Christian Prison Ministries Board of Directors
Lori Costantino-Brown – President
Serving since 1977
Lori Costantino-Brown was appointed President and CEO of Bridges International in 2006, succeeding Bishop Frank Costantino, the organization’s founder and her father. Over the past 30 years, Ms. Costantino-Brown has played a key role in the transformation of Bridges International from a single contract with the Department of Corrections to becoming the leading provider of substance abuse treatment and community release programs in the state of Florida.
Ms. Costantino-Brown has earned her qualifications as a Certified Addiction Specialist, and Certified Associate Addictions Professional. She has personally reengineered the organization as Director of Quality Management, Chief Operations Officer, and Senior Vice President. The result is a new Bridges International – a company where offenders receive supervision, but also are expected to become better people as they prepare to re-enter society.
Through an international expansion, Ms. Costantino-Brown is also the President of Bridges of Canada, which was founded by an acquaintance of the late Bishop Costantino, Monty Lewis. In 2012, when Monty’s health began to fail, he reached out to Ms. Costantino-Brown to assume the presidency and continue to reach out to “the least, the lonely, and the lost” in and around Fredericton, New Brunswick.
As an advocate for both business and industries related to substance abuse and justice issues, Ms. Costantino-Brown serves on many high profile boards in Florida. Currently, she serves on the board of directors for the Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association (FADAA) and the Florida Chamber of Commerce. For Florida Tax Watch and Associated Industries of Florida, Ms. Costantino-Brown serves on the Executive Board and is a founding member of the Smart Justice committee, and on the Board of Directors and as a founding member of the Florida Smart Justice committee, respectively. Ms. Costantino-Brown is also the founding chairman of the Florida Smart Justice Alliance, the latest development in justice reform advocacy in Florida.
Healthy Start Coalition of Orange County Family Advocate Award Lori Costantino-Brown received the Healthy Start Coalition of Orange County Family Advocate Award in May 2016. It was given in recognition and appreciation of the care and support that Lori Costantino-Brown and Bridges International has always given to Families in the Orange County community.
Ms. Costantino-Brown has a passion for addiction treatment and recovery. Her insightful experience with substance abuse treatment gives her a unique perspective on the criminal mind and addictive behaviors of offenders at every stage of recovery.
Samuel R. Pennington – Treasurer
Serving since 2010
Samuel R. Pennington is an ordained minister whose role in bringing Christ to prisoners cannot be measured – it goes back to our founder Frank Costantino and Christian Prison Ministries in 1985. His work continues to this day as he plays a significant role in expanding the church’s mission in Nigeria, Nicaragua, Belize, and Mexico.
Mr. Pennington is also a practicing attorney licensed in the State of Florida and the federal courts of the Middle District of Florida. The most important principal in his legal practice and church ministry is guided by the admonition of Christ that “as you have done it unto the least of these my brethren you have done it unto me” become a very real and constant part of his life.
Mr. Pennington is a graduate of the University of Central Florida and received his Juris Doctorate from the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. In September 2011 Mr. Pennington retired as the Staff Attorney for the Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Trustee in Orlando. He continues to enjoy his active role in several legal organizations.
Dr. Grady S. McMurtry – Secretary
Serving since 1975
Dr. Grady S. McMurtry is a Biblical Scientific Creationist, Christian Apologist and full-time Christian missionary. He received his B.S. with Honors from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; an M.S. with Honors from the State University of New York, Syracuse; a D.D. from the School of Theology in Columbus, Georgia; and a DLitt. from Mid-Continent University, Mayfield, Kentucky. He is a past regent and adjunct professor at the School of Theology in Columbus, Georgia and a guest lecturer at Johnson University, Florida Campus.
Dr. McMurtry has been a Biblical Scientific Creationist since 1974. Prior to that, he was an Evolutionist for 20 years, and a Theistic Evolutionist for one and a half years. He is an ordained minister, church elder and an Expert School Board Witness.
He is member of many Christian and secular organizations including life-time memberships in the Creation Research Society, Mensa, Intertel, and Phi Kappa Phi.
Father Charles Brown
Serving since 1985
Father Charles Brown currently serves in two capacities as Senior Vice President for Bridges International and Christian Prison Ministry, bringing vast experience in prison reentry, faith based programming, and treatment curriculum development for offenders, prisoners and substance abusers. Soon after his ordination in 1999, which was largely influenced by Bishop Frank Costantino, Father Brown became a Priest in the Charismatic Episcopal Church.
Father Brown is uniquely qualified to provide the road map and spiritual guidance for these men placed in Bridges International’s care and supervision. As a young man, he was incarcerated and sentenced to prison, and he has lost several family members to substance abuse. These experiences give him the vision that he uses to mentor offenders who are trying to find their way back to society. Father Brown has pioneered reentry and aftercare programs that focus on spiritual, intellectual, emotional and social growth to combat the high rate at which ex-offenders commit crimes and return to prison.
After completing coursework at Barry University, Father Brown attended the International Seminary in Plymouth, Florida. He is a Certified Addiction Professional with the Florida Certification Board. He is also certified as an International Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ICADC) with the International Certification of Reciprocity Consortium. In 2003, Father Brown was recognized as FADAA’s “Man of the Year” for his groundbreaking efforts in creating the Bridges International substance abuse treatment programs.
Serving since 2006
John Harris of First Baptist Orlando is the Pastor of First Hope Ministry where he is involved in coordinating and mobilizing the whole church in prayer, fasting, healing, and health. He got started in the ministry in his twenties when, through a chance encounter, Mr. Harris met a person addicted to drugs and was able to help that person to Christ. From the age of 26 onward John Harris and his wife have been in Christian service fulltime.
While in Christian service working with drug addicts, Mr. Harris received formal training and was ordained as a minister. He then became a director of a large therapeutic drug rehabilitation center in the United Kingdom and started several charitable trusts in the field of addiction. In the UK Mr. Harris would work the streets of the West End of London counseling people on their addictions, particularly the young involved in the drug scene. In addition to being involved with a day center, halfway house, and night shelter he was also an advisor to the UK government in the field of addictions and prison reform.
Other ministry work performed by John Harris included helping (former Watergate conspirator) Chuck Colson establish his prison ministry fellowship in the UK, serving on the board of that fellowship (named Prison Fellowship International), outreach to Kenya, and disaster relief in Florida and New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.
Edward (Ted) Poitras
Serving since 1974
Edward Poitras has been involved with Bridges International since the organization’s very beginning. Ted worked with our Founder, Bishop Frank Costantino, to establish the initial Early Release Program, which demonstrated to the Department of Corrections the value of prison ministry and giving a man a change to succeed. Mr. Poitras also helped to establish volunteer opportunities and a radio program called “Behind Prison Walls” which served as a forum for public discussion of prison life and rehabilitation. A graduate of Brown University in 1958, Mr. Poitras assisted with the manuscripts, final edits, and publications of Frank Costantino’s biography Holes in Time.
James R. Spence
Serving since 2006
Father Jim Spence is semi-retired and serves as Pastor of Church of the Prodigal Son in Auburndale, FL. He serves on the Boards of Christian Prison Ministries, Inc. in Orlando, FL and New England Aftercare Ministries, Inc. in Framingham, MA.
In 2004, Rev. Jim Spence retired as Executive Director of New England Aftercare Ministries, Inc. after 20 years in that position. As such, he is the founder of The Bridge House Residential Substance Abuse Recovery Program in Framingham, MA, a Christian ministry to men leaving prison and those having addiction issues.
He was formerly the chaplain at MCI-Walpole and served as Prison Ministries Coordinator with what is now Vision New England.
He is ordained in the Charismatic Episcopal Church, with a Master of Arts Degree in Pastoral Counseling. He has spent many years as a Marriage and Family Therapist, Mental Health Counselor, and Substance Abuse Counselor.
Rev. Spence is married with 4 adult children and 3 grandchildren. He and his wife, Beverly, live in Kissimmee, FL.
Serving since 2010
Gerald Holdsworth has been a Board Member for Bridges International since 2010. He brings to the Board sound judgment, which is instrumental in his service to the Bridges International Board of Directors. For more than 10 years, Mr. Holdsworth has had a passion for helping those in recovery. In the past he operated sober living homes focused on helping others struggling with alcoholism and drug addiction.
Mr. Holdsworth holds a business degree from Towson University. Early in his career he helped manage a database for a government contractor who was awarded a JUMP grant (Juvenile Mentoring Program). He has also been employed in many positions including two years of Public Accounting conducting audits for various not-for-profit companies in the DC Metropolitan area.