First Free Church has a team of staff members devoted to declaring and demonstrating God's gracious power to make healthy disciples of Jesus Christ. 


Nick Barilla

Worship and Technical Arts Leader | Email

Nick loves Christ, the Church and our communities. He grew up in Pittsburgh, PA graduating from Allderdice High School in2010. In 2014, he received his Bachelor’s Degree from California University of Pennsylvania in CommunicationStudies and Commercial Music Technology. Nick’s ministry career began as a worship team member at Orchard Hill Church in Wexford, PA in 2012. In 2017, he began serving Part-Time ministry as a Worship Leader at Source Church in West Mifflin, PA. Since then, he has served as a Worship Leader at: Pathway Church, Unity Community Church, and most recently Bethel Presbyterian Church. Engaged to his fiancé, Liz, Nick has enjoyed a successful music career performing all over the country at colleges, concert venues, and other events while recording and performing his original music in front of well-known national acts. In his free time, he likes to read books, write and record music, play the drums, watch Pittsburgh sports, and hangout with his friends and family.

Jennifer Ielase

Lead Pastor Assistant | Email

Jennifer serves alongside Pastor Kevin, helping to welcome guests to First Free and communicate with our church family and community online, in print and in person. Whether on a Sunday morning or through weekly administrative tasks, Jennifer supports the work and ministry of Pastor Kevin and First Free Church.

Beth Jewel

Children's Ministry Assistant | Email

Beth offers administrative and supportive assistance to our ministry to children and their families. Whether for Sunday morning programming, our midweek Awana ministry, annual events like Summer Blast and Summer Pop, or special events, Beth works with our leaders and staff to make First Free a special and safe place for children to become healthy followers of Jesus.

Debbie Neimann

Student Ministry Assistant | Email

Debbie serves alongside Pastor Alex Ielase, helping to lead students while offering overall administrative and supportive assistance for our student ministry. Whether for weekly ministry meetings, special events, annual outreaches in McKeesport and Ocean City, MD, Debbie helps bring our student ministry to life.

Cheryl Reeger

Front Office Assistant | Email

Cheryl is the friendly and professional presence in our front office. A part of the First Free Church family for years, Cheryl knows the faces and places of First Free better than most. She manages her long list of responsibilities with kind-hearted efficiency, keeping our ministry running smoothly and its members, friends, and staff well connected. 

Bob Squires


Bob joined our staff in April 2022, and he is responsible for the maintenance of the building and grounds. Prior to joining the church staff, he worked as a mail carrier for the US Postal Service for 33 years. Bob is also a WPIAL basketball official, and in his free time he enjoys spending time with his family, good food, sports, and traveling with his wife Arlene.

Joe Squires

Business Manager | Email

Joe is the Business Manager and his main responsibility is handling the financial record-keeping and reporting for First Free. He has been serving on staff since April 2016. Prior to his employment at the church, Joe worked for six years at PNC Bank where he performed various accounting functions in the Technology and Operations Department. He completed collegiate studies at the University of Pittsburgh and graduated in December 2006 with a BA in Economics and Business Administration. Joe is married to Julie and has a daughter named Chloe. He thoroughly enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter, food, sports, music and hiking (especially the Laurel Highlands and Smoky Mountains).

Michelle Washington

Awana Ministry Coordinator | Email

Michelle serves as our Awana Coordinator, overseeing our midweek ministry for children, ages 2 - Grade 5. A graduate of the Community College of Allegheny County, Michelle also presently serves as a Kaleo/Group Leader with Citikidz. Her previous vocational and volunteer experience includes service with behavioral health/special needs as a home health aide, a mentor with Family Guidance, and several years of volunteer ministry within our Awana program.

Marie Zajdel

Interim Children's Ministry Leader | Email

Marie serves children and their families by coordinating volunteers, curriculum, and programs for Children’s Ministry during Sunday morning, and Summer Blast and Summer Pop. Thanks to the faithfulness of her parents, Marie has attended church her entire life, but First Free became her church family in 2008, and she has been blessed to serve the church in various areas including Children’s and Student Ministry. She completed her Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing at Carlow University in 2011 and has been working as a pediatric nurse at UPMC Children’s Hospital ever since. Marie and her husband, Owen, have four children together.