Here at Youth Commission our full time staff work hard in developing relationships that aid in the advancement of the Kingdom of God.
Tanner Keith - Executive Director
The Lord has given me an unquenchable passion for helping students develop strong relationships with Jesus at an early age so they follow Christ and make disciples. My work as Youth Commission Executive Director has afforded me the opportunity to lead a movement that aligns with my passion.
Although I grew up in strong Christian family, my personal relationship with Christ did not start developing on my own until my freshman year at Wake Forest University. Transferring to the University of Southern California, I graduated Magna Cum Laude from the Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism with a degree in Broadcast Journalism. During my time in California, I worked as a reporter for a local television and radio station before the Lord called me to return to my hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina.
As I seek to lead a ministry that reaches millions of young people, it is my desire for everyone to know Jesus as Lord and Savior and experience the joy of God's unconditional love.
Grant Giesler - Director of Ministry Development
I am honored to serve as a global youth pastor in my role as Executive Director of Ministry Development. In this role I seek to lead our ministry staff, volunteers, student leaders and partners to engage Christ’s call for us to impact the world as we seek to fulfill the Great Commission. Serving as a student pastor for 7 years, I have a great passion to mobilize and equip students to live missional lives for the name and glory of Jesus Christ.
The Lord called me to full time ministry in 10th grade and my first ministry experience came as I launched and led a Youth Commission club at J.M. Robinson High School. An undergraduate degree from Liberty University then a Masters of Divinity from Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest served as incredible ministry training and great preparation for my role leading large groups of students, teachers and pastors at Youth Commission. I am blessed to be married to my best friend Cassie and we have a daughter Madelyn Grace and a son Nolan Paul.
Twitter & Instagram: @grantgiesler
Caleb Edwards - Area Director
The Lord has truly blessed me to have the position of Area Director with Youth Commission where I can intentionally disciple students and help other leaders in the Charlotte area plug students in to a local church body. I have a deep desire to see students live out their faith by exalting Christ and making disciples in their schools and communities. I earnestly pray that the Lord would be glorified through our organization in all that we say and do.
A local native of the Charlotte area I was raised in church from the time I was born. God put a deep desire on my heart to serve in full time, occupational ministry when I was in the 11th grade and have since pursued that calling by attending school at Fayetteville State University for Emergency Management. In hopes that it would be a platform for me to serve through a missions agency in a global setting.
My wife, Meghan, and I wish to serve the Lord by living overseas or working with a local church plant to advance the Kingdom of God to people that have never heard the name of Jesus Christ. As of now we both seek to faithfully pursue Christ where he has placed us for this time.
Troy Thornburg - Director of Operations
Having come to Christ late in my high school career I have seen firsthand the vital role that local student ministries, and student pastors play in the spiritual lives of the next generation. Having spent the last 7 years in the student ministry trenches, I have seen students demonstrate incredible leadership and desire to make Jesus known to their peers and in their schools.
I am blessed to be part of Youth Commission and their mission to empower students to be ambassadors on their campuses. My deepest desire is to see student leaders raised up to lead in the local church and in their schools to see Kingdom growth. In my downtime, I love spending time with my wife, Kathy, and two kids, Milo and Eden. I love exploring Charlotte, eating good food, hiking, working in my workshop or garden, and reading a good book.
Blake Maxwell - Rowan Coordinator
As a freshman at Liberty University, the Lord called me to full time ministry. At the time, I didn’t know what area of ministry this would lead me into, whether adult or student ministry. It wasn’t until serving on staff with Liberty University’s Student Leadership department that the Lord began to work in my heart, tuning it towards student ministry and imbedding within a desire to raise up next generation leaders for Christ. Not too long afterwards in 2013, my wife and I moved back to N.C. to serve on staff with Nazareth Community Church as Youth and Associate Pastor, where I have been able to put this into full swing.
Also serving as Rowan Coordinator, I am able to combine my desire to raise up and train youth to reach the world for Christ with the joy of networking and facilitating with local youth pastors. Within this role, I have the privilege of mentoring, supporting, recruiting, and leading local youth pastors to come alongside their students as they shape their county for Christ.
My wife, Holly, and I have three crazy kids: Piper, Salem, and Jude.
Byron Ruff - Area Director
Byron grew up on the south side of Chicago and came to know the Lord at the age of 22. In his early twenties, he relocated to Charlotte and now serves his local church as a Deacon. Byron has worked as a licensed securities broker working for such financial institutions as Wachovia (now Wells Fargo) and LPL Financial. After a brief stint as the Sports Coordinator for the YMCA of Greater Charlotte, Byron has turned all of his focus to developing and mentoring young men & young women with a desire that they will avoid the many obstacles he faced and live a life sold out for Christ.
With extensive experience in building and implementing a program that helps youth become mentally poised, better prepared and spiritually grounded for various challenges that arise in the world of sports. Byron is an effective communicator able to employ years of training honed in the corporate setting to collaborate, motivate, and energize others. Byron's personal experiences as a student-athlete have created a strong desire to impart wisdom to youth traveling the same road of navigating campus life, academic success, and athletic prowess.
Byron is married to LaTacia Ruff, whom they are the parents of 3 lovely children Imani, Alaiyah, and Bryon.