Summer Blast (6-11 year olds) and Summer Pop (4 & 5 year olds) are FREE, high-energy, weeklong evening events where we seek to proclaim God's love and goodness through drama, music, teaching, games, snack time, and fun! Each child will receive a free t-shirt to wear each evening.

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 in 2010. In 2014, he received his Bachelor’s Degree from California University of Pennsylvania in Communication Studies and Commercial Music Technology. Nick’s ministry career began as a worship team member at Orchard Hill Church in Wexford, PA in 2012. He's since served at a variety of other churches in the Pittsburgh area. Married to 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.




Heather Clement

Children's Ministry Leader | Email

We're excited to announce the hire of Heather Clement as our new Children's Ministry Leader! Heather started attending First Free in 2008. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Westminster College. She has loved working with kids her entire life. Heather has served in the Children’s Ministry over the years by teaching Sunday School, Junior Church, and Cubbies on Wednesday nights. She also serves on the tech and digital welcome teams and oversees the camera crew. She is married to Steve, and they have three daughters whom she homeschools. Heather loves to cook, garden, and spend time with her family in her spare time.



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

Associate Pastor's 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

Operations Manager | Email

Joe is the Operations Manager and his responsibilities include overseeing the operational aspects of our ministry. 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

Summer Blast and Summer Pop Coordinator | Email

Marie serves children and their families by coordinating our Summer Blast and Summer Pop programs. 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.