Staff & Board
Lutheran World Relief has expert staff working in the United States, as well as in the countries we serve in Africa, Asia and the Middle East and Latin America.
Lutheran World Relief staff are available to speak at your congregation or event. Click here to request a speaker.
STAFF & LEADERSHIP
With a passion for service and deep commitment to Lutheran World Relief's core values, Jeff Whisenant leads staff in 17 countries working to end poverty, injustice and human suffering worldwide.
Jeff’s entire career has been in international development. He has served LWR for 20 years, previously holding the positions of executive vice president, chief financial officer, senior program director and six others.
Jeff served with the Peace Corps in Gabon. He also worked with Pact, Inc, ORBIS International, and as adjunct associate professor of social sciences at New York University.
Jeff currently serves on the Audit and Risk Committee of ActionAid International, a $200 million federation.
He holds master's degrees in International Political Economy and Development from Fordham University and in Public and Non-Profit Management from New York University.
President’s Office Manager and Board Liaison
Sara Jane Baublitz Read Bio
President's Office Relationship Manager
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.
Emily Sollie Read Bio
Senior Director, Internal Communication and Public Relations
Havaca Ganguly Read Bio
Director, New Business Development
Havaca Ganguly is the Director for New Business at LWR. As the leader of New Business Development function, she builds upon the foundation, influences the future of the organization and leads the expansion of restricted funding in LWR’s portfolio, ensuring alignment with the strategic business plans.
Havaca graduated from the University of Missouri with degrees in International Studies, Latin America. She holds a Masters of Public Administration from the University of Kansas.
Over the past ten years, Havaca developed skills to quickly integrate into diverse teams and assess gaps across a range of sectors including WASH, shelter, health, OVC, natural resource management, food security, agriculture, public housing, workforce development and adult education.
Havaca is an excellent candidate to speak to smaller audiences of any age. She has experience speaking with children’s audiences as well as adult groups on a variety of topics.
Lutheran World Relief reminds me of the Little Engine that Could. It is a small place that does really meaningful work and stands by what it believes in as it relates to the alleviation of poverty
Daniel Lee Read Bio
Vice President, External Relations
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).
The Rev. Dr. Jon Diefenthaler Read Bio
Church Relations Advisor, LCMS
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.
Cheryl Williams Read Bio
Director, Marketing & Creative Services
Cheryl Williams is the Director of Marketing & Creative Services for Lutheran World Relief. She leads the team that ensures LWR effectively and efficiently communicates to Lutherans how partnership with LWR helps them live their faith by helping their brothers and sisters overseas.
Cheryl is a graduate of North Carolina State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science. She also has an MBA and a Master’s of Science in Business from Johns Hopkins University. In 2002, Cheryl was named one of Maryland’s top 100 women.
Cheryl’s particular interest lies in connecting the lives of U.S. Lutherans and those we serve overseas. As the founding president of a church council in inner-city East Baltimore, she merged 3 Lutheran church bodies helping to maintain a Lutheran presence, supporting communities facing poverty and marginalization—the same issues we work with overseas.
Cheryl excels at speaking to audiences of all sizes and ages groups. She has experience speaking about stewardship and spiritual gifts from the perspective of a life-long Lutheran. Her presentation experience also includes various topics related to the general work of LWR.
After over 20 years in a corporate environment, I feel so blessed to be at LWR, able to serve God and to serve others using my gifts
Shelly Talcott Read Bio
Director, Constituent Engagement
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.
David Fuerst Read Bio
Director, Philanthropic Engagement
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.
Heather McGinness Read Bio
Associate Director, Philanthropic Engagement
Heather McGinness is Associate Director of Philanthropic Engagement for Lutheran World Relief. In this position, she develops strategies that support the team that works to identify, engage and retain donors with high philanthropic capacity in support of LWR’s work. She also works with key stakeholders to make strategic recommendations to the Director of Philanthropic Engagement.
Heather received a BA in psychology from Case Western Reserve University. She is also a Certified Non-profit Manager (CNM) from the Weatherhead School of Management and Mandel Center for Nonprofit Organizations at Case Western Reserve University.
Her interest areas lie in philanthropy, the future shaping of the church and congregational and individual engagement. She is a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE), a Master Trainer for the Association for Fundraising Professionals (AFP) and she is a member of the LCMS.
Heather is the ideal presenter for audiences of all sizes and ages on topics ranging from philanthropy to Biblical stewardship to fundraising development.
Gratitude led me to LWR, a calling from a deep desire to give back, reach out and use the gifts God has blessed me with in a way that benefits our brothers and sisters around the world. LWR’s mission deeply resonates in my heart and my passion to serve.
Jonathan Buuck is a Philanthropic Advisor at Lutheran World Relief. Jon meets with donors to connect their passions and generosity with LWR’s work oversees in which each person, every community, and all generations live in justice, dignity and peace.
Jon is a graduate of the University of Minnesota with a B.S. in Business Administration, and received his M. Div. from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Jon has been a Lutheran pastor for 19 years serving in North Dakota, Ohio and Minnesota. He participated in establishing a partnership with the Birbir Dilla Synod of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus. Jon is also certified as a Healthy Congregations Facilitator. In the past, he has served as a Bread for the World Campus Organizer and a director for congregational stewardship.
Jon is the perfect candidate to tell Biblical stories of generosity, share how you can leave a legacy that impacts the world, explain how the joy of generosity may not be as expensive as you think, and engage your congregation’s stewardship for the benefit of the world. Jon is well versed in speaking to groups of all sizes and ages.
Connecting people’s passions and generosity to relief and sustainable development for marginalized people around the world is my calling in life. I am able to see the face of Christ in those who graciously give to LWR and know that together, we are the hands and the feet of Christ in the world.
Paul is one of Lutheran World Relief’s Philanthropic Advisors. In his role, Paul Speaks with donors about opportunities to partner with LWR in our work to end poverty, injustice, and human suffering around the world.
A graduate of Texas Lutheran University in with a degree in Political Science, Paul has more than two decades of experience in nonprofit management and fundraising.
Paul has held the CFRE (Certified Fund Raising Executive) designation since 2000, and has taught workshops in major gifts, donor research, capital campaigns, and church stewardship to development professionals across the country.
Paul is comfortable speaking to any audience about all of the successful programs LWR initiates around the world in agriculture, water, emergency response, health and livelihoods, changing climate conditions and civic participation.
“I am blessed to work with colleagues around the world, living our faith on a daily basis by serving our neighbors in need.”
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.
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.
Timothy McCully Read Bio
Vice President, International Programs
Tim McCully is the Vice President of Lutheran World Relief's International Programs Department. Here he has provided strategic leadership and management for all overseas relief and development programming in Asia, Africa, the Americas and the Middle East.
Tim holds a Master's Degree in International Affairs from Columbia University. Tim has traveled extensively throughout Asia, Latin America, Africa, Europe and the former Soviet Union for professional purposes and has lived, worked, and studied in Thailand and Hong Kong.
Specific focus has been on rural livelihoods and food security, public health (with an emphasis on malaria and HIV/AIDS), assets-based approaches to development, disaster risk reduction and relief, gender equity, and organizational development and capacity building. Simultaneous to this role at LWR, Tim also serves as the Board Chair for IMA World Health.
Christie Getman Read Bio
Director, Monitoring and Evaluation
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.
Director, Emergency Response
Associate Vice President for Field Operations
Regional Director, Africa
Country Director, Tanzania
Country Director, Uganda
East Africa Regional Representative
Deputy Regional Director & Regional Representative, West Africa
Abdelah Ben Mobrouk
Country Director, Niger
Country Director, Burkina Faso
Asia & the Middle East
Regional Director, Asia & the Middle East
Country Director, The Philippines
Regional Representative, Central America
Regional Representative, Andean Region
Country Director, El Salvador & Honduras
Country Director, Nicaragua
Country Director, Haiti
FINANCE & ADMINISTRATION
Michael Meenan Read Bio
Vice President, Finance & Administration
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.
Director for Finance
Director of International Finance
Wendy Rothenberger is the Director of Human Resources for Lutheran World Relief. She is responsible for the overall strategic HR leadership for LWR for domestic and overseas staff. Her mission is to achieve the agency’s strategic plan and organizational growth strategies.
Wendy is also responsible for the development and implementation of comprehensive, fully-integrated human resource programs and services for LWR. She leads the day-to-day HR operations while also serving as the chief human resource officer, consultant and chief advisor on both strategic and operational HR issues.
Wendy holds a BA in International Relations from St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, PA. She also has a PHR (Professional in Human Resource) certification with the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).
I've seen first-hand the difference that our work makes in the lives of marginalized people. I have also met many US Lutherans who care deeply about the suffering of marginalized people and want to be part of the work that we do to improve their lives. Being part of a system that brings those two groups together is very humbling and rewarding.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Emried Cole, Jr.
President, Gettysburg Endowment Foundation & Executive Director, Voices of History, LTSG | Gettysburg, PA
Dr. William J. Craft
President, Concordia College | Moorhead, MN
Dr. Gloria S. Edwards (Chair)
Portola Valley, CA
Dr. Louise P. Evenson
Honorable Steve Gunderson
President, The Association of Private Sector Colleges | Washington, DC
Jayesh Hines-Shah (Vice Chair)
Attorney, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP | Chicago, IL
Emma Graeber Porter
President, Graeber Consulting | New York, NY
Linda K. Reiser
Grand Island, NE
Jonathan D. Schultz (Secretary)
Vice President and General Counsel, Concordia Publishing House | St. Louis, MO
Lisa Webb Sharpe
Senior Vice President of Finance, Administration, & Advancement, Lansing Community College | Lansing, MI
Dr. Teizazu T. Sukessa
Senior IT Technical Analyst - Enterprise Web Services for Cargill, Inc. | Minnetonka, MN
The Rev. Timothy Runtsch
Senior Pastor, Redeemer Lutheran Church | Ft. Collins, CO