband who love to hike in the woods and play games in their spare time.
Michelle Daniels, RN
Director of Health & Wellness
Michelle Daniels joined the Health & Wellness Team at Rainbow Acres in January 2020 and became the program director in October. Michelle is a Registered Nurse who grew up in Payson, Arizona, where she began her career in healthcare as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) over 25 years ago. In 2010, she attained her Associate Degree in Nursing from Eastern Arizona College. Her journey continued with years spent caring for patients in emergency medicine and telemetry.
While she enjoyed utilizing her clinical skills, she found a true calling in psychiatry and spent many years in behavioral health. Michelle has served as Director of Nursing for two local psychiatric facilities and also held the position of Vice President of Operations at a crisis stabilization unit. She is passionate about providing collaborative care from a holistic approach that includes treatment of the mind, body and soul. She plans to begin her Master’s program in 2021. Michelle, her husband Carl, five children, four dogs, two horses and two goats live in Camp Verde and enjoy the great outdoors.
Director of Buildings and Grounds
Kevin Jones became a part of Rainbow Acres’ Leadership Team in 2013, moving from central New York. Graduating with a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Clarkson University, Kevin spent 26 years with Proctor & Gamble, in a variety of management and logistics roles, as well as spending time in management within the pharmaceutical industry. Chief among his roles was the oversight of product lines, inventory control, and budget management.
Additionally, Kevin spent a number of years serving as manager of the maintenance department for a 275,000 square foot pharmaceutical plant where he supervised a staff of 44. While serving at the plant, he was instrumental in both raising support for and building a state-of-the-art preschool for the working families of that community. Most recently, Kevin was a Partner and General Manager of a Ford dealership where he focused on customer satisfaction and superior customer service. A lifelong NASCAR fan, Kevin and his wife Dawn have traveled to many racetracks.
Director of Planned Giving
Volunteer & Donor Relations Coordinator