Leadership & Staff

Staff Leadership

Andy & Candice Estrella - Directors of Missouri State Chi Alpha Andy has been involved with Missouri State Chi Alpha since 2005 and took the role of Director in 2009. Andy is originally from New York and moved to Springfield to attend Central Bible College in 1999. Candice is from Arkansas and has been a nurse but now loves being at home with their daughter, Elliana. Ellie is 4 years old, and is a vivacious and well-loved highlight of Chi Alpha. She loves dancing and is excited to be a big sister in 2017! Andy and Candice enjoy working in campus ministry together. Andy always says that the Lord has given him the “gift” of hanging out, and Chi Alpha is the perfect fit for that gift. Candice loves connecting with girls, making amazing meals for students and adding that special touch that lets students know they are loved.

Kristine Carlson - Assistant Director of Missouri State Chi Alpha
Kristine grew up in Iowa, but don’t let it fool you-she is a city girl at heart. You might find her watching HGTV’s Fixer Upper, Hallmark Movies, or eating her favorite pizza: pepperoni and pineapple. She became involved in Chi Alpha while studying accounting at Iowa State University. After working in the accounting profession, Kristine felt called to work with college students.  After completing an internship at the University of Virginia Chi Alpha, she returned to Springfield to join the staff at Missouri State in the fall of 2010. She is currently working on her Masters in Organizational Leadership. She loves being able to help students grow in their walk with Christ and watching God change them into who he has called them to be!

Jesse Pingenot - Director Of International Life
Jesse Pingenot is the director of International Life, the international ministry of Missouri State Chi Alpha. He focuses on ministering to the international students who come to the US to study from all over the world. Jesse is originally from Kansas, went to Germany as a foreign exchange student, and earned a BA in German Studies from the University of Minnesota Duluth, where he was a student leader in the Chi Alpha group. After graduation, he went on staff with UMD Chi Alpha for two years before God called him to Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, where he earned his Master of Divinity. All through seminary and after, Jesse has continued to work with Chi Alpha, now at Missouri State University. He became director of International Life in 2015, and was ordained as a minister with the Assemblies of God in 2016.

jamie benneTt - Administrative Coordinator
Jamie moved to Springfield from North Dakota to attend Evangel University in 2005. Following graduation in 2008, she began volunteering with Chi Alpha while working in worship at a local church. Jamie found her passions coming alive through Chi Alpha small groups and in one-on-one discipleship and joined the staff full time in 2014. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to devote her time to developing life-giving relationships with college students as a staff member at Missouri State Chi Alpha! Jamie's not-so-secret loves are spending time with family, enjoying a good book or movie, eating pizza and being in nature.

james toon - Missions Coordinator 
Originally from St. Louis, James moved to Springfield to attend Missouri State University. After graduating with a degree in psychology, he felt that God was calling him into full time ministry. After giving two years to Missouri State Chi Alpha, he came onto staff to continue doing what he loves. He now works as the Missions Coordinator for MSU Chi Alpha, setting up yearly missions trips.

Give-A-Year Interns

Nick Koth
Nick is from Camdenton, Missouri and moved to Springfield to attend college in 2011. While attending Missouri State University, Nick became involved in Chi Alpha’s student leadership and played electric guitar as part of the worship team. Nick then interned at Central Assembly of God for a year, but felt the calling to return to Chi Alpha to serve and love students and young adults. Nick’s love for God, connecting to people and telling puns makes him feel right at home in this amazing ministry. In his free time, you will find Nick spending time with his wife, Lauren, and their puppy Minka. Nick is very excited to join the Chi Alpha team this year and to serve Missouri State!

andrew romano
During his time as an undergrad student, Chi Alpha provided for Andrew the family, friends, and experiences that directly impacted who he is today and his choice of vocation. As a student, Andrew saw leadership, responsibility, trust, growth, and much more actualized in his life. He saw the power of God on display in countless lives—including his own. As a Missionary Associate, Andrew is beginning to see the raw labor, diligence, strategy, persistence, and prayerfulness that's required to propel this ministry forward to our college campus and—sincerely—to the ends of the earth. In short, he feels that God has laid a foundation in him on which to build His Church. As an intern, Andrew wants to explore the depth and height to which He will use him to reproduce the very same foundation in others, and ultimately to partner in the expansion of His kingdom.

Volunteer Staff

gabe richner
The story of Gabriel's undergraduate degree would be incomplete if told without mentioning Chi Alpha. From non-committal freshman, to mission trip leader, and many things in between, XA has provided him incredible teaching in both spiritual matters and practical skills. Many of the things he's seen God clearly moving in over the last four years have been closely related to Chi Alpha activities and commitments. Serving as a student leader for three years was his honor and pleasure, and he's very excited to be continuing his involvement in XA as a volunteer staff member. Gabriel's not sure yet what God has planned for the year ahead, but He does know this: we serve a God who excels at executing marvelous plans--and he feels blessed to be part of that.

justin jinks
Chi Alpha was such a huge part of Justin's life when he was a student. The community and friends he had helped him get through some very difficult times in his life. Chi Alpha has developed in Justin a passion for missions and a much deeper love for people. Justin knows the importance of being a part of a community of believers and the impact it can have on students' lives. That's why Justin volunteers at Chi Alpha.

jake blair
Jake grew up in Hurley, Missouri and played college baseball and worked a ranch in Colorado before returning close to home in Springfield to work with commercial aluminum and glass. He enjoys hunting, camping, cooking for friends and rooting for the St. Louis Cardinals. Jake's favorite place to be is behind the scenes. He loves the relational discipleship aspect of Chi Alpha and is glad to join the team this year.