The Story of the Grace Alliance

The Grace Alliance was founded in 2010 in Waco, Texas by Joe Padilla and Dr. Matthew Stanford. After 12 years of serving as a licensed and ordained minister in missions and local church leadership, Joe stepped down from ministry to care for his wife’s acute and debilitating mental health breakdown.

“Lord if there is grace, then make it practical!”

This was Joe’s prayer after eight years of not seeing his wife improve from both professional and ministry care. Unfortunately, in their case, it was making the situation worse. For months Joe completed his own personal and extensive research into neuroscience, clinical studies, and biblical/theological insights and discovered how to blend science and faith into a new whole-health lifestyle approach. A new model to help his wife get “unstuck.”

For the next year and a half, Joe applied this new model with his wife and family (five kids) to help his wife rise from brokenness to beauty of life, which included better aligned professional care. The results were amazing and Dr. Stanford commented her mental health recovery was rare and a “clinical miracle.” After seeing this miraculous result, Joe and Dr. Stanford teamed up to cofound the Grace Alliance and collectively developed the insights and models into simple, innovative, and reproducible resources for personal and small group use to help other Christians and churches have practical tools for these mental health challenges … and get “unstuck.” Many started finding hope and lives were changing for the better!

Over the years, as the Grace Alliance continued to grow, the team expanded to include administrative staff from Texas and California. Our Executive Directors, Natalie Franks and Casey Pruet, have their own powerful comeback story from both personal (Natalie) and advocate care (Casey) as a college student and college ministry. Their experience and story has added a unique approach to broaden our reach to young adults.

The Grace Alliance is about “y/our” story.

From the research and statistics, we know our story is the same story of millions of other Christians! We know the experience, the confusion, the pain, and the loneliness. Grace Alliance is about “our” story - all of us who experience these challenges. We’re empowering OUR story with science and faith insights and tools to help OUR story get “unstuck.”


Meet the Team


Natalie Franks, M.A., OTR/L

Executive Director of Programs

Natalie is a Registered and Licensed Occupational Therapist, having earned her Masters degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of Southern California in 2013 with an emphasis in mental health and her Bachelor’s degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of Southern California in 2012. With a passion for mental health stemming from her own personal experience, Natalie joined staff with the Grace Alliance in 2013. She now serves as the Executive Director of Programs, overseeing content and product development for all curriculum, programs and materials. Natalie is passionate about seeing hope practically communicated and experienced through the Grace Alliance materials, educational seminars and participating in speaking engagements throughout churches and communities.


Casey Pruet

Executive Director of operations

In 2009, Casey graduated from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and minor in Marketing. After graduation, Casey worked as a full-time staff member with Cru at USC. Casey came on staff with Grace Alliance in 2013. Serving as the Executive Director of Operations, she oversees business development and operations as well as organizational and product marketing, helping expand the reach of Grace Alliance resources. She also participates in program development alongside Joe Padilla and Natalie Franks. Casey is passionate about spreading the hope of Grace Alliance’s process of recovery to people all around the world.


JoEllen Santos

Financial Director

JoEllen joined the Grace Alliance in 2014. Previously, JoEllen worked as an office manager at a non-profit organization called Waco Community Development (WCD). Through a variety of experiences, she has acquired a growing expertise in non-profit accounting and finance systems, donor management, office and organizational operations, community programs and project administration. JoEllen is dedicated to creating efficient systems for professional standards and thorough non-profit management systems.


Joe Padilla


Joe Padilla is a Baylor University graduate and a licensed and ordained minister with over 20 years of experience working in overseas missions, stateside church leadership, and non-profit and small business development. Joe's wife had long-standing mental health challenges, which led him to study and discover a unique scientific and faith approach which helped his wife have remarkable mental health recovery to this day. With this new insight and personal experience Joe and Dr. Matthew Stanford co-founded the Grace Alliance in 2011 to provide simple, innovative, and grace-filled resources and tools to empower the body of Christ.


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All Grace Alliance resources and programs are designed to improve overall wellness and are proven to provide positive benefits when used in conjunction with professional therapy. Grace Alliance materials are not professional mental health or medical resources and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any mental or physical disorder or replace treatment services of mental health or medical professionals.  The use of Grace Alliance resources in personal or small group context is the sole discretion of the user. The Grace Alliance highly encourages the user to seek mental health and medical professional care for any ongoing personal challenges.