A high-quality publication that brings good news, hope, and positive direction to the Texas Panhandle.
Mary Kay Kuhrts
Mary Kay Kuhrts dreamed of publishing a Christian news magazine in 1988 during a successful career in printing sales for a publishing house in Fort Worth. Born and raised in Borger, Texas, Mary Kay gained her experience in graphic design, marketing, and public relations over the next ten years after moving to Amarillo in 1990.
Her dream finally came to fruition when, two weeks after her baptism at Covenant of Joy Christian Church, she received a call from the editor of The Canyon News, Brad Tooley, who recruited her to provide expertise in selling advertising. She pitched the concept of publishing The Upbeat Reporter, and Brad welcomed the idea. The first issue of The Upbeat Reporter was launched from the office of The Canyon News in November of 1999 and was an immediate hit with 14,000 printed and distributed in Amarillo and Canyon. The good news publication brought joy to her life and others and was a very positive and rewarding experience.
Since that time, Mary Kay worked for nonprofit organizations such as Family Support Services, AMHC Agape’ Center, Faith City Mission, and Martha’s Home, where she spent 8 wonderful years marketing and fundraising. Since her tenure at Martha’s Home, Mary Kay held marketing positions with good local companies, but began dreaming once again of publishing The Upbeat Reporter, sharing uplifting stories of hope, excitement and blessings, and highlighting nonprofit organizations and local heroes in The Texas Panhandle. God certainly opened many doors, and now the re-launch of The Upbeat Reporter is a reality!
Jessie Gunn is a Realtor, business development director, and owner of a local marketing business. A strong believer in the power of God’s work, she believes in advocating for those who can’t and sharing inspiring testimonies to encourage others. Jessie specializes in marketing for the medical community and has over 25 years of experience in the industry. She has been a freelance writer since 2009 and is working on a Christian women’s series she hopes to publish soon.
Jessie was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico and has family in both New Mexico and California. She considers herself a West Texas native having lived here since elementary school. She has worked with hundreds of non-profits and served as both committee member and board member of many of them. Jessie is passionate about serving in the community and helping people with mental health disorders, women’s’ health and mentoring the future generations.
She is currently a member of the Amarillo and Canyon Leadership group and Amarillo Association of Realtors. Jessie loves to write, paint, design, and educate others in all areas of real estate and marketing. She has a son who is a senior attending Midway in Canyon and a daughter who lives in Houston who is
in leadership management training for Pappasitos Restaurants. Her favorite things to do is be with family and friends as much as she can.
As a lover of the written word, Angela Cowan studied and earned a BA in English at Loyola University- Chicago. Angela felt called to make an impact in the lives of others and chose to pursue further education in Social Work. In 2013, she graduated from the University of Kansas with her MSW. She has combined her callings and now works to share the stories of individuals and organizations making a difference in the Texas Panhandle. Angela lives in Amarillo with her husband.
My name is Ashlyn Grotegut and I have been a writer from the time I was a small child. I grew up in the small town of Clarendon and wrote for The Clarendon Enterprise in Jr. High and throughout High School. After graduation, I was hired as a freshman to write for the Texas Tech University newspaper, The Daily Toreador. I graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts in Electronic Media and Communications. I worked as a reporter for the local NBC affiliate in Lubbock, KCBD NewsChannel 11, for three years. Then I got a job as a videographer and copywriter for Primitive Social, a marketing agency. After I got married in 2018, I moved back to my small town roots and live in a home my husband built (along with an energetic chocolate lab and a moody cat). I am working on publishing a few books and run a passion project called Be The Light. Follow along for feel-good stories and daily inspiration at @btl_livebright.
In both her writings of fiction and nonfiction, Tammi Scoggin seeks to draw others into a greater desire to know Jesus Christ and to study the Bible. Having lived in the Texas Panhandle for more than thirty-five years, she has taught English to secondary students in the area, served in prison ministry, and hiked the trails of Palo Duro Canyon numerous times with her husband, Guy. Aside from her love of writing, she loves her husband, her five children, and their spouses, her five grandchildren (and the one on the way), her church family, and she fervently loves her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Sabrina Meck Perez
Sabrina Meck Perez was born in Delaware, but the Texas Panhandle is her home. After growing up in the Amarillo area since the age of 7, Sabrina attended West Texas A&M University for her bachelor’s in Mass Communication with a minor in Spanish. She recently completed her Master’s in Business Administration and currently works for the Amarillo Economic Development Corporation as the Director of Workforce Attraction & Retention.
Sabrina has always been a big fan of Jesus and has had the privilege to lead worship at a local church for the past few years. She recently married the most wonderful and handsome man, Chris Perez. Sabrina has had experience with writing for marketing campaigns, graphic design, and video production. She loves the aspect of storytelling especially when God shows up in the middle. Sabrina also serves on the board of directors for The Hope & Healing Place and is a Zumba instructor. Her passion is to help young people find who they were created to be in Christ. And cats. She also loves cats.
Mike Haynes taught journalism and advertising at Amarillo College for 25 years while serving as adviser of The Ranger newspaper and AC Current magazine. He retired from AC in 2016.
He received a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in mass communications, both from Texas Tech University.
He has written a column in the Faith section of the Amarillo Globe-News since 1997 as well as doing other freelance writing and editing. Since 2011, he has been co-publisher of the annual Panhandle-Plains Basketball magazine.
He was inducted into the Texas Community College Hall of Honor in 2018 and into the Panhandle Press Association Hall of Fame in 2009. He was Adviser of the Year for the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association in 2002 and won the national College Media Advisers Honor Roll Award in 1986 while serving as adviser of The University Daily newspaper and La Ventana yearbook at Texas Tech University.
In 2000, he placed third in the Amy Writing Awards, a national competition for Christian writing.
Haynes has worked at several newspapers, including the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal and the Amarillo Globe-News, and was publisher of The McLean News.
He has been president of the Panhandle Press Association and the Texas Community College Journalism Association and an officer in the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association. As TCCJA president, he initiated the Texas Community College Journalist of the Year award in 2005, when Amarillo College hosted the TCCJA convention.
Haynes and his wife, Kathy, attend Hillside Christian Church in Amarillo.
Jason Hudson is a native of Amarillo and graduate of West Texas A&M University. He spent over a decade serving in Christian ministry where he was blessed to work with many godly mentors who inspired him to live an authentic Christian life, even in times of doubt. He used his musical gifts to lead worship for youth camps and conferences in Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, and Oklahoma. He recorded two praise and worship albums and looks back on his years as a worship leader and minister of the Gospel with humble gratitude.
Jason and his wife, Mo, are both Financial Advisors, and the proud parents of their daughter, Ellie. They also have four grown sons, Skyler, Taylor, Kaii, and Brennan, and three grandchildren, Gunner, Oliver, and Remi. Jason serves on the board of Mission Amarillo, a non-profit group who mentors young people and teaches basic life skills (those many of us take for granted) that will impact them for the rest of their lives.
In addition to his gratifying non-profit work and rewarding career, Jason resides as President of his business networking group, BNI Panhandle Powerhouse. He enjoys reading, spending time with his family, and when he’s not feeling lazy, he practices yoga and messes around on his guitar.
Jason earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and is currently writing a historical novel on the life of Abraham and Sarah, the spiritual parents of many faiths. He is inspired by the thread running throughout the Old Testament that points ultimately to Jesus Christ who (spoiler alert) turned the tables on mass mayhem through an audacious death match against the Satan, offering a way for all humanity to find peace with God and their ultimate purpose in life– to enjoy and glorify the Heavenly Father through their unique giftedness.
Dr. Rik Wadge
Dr. Wadge served as a pastor for over twenty years. His interest in uncovering the original message of the New Testament within first-century Judaism, led him into post-graduate studies in Rabbinic Judaism. He earned his Doctorate in Theology and his Ph.D. in Clinical Counseling, and has spent over three decades studying the cultural and linguistic background to the Bible. Rik hosted the TV series “Digging the Truth” on the GLC network and is currently the Executive Director at the Israel TV Network and is the writer of the TV and commentary series, “Discovering the Jewish Roots.”