Our Support Team

Affirming the unique value and gifts of each person.

John Knechtle

Executive Director and Community Leader
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After attending law school, John clerked for a judge in Atlanta and then moved to Washington, D.C. where he worked as the Director of Legal Assessments and the Environmental Law Program for the American Bar Association’s Central European & Eurasian Law Initiative (CEELI). CEELI provided free legal assistance to the former communist countries of Eurasia moving towards democracy and free market economies. He then was a law professor for 23 years teaching constitutional law, jurisprudence and international and comparative law courses, most recently at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad.

While teaching in Florida he created international criminal law internships at international tribunals in The Hague, Sarajevo, and Phnom Penh. He co-founded the American & Caribbean Law Initiative (ACLI) which is a consortium of U.S. and Caribbean law schools and faculties running programs on U.S. and Commonwealth Caribbean law. He served as a Fulbright Scholar in Uzbekistan and as an international environmental law consultant in the Caribbean on projects funded by United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), Global Environmental Facility (GEF) of the World Bank and the Organization of American States (OAS). He has authored or co-authored six books, chapters for five books, and fifteen journal articles.

John learned about L’Arche when his church in Washington, D.C., Church of the Saviour, helped found L’Arche Greater Washington, D.C. He served as treasurer on its board and then went on to become the president of the board of L’Arche USA, a member of the board of L’Arche International, and president of the board of the L’Arche USA Foundation. After volunteering for L’Arche for over 30 years, he gladly accepted the offer to join L’Arche Syracuse.

John’s best decision was to marry Heather, and the greatest gifts he has received are their children Lily, Matthew, Blake and Lucy. On a windy day you may find him sailing on Lake Skaneateles or the Bras D’Or Lakes of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. On a cold day you may find him skiing or watching his children play basketball. And on a summer day no matter the weather, you may find him clearing hiking, mountain biking and horse riding trails deep in the woods, alone with God.

Teasa Luke

Assistant Director
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I was raised in Syracuse, NY, and earned a BA in Psychology SUNY Geneseo. I am grateful to have shared time at L’Arche Syracuse, in various positions since 1995. It is a gift to work in a place where spirituality is based on using the tasks of everyday life as a means for connection. I have seen how cleaning a basement together, with the understanding that we are living out our mission in love, can bond a group more than any top-rated facilitated team-building experience.  

My late husband and I have three children and our goal has always been to raise them to accept the call of spiritually based service. Our daughter took a gap year after high school and lived and shared time in one of our homes. It was a life-changing experience which led to her, and three other Assistants, getting permanent tattoos to mark their time at L’Arche. The tattoos are great, but the experience they gained at L’Arche is greater. They will carry with them the foundation of understanding that we are all both the teacher and the student in our relationships with one another. 

I am a certified dance and fitness instructor and teach several classes a week to both men and women. I am always looking for ways to bring elevated inclusion and participation with emphasis on mutuality to L’Arche, and through coordinating various dance presentations and days of reflection, I’ve found that many of the core members in the community share and even exceed my joy in dance. Another example of how the teacher learns and the student teaches! 

Jamie Proper

Director of Day Hab & Quality Assurance
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Since graduating from Mohawk Valley Community College in December of 2008 with an AAS degree in Human Services, Jamie has dedicated her career and life to working with children, adults and families with Developmental Disabilities. 

Jamie first came to L’Arche in June of 2011 after graduating from SUNY Cortland with a BS degree in Human Services.  She heard about L’Arche from her Senior Seminar Professor, Peter Sarver, who was the previous Executive Director, Peggy Harper’s, husband.  Jamie started as an assistant in L’Arche’s Highland home but after a few short months, was asked to take on the role of Resource Coordinator at the Croyden home.  Jamie was with the Croyden Home from August 2011 to May 2017 when she left to pursue a career with Onondaga County Child Protection Services.  After 5 months and realizing this new job was not a good fit for her, Jamie was welcomed back to L’Arche as the Day Hab Coordinator/Quality Assurance & Corporate Compliance Officer in October of 2017.  Jamie stayed in this role until May of 2019 when she took a 6 month sabbatical to be a stay at home mom and to address health issues.  In January of 2019 she became a Care Manager with LIFEPlan CCO NY to broaden her career in Developmental Disabilities.   

In November of 2021, Jamie returned to her role of Director of Day Hab & Quality Assurance at L’Arche Syracuse.  Jamie loves this role because she gets to interact with Core Members and assistants on a daily basis. It provides her the opportunity to create fun art projects as well as accompany Core Members as they explore the greater Syracuse area and serve others.  Jamie still gets to visit homes regularly as she reviews Core Member paperwork and trains assistants. 

Outside of L’Arche, Jamie is a dedicated wife and mother and enjoys her family with all her heart.  Her husband, Eric is a Corrections Office for Madison County and often puts in long hours, leaving her to raise their two children.  Jamie does not mind this, as she is very proud of her husband and his career.  L’Arche has been able to give Jamie the flexibility she needs to be both a mother and employee.  Jamie and her husband Eric met in 2009 when they were both working at Sylvan Beach Amusement Park.  They were married in May of 2012 and welcomed their first child, Emma in October of 2013.  Their second child, Ethan, was welcomed in February of 2021.  Jamie was very blessed to have her L’Arche family surround her for her wedding and the arrival of Emma. 

Jamie has a love of traveling and usually takes vacations in the summer and winter months to travel to different states with her family. Her goal is to visit all 50 US States (so far she has been to 16) and do a coast to coast trip when she and her husband retire. When Jamie is not traveling she participates in a winter bowling league with her husband at Green Lakes Lanes.   

Jamie’s love for L’Arche is why she keeps coming back and considers L’Arche to be her home and family. She has had the opportunity to create meaningful friendships with both Core Members and assistants throughout her time with L’Arche. 

Donna Popp

Office Manager
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Donna was raised in Brightwaters, NY the seventh child to Donald and Marilyn Aitken.  She was brought up to never forget her name and that family is everything, so she and her 9 siblings all reside on the East Coast and often get together for Aitken Family Weekends.   

Donna is a jack of many traits which is why she can manage the office at L’Arche.  She attended Endicott College in Beverly, MA and after college she worked in the theatre district and for a documentary film company while she pursued a masters in audio design and engineering.  Leaving life in Boston behind Donna moved to Vermont to be with her family after her mother lost her battle with small cell lung cancer.  While in Vermont Donna dabbled in numerous careers from sales to design and even becoming a chocolatier!! Donna ultimately pursued a career in Resort and Hospitality Management and worked as an event and wedding planner for numerous luxury resorts.  In 2011 Donna made the move from Vermont to Syracuse to start the next chapter of her life.  Her work at the Convention and Visitor Bureau made her a spokesperson for the area and her cubical assignment led to an introduction to the Popp family and ultimately her future husband Scott.   

Donna came to L’Arche in November of 2014 after hearing about the office position from her mother-in-law.  Having not worked in the industry Peggy Harper the Community Leader at the time gave her an opportunity to prove herself and today she manages the office.  Donna does everything from house and car maintenance to core member paperwork for the state.  She handles the HR department, pays the bills and orders supplies – really anything that is asked of her she takes on as a task to complete.  Donna’s love of L’Arche is centered around the amazing friendships she has created with core members, and she feels blessed to be part of the L’Arche family.

Beata Lisandrelli

Bookkeeper
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I was born in Poland and came to the US with my mother at the age of 7. I attended Sacred Heart Elementary School in Syracuse, graduated from Solvay High School and took a variety of courses at Onondaga Community College trying to find what it was that I really wanted to do in life. After bouncing around for several years in various bookkeeping and administrative assistant positions, in January of 2011 I found L’Arche Syracuse where I started as an office assistant. I finally not only found what I wanted to do but where I wanted to do it! Working for L’Arche I learned what it means to be part of a community. I often heard people refer to their “church family” or “work family” but never really understood what that meant until I came to L’Arche. I held the office managers position until November of 2014, when I moved to South Carolina due to my husband’s job transfer. 

I am very blessed to be able to continue working remotely as the bookkeeper for L’Arche Syracuse. I reside in Conway SC just outside of Myrtle Beach. One of my favorite things to do is explore all the attractions and beaches with my husband and our 2 children Jake and Gabby. We also enjoy doing puzzles, having movie nights with the kids, watching them splash around in the pool and just spending time together. 

Luda Kutz

Nurse
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Our dedicated and compassionate nurse, Luda Kuts, has been an integral part of our L’Arche family and healthcare team since accepting her role with us at the start of 2023. She began her healthcare journey in 2017 when she completed her nursing education at Crouse College of Nursing. She furthered her knowledge by obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Keuka College in 2018.

Luda was a valued team member at Crouse Hospital for 5 years, where she predominantly worked in the stroke unit. She is a skilled nurse who provides high-quality care to her patients and demonstrates excellent clinical judgment. In her current role, Luda treats our core members like family, ensuring the highest level of attention and care is provided consistently.

Outside of work, Luda is a devoted wife and mother of three children and of their adorable mini poodle. Her daughter is a school athlete who plays both basketball and lacrosse, and Luda loves to attend her games to cheer her on. The cheering doesn’t stop there. She is also the biggest cheerleader for her sons, supporting them both in their unique interests and accomplishments. Luda also enjoys spending quality time with the rest of her family, reading, and trying new foods. She has a particular fondness for visiting Florida, where her parents and most of her siblings live; taking time to attend events and go on adventures.

Luda is a believer of Christ and regularly attends church. She is the oldest of six siblings, and from a young age, she took care of her younger brothers and sisters. It is no surprise that she is an excellent nurse who is always willing to go above and beyond for her patients.

We are grateful to have Luda on our team and are proud of the exceptional care she provides to our members every day.

Bob Sackel

Volunteer Coordinator
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Robert Sackel (Bob) has spent the last 33 years sharing life in L’Arche.  He has held a number of leadership roles in L’Arche, including Community Leader (10 yrs.), Regional Coordinator (5 yrs.), and Assistant Director (5yrs.). Bob began and directed the Office of Vocational Development program (6 yrs.) for L’Arche USA, co-led the Leadership Development program for both L’Arche USA and Canada, and has served on several commissions for L’Arche International including the L’Arche International Spirituality Commission.  

Bob spent eight years serving L’Arche Syracuse as the Pastoral Minister and in June 2023 retired and became the volunteer coordinator.

Bob is married to Sue, the Nurse of L’Arche.  He has two wonderful daughters and two amazing grand-daughters.  

Bob likes to read and hike and be outdoors.  He is an introvert who enjoys one on one walk and talks.  He is a basketball fanatic, a Knicks fan, an SU fan, and still plays the game.