Stephen Murray and Zach Garza

The Dallas Cowboys has won Super Bowls without Tom Landry. KFC has fried a lot of chicken without Colonel Sanders. And Men’s Wearhouse has sold plenty of suits without George Zimmer (I guarantee it.) Still, it’s tough when beloved icons progress to new adventures. That’s what’s coming in June, when Forerunner Mentoring founder Zach Garza moves to Waco.

“We’ve done what we set out to do,” says Garza, who has accepted a position with The Mentoring Alliance based in Tyler. Founded by a group of guys affiliated with Pine Cove camp, their goal is to expand to five locations over the coming years. Waco will be Garza’s first stop.

“We’re excited. We think this is of God, but Sara and I will miss this place,” he says. “Lake Highlands took me from a 27-year-old football coach to a leader serving hundreds of kids and directing a budget of almost a million dollars.”

Stephen Murray will take the reins as Forerunner’s executive director, a job Garza has been grooming him for for years as a mentor and leader in the organization. Garza will remain on the Forerunner board and actively communicate with Murray, who’ll be leading “sharp people,” including Director of Programs Beth Winter and Director of Operations Lauri Nagy.

“Forerunner Mentoring has become a mature nonprofit with healthy systems and processes in place which can move forward without its founder,” says Garza. “We have the support of the community. It’s a good time for me to step away. We’ll be moving away from a one man show toward an all hands on deck. I think we’ll thrive.”

In June, Forerunner will expand from their current after school site at Northlake Baptist Church into new digs at Highland Oaks Church of Christ and begin transporting kids using vans purchased using a grant from 100 Women of Lake Highlands. They’ll open a second site in the fall to better serve the Forest Meadow side of town, meaning every LH elementary school will be served – and every LH child who needs a mentor will have one.

“I talk to people in the nonprofit world, and they are astounded by how much support we have,” says Garza. “It’s truly a community effort. And it’s not just the children’s lives which are changed. Our mentors tell me they learn about the bible in church or in bible study, but they live it when they have an impact in these children’s lives. Lake Highlands is a special place.”

You can read Garza’s letter to the community here:

My vision in life is to help as many kids as possible, specifically kids from hard places, to experience the love of Jesus through mentoring. That’s what changed my life and I hope it changes their lives as well.

For me, the best way to do that is to learn as much as I can about how to mentor kids most effectively, invest into mentoring leaders to advance mentoring at large, and to raise up mentoring organizations to help serve as many kids as possible.

Through Forerunner, I believe that we have done that within our Lake Highlands community. We have raised up incredible Godly mentors, we created an excellent mentoring program with the best staff and board possible, and we raised awareness about mentoring and have the support of our amazing community.

That said, I believe now is the time for Stephen Murray to assume the role of Executive Director for Forerunner. While I will continue to be involved with Forerunner as a Board member, I will embark on a new mentoring adventure to build more mentoring programs throughout Texas.

Stephen is a great leader who has been involved in mentoring ministry for almost a decade now; the last five years as my right and Forerunner’s Director of Mentoring. I have been mentoring Stephen for years now, and can honestly say Stephen Murray loves Jesus, is humble, has a heart for mentoring kids from hard places, and is fully capable of leading this organization. For over a year now, the board and I have been grooming Stephen to become my successor and we all believe he is more than ready to lead Forerunner into this new season.

I have full confidence that Stephen, the staff and the Board will continue to improve our organization while serving more kids in Lake Highlands. I truly do believe the best days of Forerunner are ahead of us. And I’ll still be involved in Forerunner as a Board member and a sounding board for Stephen. I will continue to invest into him as a leader and as a Man of God. I look forward to having a front-row seat to watch how the Lord continues to impact our community through him and Forerunner.

Forerunner has always thrived because of the community of supporters. Y’all have given us everything we need to advance the Kingdom through mentoring. Forerunner isn’t about one person, but instead it’s about a community coming together to love their neighbor. When I started this organization ten years ago, never in a thousand years did I think we’d be where we are today. We’re in good hands because of our staff, our board, our community, and people like you.

As for me, I’ll be doing what I love to do – building relationships and building organizations. I have accepted a position with The Mentoring Alliance to develop a mentoring movement in Waco, Texas beginning June 1st. This opportunity will be another platform to serve and mentor as many kids as possible to further advance the Kingdom.

Thank you! You and your support have made me who I am today and I look forward to you supporting Stephen as Forerunner continues to serve Lake Highlands. I am forever thankful for how you have believed in me and in Forerunner. I look forward to you doing the same with Stephen. If you need anything, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at zach@forerunnermentoring.com or 972-351-3394.

Relationships change lives,

Zach Garza, Founder