Our Team

Isai & Samantha Torres

Founders of Cries of A Child

We live to lay down our lives as an offering to the Lord, to be His beloved to make Him known to the hopeless and broken. To love Him deeply and to deeply love others. 

My wife and I live in Burundi with our 2 children since February 2009 as Executive Directors of “The Cries of a Child” a ministry that was birthed to restore and empower poverty stricken communities through the love of God. Come check out our FB page @ The Cries of A Child, like us, share us and join in on the miraculous things the Lord is doing in Burundi! 

God is faithful and their is hope even for those in such darkness… we are living examples! God has purpose, destiny and can transform any heart who surrenders unto Him!

Carl Thoenen

VP of US Operations

Carl received his bachelors degree in Finance from Truman State University in 1992 and has worked in the financial services industry for over 25 years as a financial adviser. He has been in his current role on the board for TCOAC for over 5 years. Carl is also a discipleship pastor at his church in St. Charles, MO., and is an Eagle Scout and a current leader of a Boy Scout troop that is run as a discipleship program for the church teaching boys to be godly men. Mission work that includes taking Jesus to all people and developing them to live a godly life is a life long passion.

Kelly Thoenen

Financial Operations​

Kelly received her accounting degree from Truman State University in 1993 and earned her CPA in 1995. She has been in financial officer positions for most of her career with accounting firms and fire protection districts. She has earned accounting excellence awards with the State of Missouri in her career with the fire district. She currently works with her husband in his financial planning business. She has served as a Sunday school teacher at church for youth of all ages and loves to bring the Bible to life for young people.

Monica Riederer

Legal Counsel

Monica is passionate about helping release children from poverty by building self-sufficiency and has been involved with The Cries of a Child in various capacities since its inception. Monica is an in-house lawyer for a large financial services company in the Midwest. Previously, she was a litigator in private practice. In addition to her “babies in Burundi,” as they call them, she and her husband, Ryan, have two amazing children, Tyler and Riley, and a Boxer dog named Luna (affectionately short for “Lunatic”)

Dr. Tom Byrd

Clinical Consultant

Tom is a graduate of The University of Texas (Austin) and attended medical school at The University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. He completed his residency in Internal Medicine at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas and is the director of Hospital Medicine at Brownwood Regional Medical Center in Brownwood, Texas. He has a masters certificate in Global Health and has been involved in clinic development in Burundi for a number of years. He serves as a clinical consultant for The Cornerstone Clinic for The Cries of a Child and is passionate about disease prevention, malnutrition, and community health education.

He and his wife Sue have been married 35 years and are members of St Johns Church. They are active in the church’s food pantry, as well as many other local civic organizations and are the proud parents of Dr. Roy Byrd, Shelby Arbogast RN, and Sara Byrd.

Sue Tullar Byrd

Donor Relations Volunteer

Sue is a donor relations volunteer for The Cries of a Child as well as being active in Texas based fundraising projects for TCOAC. After a trip to Burundi with her husband she developed a deep passion for the Burundian people and has been involved in several Burundi based organizations including The Gazelle Foundation, J-Life, and Burundi Youth for Christ. She is a graduate of The University of Texas and taught public school in San Antonio, Dallas and Brownwood, Texas. She is on the board of directors for the Brownwood Public Library, Salvation Army, Latch Key after school program and is active in many programs at St. John’s Church. Sue is married to Dr. Tom Byrd and the proud mother of 3 adult children (Roy, Shelby and Sara) and enjoys long walks with her deaf dog Winston!

Tony DiFranco

Board Member at Large

Tony first heard about The Cries of a Child in 2009 and joined the team in 2012, after some of his close friends traveled to Burundi that summer and introduced him to Isai Torres. In 2013, Tony’s role expanded to oversee all communications efforts including Marketing, Web Development, IT, and Public Relations. In January of 2014, Tony was elected to serve on the Board of Directors, where he currently serves as a member at large.

Combining his passion to serve, talent to lead, and experience to grow, Tony focuses on helping nonprofit organizations fulfill their missions by providing relationship based marketing and organizational support. His professional expertise includes Integrated Marketing, Leadership Development, Organizational Strategy and general Awesomeness.

Tony lives with his wife, Michelle, and their six children in the suburbs outside of St. Louis. He is an avid and lifelong baseball Cardinals fan who values faith, family and friends above all else.

Kippi Griffith

Executive Director

Kippi has served in various capacities within non-profit organizations and education for almost 25 years and her latest journey led her to the people of Burundi. Recently, Kippi was the Executive Director for the Gazelle Foundation (Austin TX) which is a non-profit organization that funds and builds water projects in the Burundi province. Now working with The Cries of a Child, Kippi shares her time and talent in a way that strengthens mission and builds sustainability for the organization and the people it serves. Kippi’s previous experience covers a broad range of responsibilities including fundraising, marketing, program services, event management and working alongside passionate board members and volunteers.

Kippi holds a degree in English from The University of Texas at Austin and a M.B.A. in Marketing from St. Edward’s University. Kippi volunteers in her local community through Meals on Wheels, St. Louise House, St. David’s Medical Center and the Gazelle Foundation. She lives in Austin with her husband, Shaun, and two children, Audrey and Jack.

Audrey Biziyaremye

Country Director

I am passionate about seeing lives changed and restored through the love and power of Jesus Christ! After joining The Cries of a Child in 2011, it has become a joy to see all the great things God is doing here in Burundi. Ever since I was a child, I dreamed of helping children who don’t have parents realize that they have a hope and future in Christ. These children can be encouraged to put their trust in God and follow Him, then they have the ability to see for themselves what God can do in their lives. Being a part of this organization is a really a dream come true for me. We believe that God has purpose for this community in Bukeye, Burundi with The Cries of a Child. I live here in Burundi with my husband and our little daughter.