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About Us

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Our Story

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Light of Love Ministry was born from a vision that had been on our founder, Susan Zidlicky's, heart for many years. In 2013, Susan felt inspired to go on her first mission trip to the Dominican Republic where her eyes and heart were opened to those in need. The following year, she took her second mission trip to Uganda where she met friends who became like family and missionaries who motivated her to continue on this path of her journey.

The next trips were El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Honduras with her family, creating new traditions of service-oriented Spring breaks. Her children are now part of the story as they've learned how to love and serve people all over the world.


Malawi and Kenya came next on Susan's mission world map. Africa is filled with beautiful stories of love, hardship, perseverance, and joy. Susan's most recent service trips were to Kenya and Jordan. Each of these countries have unique cultures, deep histories and are full of wonderful and loving people.

Altogether, these nine countries have built a backbone for what is now Light of Love Ministry. Every trip, every service opportunity, and every country, has guided Susan’s vision for how she wants to inspire and teach others to love and serve our brothers and sisters around the world. With every sequential trip, Susan has added knowledge and developed ideas on how she would like to lead teams and serve those in need in the future.

There is a great need to come alongside people all over who are hurting and are often in desperate situations. There are also plenty of people who want to serve and are just looking for the right opportunity. That is where Light of Love Ministry becomes the bridge to give people a way to go and serve abroad.

Light of Love wants to help open doors and change people's lives. Serving can be as small and as important as sitting down to talk to someone and hearing their stories. It can be learning to make bricks that will become a new home, going out after dark in a new city to feed the homeless, filling an extra suitcase with children's shoes and school supplies, traveling with a group of orphans on a field trip to the beach, packing and praying over meals to feed a community, playing a game of soccer at a local school, and so much more. These are things Susan has already been part of and would continue to do through Light of Love ministry.

Our Story

Meet Our Board of Directors

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Susan Zidlicky


Susan was born and raised in Austin, Texas. She graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in Communications. Susan worked in the corporate world for several years doing marketing for some of Chicago’s largest law firms. She and her husband have four sons and live in the western suburbs of Chicago.


Stacy McGowan


Stacy McGowan currently lives in the western suburbs of Chicago with her husband, John, and their three growing-up-too-fast children. While she has lived in three countries and three states, she will always be a Nebraska girl. Stacy is an educator, a volunteer, an aspiring tennis player, and a reader, but she feels most herself in the kitchen baking and cooking. Stacy is delighted to be a part of Light of Love Ministry. Stacy travelled on her first mission trip with Susan only two years ago. Ever since, she has been encouraged and inspired by Susan's enthusiasm for service around the globe and can't wait to see where they will go next!


Jessica Riels


Jessica works as the Director of Programs at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Austin, TX. In 2015, she became a trained Godly Play instructor, and it is through these years of storytelling, wondering, and a life-changing mission trip to El Salvador, that she heard her call to step into full-time ministry. Jessica is passionate about helping children and families discover and deepen their understanding of God’s love for them. Jessica is married to Greg, and they have two daughters, Margaret and Bennett. Together they love to play with their dog, Scout, garden and work on their ranch house in South Austin.


Jessica Buchanan

Vice President

Jessica is a born and raised Texan who met fellow board members, Susan Zidlicky and Jessica Riels, in college. Their history of friendship started then, and 22 years later, this organization was born under Susan’s leadership and heart to serve those in need. Jessica works on staff at First Baptist Church of Alexandria. She served in El Salvador with Susan and supported various missions along the way. She is married to Dee & has two children, Rose & Cole. She & her family live in Alexandria, Virginia.

Board of Directors
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