“Our events are a safe place in the sense of being accepted whatever your background or failures, as well as being non-denominational, so men experience an openness that is really powerful!” – Doug Shaffer
Men have embraced the opportunity to mentor at-risk boys throughout Pittsburgh’s North Side neighborhoods through sports programs and other venues. Our leadership team is comprised of John Cullen, Brennan Gaertner, Tunch Ilkin, Bill Krahe, Doug McNelis, Doug Shaffer and Leo Wisniewski. We have developed a full calendar of events that provide opportunities for men to grow more deeply in their faith and love of Jesus Christ.
“The great food, funny stories, and the private rooms at terrific restaurants like Franco’s have helped to create an environment where men can relax and be guys.” –Mark Battaglia
All that we do is leavened with humor, because although we take God very seriously, we try not to take ourselves too seriously. Like Tunch and his Fighting Sycamores; whoever heard of a fighting tree? Men don’t often know how to go deeper. We provide guys options based on their comfort level. We tackle tough, faith and life issues in our Weekly Discipleship Study which is held on Tuesdays (7:00 am to 8:30 am) at the Amani Cafe on the North Side and we are always happy to have new brothers join us!
If you are interested in learning more about us check out our Upcoming Events schedule and join us. Our History piece is a good summary of our first year with a more detailed look at past events and responses from some of our brothers. Our Leadership Team is a fun group of brothers to learn more about who have been hanging together in Christ for a long time.
Our Leadership Team
Leo Wisniewski, Brennan Gaertner, Tunch Ilkin
Leo has been in full-time christian work for most of the last 23 years since he retired from the NFL- having done work in Christian Higher Education and in the inner city, both in Chicago and Washington, D.C. The focus of his work has been to challenge men to deepen their faith commitment through strengthening marriages and families, serving the poor and living out God’s Word in authentic community. Winning men to Christ and discipling them is the goal. Men have embraced the opportunity to mentor at-risk boys on the North Side through this program. Through monthly events we reach men with the life changing power of the gospel in brokenness and friendship. Additionally, Leo is reaching out through Meeting God in Missions by taking short-term mission teams of men to serve the poor in the Dominican Republic.
Leo has received a B.A. from Penn State (1983) and a Master of Arts in Religion degree from Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry (Biblical Studies concentration). He resides in Pittsburgh with Cindy, his wife of 27 years, and their two children Stefen and Sarah.
Brennan is currently serving as head Pastor at Ascension Lutheran Church (LCMS) in the North Hills. He is a member of the 1986 PSU national championship team. He received a Masters of Divinity from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis.
The White Fields Foundation (WFF) was formed through Brennan’s leadership in 2007 working with inner-city youth on the North Side of Pittsburgh. Its’ mission is focused on harvesting what God is doing in the city of Pittsburgh. A little league baseball program was launched and now over 70 boys are participating. Baseball instruction, life skills teaching and faith development are being provided by trained volunteer coaches. It has become a community hub where families are being drawn together. Significant growth is anticipated for the league in 2010. Brennan and his wife Dawn, with their seven children, live in the North Hills of Pittsburgh.
Born in Istanbul, Turkey, Tunch’s parents Mehmet and Ayten Ilkin, emigrated to the United States when he was two years old and settled in the Chicago area. In 1975, he was granted a football scholarship to Indiana State University. He was chosen by the Steelers in the sixth round of the 1980 NFL Draft
He played OT for the Steelers from 1980 to 1992, earning two Pro Bowl appearance honors (1988 and 1989). He served as Vice-President of the NFL Players Association from 1989 to 1994.
After retiring from football, Ilkin began appearing as a commentator and sports reporter on sports broadcasts in the Pittsburgh market. His popular segment, titled Lunch with Tunch, featured interviews with Steeler players and coaches. In 1998, he joined the official Steelers broadcasting team of Myron Cope and Bill Hillgrove as an analyst. After Cope’s retirement, the team decided not to replace Myron and Tunch took on the color commentary duties once carried by Cope. He worked alongside sideline reporter and former teammate Craig Wolfley, who like Tunch, joined the Steelers via the 1980 draft. Ilkin and Wolfley hosted a morning radio show for two years called In The Locker Room with Tunch and Wolf on WBGG AM.
Tunch works as an analyst on the Pittsburgh affiliate of Fox SportsNet and has written articles for NFLHS.com, a website for football fans. He currently resides in Upper St. Clair with his wife Sharon and three children, Tanner, Natalie and Clay. A convert from Islam to Christianity, Tunch is the Director of Men’s Ministries for South Hills Bible Chapel where he and his wife have been active members for 25 years.
Douglas E. Shaffer
Doug is Senior Managing Director of PNC Capital Markets LLC and is responsible for managing the debt capital markets products and services. This area includes loan syndications, secondary loan trading, agency/administrative services, corporate securities, private placements and fixed income origination.
Doug joined PNC in 1985 as a management trainee in the Corporate Bank’s Management Development Program. After spending two years in the Commercial Banking Division as a Corporate Banking Officer/Assistant Vice President, he joined PNC Merchant Bank as a Senior Associate in the Corporate Finance Department. In 1994, Doug was named Managing Director and head of the Loan Syndications Group and in 1995, was promoted to Senior Managing Director. Subsequently, he assumed the management of the Private Placement Group in 1998, Asset-Backed Securities from 2000 and Fixed Income Origination in 2001. With the announcement of the National City Acquisition, Doug also assumed the responsibilities of leading the combined Leasing and Equipment Finance businesses as well as National City’s Private Equity Sponsor Group.
Doug and his wife Sue have two children and currently reside in Pittsburgh. They are active members of their church, South Hills Bible Chapel. Doug holds a bachelors degree in Business Administration and a Masters in Finance from Waynesburg College where he attended on a football scholarship.
Douglas K. McNelis
Doug currently serves as the President for The Advisor Mortgage Group LLC and The Advisor Settlement Group LLC in Pittsburgh. Doug is a 1987 Graduate of the University of Chicago. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics. During his time there, Doug played varsity football and baseball.
Upon graduation from The University of Chicago, Doug worked for the first 12 years in the commercial banking arena for Comerica Bank and Dollar Bank. He managed several retail branches in Chicago, then in Pittsburgh and Cleveland. During his tenure with Dollar Bank, he was asked to join the private banking group.
After six years with Dollar Bank, Doug accepted a position with United Financial Technologies, Inc. in 1999. During his time with UFT Inc., he established a commercial brokerage division and developed local and national funding sources for loans up to $15 million. Since starting The Advisor Mortgage Group LLC in late 2002, Doug has built a strong reputation in the Pittsburgh market place for originating residential and commercial mortgages. In addition, he established The Advisor Settlement Group LLC to perform title and closing services.
Doug currently resides in the Ingomar area with his wife and two children. He and his family have been active members of their church, Allegheny Center Alliance, for the past 15 years. He enjoys golf and is a member of Sewickley Heights Golf Club.