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.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Dr. Gloria S. Edwards (Chair)
Portola Valley, CA
Jayesh Hines-Shah (Vice Chair)
Attorney | Chicago, IL
Jonathan D. Schultz (Secretary)
Vice President and General Counsel, Concordia Publishing House | St. Louis, MO
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. Louise P. Evenson
Honorable Steve Gunderson
President, The Association of Private Sector Colleges | Washington, DC
David J. Lose
President, The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia
Emma Graeber Porter
President, Graeber Consulting | New York, NY
Linda K. Reiser
Grand Island, NE
The Rev. Timothy Runtsch
Senior Pastor, Redeemer Lutheran Church | Ft. Collins, CO
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
STAFF & LEADERSHIP
Ambassador Daniel V. Speckhard (Rt.) is LWR’s President and CEO.
A former U.S. Ambassador to Greece and Belarus, Speckhard has had a long and distinguished career in government service under both Republican and Democratic administrations.
Ambassador Speckhard’s previous positions have included serving as Deputy Assistant Secretary General at NATO and Deputy Chief of Mission in Iraq; he has also served as a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. Immediately prior to joining LWR, he was a senior advisor to Palantir Technologies, a Silicon Valley company at the forefront of using technology to drive innovative change across the government, commercial and non-profit sectors.
A descendant of a long line of Lutheran pastors, Ambassador Speckhard says his Lutheran upbringing instilled in him a strong core value of service to others, and a deep desire to contribute to alleviating poverty, suffering and injustice in the world.
A problem solver, a negotiator, a consensus builder and a visionary, Ambassador Speckhard brings to LWR deep experience working at the nexus of economic development, international security and political change, areas closely linked to LWR’s mission to serve people experiencing poverty and marginalization overseas.
Speckhard has a master’s degree in economics, a master’s degree in public policy and administration, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and started his career in government as a Presidential Management Fellow.
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 a diaconal minister 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
Jeff Whisenant Read Bio
Executive Vice President, External Relations
Jeff Whisenant is the Executive Vice President at Lutheran World Relief. In this position, he is responsible for the leadership of External Relations, including marketing and creative services, new business development, constituent engagement and philanthropic engagement. Jeff also serves as advisor to the president on governance issues. Jeff has previously held the positions of interim president and CEO, 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 an adjunct associate professor of social sciences at New York University.
Jeff also serves on the Audit and Risk Committee of ActionAid International, a $300 million federation.
Jeff holds master's degrees in international political economy and development from Fordham University and in public and non-profit management from New York University.
Havaca Ganguly Read Bio
Senior Director, New Business Development
Havaca Ganguly is the Senior 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
Cheryl Williams Read Bio
Senior Director, Marketing and Creative Services
Cheryl Williams is the Senior 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 Science 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
Senior Director, Constituent Engagement
Shelly Talcott is Lutheran World Relief’s Senior 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.
Senior Director, Research & Development
David Fuerst Read Bio
Senior Director, Philanthropic Engagement
David Fuerst is the Senior 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 also earned a graduate certificate in Non-profit Management (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.
is a philanthropic advisor at Lutheran World Relief. Michael connects with donors to understand why LWR is important to them and make sure they are engaged at a level they are excited about.
A graduate of the University of St. Thomas with a degree in chemistry, Michael began his career in development work as a philanthropic advisor and planned giving specialist at Luther Seminary. He also served as the director of development at Lake Wapogasset Lutheran Bible Camp, Inc.
Most of the time, it is Michael’s voice on the other end of the line inviting U.S. Lutherans for a visit or event. He’s the person to talk to about planned giving or how to include LWR in your end of life planning. Michael is available to speak to congregations or a group of people who wish to learn more about the general work of Lutheran World Relief.
What has intrigued me about LWR is the way we go about our work. LWR is like the bass guitar of the “global rock band.” We are not out in front, like the lead vocals or the lead guitar. We sit in the background, accompanying the percussion team creating the rhythm. You may not notice us when we are there, but you notice when we are not. We humbly walk side by side with people to create or restore the rhythm of life.
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.”
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.
Beth McKinley is a philanthropic advisor for Lutheran World Relief. She works with benefactors and friends of LWR to help them support the mission of LWR, primarily through charitable giving.
Beth received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Shepherd College and started her fundraising career at the Lutheran Camping Corporation of Central PA, where she served as the development director. She has also served as the director of development and communications at Lutheran Volunteer Corps, and most recently as a major gifts officer at the Shippensburg University Foundation.
Beth is an active member of the Association of Lutheran Development Executives (ALDE). In 2011, she received the Jay Bleeke Award for outstanding service as a young ALDE member.
I believe that all we have belongs to God and that when we are good stewards of that abundance, whether it is knowledge, skills, and/or material resources, we draw nearer to Jesus and closer to full human flourishing.
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
Senior Director, Africa
Regional Representative, East Africa
Country Director, Tanzania
Country Director, Uganda
Deputy Director, West Africa
Nana Aminata Touré
Regional Representative, West Africa
Abdallah Ben Mabrouk
Country Director, Niger
Country Director, Burkina Faso
Asia & the Middle East
Regional Director, Asia & the Middle East
Deputy Regional Director, Asia & the Middle East
Country Director, Indonesia
Country Director, The Philippines
Senior Director, Latin America
Deputy Regional Director, Latin America
Regional Representative, Central America
Luc Maille Lefranc
Country Director, Haiti
Country Director, Honduras
Country Director, Nicaragua
Regional Representative, Andean Region
Country Director, Colombia
FINANCE & ADMINISTRATION
Acting Vice President, Finance & Administration and Treasurer
Wendy Rothenberger is the Vice President 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.