News Releases

| return to news release list |

Media Contact: Emily Sollie, 410-230-2802, 443-220-3269 cell,

Lutheran World Relief President John Nunes Announces Resignation, Appointment at Valparaiso University

Baltimore, May 16, 2013 — Lutheran World Relief (LWR) President and CEO John Nunes announced today that he will resign his position at LWR to assume the Emil and Elfrieda Jochum Chair at Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, IN. His last day at LWR will be September 1.

LWR’s fourth president, Nunes has headed the organization since 2007. He led LWR through a strategic planning process in 2009 that resulted in a revised mission statement, newly defined core values, and clearly articulated organizational goals. Nunes also oversaw the organization’s rebranding efforts in 2010 and the launch of its new logo and tagline. During his tenure at LWR, Nunes has worked to highlight Lutheran social teachings, drawing distinct theological connections for the mandate of international humanitarian work. LWR grew significantly during his time as president, from a $35 million annual budget in fiscal year 2007 to $45.9 million in 2012. In 2012, LWR assisted 7.8 million people in 35 countries in their efforts to recover from disasters and lift themselves out of poverty.

Prior to joining LWR, Nunes taught theology at Concordia University Chicago. He has also served as a management consultant, and as an urban parish pastor and community organizer in Dallas and Detroit. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Concordia College, Ann Arbor, Mich.; a Master of Divinity from Concordia Seminary in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada; and from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago he holds both a Master of Theology and a Doctor of Philosophy with an emphasis in postcolonial identity. He has received honorary doctorates from Concordia University, Ann Arbor and Carthage College, Kenosha, Wisconsin. He currently sits on the board of directors of InterAction, the largest alliance of U.S.-based international nongovernmental organizations.

Nunes is the author of Voices from the City: Issues and Images of Urban Preaching and, with his wife Monique, the children’s book Little Things Make Big Differences: A Story about Malaria. He is also the co-editor of Churrasco: A Theological Feast in Honor of Vítor Westhelle, with Mary Philip and Charles M. Collier.

“I have absolutely loved my time at LWR,” Nunes said. “This is a fabulous organization with a dedicated and passionate staff, and it has been such a gift to witness the profound changes that LWR’s work leads to in the lives of our brothers and sisters suffering poverty and marginalization overseas. I believe deeply that God created everyone to live in justice, dignity and peace,” he continued. “And I have been inspired by the outpouring of love and support from Lutherans in the U.S. who put their faith into action with LWR. I am so thankful for the opportunity to have served as LWR’s president, and I remain committed to supporting its mission in the world. I am excited to build on my experience here, sharing what I have seen and learned with the next generation of leaders.”

Valparaiso’s Emil and Elfrieda Jochum Chair, established in 1986, supports the study of Christian values in public and professional life. Its first occupant, Walter Wangerin Jr., was appointed in 1991.

“The Rev. Dr. John Nunes will be sorely missed,” said Gloria Edwards, chair of LWR’s board of directors. “His particular gifts — collaborative leadership, effective visioning, dynamic presentation skills — have left Lutheran World Relief in an enviable position as we continue our work to end poverty, injustice and human suffering. He is indeed one of a kind.”

A search committee, to be named by Edwards, will conduct a national search for LWR’s next president and CEO. Executive Vice President Jeff Whisenant will serve as interim president during the search. Whisenant has more than 25 years of experience in program, finance and executive leadership in international relief and development, including 19 years at LWR.

About Lutheran World Relief (LWR):
Lutheran World Relief works to improve the lives of smallholder farmers and people experiencing poverty in Africa, Asia and Latin America, both in times of emergencies and for the long term. With the financial support of US Lutherans and other donors, LWR strengthens communities through programs in agriculture, climate, and emergency support. LWR works with partners, supporters and technical assistance providers to achieve lasting results. For more information, visit

Lutheran World Relief is a ministry of U.S. Lutherans, serving communities living in poverty overseas.

Subscribe to LWR eNews Create a Profile Track donations. Customize content.
LWR's Blog LWR In Depth Detailed information about the work that we do.