Leadership Team

Founder and Chairman Emeritus, John Maisel

John Maisel has had a diverse background in various business and investment activities since being honorably discharged as a captain from the U.S. Marine Corps in 1967. While in the Marine Corps, he was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart as a result of his tour in Vietnam. Before his time in the Marine Corps, Maisel attended Oklahoma State University where he majored in Business and Philosophy. After returning to Dallas in 1967, Maisel desired to use his business as a means of self-support for his Christian ministry to athletes and businessmen in Dallas and around the country. His business soon became a platform for his ministry to various business organizations and universities. While in Europe on business in 1979 he began to team with friends who were traveling behind the Iron curtain. As a result of these activities, and the commitment of various other mission organizations, the organization of the Eastern European Seminary (later to be called Biblical Education by Extension International or BEE International) was formed in 1980. Their main focus was to help equip laymen and pastors in the six Soviet bloc countries of the former United Soviet Socialist Republic in Eastern Europe to teach and preach the Scriptures accurately. Maisel is currently Founder and Chairman Emeritus of East-West Ministries International that was formed in 1993 out of the ministry of BEE International. Maisel is married to Susie and has a grown daughter and two grandchildren.

CEO, Kurt Nelson

As Chief Executive Officer of East-West Ministries International, Donald “Kurt” Nelson provides leadership and oversight to all worldwide ministry endeavors in the 50+ countries in which East-West currently operates. After serving with East-West for 15 years, Nelson became President and CEO in June 2010 and has served with East-West for a total of 20 years.

He assisted in launching the Institutes for Emerging Itinerant Evangelists in Russia, Central Asia, and India, and he currently serves on the Board of Directors, the Executive Team, the Strategic Leadership Team, and the Office of Field Ministries. Nelson also personally leads East-West short-term trips to Russia, Latin America, South Asia, Central Asia, and East Asia. 

Prior to East-West, he served as Vice President of Global Missions Fellowship (GMF - now E3 Partners), where he directed the Russia Field and the Marketing / Communications Department. Also while at GMF, he led evangelism teams to many countries including Russia, Haiti, the Ukraine, Latvia, Japan, and Latin America. 

He received his undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina, his Master’s degree of Theology in World Missions from Dallas Theological Seminary, and his Doctor of Ministry degree in Missions Leadership from Columbia International University.

Nelson and his wife, Pat, have been married for 29 years and have nine children (three of whom were adopted from Russia), six grandsons and one granddaughter.

Mario ZandstraPresident, Mario Zandstra

Prior to East-West, Mario Zandstra served as Regional Director for Redeemer City to City and spent 17 years as President and CEO of Pine Cove, Inc. Before transitioning to vocational ministry, he worked in the Dallas real estate market for over 15 years.

Mario is an evangelist who is committed to disciple making; a visionary who thinks outside of the box; a keen, strategic thinker who factors in all possibilities; and a collaborative leader who considers long-term impact. His heart’s passion is for a revival in the United States and around the world and believes it is possible because of the everlasting power of the Gospel.

As President of East-West, Mario overseas the development of the ministry, marketing and communications, and prayerfully casts vision for the future of East-West’s work in the spiritually darkest areas of the world. 

Mario was born in The Hague, Netherlands and grew up in southern California. He graduated from the business school at The University of Southern California before moving to Texas. Mario and his wife, Lynelle, live in the Dallas area and have seven children and two grand babies. Together, Mario and Lynelle frequently speak on the topic of marriage at conferences across the United States. 

Executive Vice President of Operations

Due to the nature of where East-West serves, this individual's name is withheld for security reasons

Executive Vice President of Field Ministries 

Due to the nature of where East-West serves, this individual's name is withheld for security reasons

Vice President of Development, Kristen Shuler

In her seventh year of service with East-West, Kristen Shuler provides oversight and strategic direction to East-West’s development, marketing and communications initiatives, including campaign strategy, institutional giving, planned giving, events, direct response marketing, online strategies, and all marketing/communications collateral. Prior to joining East-West, Kristen served alongside the International Mission Board on the mission field across South America, primarily focusing on evangelism and church planting strategies. Kristen continues to fulfill her calling and passion for missions through her role at East-West.

Vice President of Mobilization

Due to the nature of where East-West serves, this individual's name is withheld for security reasons

Vice President of Evangelism

Due to the nature of where East-West serves, this individual's name is withheld for security reasons

Vice President of Equipping

Due to the nature of where East-West serves, this individual's name is withheld for security reasons

Steve SmithVice President of Multiplication, Steve Smith

Steve Smith helps facilitate the global church to get to No Place Left for the gospel to be proclaimed (Rom. 15:23) through kingdom movements. He  has been personally involved with and also coached multiple church planting movements (CPM) globally over the last two decades. His focus is multiplying disciples, churches, leaders and movements. Prior to working with East-West, Steve held various leadership positions with the International Mission Board for 18 years facilitating CPMs.  

Steve's aspiration is to rally all of God’s people globally to finish the Matthew 24:14 race with revived hearts and reproducing processes, and perhaps be the generation that welcomes the return of the King. Steve not only serves on the leadership staff with East-West, but also with Beyond, a sister organization that exists to facilitate movements among the unreached.  

Steve received his undergraduate degree at Baylor in New Testament Greek, his Master of Divinity at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and his Th.M and Th.D. in Missiology from the University of South Africa. Steve is the author of multiple books (T4T: A Discipleship Re-Revolution with Ying Kai; No Place Left: Hastening; No Place Left: Rebirth) and has a regular column in Mission Frontiers magazine.