Request a Speaker
LWR staff and volunteers are available to speak at your congregation or event on topics related to our work, in ways that will inspire, motivate and educate your audience. Workshops, keynote addresses, adult forums, youth events and preaching are all possibilities. Availability of speakers is limited due to schedules and other duties so please make your request as far in advance as possible.
For Your Congregation
Fill out a congregational request form
Fill out an event speaker request form
Or call 800.597.5972 to request a speaker.
Please be prepared to share the following information:
- Event description
- Venue and location
- Date and time
- Type of presentation and time allotted
- Preferred subject matter
- Audience type and expected attendance
- Opportunities for a special offering or other fundraising effort for LWR in conjunction with the event
- Opportunities to also have an LWR display at the event
- Contact person and contact information
- Honorarium and travel provisions
- Other information or special requests
Please note that LWR is not able to accept all speaking invitations but will do our best to accommodate your request.
Possible Staff Speakers
John Nunes, President & CEO
John Arthur Nunes serves as president and CEO of Lutheran World Relief (LWR), a $49 million global organization. With a passion for service and deep commitment to LWR’s core values, John leads staff in 17 countries in working to end poverty, injustice and human suffering worldwide.
Prior to joining LWR, John served on the faculty of Concordia University Chicago as a professor of theology. He has also served as a management consultant, and as an urban parish pastor and community organizer in Dallas, Texas and Detroit, Michigan. A gifted public speaker, John is also a frequent keynote presenter.
“I believe deeply that God created everyone to live in justice, dignity and peace,” John says. “When people’s most basic needs, like food, water and shelter, remain unmet, they are unable to live out their true calling. By working alongside families and communities struggling to lift themselves out of poverty, LWR helps people around the world live into their full promise.”
John 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. John has also 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.
Born in Montego Bay, Jamaica, John grew up in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, and has lived in the U.S. since 1981. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland and is married to Monique Nunes, who is the Director of Student Development for Concordia University, Nebraska. They have five grown children.
Would you like John to speak at your congregation or event?
Dan Lee is the Vice President of External Relations for Lutheran World Relief. As a frequent speaker and preacher for LWR, he seeks to passionately connect the Christian life of faith with a global perspective of faithful response to hunger, poverty and injustice.
Dan received his B.A. in Communications from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota and a Master of Divinity degree from Luther Seminary in Saint Paul, Minnesota. A former outdoor ministry chaplain, Dan has committed much of his career to working with Lutherans of all ages.
Dan’s scholarly and professional interests include international development, rural agriculture, systematic theology, homiletics, social advocacy, and communications theory. A recipient of the A.E. Hanson Award in Homiletics from Luther Seminary, Dan is a skilled preacher and public speaker, and is a frequent representative of LWR.
Dan is a commanding speaker for groups of all sizes and age groups. He has experience preaching and speaking on a variety of topics and has an intimate knowledge of the work of LWR and LMI.
My vocation compels me to share the stories of communities — in relationship with God and in relationship with one another. As Douglas John Hall writes, the story of God ‘involves in a central way a people, grasped by grace and compassion, searching out and identifying themselves with other people — especially with history’s victims
(God and Human Suffering, p. 142).
Michael Meenan serves as Lutheran World Relief’s Vice President of Finance & Administration and Treasurer. Mike works passionately with Finance & Administration tools and systems that build the financial management capacity of relief & development partners and increases the importance of technology for international programs and performance reporting for constituents and other donors.
He received his BBA in Economics and Accounting from Loyola University of Chicago. Mike later earned his MBA in International Finance from the University of Notre Dame, Mendoza College of Business. His portfolio ranges from international and global finance work to time in the Peace Corps and a range of many other senior roles in non-profit organizations. Mike is also a Certified Public Accountant in the state of Maryland.
Mike is especially invested in LWR’s culture of accountability, and values of stewardship and compliance. Along these lines, he values LWR’s consistent prioritization of overhead cost control and driving program investment in support of our mission.
Mike is a perfect choice to speak to any group interested in learning more about how LWR helps build the management capacity of their partners and how they prioritize accountability in program delivery and support.
Mike shared the story of how he fell in love with non-profit work:
I started my career in the 1980s as a Peace Corps volunteer in Lesotho where I provided consulting services within a small business institution. This was at a time when apartheid still gripped Southern Africa. I learned first-hand about the great despair, suffering and injustice that this system brought. At the same time, I experienced the spirit, grace and faith of the people in the region and their ongoing struggle to improve their livelihoods and live in justice, dignity and peace.
Rev. Dr. Jon Diefenthaler serves as Lutheran World Relief’s Church Relations Advisor. Jon graduated from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. He received his M.A. degree from Washington University, St. Louis, and then went on to study American Religious History under Dr. Sidney Mead at the University of Iowa, where he received his Ph.D. He is President Emeritus of the Southeastern District of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS). His experiences include that of seminary professor, solo pastor, senior pastor, and District President. He has served as a member of the LCMS Council of Presidents, the Commission on Theology and Church Relations, and the Board of University Education.
Rev. Dr. Diefenthaler’s areas of focus include church-wide and regional representation, mission interpretation and strategic consultation, congregational and individual philanthropic engagement, as well as constituent identification and acquisition. Jon served on the LWR Board of Directors from 2009 to 2012. His experience includes board monitoring trips to Tanzania and Peru, where seeing the work being done among poor and marginalized people strengthened his commitment to LWR.
Jon is the ideal presenter for groups and congregations of all ages and sizes. He is very familiar with pastors, churches, boards, committees, and councils of the church. He has experience preaching about LWR in worship services and making presentations during Sunday School and Bible Study hours. His presentation expertise includes an overview of the work of LWR, the difference LWR is making in today’s world and what is “Lutheran” about LWR.
The context of ministry for me has become progressively larger in scope over the years. It has gone from seminary classroom to small community congregation, to a metropolitan parish, to a five-state region and national church body, and now to one that is clearly global. It's why I am glad to be part of LWR.
David Fuerst is the Director of Philanthropic Engagement at Lutheran World Relief. In this role, he leads a team that relates directly to individuals and congregations with the highest capacity to support LWR’s work. He currently represents LWR on the Food Resource Bank board of directors.
David received a Bachelor of Science in Social Services Administration from Bellevue University in Bellevue, NE. David has had over 20 years of experience in development and fundraising work for Lutheran causes and has attained a Certified Fundraising Executive award.
David’s interest in international development started early in his life in 1st grade when he participated in his first Communities Responding to Overcome Poverty (CROP) Hunger walk, which raises money to fight hunger worldwide. That interest was further strengthened through his work with the ELCA Foundation. David loves that LWR empowers people to help work their way out of poverty and connects the hearts and resources of US Lutherans to that mission.
David is an excellent candidate to speak to adult audiences of all sizes. He has experience speaking on a variety of topics including the general work of LWR, the Lutheran Malaria Initiative, planned giving, philanthropy and generosity.
”I get to see people at their very best: when they make the decision to invest what God has entrusted in them for the benefit of others.
I’m always very touched when somebody chooses to support Lutheran World Relief with a financial gift. There is an element of heart, Christian caring and justice that is communicated through that every time. It is not something they have to do but something they choose to do.
Emily Sollie is Lutheran World Relief’s Director of Creative Services and Media Relations. She leads LWR’s creative team in developing and executing communication strategies while overseeing print publications, LWR’s online presence, video production and media relations.
Emily is a graduate of the University of Georgia, with a BA in English and a minor in Mass Communications. She later studied at the University of Alabama where she received her MA in American Studies.
Previously coming from journalism and publishing backgrounds, Emily sought out a work in the non-profit realm, where she could pursue work that she truly believes in. LWR was the perfect match for both her passions and talents. It is vital for her to work at an organization where she can meaningfully connect with her colleagues over a shared vision to make the world a better place.
Emily is passionate about engaging Lutherans in LWR’s mission by helping them put their faith into action. She believes in the programs that LWR has to offer and continues to enthusiastically support LWR’s work with the Lutheran Malaria Initiative, LWR's Quilt and Kit Ministry, Emergency Response efforts, water and agriculture projects, gender equality, and Fair Trade.
Emily is an ideal presenter for intimate workshops, and small to medium sized groups of adults looking for a general overview of LWR’s work, stories about the people they serve. She is also a great choice for presentations related to storytelling, effective communication, communication planning, or branding and marketing.
Emily’s favorite quote relates directly to her experience at LWR:
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.
Shelly Talcott is Lutheran World Relief’s Director of Constituent Engagement. Shelly provides hands-on opportunities for U.S. Lutherans to get involved in the work of LWR and to live out their faith. She also oversees donor services, whose goal it is to process, receipt and thank donors for their generosity.
A graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College, Shelly is particularly passionate about providing women and girls access to resources and opportunities to have a voice and serves as the Vice President of the Board for Girls on the Run Twin Cities
Shelly is the perfect candidate to speak about how U.S. Lutherans can engage with LWR individually or with their congregations. She is equipped to speak to congregations of all sizes in all age groups.
[I love] the commitment of the LWR staff, the positive, efficient environment and the knowledge that I get to work with passionate, dedicated US Lutherans who give so much of their time, resources and skills to make a difference for communities facing poverty and marginalization.
Christie Getman is Lutheran World Relief’s Director of Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E). Her main role at LWR is to objectively measure the effectiveness of its programs by overseeing the growth, development and improvement of LWR’s work. Working closely with program design, management and evaluation, she is passionately involved with enhancing LWR’s institutional strength and capacity building.
Christie is a graduate of the University of Richmond where she received BAs in both Leadership Studies and International Studies. She later obtained her Master’s degree from George Washington in Anthropology with a concentration in International Development.
Christie’s interests include LWR’s water, gender, agriculture, risk reduction, sanitation and hygiene programs. Her particular passion lies with one of LWR’s most important values: innovation. Believing there are always ways to improve, Christie’s goal is to use the knowledge she has gained through her position to find creative ways to promote growth and advance LWR’s mission.
Christie has experience speaking to large groups with various age ranges and is a wonderful candidate to speak about program quality and accountability, why measuring results matters, and the joys and challenges of being a working mother in an international development agency.
I really love LWR’s innovation value, because it so perfectly characterizes my philosophy about the importance of M&E in our work. LWR’s investment in our team very much speaks to the fact that ‘we are unsatisfied with the status quo.’ Good evaluation methods look deep into a community and objectively measure results — real change in the community. I call it the ‘so I can sleep at night’ factor. I work long, hard hours and am often away from my family. I am restless and unsatisfied with this until I know that we’ve collected good primary data ( …) that confirms the project’s impact is clear and sustainable.
Gretchen King is Lutheran World Relief’s Director of Lutheran Malaria Initiative (LMI). She manages and coordinates the Lutheran Malaria Initiative and engages US Lutherans in the global effort to end malaria deaths in Africa by 2015.
Gretchen is a graduate of Columbia College - Chicago in Marketing Communications. She also holds an MSc in Violence, Conflict and Development from the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies.
Gretchen’s particular interest lies in several areas, including the ELCA Global Mission, global health, conflict and campaigns. She has a geographical interest in East Africa, with a special focus on Kenya, having spent a year in Nairobi, Kenya as the Communications Coordinator for the Kenya Evangelical Lutheran Church.
Gretchen is the perfect candidate to address adults and youth in groups of 500 or less on topics related to the Lutheran Malaria Initiative and the role that faith-based organizations have in international development.
During a recent visit to Tanzania I had the opportunity to see the Lutheran Malaria Initiative projects. I visited a rural health clinic that provides health care services to thousands of people. I was amazed to see the medical equipment and medicine that is now available to those “last-mile” communities not only for malaria treatment and prevention, but for also for other basic health care needs.
Sara Jane Baublitz is the President’s Office Manager for Lutheran World Relief. She manages the strategy for key President's Office (PO) relationships, prepares and follows up on PO events, and acts as a liaison to the President’s Council which is made up of a network of creative thinkers that support innovation in the organization.
Sara Jane graduated from Susquehanna University with a BA in both International Economics and Spanish. She later went onto the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia where she received her MA in Public Leadership. Sara Jane is also in candidacy for Diaconal Ministry in the ELCA.
Sara Jane is particularly interested in the methods used by the Lutheran Church to raise young leaders as well as its ability to adapt itself to a changing cultural landscape. She also believes that gender equity is the key to high-quality development work.
The perfect candidate to address smaller sized women’s groups, Bible studies, young adult groups, and youth events, Sara Jane offers much insight into the Lutheran understanding of call and vocation, youth/young adult engagement in Social Ministry, and the Lutheran roots of LWR’s work.
Not only is LWR a place where my deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet, but it’s re-energizing to work in a place where everyone is just as passionate about the role to which they’re each called. On those inevitable days where I can’t find the motivation internally, I can draw on the energy and excitement that my coworkers bring.
Chandler Carriker is the Congregational Resource Specialist for Lutheran World Relief, and an Associate in Ministry (AiM) in the ELCA. He uses all of his creative energy to develop and manage resources that both engage and inform U.S. Lutherans of LWR’s work. While his outreach spans all ages and gender, and he is especially passionate about reaching and engaging the youth to help them find ways to put their faith into action.
After receiving his BA in History from North Carolina State University, Chandler went on to achieve his MA in Religion in Church History and Christian Education from the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary.
Chandler recognizes the important role LWR has played in the faith lives of so many. He is excited about finding new ways help followers of Christ to put their faith into action and better serve God around the world. From working as a camp director, teaching at a Lutheran college and seminary, and now in his work at LWR, his sense of calling has focused around collecting and equipping others with the skills and experiences they need to live out and exciting life of discipleship.
Chandler is a passionate speaker about youth and young adult ministry, congregational engagement with LWR’s work, Lutheran Theology, and the history of and work of LWR. Chandler is ideal for men’s groups, youth, young adults, congregational leaders, and Christian educational staff.
Chandler’s favorite quote:
“The world is charged with the grandeur of God”
– Gerald Manley Hopkins
Melanie Gibbons is LWR's Quilt and Kit Ministry Manager. Her work with LWR’s Quilt and Kit Ministry has led her to actively engage with congregations and individuals who produce these resources, as well as the recipients of these materials. She is strongly invested in disaster risk reduction methods and learning how to better address challenges through second-wave disaster relief.
Melanie attended St. Mary’s College of Maryland and received a BA in Psychology/Child Development. Passionate about putting her faith into action and helping others to do the same, she also serves as a Stephen Minister.
Melanie is an ideal presenter for a small to medium sized groups of women or youth, quilt and kit makers, for workshops, adult forums, or for preaching.
As a lifelong Lutheran with a passion for ecumenism (unity among churches through greater cooperation and understanding of God’s work), Melanie remains enthusiastic about LWR’s work. She finds being part of an organization that works tirelessly toward the bold mission to end poverty, injustice and human suffering energizing and motivating.
Melanie loves her work with congregations and quilters/kit-makers, which give her the outlet to help people put their faith into action.
“Through my work at LWR, I am able to live out personal values in common with my organization’s values, which for me defines ‘vocation’.”
Cheryl Philip is a Philanthropic Associate at Lutheran World Relief. In this position, she engages donors and congregations in Texas around the work of Lutheran World Relief and the Lutheran Malaria Initiative.
Cheryl graduated with degrees in Sociology/Anthropology and American Racial and Multicultural Studies from St. Olaf College. She is particularly interested in civic participation and the importance of civil society. She especially appreciates LWR’s work under the model of participatory development, where LWR works and collaborates with those in the field to improve development in the areas they need it most.
Cheryl is experienced in speaking to groups of all sizes and ages about the work of Lutheran World Relief and the Lutheran Malaria Initiative on a broad range of topics.
What does Cheryl feel is most important about the work of LWR?
Dignity. LWR goes into communities and sees strength and promise, not hopelessness and pity.A woman who comes from a broken home and works from before sunrise and after sunset, LWR sees her potential to move mountains and make a change.I got involved with LWR because I wanted to get my foot in the door with international development. I stay because of how LWR does work.
Pastor Dan Ruth is Lutheran World Relief’s Interactive Marketing Manager and an ordained minister in the ELCA. His mission is to bring stories of LWR’s work with communities around the world back to U.S. Lutherans through social media. Dan also oversees web strategy, LWR’s presence on Facebook, Twitter, is the general editor for the staff blog, and provides theological writing for LWR. He believes social media to be a wonderfully open way for people around the world to connect to one another.
Dan is a graduate of St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, where he has a degree in Psychology and Women’s Studies. He holds a M.Div. from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. In 2008, Dan was awarded the A.E. Hansen Prize for Homiletics by the Luther Seminary faculty.
Dan’s particular interest lies in how Lutherans in the U.S. are connected to people halfway around the world, and how the missio Dei (mission of God) calls the church to reach outside its own boundaries and walls.
Dan is an excellent candidate to preach at worship services or present to adult forums and pastor’s groups. He is especially passionate about presenting, a Lutheran theology of justice and mercy, leveraging social media in congregations and organizations, and fair trade.
I first got involved in LWR by participating in their Study Tour to Nicaragua in 2009. I was blown away by seeing the Fair Trade coffee production and meeting the farmers. More than anything, I was deeply impressed with LWR’s commitment to their mission and to the quality of the work they do.
Becca Tumm is a Philanthropic Associate — Congregations. She is a graduate of Luther College with degrees in Communications/Linguistics and Religion, and continued her education at the University of Minnesota where she received her Masters in Social Work (MSW) with a focus on international work and human resource management.
Becca enjoys meeting Lutherans in the US that are passionate about LWR’s international relief and development work.
Becca is an excellent candidate to speak about malaria to groups of all kinds. She has experience working with kids and youth. Being a quilter herself, she enjoys speaking to and interacting with fellow quilters. She also works closely with pastors and mission teams. She is comfortable speaking in a variety of venues from being in front of large congregations to talking to small groups at a time tabling at an event.
I love working at LWR. Not only do I get to work for an organization that does great work, but work that I’m passionate about. Every day I get to share about the work of LWR and LMI, meeting with Lutherans who are passionate about ending poverty, injustice, and human suffering and are doing something about it in their congregations and their communities. I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing.
Krista Zimmerman is LWR’s Senior Policy Advisor. She provides counsel on public policies and initiatives that affect the organization’s international work with marginalized communities experiencing poverty. Krista also meets with governmental officials and leaders to discuss how public policy changes can help end poverty injustice and human suffering.
Krista attended Goshen College and obtained a BA in both History and Bible and Religion Studies. She later gained her JD from the University of Notre Dame.
Krista grew up in the Philippines where she witnessed firsthand the complex challenges that face marginalized communities. She also saw how community and faith-based development work can help those individuals and communities to flourish. Today, she counts it as a privilege to use her legal training, government experience and public policy knowledge to further and complement the life-saving development work of Lutheran World Relief.
Krista is a frequent guest speaker at churches, seminars and conferences. Krista is an expert on advocacy, public policy, the role of the US government policy and legislation, peace and justice, sustainable development policy, and food security and hunger issues. She most recently has presented on the following topics: food and faith, the voices of the marginalized, and the role of smallholder farmers in fighting global hunger.
On a recent trip to Africa, a wise woman shared with Krista her advice for changing the world,
“If there is good and informed leadership,” she told her, “almost every other problem can be solved.”
As a result, Krista works hard to make sure that government leaders and policymakers have the information and perspective needed to help solve the problems of poverty and injustice.
Jeff Whisenant is the Executive Vice-president at Lutheran World Relief. In this position, he is responsible for the coordination of LWR’s leadership team, for strategy, human resources and institutional fundraising. Whisenant also serves as advisor to the President on governance issues. Whisenant has previously held the positions of Chief Financial Officer, Senior Program Director, Program Director for Latin America and five other positions at LWR.
He has worked in international development his entire career. He previously worked with Pact, Inc. where he was Vice-president of Programs, ORBIS International, and as Adjunct Associate Professor of Social Sciences at New York University.
Whisenant also serves on the board of directors of ActionAid USA, where he is board chair emeritus. He also serves on the Audit and Risk Committee of ActionAid International, a $200 million federation.
Whisenant holds Masters degrees in International Political Economy and Development from Fordham University and in Public and Non-Profit Management from New York University.