Meet Our Board of Directors
Mike Sonke, Chairman of the Board
Mike grew up in California surrounded by family, faith, and farming. Following in the footsteps of his grandparents, parents, aunts, and uncles, Mike works in agriculture and is raising his family in the same surroundings. Mike heard about Providence through a friend at church, who shared papers about the best practice model of La Providencia. After seeing firsthand the theory being put into practice at La Providencia, Mike left deeply impressed with how the children there were experiencing the same loving environment he knew growing up. Since then, Mike has visited La Providencia 13 times, and has led numerous mission teams from his church.
Ben Manting, Treasurer
Ben is passionate about bringing excellence in education to orphan care communities around the world. After teaching social studies in secondary schools for over ten years (four of them in Honduras), Ben is currently an Assistant Principal at Plainwell Middle School in Plainwell, Michigan. Ben began partnering with La Providencia in the summer of 2005, when he was working with the youth leadership development company LeaderTreks. During that time, Ben learned about God’s heart for La Providencia and orphans around the world. Currently, Ben serves on the Educational Advisory Committee in addition to the Board of Directors for Providence World. When not at school, you can find Ben enjoying time outside with his wife, Lauren, and their son.
Charlene Dillender, Secretary
Char and her husband Chuck have two children—Camryn and Caleb. They live in Folsom CA where her husband is Pastor of River Rock Church, which they helped to start in 1998. Char is a graduate of Calvin College and received a Master’s in Reading Education from Chapman University. She teaches first graders in the Folsom Cordova Unified School District, and leads the Children’s Ministry team at her church.
“God wrote Providence on my heart in 2010 when I heard the children at Academia La Providencia sing “I am not forgotten, I am not forgotten, I am not forgotten, God knows my name. He knows my name.” Providence is the people and place where my greatest passion to see children thrive as image-bearers of Jesus Christ, my 20 years of experience as an educator in high -poverty, multi-lingual public school settings, and God’s heart to champion the cause of the fatherless– all come together. I long to learn and grow along with Providence World as she seeks to implement best practices in orphan and widow care, especially in the realm of education.”
Phil Darke, CEO/President
Phil Darke, his wife Becca, and their five children, live in Folsom, CA. Phil received his Juris Doctor Degree from Vanderbilt University School of Law and his B.A. Degree in Rhetoric and Communications from U.C. Davis. Before joining Providence as Research & Development Director in October 2008, Phil worked as an attorney with different firms in Sacramento, CA, and Atlanta, GA, and as a clerk for a federal judge in Honolulu, HI. Phil is the host of the Think Orphan podcast, where the difficult issues and hot topics involved in the global orphan crisis are discussed with leading voices from around the world, and co-author of “In Pursuit of Orphan Excellence”, a literary conversation that highlights orphan care best practices and the importance of collaboration in addressing the global orphan crisis. Phil is the CEO/President of Providence World and serves as an Elder at River Rock Church, Board Chair of Summit Christian School, and a Board Member with All Things Possible Ministries.
Dave and his wife, Tricia, have been married for 23 years and are very thankful for their family of nine children and one grandchild. After the birth of their fifth child, God called Dave and Tricia into adoption and God has blessed them with four children from Kazakhstan, Ethiopia and China. “To have your eyes opened in this way changes you in ways that can only be fully appreciated when you go through the process and experience the immense blessing and provision that only He can provide.” Dave got involved with Providence after hearing about the Biblical approach and experiencing what he calls “the finest caring” he has experienced. He has seen firsthand the bravery and resiliency of orphaned children, both in his family and around the world. “Children belong in families and our end goal should always be to this end – Providence lives this belief out and it’s what makes me so proud to be a part of it.”
Dave loves serving as a baseball coach as the sport requires all parts to work as a cohesive team toward a common goal – this draws parallels to Providence’s collaborative efforts to serve orphaned and at-risk children with excellence. While Dave’s love for baseball could never rival his love for God or caring for His children, it helps him connect with his boys in a profound way and teaches life lessons as well. In addition to baseball, Dave also enjoys singing and uses this gift as much as God provides the opportunity.
Christy has dedicated her personal life and professional career to the “at risk” population and it has become her life passion. She earned her B.S. from York College of Pennsylvania in Psychology and shortly thereafter while working fulltime with teenagers and adults whom were struggling with all facets of mental health, abuse, and addictions, she completed her M.S. from Western Maryland College in Counseling. Christy served as a professional school counselor in the public-school system for 14 years until she furthered her education at McDaniel College in school administration. She currently holds an administrative position in the student services division to ensure students of all hardship backgrounds reach their full potential.
Christy had served on mission trips to various areas statewide and overseas when La Providencia caught her eye due to their extraordinary vision to revamp orphan care. The top-notch education, medical care, and love of family shone through. It was not a “give and get” type of mission that she had seen over the years, but instead a model of intentionally growing the child spiritually, mentally, physically, and educationally and within the family setting. In Christy’s free time, she enjoys traveling, especially to the beach areas with her husband, five children (one adopted at age 15 from a Ukraine orphanage) and three dogs, and tries to visit with one grandchild as often as possible.”