Our Team

Brett and Merari Swayn

Executive Directors

Brett Swayn was born in Perth, Western Australia. He came to the U.S. in 1991, settling in Austin, Texas, to pursue a promising music career. His search for God began in earnest many years later, and he understood he was called to go to Nashville.  March 19, 2002, he left the life in Texas for the call in Tennessee.

What wasn’t foreseen was that Brett was to spend the next four months living on the streets of Nashville, experiencing the heartache, alienation and desperation of homelessness. He calls this period “the hardest, most beautiful time of my life,” because he experienced a closer walk with God and came to understand the sufferings of a marginalized people of America.

Through a series of what he calls “miracles,” he was offered a job at Fleming’s restaurant, where he worked his way to sous chef and traveled around the country training others in culinary arts. At the same time, he felt called to address the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the homeless community. Over time he felt drawn to a life of simplicity.

He left his position at Fleming’s, deciding to devote his life to those in need. Brett’s dream of opening The Cookery finally materialized in 2013. In addition to serving coffee, breakfast, lunch, dinner and catering, it is also a training facility. Here Brett and associates will instill culinary crafts to select homeless individuals in order to prepare them for employment in the food industry. “Through all of this, God has taught us perseverance, resilience, patience and trust,” Brett says.

Merari Joy Swayn was born in Puerto Rico and grew up in the States. She serves as the Business Administrator for both Lambscroft Ministries and The Cookery. She grew up in a ministry family and graduated from LIFE School of Ministry with a certificate in Pastoral Care and Biblical Counseling and Harvest School of Missions in Mozambique. In the past, she served as a youth pastor for a local Nashville church and spent both short and long term time in the mission field. She is passionate about seeing lives restored. She loves to travel; try new foods, dance and loves her dog Aslan.

Brett and Merari Joy live in Nashville with their beautiful daughter. Together with others, they help manage Lambscroft Ministries and all of its programs.

Danae Felsch

HR and Front of House Manager

Danae has a Bachelor’s Degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management as well as her Masters of Human Resources. She came to The Cookery in October 2014 with 5+ years of restaurant management and HR experience. Danae is originally from the Gold Coast in Australia. She now lives in Nashville. She has a passion for books and for her niece and nephews: Lucy, Caden and Reilly. 

Scott Drumm

Kitchen Manager

Scott has been with Lambscroft Ministries since 2011. He volunteered at our homeless shelter before going through culinary training at The Cookery. He is currently on staff as one of two kitchen managers on our team. Scott loves to read, go fishing and spend quiet days at home.

Joanna Richt

Front of House Team Lead

While studying Social Entrepreneurship and Spanish at Belmont University, Joanna worked part-time at The Cookery as a server/barista. After graduating in 2017, she spent 2.5 years working at Habitat for Humanity in Miami, Florida. With 6+ years of experience with various nonprofits and social ventures, Joanna and her husband David moved back to Nashville in March of 2020, where she returned to The Cookery as a Team Lead. 

Terry Kemper, In Remembrance

After a turbulent life growing up, Terry came to Nashville in 1988 with four children and no job.  “I always believed there was a God,” Kemper says, “but I just never thought he was there for me.” Because of a small inheritance, she was able to start her own alterations shop, which later evolved into a successful restaurant and catering business.

Terry met Brett in 2008, and they quickly became friends because of their mutual calling to serve God and help the underprivileged. Terry opened up her home in Hendersonville to the homeless and eventually helped Brett and others create what is now Lambscroft Ministries. Terry was diagnosed with cancer in 2011. The disease forced her to sell her business. Terry shared the dream of seeing The Cookery succeed in Nashville, not only as an eatery and catering enterprise but also as a training ground to restore the lives of homeless men and women.

After a two and half year battle with Pancreatic Cancer, Terry finally came into rest on a rainy March 02, 2014. Her 4 children, 14 grandchildren, survive Terry, as well as her loving sister and her Lambscroft and The Cookery family and friends.

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Lambscroft Board Members

Lambscroft Ministries and The Cookery are board-governed. The Cookery is a subsidiary of Lambscroft Ministries.

We are currently looking for new board members. Those interested should have a passion for helping the marginalized, homeless and incarcerated gain a new sense of purpose and direction for their life. Contact merari@lambscroft.org for more information.

Current Board Members

Tim K. Garrett (Board President)

Ray DeVries (Vice Chair)

Linda Tozer (Board Secretary)

Marsha Crowder

Randy Gannon

Stuart Beaton

Mark Peterson

Jim Robinson

615.269.2911

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Note: Governing documents, financial statements and Form 990 available upon request. Contact us here .

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