Drew Benton, Founder & Executive Director
Drew Benton has been a leader in the non-profit community since 2000. His career began in traditional ministry serving as a student pastor and college pastor. In 2003, he launched a speaking ministry called Refuge Ministries. Through Refuge Ministries, Drew traveled and spoke to thousands of teenagers and adults across the country and in Germany.
Drew then took a short time away from “traditional ministry leadership”, sensing he had some personal development that he needed to do first. It was during this time he learned the extreme importance of “living love.” Not just preaching and teaching love, but finding ways to tangibly show love to others.
In 2006, Drew met a man named Philip Bray, Executive Director of Safehouse Outreach. The two began a friendship that led to Drew volunteering at Safehouse. That volunteer position grew into a full time Director position with Safehouse Outreach in 2007. The next three years were spent serving and loving the homeless men and women of Atlanta. Drew’s life and career were transformed during his time serving at Safehouse. He was able to live love to people in need in very real and tangible ways. Where people were hungry, he could provide food. Where people were thirsty, he could provide water, and so much more.
In 2009, Drew stepped away from Safehouse Outreach to found Project Live Love. An organization dedicated to influencing the culture with the concept of “love-in-action.”
Today, Drew Benton remains a leader in the non-profit community. His personal passion for showing love to others is lived out through his leadership as Executive Director at Project Live Love. Under his leadership, Project Live Love has developed many successful events and programs including THREE-OH-WE-GO, LIVE LOVE EVENTS, and GET SET. Through these events and programs Drew has activated over 8,000 individuals to show their love to others affecting the lives of over 25,000 people in need.
Drew loves sharing his story of learning to live love. He has developed several talks that center on encouraging others to live love. he delivers these messages wherever invited (Companies, Schools, Churches, Conferences, Etc.). Additionally, Drew has began speaking/ consulting with non-profit leaders about topics like volunteer management, board development, fundraising, marketing, communications, and more.
Michael Tharp, Operations Director
After being introduced to Project Live Love through a deep friendship with Founder, Drew Benton, Michael began his service by volunteering and project leading. Michael’s participation in events and projects quickly increased over time which led to his current role as LIVE LOVE EVENTS Team Leader and his election to the Board of Directors in early 2014.
Michael grew up Daytona Beach, FL. He attended college there until he and his family moved to Atlanta in 1996. Here he continued his education at Kennessaw State University. Currently, Michael is employed as a General Manager for Kohl’s Department Store. He runs a $20 million building with a staff of 100+ associates. He also serves as the Regional Operations Captain and helps drive sales through technology to over 70 other stores. Additionally, Michael has three amazing children.
Michael strongly believes in the mission statement that Project Live Love was founded on… to influence culture through love in action by engaging, networking and mobilizing people who are motivated by love. The impact of this organization’s efforts and contributions has had a very profound effect on Michael, and he is looking forward to many more years of commitment and dedication.
C.J. Wilkes, Chairman
C.J. was first introduced to Project Live Love on a cold night in 2010 for the first official THREE-OH-WE-GO Night. A month later he participated in his first LIVE LOVE EVENT. Since that time he has been a Volunteer, a LIVE LOVE EVENT Team Leader, a THREE-OH-WE-GO Night Leader and Board Member. Currently, he is serving his first term as Project Live Love’s Executive Board Chairman.
C.J. is a proud graduate of the Walker College of Business at Appalachian State University where he holds a BSBA of both Marketing and Entrepreneurship Management. He was one of two MTP graduates in 2010 for The Sherwin Williams Company, Product Finishes Division and served two and half years in membership management and marketing at Golden Key International Honor Society. Currently, he is working in business development for BRUSH, East Ponce and UpKeep Residential Services based in Atlanta, Ga.
C.J. believes in the message, people, events, and programs of Project Live Love. He is the 2014 recipient of the “Do Love Award” and a monthly financial contributor to the mission of influencing culture through love in action.
Lauren Brubaker began working with Project Live Love at a volunteer event in 2012, feeling the immediate and unique impact this organization has on volunteers and the community. Since that day, she has served as an Event Volunteer, a Get Set Mentor, as part of the marketing strategy committee, and on the Board of Directors.
Lauren is an expert in the marketing technology industry, working at tech startups that were successfully acquired by IBM and Dun & Bradstreet for more than $400M in acquisition deals. Today, she is Vice President at WorldClaim, a global insurance firm headquartered in Atlanta. She is a graduate of Georgia State University’s Robinson College of Business and also volunteers with military veteran associations across the U.S.
Since that first event in 2012, she has remained passionate about the Project Live Love mission and is excited to see its influence spread throughout Atlanta, the Southeast, and beyond.
R.J. LoPresti, Board Member
RJ was first introduced to Project Live Love through a friend who is involved with leadership for the Live Love Events. After meeting Drew (the Project Live Love founder) and C.J. (the chairman of the board) RJ quickly realized that this organization would be an excellent way to give back to the community and make an impact through love-in-action!
RJ is a graduate from the Cameron School of Business at the University of North Carolina in Wilmington. He moved to the Atlanta area in 2009 to start a business, and he and his wife are happy to call Georgia their home! RJ is a successful business owner in the Martial Arts and Fitness industry. He owns and helps operate multiple locations in the greater Atlanta area. Through his experiences of taking as well as teaching Martial Arts, RJ has been able to gain experience working with people from around the world, and has gained skills that not only help him in the realm of Martial Arts, but aid in the ability to connect and work with people, directly making an impact in their communities. He started with Choe’s HapKiDo as a child, and being in Martial Arts instilled the drive to help others, and always give back to his community. RJ feels this is one of the reasons that charity work calls to him.
Since starting with Project Live Love RJ has fallen in love with the vision of the organization, the founder, the other members of the board, and all the amazing people who make what we do possible. Through seeing the impact that a few dedicated people who put love into action can have, RJ has been inspired to do great things with Project Live Love and looks forward to many amazing years of Living Love!!
David Stewart, Board Member
David was first introduced to Project Live Love on a cold night in 2013 with a THREE-OH-WE-GO Night. That first season with THREE-OH-WE-GO! David went out most nights and got hooked. A few month later he participated in his first LIVE LOVE EVENT. Since that time he has been a Volunteer, a LIVE LOVE EVENT Team Leader, a THREE-OH-WE-GO Night Leader and Board Member. Currently, he is serving his first term as a Project Live Love Board Member
David is a proud graduate of American Intercontinental University On-Line where he graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BIT, Bachelors of information Technology. David moved to the Atlanta area in 2013 and has been active in volunteering with animals, children, and Project Live Love. David has worked with Fortune 100/500 companies for the past 20 years in Windows Infrastructure in both NE Ohio and here in Atlanta. David also supports a few small companies with computer activities in exchange for them supporting Project live love.
David believes in the mission of influencing culture through love in action with their message, people, events, and programs.
Michele Tharp, Board Member
An energetic New Yorker, Michele was raised in a home with seven others in the scenic Hudson Valley. At the young age of 20, Michele left NY on a whim and drove south with $150 to her name and a snow storm in her rear view mirror. Michele’s study of Information Technology and work experience in labor markets jump started her career in corporate workspace design. Through her studies, tenacity and mentors, Michele has thrived in her profession as an Interiors Management professional at Turner for more than 17 years. She is passionate about her job and the impact it has on the employees. Michele believes that transforming a drab workspace into an inspiring, creative and comfortable place increases productivity, lifts workplace moral and attracts new talent.
From a young age Michele learned the importance of kindness and that small acts of generosity can have a big impact in her home and community. Michele’s history of civic service includes volunteering with The Nicholas House, Covenant House, The Furniture Bank of Metro Atlanta, YMCA, Stop Hunger Now and local public schools. Michele was introduced to Project Live Love in 2014 when she met Michael Tharp, Director of Operations at Project Live Love. Friendship blossomed into something grander and in 2016 Michele and Michael were married. They created their own modern day Brady Bunch family with six kids and an adorable grandson. In addition to spending time with her family she enjoys travel, skydiving and coaching youth soccer.
Starting out as a volunteer at her first Live Love event Michele could see the positive impact PLL was having on the homeless community in Atlanta as well as the impact on volunteers connecting with each other. She is an Events Team Leader, Get Set program contributor, assists with annual Silent Auction, monthly financial contributor and proud Board Member of Project Live Love. Michele believes in spreading the Live Love message and growing our Project Live Love community through all of these and future programs.
Katharine Williams, Board Member
Katharine Williams serves as Director of Marketing for GoldSpring, an independent travel management consultancy company.
After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wake Forest University in 2009, Katharine began her career in the sports marketing department at Auburn University. She subsequently held positions with the Atlanta Falcons and Pepperdine University, where she served as Director of Marketing for Athletics.
In 2013, Katharine returned to Wake Forest where she graduated with her MBA in 2015. She joined GoldSpring in June 2015. Katharine oversees the marketing and promotions efforts for GoldSpring, and is responsible for corporate communications including press releases, publications, newsletters, sales materials, and digital media. She also supports hotel and airline sourcing projects, as well as survey analysis, support, reporting and client interfacing.
Kris Redding, Board Member
A long time friend of Kel Long, Project Live Love’s THREE-OH-WE-GO Project Co-Founder, Kris’ introduction to the organization was initiated through participation in one the Project’s “GO Nights.”
Kris identifies with the vision and goals of the organization because of his fervent belief in the redemptive value of humility, altruistic love, and service. Having learned an earnest and genuine love for all mankind, he is zealous for the active pursuit and acquisition of the prosperity and well-being of people.
Mr. Redding is a medical, office and industrial commercial real estate broker with Atlanta based Ackerman & Co. He is an Atlanta native, NFL retiree, and alumnus of Wake Forest University and Whitefield Academy (Mableton, GA). He resides and works in Atlanta’s Aerotropolis region, serving the real estate initiatives of various companies, developers and office/industrial property owners as they coincide with the Aerotropolis Alliance and Community Improvement Districts (CID). He Is the youngest of three children and the son of Pastor Kinney Redding and Mrs. Cynthia Redding.