Open Hand Founder & President
I founded Open Hand in 2002 as a ministry of New City Fellowship, a cross-cultural church. I became President in 2017. My purpose is to keep Open Hand focused on its vision and mission to be a faith-based non-profit which seeks to empower youth ages 14 to 19, their families and the community by providing needed resources to build skills and confidence so they can identify and pursue opportunities that inspire and create a vision for the future.
Open Hand started as a ministry of New City and became a separate non-profit in 2004. I believe our churches and communities should not be divided along racial and class lines. New City and Open Hand give youth and adults of diverse cultures, classes, and ethnicities the tools they need to prosper in their life and vocation, whether inside or outside the church.
I am on the Board because I have leadership gifts and know what it is like to live in a low-income, single-parent home needing someone to mentor and invest in me. I was raised in the city of Buffalo, NY needing someone to show me how to use my God-given gifts to the fullest for His glory. Unfortunately, no one has ever continually invested in my life like we seek to do at Open Hand. Therefore, I want to help in any way I can to give today’s youth and adults whatever life skills and mentorship they need to accomplish their life goals. I do what I do for the glory of God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
I’m excited to continue the development and nurturing of OHOF’s Mission & Vision, not only serving as the Board Secretary but also by continuing to mentor in the Gaining Respect and Determination (GRAD) Program.
I started my professional career hanging over the side of a Nuclear-powered aircraft carrier – painting. I quickly learned the value of hard work and goal-setting. By God’s grace, I was able to advance my career as an Intelligence Analyst for both the Navy and within the Department of Defense. I have several professional certifications in the Information Technology field as well as a Masters of Management w/concentration in Organizational Leadership. I am currently employed by Parsons Corporation as a Senior Systems Engineer supporting our Space & Geospatial business sector.
On a personal note, I have been married for 20+ years to my high-school sweetheart, Esther. We have been blessed to raise seven children and are members at New City Fellowship in Fredericksburg, VA. We spend our time going on spontaneous adventures, pretending to be foodies, volunteering with local Refugee and Foster Care organizations and coaching basketball with the Fredericksburg Victory Athletic Association (FVAA).
My life’s purpose is to reflect the faithfulness, mercy and justice of God in my community. Serving at OHOF is one mechanism to live out that purpose in seeking the welfare of the city that God has placed me in. I stand on the shoulders of those who came before me and those who invested in me – my parents, teachers, my wife & mentors.
On the OH Board since 2021, I am excited to be able to partner with other men and women who share a passion for developing young men and women and helping them to live out of their true identity.
I served as a Marine for 30 years, finishing my time on active service in 2017. I loved serving in an organization with high standards and on close knit teams that tackled tough problems. My primary specialty was logistics and the latter part of my career was focused on leader development and education, fields I continue to work in as a civilian.
The direction of my adult life was established in college where I was discipled by godly men and women associated with the Navigators who showed me by their example that the promises and principles of Scripture apply to every area of life without exception. It’s not easy being a disciple of Jesus, but I think it would be much harder (and less fun) to not be one.
My wife, Omega, and I have two grown children who live out of state. We have remained active in discipleship ministry and strive to keep learning new things. We are grateful to be part of a church, New City Fellowship, that has been devoted to racial reconciliation and Christ-centered community for over 25 years.
Open Hand Staff – GRAD Director
Felecia Cook is a mother of three adult children and grandmother to 14 grandchildren that she adores. She is a member of Shiloh Baptist Church Old Site in Fredericksburg VA and an ordained Minister of the Gospel. She is a native New Yorker and is a resident of Spotsylvania. She is a graduate of Virginia Union University, School of Theology, where she earned a Masters of Divinity Degree. She will return back to her studies in the fall and will continue working on her Doctorate Degree.
Felecia is passionate about helping others be all that God has created them to be! She has worked in Human Services for over 25 years working with Returning Citizens, Higher Risk Youth and adults, single parents, homeless and domestic violence and sexual abuse survivors. She loves to write, create and develop people and programs and services that enable others to be their best versions of self. She has the ability to speak truth to power and loves to coach others through the difficult conversations.
Felecia believes that we can all move beyond our hurts, challenges and needs to be all that we were created to be. Her ability to see positive potential in all things is what makes her so successful in coaching others. She often says that it is her honor to serve God in this way and help others. She is passionate about work force development, youth and seeing God’s transformative power change lives. She considers herself blessed that she can serve in this manner.
Two of her favorite scriptures is Luke 4:18-19, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” and Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!”
Felecia loves spending time with family, reading, writing and traveling and most of all just chillin whenever she can.