Mary Ellen Mitchell
Co-Director
Mary Ellen Mitchell is a co- founder of Lydia’s House. As a collegiate volunteer, she became interested in the root causes of homelessness at the Open Door Community in Atlanta. Shortly after her graduation from Emory University, she moved back to Cincinnati, her home, and became an on-sight volunteer at Grace Place, a provider of transitional housing for women and children. Professional development continued for her in Washington, DC where she worked for Jubilee Housing, a nonprofit provider of housing and supportive services. She returned to Cincinnati in 2006 and went on to hone skills in fundraising and development and complete her MA at Xavier University. Mary Ellen has been married to Ben for ten years, is a member of Bellarmine Chapel and is the mother of three young children. She lives in Norwood where she's helped renovate 5 houses, once led an effort to revitalize a neighborhood park, and sometimes preaches at Vineyard Central Church.
Meridith Owensby
Co-Director
Meridith is a co-founder of Lydia's House. She has a decade-long history in transitional and low-income housing provision. She became interested in the root causes of homelessness as s collegiate volunteer at the Open Door Community, a homeless service provider in Atlanta, Georgia. Meridith continued her work with the Open Door after graduation, becoming a live-in resident and the Volunteer Coordinator for the ministry. Professional development continued in Washington, DC. Meridith worked as a Social Services Manager at Miriam’s House, a home for homeless women with HIV. She brings many gifts and talents to Lydia's House, including case management and guest support, liturgy and celebration, and operations and finance prowess. She enjoys yoga and the arts, and is a member of the Winton Community Free Methodist Church.
Laura Menze
Resident Services Director & Occupational Therapist
Laura graduated with a Masters of Occupational Therapy from University of Indianapolis in 2009. Before practicing occupational therapy at Lydia’s House, she served individuals with serious mental illness involved in the criminal justice system with a focus on developing life skills and promoting mental health. She volunteered with Lydia's House from the beginning assisting with accounting and mental health consulting. She joined the Lydia's House staff in 2017 and now provides occupational therapy services to current and former Lydia's House guests, including at Virginia Coffey Place, an 8-unit permanent supportive housing building for former Lydia’s House guests. In addition, she coordinates intake of new guests, completes accounting, and tracks outcomes. She lives several blocks from Lydia's House and worships at Christ the Savior Holy Spirit Orthodox Church in Norwood.
Honna Brown
Volunteer Coordinator
Honna originally moved to Ohio to participate in an urban farming work study down the street from Lydia's house and got to know the community through working in a garden in the side yard. She studied theatre and speech at Northwestern College in Iowa, where she fell in love with applied theatre and how play and story-sharing intersect with communicating and educating about sociopolitical issues. Along with that, she has a deep love of the outdoors and spent many summer seasons facilitating youth wilderness and adventure educational experiences in northern Minnesota. She can often be found laughing with others, dancing, playing the violin, practicing yoga, or baking bread.
Helen Zoller
Maternal and Postpartum Care Advocate
Helen was born and raised in Cleveland and has spent the last decade developing her talents as a visual artist in the LA area. As she’s grown more in touch with her creativity, she’s realized her deep adoration for the beauty of life and epic transformation that takes place every time a child is born onto this planet. This led her to become a certified doula so that she can support women and their families as they embark on this new journey. Helen is passionate about ensuring that each and every family has the love and guidance they need to grow in wholeness and reach their goals.
Bethany Kurtz
Housing and Family Advocate

Bethany grew up in the Bruderhof intentional community in both New York and Pennsylvania.  Following high school, she spent a year and a half working as a media coordinator at Camp Deerpark which served underprivileged children from New York City during the summer and retreat guests year round. From there she went on to spend a year in Manilla, Philippines working in an orphanage for abused and neglected children. She enjoys socializing, sports, and occasionally pulls out the colored pencils to draw. She is hoping to pursue a career in nursing.