Let's get to know each other... We'll go first.

Our Leadership Team

The staff here at Bee Creek UMC is comprised of men and women who love, care, and pray for every single person in the church. If you have any questions for any of our staff, feel free to reach out.

  • Laura Heikes  - Lead Pastor      

    Laura felt the call to ministry in college. It's been a wild ride: from working with migrant workers and learning how to preach in Spanish, to ministry in West Texas, then along the fast-growing I-35 Corridor, and now on the shores of Lake Travis.  Laura loves to look for what God is doing next. She's certain God isn't confined in the walls of the church, but is on the move in our communities...leaving signs of love for us if we just listen and look. 

    Laura is married to Kevin (an RN at Baylor Scott and White) and they have three kids. This family loves the outdoors, basketball, raising rabbits for 4H, and the beauty of the creeks and rivers in Central Texas. Laura's style fits well with who we are as a church: warm, friendly, and invitational. Laura is passionate about preaching and teaching in ways that help us apply God's word to our lives. 

  • Tiffany Hollums - Pastor of Student Ministries     

    Tiffany, her husband, DG, and their sweet daughter, Gracie, feel so blessed to be here as part of the Bee Creek UMC family! Tiffany grew up in Lovington, New Mexico and graduated from Angelo State University with a degree in music education. She is an ordained Deacon in the UMC and her husband, DG, is an ordained Elder. She has been in youth ministry for 22 years (yes, she began at age 5!) and has served in diverse United Methodist churches from Los Alamos, NM to Lexington, Ky. She also has been the Executive director of an urban mission located in a government housing project and worked as a treatment foster care case manager. Tiffany loves kids and teenagers! She finds great joy in watching kids and teens discover and grow in their faith and is always thinking of creative and fun ways to help them experience and understand the amazing love of Christ! Tiffany has a passion for helping kids and youth realize their importance in God's work and has been blessed to journey with many young people as they grow to serve God and others. 

  • D.G. Hollums - Pastor of Community Life          

    D.G. Hollums was born and raised in west Texas.   D.G. is an ordained United Methodist Elder who has a heart for those who are not in the church which is why D.G. works part time at Bee Creek UMC as the Pastor of Community LIfe and also has a 'real world' job part time at Apple.  D.G. feels passionately that the church has a dire need for Christians and even clergy to develop relationships beyond the church to offer community and is striving to 'live out' this belief in his own life. Before Bee Creek UMC, DG was the Minister of Online Engagement at Rethink Church with United Methodist communications in Nashville.  He has served as a senior pastor at a UMC church in the New Mexico Conference.  D.G. also has been a Church planter in Northern, KY and the Cincinnati, OH tristate area doing experimental church planting using communal Lectio Divina (a very 'old' way of reading scripture) in pubs and tea houses with people of all faiths. During this time, he started to develop a method and spiritual practice of Visio Divina:  a contemplative photography from the photographer’s point of view as well as those viewing the art. It has become his passion to help those with faith to empower them to become more sensitive to the "thin space” moments around them and receive them wholeheartedly. DG has experience in social media consulting and realizes the potential for social media to develop, encourage, and empower relationships. His wife, Tiffany, is also clergy in the United Methodist Church and they have a daughter, Gracie, whom they are both smitten with. DG is a geek, foodie, daddy, husband, self-described "extroverted contemplative cultural architect", and considers every person he meets to be someone he can’t wait to get to know.

  • Trent Smith - Lay Minister "No Walls" Worship

    Trent and his family have been members at Bee Creek UMC since 2011. He, along with his wife and children (Mia, Ella and Rowan) love their church and the friends they've made during their time here. Trent is a Customer Experience Leader at a large national bank  and in his spare time has been a volunteer youth leader at Bee Creek UMC. Trent is currently leading our offsite, non-traditional, "No Walls" worship service.

  • Linnea Falk - Office Manager 

    Linnea is from West Texas and graduated from Texas State University in 1996 and got to Austin as quickly as she could. Linnea has an extensive background as an Executive Assistant in both the financial industry and event planning. She was a stay at home mom for 10 years to two beautiful children. She and her husband moved to Briarcliff in 2005. Linnea is a Stephen Minister, on the Hospital Visitation Team and volunteers with her children's school, her neighborhood, and is an active volunteer here at BCUMC. Linnea has been a member of our church for years and loves being a part of our Bee Creek UMC staff.

  • Brandi Young - Bee Loved Preschool Director

    Brandi grew up in Seabrook, Texas. She moved to Austin in 1991 to attend college and never left. Brandi graduated from The University of Texas with a Liberal Arts degree in Psychology. She received her Montessori Certification to teach children ages 2 to 6 years old in 2008. Brandi has worked as the preschool director for Bee Loved for seven years. Brandi and her husband Paul own Fricano's Deli in Austin. She's also the proud mother of two wonderful high school boys.

  • Polo Belaj - Campus Custodian 

    Polo and his wife moved to the US in 2013 from Albania. This was the first time Polo has ever moved. In fact, he was born and raised a family in the same house. Polo has two boys living in Marble Falls and Horseshoe Bay, and one 2-yr old granddaughter that he loves to spoil. Polo has worked as a housekeeper at the Horseshoe Bay Resort and Walmart. He is shy and soft-spoken. Polo loves chess, European soccer, and world events. He is very happy that Bee Creek UMC asked him to become part of the staff.

  • Karen Hoffman - Financial Specialist

    Karen brings over 25 years of experience in banking to work at Bee Creek. She and her husband, Gary, own the Paleface Feed and Garden Supply store which keeps her busy when she's not working at the church. Karen and Gary have one son, Jason, who  lives in the Austin area. Karen's knowledge and experience are an asset for BCUMC and we are happy to have her on the team. 

  • Tom Ruiz - Maintenance Technician

    Tom is a native Texan, originally from San Antonio, where he lived before joining the US Army. He served for 20 years, alternating assignments between Combat Arms and Government Contracting. After his military service, he worked for AT&T as a Marketing Manager before settling into a second career in education as both a college instructor and school district administrator (Director of Purchasing). Tom holds a BS and an MA in Counseling Psychology as well as an MBA in Business/Marketing. Tom and his wife Dawn have five children and two grandchildren. Upon relocating to Central Texas, they fell in love with the Hill Country and built a home here. They enjoy being a part of a new community and are active in various church and neighborhood groups. In his free time, Tom enjoys golf, cooking, and volunteering.

  • Laura Slinkard - Administrative Assistant

    Laura has an extensive background in administrative and front office work. She’s been married to her husband Phil, a corporate attorney, for over 30 years. Laura has three beautiful grown children, one set of boy/girl twins and another son, Adam, who is now with our Lord in Heaven. Laura’s “go-getter” attitude and sweet smile are a perfect fit at Bee Creek! 

  • Lydia Sims - Children's Ministry Assistant

    Lydia is a 5th generation Texan.  She graduated with her Master’s Degree in Youth Development from Texas A&M University.  She likes to say that she has “never had a job that wasn’t centered around children”.  Lydia has worked with children and youth in the out of school time space since 1998, from summer camps and high ropes courses to inner city youth and prevention programs, she has seen it all.  Lydia is blessed to be a member of Bee Creek along with her husband, Miles, and their four children.  Lydia loves sharing her faith with the children of Bee Creek in innovative and unusual ways through prayer, service, community, and learning.

  • Monica Mayo - Receptionist

    Monica is from Lamesa, Texas where many fond memories reside. From the iconic West Texas tumbleweeds and sandstorms to her childhood days at the First United Methodist Church.  Her work history spans from Travel consultant to administrative/front office work and as a pre-k Music teacher.  She feels fortunate and thankful to have grown up with a very musical family as her passion is music. She enjoys the piano and live music of many genres. She has 2 beautiful boys:   Jack age 22 and Henry age 24. They have been in Lakeway since 2008.

  • Candice Escobedo - RN, BSN, Wesley Nurse

    Candice and her husband, Gilbert, have two daughters, Gisele and Mila, and come to us from San Antonio. They are excited to be back “home” in Austin. Candice graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington with her BSN in 2011. Working in acute care and seeing all the obstacles people faced before entering the hospital drove Candice to want to do more. As a Wesley Nurse, she partners with our church to provide wholistic care for those on the margins. Candice is thrilled to be part of the Bee Creek Community and serve others in the Lords name.

  • Jim Echels - Music Coordinator

    Jim delights in his role at Bee Creek UMC as Music Coordinator and Generally Loud Person. Prior to working as a worship guy, he worked in the non-profit sector crunching all kinds of numbers, proving that God often has plans for us other than our own. Jim came to worship leading in a roundabout way, beginning by playing whatever instrument was around, the louder the better. Eventually churches asked him to sing more so that their services would be a little quieter. He prefers acoustic drums, analog keyboards, lefty guitars, and as few computers being involved in the musical process as possible. He also prefers his beverages, whether they are coffee, tea or water, to be served in large enough containers to be affected by lunar tidal patterns. Sometimes he enjoys speaking about himself in the third person, which is the only way in which he is similar to an NFL caliber wide receiver. Jim and Beth (his extraordinarily smart, beautiful and patient Aggie meteorologist wife) were married in 2001. He is currently in a friendly competition with his daughter Amelia (b. 2006) to see who can sing the loudest. He is losing. He is also trying to decide whether to teach his son Joshua (b. 2011) traditional or matched grip first. When he’s not leading worship or caring for his family, Jim can be found playing drums for numerous artists in the Austin music scene, including the Belle Sounds & Candace Bellamy.

  • Ron Reed - Gym Monitor

    Ron spent 20 years in the military serving the citizens of this great country. Ron currently works tirelessly serving the children of Texas as an employee of the Texas Office of the Attorney General’s Child Support Division. Ron also serves others outside of the workplace as a member of Bee Creek United Methodist Church (BCMUC). His years of public service coupled now with being a member of BCUMC and attending the Walk to Emmaus, helped him re-establish his priorities in life, with God first and foremost on that list. Today, he can truly say that becoming a servant of God has made serving others a little easier and a more worthwhile, lifelong endeavor.

    Ron has a master’s degree in Public Administration from Webster University and a Bachelor of Science degree from Midwestern State University (MSU), with a major in Criminal Justice and minor in Military Science. He also has an Associate Degree in Real Estate from Austin Community College. It is his pleasure to serve you.

  • Gustavo Bianchi - Pianist 

    Dr. Gustavo Bianchi has enjoyed a distinguished international career, having performed in halls across the US, South America, and Asia. His long list of honors and awards includes prizes at the Sidney Wright Piano Accompanying Competition (first prize, 2003), the prestigious Bartok and Kabalevsky International Piano Competition (first prize, 1998), and the Florida Young Chang Artist Competition (first prize, 1998) to name a few. He also received a Pre-emptive Fellowship to attend University of Texas at Austin.


    As a soloist and chamber musician, he has studied with and has been coached by renowned artists and pedagogues including Anton Nel, Menahem Pressler, José Feghali, Randall Hodgkinson, Leonard Mastrogiacomo, Sergei Schepkin, and Yara Bernette. In addition, his first piano teacher, Nadia Soledade, was a student of Alfred Cortot. Cortot studied at the Paris Convervatoire under Emile Descombes (a pupil of the famous composer, Frederic Chopin). He has studied piano pedagogy with Sophia Gilmson, Martha Hilley, Victoria McArthur, and Faina Bryanskaya.


    Dr. Bianchi was a teaching assistant at the University of Texas at Austin from 2003 to 2005. Upon graduation, he was hired as an adjunct faculty for the Butler school of Music in the capacity of collaborative pianist. Since then he has performed and taught masterclasses for several universities and cultural organizations in the USA, from California to Pennsylvania. He served as Vice president of the ADMTA from 2011 to 2014 and has been on the board of the Mika Hasler Young Artist Competition Foundation since its inception in 2012. In 2014, Dr. Bianchi performed several concerts and masterclasses in Beijing, Xi'an, and Hangzhou, China, and last year he was invited to be a faculty member of the Burgos International Music festival in Spain. 


    Dr. Bianchi earned his doctoral degree from the University of Texas at Austin and his master's and bachelor's degrees from Florida State University. He also attended the pre-college music program at the New England Conservatory, as well as the Longy School of Music in Boston. He currently works in Austin where he is a highly sought-out pianist, collaborative artist, and teacher. He is also the pianist at Bee Creek United Methodist Church since 2005.