The Team

Jo Ellis

Founder & Executive Director

Jo graduated from Harding University with a degree in Interior Design. Not knowing what she wanted to do with the rest of her life, she continued her education and received an MBA in International Business. Still unsure of her forever-purpose, Jo tucked her degrees away and started collecting random work experience instead. She has been a barista at Starbucks, an apparel manager for an outdoor outfitter, a swim coach, and a Les Mills BodyPump instructor. In 2010, she added “missionary” to the list when she joined a team bound for Ireland. During her three years in Dublin, Jo participated in house church and Bible study, worked at a summer youth camp, and attended the Irish Bible Institute, where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Theology. She also had several opportunities to begin sharing her creativity with others. Whether it was leading crafts with teen girls, teaching sewing to a group of women affected by prostitution, or hosting craft-days for local churches, Jo witnessed the positive impact creative activity was having on these women and the vision for Make.Do. was born. For the first time ever, Jo’s seemingly unconnected education and work experience began to meld into a single purpose: the development of a craft-based ministry.

Contact Jo at jo@makedocreate.org.

Madison Hale

Kids' Program Director

Madison’s first dream was to become a pop singer. After discovering that this required some singing talent as well as the charisma to rock a stage costume, she followed her second dream and became a teacher. Madison graduated from Harding University with a teaching degree and began working as a substitute teacher. She enjoys getting to know students in new classrooms each day.

Madison has been sewing for 15 years. She began with hand sewing and now designs and creates clothing and costumes. She has a special place in her heart for vintage dresses. Madison believes that each person has a creative spark and that it mirrors the essence of the Creator. She strives to encourage others to uncover that spark and let it shine.

Contact Madision at madison@makedocreate.org.

Board of Directors

Casey McLeod | Board Chair

Casey McLeod is co-owner and pharmacist at Medical Center Pharmacy in Searcy. Casey completed her doctor of pharmacy degree at the University of Arkansas for the Medical Sciences in 2001 and has since worked as a pharmacist in the Searcy community. Working in a community pharmacy provides Casey the opportunity to express her love for others and the desire for each person to feel important in the eyes of the Father. Casey and her husband Todd have 3 children, Cooper, Avery, and Lindy.

Casey believes that, being made in the image of Creator God, each individual is a creative being. Expressing that creativity is an integral part of connection with God and others. God speaks to us through the beauty He has created on the earth AND through the beauty that is created by our hands. Although creativity has always had its place in Casey’s life, it was not until her thirties that she discovered her talent in painting. Since that time, she has created multiple pieces and now manages Searcy’s Art Alley. Much of her motivation in growing as an artist is seeing God’s hand in her own creative process and sharing creativity in community.

Jes Mason | Board Member

Jes Mason is a Family Nurse Practitioner with a heart and passion for pediatrics. After graduating from Harding in 2008 she moved to Texas to start her nursing career in the emergency department at Children’s Medical Center of Dallas. She completed her Masters of Science in Nursing Education in 2013 and her nurse practitioner certification in 2019.

Jes is building her practice to nurture full and joyful lives through healthy bodies, minds and hearts. Like the mission of Make.Do, Jes believes genuine compassion and connection is the cornerstone for unleashing each child’s full potential.

She is married to Rob Mason, and now lives in East Texas. Jes’ creativity can best be explained in two words… glitter explosion.

And yes, she is Jo’s sister. Jes might not have the same grey-hair-game, but they sound exactly alike, so don’t be confused.

Kristi Thurmon | Board Member

Kristi was raised in Searcy. She married her high school sweetheart, Bryan Thurmon, while attending the University of Central Arkansas. After graduating in 1997 and obtaining her MBA from Harding University, Kristi and Bryan moved to Florida for four years. They returned to Searcy to raise their son, Drew, and to be closer to family. Kristi has been in banking marketing for 21 years and is the vice president of marketing at First Security Bank. Her love of Arkansas and traveling has fueled her passion for OnlyinArk.com, where bloggers share all the great things to love about the Natural State.

Years before Kristi’s mother passed away, she asked Kristi to sew with her. Unfortunately, she was not interested at the time, and the opportunity was missed. An upcoming quilting class drew Kristi to Make.Do., where she learned to sew and how to heal from the loss of her mother. Quilts can feel like a massive project for beginners, but she persevered. The sense of accomplishment Kristi felt with her finished quilt, coupled with her new-found peace, drives Kristi to enthusiastically support the mission of Make.Do. for others seeking emotional healing through creativity.

Amy Cox | Board Member

Amy Cox is the director of the Interior Design program at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas. Prior to her 15 years of teaching, she worked in design, sales, and facilities management. She is married to Dwayne Cox and has two daughters, Maggie Lake who is married to Jackson Lake and Katie Cox.

Having spent her career in a creative profession she believes strongly in the transformative power of the creative process in society and in individuals’ lives. Recognizing God as a creative being who values beauty has always inspired her and she loves to share those values with others.