Design a site like this with
Get started

Meet Our Super Awesome Conference Keynote Speaker, Emily Austen!! 🏃‍♀️

Emily Austen was born in Tampa, FL to a Christian family that attended Grace Family Church in the area. Growing up, she was involved in a youth ministry called 180. Emily gave her life to Christ at a young age but learned later what it meant to fully devote her life to Him. More on that soon! Athletics have always been a huge part of Emily’s life, and she knew in 7th grade that she wanted to be a sports reporter when she grew up. Softball and track are her main sports, and she tried out for the softball team in 9th grade but ended up not making the team (even though Emily had grown up on a traveling team). However, this led her to run track in high school and college. In her senior year Emily decided to apply to the University of Florida. Unfortunately, she wasn’t accepted to UofF, which was devastating but it allowed her to become really good at running on the track team.

A theme of Emily’s life has involved God closing certain doors and opening much bigger and better ones later on. After experiencing rejection from UofF she was scouted by other schools and ended up being invited to run cross country and track at Florida Atlantic University (FAU). This led Emily to a broadcasting internship in Miami which opened the door for her to create a Sports Weekly show back at FAU.

In college, Emily ran 60 miles a week, practiced twice a day, participated in training and cross training exercises, including swimming, and all of this while working a full time job! At graduation, Emily basically expected ESPN to call her with a job offer, but she was humbled when they did not. The economic recession of 2007 and 2008 did not help her case either. While the job market wasn’t biting, she began making broadcasting videos and posting them on YouTube. This got her an opportunity in production with Golf Channel, where she learned a great deal about being behind the scenes.

Emily finally got her first break on camera when she was offered a job in local TV sports. This move brought her to Amarillo, TX to take a position as a reporter covering small town football. While there, Emily worked out the kinks in her style and was discovered by the Boston Celtics through her YouTube channel. This awesome step came after she was interviewed, nearly accepted, then turned down by the Tampa Bay Lightning – further proof that God was constantly preparing her, even through the closed doors! Soon afterward, Emily’s agent in got her a job with Fox Sports covering the Tampa Bay Rays and Orlando Magic. Through all of this success, God was part of her life but her priority was career pursuits at the time.

In 2015, Emily became less enthused with her position at Fox Sports and made a brief one-time appearance on a Barstool Sports podcast. Like quicksand, the devil attacked her and led her to say something that got her fired from Fox Sports. She was painted as a “monster” on the Internet but, in her words, she “gave it the paint”. The disappointment of her family was very difficult but God showed her through that time that human beings can never navigate the rough waters of life unless “He builds the boat”.

Almost immediately realized she needed to help others learn and hopefully avoid making similar mistakes, so she emailed every D1 athletic program in the country. Eventually, she was given the opportunity to speak at several major universities about the power of social media, how it can hurt you, how to recover, and how to use it well. In July of 2019, Emily was still sharing this speech around the U.S. but her life was not fully devoted to the Lord. Not long afterward, she hit rock bottom and felt like she had nothing to live for… This stirred the desire in her to speak with Christian mentors, one of whom suggested she listen to a song on repeat for 20 days and see if it could transform her perspective. She chose Sean Curran’s “All Praise”, and after those three weeks her focus was completely turned to Jesus. Immediately she surrendered her life to Him!!!

It wasn’t long after Emily accepted Christ that a new opportunity emerged. Earlier in 2019, she had become acquainted with Matt Doyle (Senior Athletic Director at Stanford University) who was later in charge of a Directors of Football Operations (DFO) conference. Her friendship with Matt opened the door for her to meet motivational speaker Damon West, who heard her speech and loved it. Damon spoke at to Liberty University in July 2019 and ended up telling the Liberty DFO about Emily. She then flew out to Virginia to interview and received a job offer on Labor Day Weekend 2019. Today, her career at Liberty allows her to report and share stories of Division 1 athletes and their walks with Jesus Christ.

Emily’s involvement with Christians in the Marketplace began when Liberty Athletic’s show ‘Game On’ (centered on Christianity and athletics and has now changed its name to ‘Flames Central’) was on local TV and our very own Tony Casas saw it. Tony then emailed Emily and invited her to be our 11th Annual Conference Keynote Speaker. She said yes and we are THRILLED to welcome her THIS WEEKEND! I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Emily has a yellow lab named Stanley who goes everywhere with her! 🐕 Join us in welcoming Emily Austen this Friday, November 20th and Saturday the 21st at Triad Christian Center in High Point, NC.

Register here for the 11th Annual Christians in the Marketplace Conference: 😄


This Goes Without Saying, but Our CIMP Director is the REAL DEAL! 😎

Julius Koonce, Executive Director for the Christians in the Marketplace, has been an entrepreneur for over 28 years. Currently, his primary roles include providing chaplaincy services for small businesses and IT solution services for several companies in the Triad. His professional chaplain service provides moral support, team building, and spiritual guidance to companies who desire to have God at the center of the team. Julius also works with a local IT company to provide IT Consultant and Sales support. Additionally, he is the organizer for the MLK Dream Park and Center in Salisbury, NC and was appointed to the City of Greensboro Planning Board with whom he served as the moderator for a city-wide forum for “Y2K Preparedness” in 1999.  Julius was appointed to serve as Executive Director of Christians in the Marketplace in 2007 and was also selected as Business Leaders “Movers & Shakers” Award in 2010!

Julius is passionate about transforming the marketplace through marketplace disciples who see their businesses and workplaces as their gospel ministry.  He believes that the modern mission field is the marketplace. Julius has been married to his wife Tammy for over 27 years and they have a 20-year-old son named Ephraim who is a junior at North Carolina State University in Raleigh.

 Raleigh School of Data Processing (’82)
 A.S Degree (Computer Programming) ‘85
 B.S Elon University (College) –Computer Science ‘87
 Class at Liberty University – Counseling ‘16

Business (Ministry):
 IT Sales and Consultant
 Seminar/Workshop Presenter
 Small Business Chaplain
 Executive Director of Christians in the Marketplace
 Organizer of the MLK Dream Park and Community Center

 Celebrating Over 28 Years as an entrepreneur
 Perfect Attendance Award (1st -12th  Grade)
 Appointed to the City of Greensboro Planning Board
 Served as the moderator for a city-wide forum for “Y2K Preparedness”
 Elected Co-Chair for Leadership Greensboro Class of 2002-2003
 Appointed to Greensboro Technology Task Force
 Appointed to serve as Executive Director for Evangel Urban Ministry
 Appointed to serve as Executive Director of School of Ministry
 Appointed to serve as Executive Director of Christians In the Marketplace
 2009 “Outstanding Media” of the Year
 2010 Small Business Advocate of the Year
 2010 Mover and Shaker Recipient (October 2010 edition)

 To Educate: by Informing and Teaching people how to transform their Lives
 To Encourage: by helping people to believe in themselves and to overcome their fear of failure
 To Empower: by providing personal solutions in life, family and work
 To Equip: by bringing some of the latest technological and innovate tools to the Body of Christ.
 To Evangelize the Marketplace and making Marketplace Disciples for the Glory of God

“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

1 Corinthians 15:58

It’s Conference Month!!! feat. CIMP’s Legendary Emcee Tony Casas

Tony Casas was born in Mexico and moved to the U.S. at the age of 6. From that point forward, his five brothers and two sisters grew up in Southern California.  Led by the Lord, Tony went off to Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester NY where he met his wife, Dawn. They have been married for 22 years and have two growing and gifted daughters that love Jesus.  Eva is a 16 year old junior studying at GTCC’s Career and College Promise Program and potentially pursuing a career in Business Marketing and Graphic Design.  Lucia is a 13 year old eighth grader and according to Tony, is “phenomenal on the fiddle!”

Dawn and Tony’s kids are homeschooled and the Casas’ involvement in the homeschool community reaches even further. Both Dawn and Tony are closely affiliated with Friendly Educators (a homeschool tutorial with about 250 students) in which Dawn has served as Director and Assistant Director in past years.  Additionally, they both regularly teach classes and speak in chapel.  Teaching wise, Dawn focuses on US Government, Research Methods, US/World History, Graphic Design, Book Club and Yearbook as Tony teaches Personal Growth and Leadership Development courses.   
Having grown up within the Methodist tradition, Tony went on to double major in Social Work and Religion/Philosophy, earning his Bachelors in Social Work at Robert Wesleyan College and his Masters of Divinity at Northeastern Seminary in 2000.  Dawn received her Bachelor of Arts in Communication and later completed her Masters of Education (also from Roberts Wesleyan College).  Dawn continued her educational climb and earned her PH.D in Communication from Regent University in Virginia Beach, VA, and for the last 10 years has been a successful on-line professor at Regent University.

Dawn and Tony moved to Maryland in the summer of 2000 where they lived in Gaithersburg, Rockville, and in Frederick for 10 years as Tony began his ordained ministry as a pastor with the Free Methodist Church. In 2010 the Casas family moved to Greensboro, NC to start a new chapter. Tony’s involvement with Christians in the Marketplace began in 2015 after being asked to speak at its 6th annual conference.  Soon after that, he was invited to join the CIMP advisory board and today serves on the official board and has served as the CIMP conference emcee for the past 4 years.

Tony is fluent in Spanish and enjoys staying active in multiple roles, always networking and expanding his contacts across various communities.  He is a certified corporate chaplain with Corporate Chaplains of America providing professional employee care.  Tony runs his own personal growth and leadership development business called Cambio (Spanish word for change) and is a certified speaker, coach, teacher and trainer with The John Maxwell Team.  Cambio’s mission is to help individuals, groups, and organizations “create the change they desire.”  His conviction is that while change is constant, growth is optional, as he focuses on providing intentional inspiration and helping clients increase their influence and impact, both personally and professionally.  Additionally, Tony works part-time with Wise Guys, a youth program promoting healthy masculinity and male responsibility in Guilford and Forsyth counties.  Finally, he serves on the Board of Directors with the Piedmont Fellows Program.

One of Tony’s life mottos is: “the future belongs to the bold”. We hope you’ll join us for the conference on November 20th and 21st and meet Tony and his family for yourself! 

Join us for the 11th Annual Conference! Register today!!!

Our 11th Annual Christians in the Marketplace Conference will kick off on Friday, November 20th at 7pm in High Point, NC. The conference will pick up again Saturday morning, November 21st at 8am and conclude by 2pm. All speakers, vendors, and breakout sessions will be together at Triad Christian Center – 4321 Barrow Rd, High Point, NC 27265. On behalf of our director, Pastor Julius Koonce, keynote speaker, Emily Austen, the CIMP board and committee, and all of our breakout speakers, we hope YOU will join us! 😀 Plus, it’s FREE.


If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to email me at, or Amy at See you in November!!!


Nicholas (Nick) Lindsay
CIMP Blogger & Future Financial Services Representative with Modern Woodmen of America

Summertime Stories, feat. the lovely Carla Sewell Bluitt!

Carla Bluitt moved to Greensboro from Maryland in 2007. Her enjoyment of networking has been key to her success in the Triad, as she and her family moved here knowing no one. It wasn’t long before she went to a local church’s vendor networking event and found herself right next to Julius Koonce’s IT company’s table. After having trouble with their computer, Carla and her husband, Leonard, became Julius’ customers and later developed a strong friendship with Pastor Julius and his wife Tammy. When Julius became the Executive Director of Christians in the Marketplace, Carla didn’t hesitate to get involved. She was a conference workshop speaker for two years, then joined the advisory board, and in 2017 Carla was asked to lead the Monday morning prayer group.

Carla grew up in a pentecostal church in Baltimore, Maryland, where the pastor was Caucasian and the congregation was primarily African-American. It was there that she really learned to embrace diversity and watched her parents serve wholeheartedly in evangelism and counseling ministries. Her parents later started their own church, New Solid Rock Fellowship Church, where she and Leonard are both currently enrolled in the ministerial training program. In addition to working with CIMP, Carla has served as a BSF group leader and is active with a local women’s prayer fellowship. A central part of Carla’s Christian testimony is that she grew up in the church, but she didn’t fully surrender to Jesus Christ until after graduating from Howard University.

Carla and Leonard both received their MBA degrees from Howard University for graduate school. They met as undergrads, Carla at Towson, in Maryland and Leonard at Bloomberg, in Pennsylvania. Their relationship began as a friendship, and for a long time Leonard would jokingly ask how he could get into the family. What happened next? Well, you guessed it… they ended up getting married!

The Bluitts have 4 children: Brendi (22), who is working on Master’s in Communication Studies; Bethany (20), who is finishing her bachelor’s degree in Animal Science at NC State this fall; Braeden (18), who just graduated from Northern Guilford High School and going to UNC Charlotte to study Mechanical Engineering; and Benjamin (16), who is going to be a junior at Northern Guilford. They are grateful that Carla was able to be a stay at home mother during their children’s younger years.

In 1999, in between changing diapers and feedings, Carla started a marketing firm called Unique Marketing Tools, offering graphic design services and custom printed promotional products. The company has since been rebranded as BluPrint Promos and is exclusively online.

In 2007, Leonard Bluitt was working for a risk management headquartered in NC which is what initially brought them to the Greensboro area. Years later, he ended up purchasing two Allstate agencies and merging them into one location in the Winston Salem area, and Carla obtained her life and health insurance sales licenses to assist in the office when needed. Carla clearly demonstrates her belief that work is a huge part of our worship, and she tells people regularly that going into your job with that mentality equips you to stand firm when trials come.

One of the most pertinent trials the Bluitts have faced began when their oldest daughter Brendi was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Brendi was treated at Brenner Children’s Hospital and has been cancer free for several years! Knowing that God had and still has them in the palm of His hands was what carried Carla, Leonard, and their kids through that journey.

Now that her kids aren’t “kids” anymore, Carla works full-time in the area of business development for a local company. She shared that she has a young co-worker, who is also a believer, and whom she mentors. They have been able to pray with each other and discuss spiritual things during the workday. Carla said their lifestyle choices are noticeably “different” from some of their colleagues which often gives them an opportunity to share their faith. She made it clear how important it is to “keep our ears open for opportunities to share Christ because they’re everywhere”.

One of Carla’s guiding principles in life is to rely on Proverbs 3:5, which says that we can “Trust in the Lord with all (our) heart and lean not on (our) own understanding; in all (our ways submit to him, and he will make (our) paths straight.” What a joy it is to work and serve Jesus Christ alongside Carla Bluitt! 😄

Sixth Months Into Our 11th Year!

Posted by Nicholas Lindsay, May 25th, 2020

Hello Faithful Friends! Welcome to the new CIMP Blog. For at least the six months leading up to our 11th Annual Conference, we will be featuring a CIMP member each month. This way we can learn more about each other and encourage one another as we share Jesus Christ in our marketplace appointments!

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another… As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.”

Proverbs 27:17,19 NIV

Joel Micah Williamson

Joel Williamson grew up right here in Greensboro and went to NC A&T State University for undergrad, where he studied Business Management. He then went to NC State University for a Master’s in Global Innovation Management. If that weren’t enough to make him a cool guy, Joel then went on to the Skema Business School in Paris for a degree in Global Luxury Management.

Joel married his wife, Rhea, in August 2017. Joel and Rhea met through his mother, LaShawn, who was mentoring her at the time. They didn’t hit it off at first but eventually became best friends, and the rest is history… 🙂 They have one son, Simon, who’s 21 months old and a girl on the way. They even work in the same industry now – Joel as a financial advisor with Edward Jones and Rhea working for First Citizen’s bank.

As a fellow millennial, Joel had this to say as I was describing my education and professional journey thus far. “You don’t don’t have to go to an ivy league school to receive the knowledge to succeed,” I mentioned to him that I’d consider getting an MBA, but he said that even without an MBA, your network and people who know you can and will acknowledge your worth.

Upon returning to the U.S. from the Skema Business School in Paris, Joel applied for and was accepted to a data analytics internship in California with a company called Pulse Secure, where he began applying sales analytics skills. Later, he was introduced at a career fair to a key contact for General Motors Company (GM). He told me that it was the Holy Spirit’s leading that even led him to attend the event, and through this new business relationship, he learned more about, applied to, and after several interviews was hired by GM. In his role at GM he used various skills acquired from previous experiences to drive growth and adoption of the My Reward Program.

Following GM’s restructuring in the Spring of 2019, Joel’s job was impacted and he was laid off. However; he was quite resourceful. During this time Joel moved back to Greensboro, NC, and accepted a job driving a van for an after school child care program. He recalls developing strong relationships with the kids while trusting God to guide him back into the full-time workforce. It was a great time for him and helped him grow personally and spiritually. God definitely continued providing for Joel and his family during this time and even blessed him with an opportunity to serve others as a financial advisor with one of the most reputable firms in the financial industry at the top of the year.

Prior to graduate school, Pulse Secure, GM, and Edward Jones, Joel worked with a company called Eagle’s Flight for six years as an account manager, helping fortune 500 companies build in-house leadership development programs. He mentioned that this career was instrumental in helping him pay off graduate school loans later down the road.

Some great wisdom that Joel shared with me is that God will put people and circumstances in our lives to show you us how much we’re worth and that it’s really just the expression of His Word – “you are valuable, you are loved, you have a purpose.”

As for Joel’s involvement with Christians in the Marketplace, he wanted to get involved many years ago but job opportunities continued to come up and he had to move several times. Now, Joel and his family are settled in Greensboro for a while and he has jumped on board full-swing! Joel told me that his pastor would always talk about marketplace ministry, and he has become passionate about this.

One of the highlights of Joel’s life was when he had the opportunity to meet Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-Fil-A. Joel shared his life verse with Mr. Cathy (Proverbs 3:5-6) and Truett responded by saying “that’s a good one”. Joel described this experience as a “hallmark moment”, one that is undeniably the work of Christ bringing people together.

Joel Williamson and I concluded our interview with this advice from him to all of us – “The more we integrate Christ into our lives, even as we face uncomfortable situations, God teaches us how to talk across the aisle to people who don’t look like us and who don’t believe the same way we do, but who need to hear the message God has for them. If Jesus is your filter, then he will pave the way for sanctification in and through you.”

Joel’s Family, including his mother, LaShawn Williamson in the center