Our Team

OUR TEAM

Charlotte Haberaecker

President and CEO

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Wendy Beach

Vice President, Marketing & Communications

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Sarah Dobson

Senior Director of Public Policy and Advocacy

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Christopher Findlay

Senior Manager, Marketing & Communications

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Alesia Frerichs

Vice President, Member Engagement

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Deborah Hoesly

Vice President of Development

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Renada Johnson

Director, Children, Youth and Family Practice Lead

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Bill Kallestad

Director of Public Policy and Advocacy, Lutheran Services in America-Disability Network

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Susan Newton, Ed.D.

Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives

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Kimberly Roque

Director of Leadership Development and Growth

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Bola Sodeinde

Senior Director of Business Operations

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Elizabeth Vetter

Program Associate

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Ashley Washington

Director, Aging Initiatives

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Cristina Zegarra-Valente

Program Assistant to the President & CEO

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OUR BOARD

Darrell Gordon

Board Chairperson

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Colleen Frankenfield

Board Vice Chairperson

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Jane Isaacs Lowe

Board Secretary

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Rev. Jeffrey Thiemann

Board Treasurer

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David Duea

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Dr. Kristen Gay

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Eric Gurley

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Karen Himle

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Rev. Dr. Rafael Malpica Padilla

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Dr. Antonio Oftelie

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Rev. Kevin Robson

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Dr. Anthony Bateza

Board Adjunct and Theologian
in Residence

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CHURCH LIAISONS

Naomi Sonne

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Dorothy Krans

The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

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Darrell Gordon

Board Chairperson

LISTEN to Darrell Gordon’s story on why he was called to join Lutheran Services in America.

Wernle Youth & Family Treatment Center

President & CEO

Darrell Gordon is President & CEO of Wernle Youth & Family Treatment Center, which is a nationally recognized residential treatment facility serving neglected and abused youth primarily in Indiana and Ohio. Under his leadership, Wernle was both a national finalist for the Barbara Allen-Hagen award for extraordinary improvement to facility quality of life and operations and the Achievement of Excellence Non-Profit Organization of the Year Award.

Darrell is an international, powerful change speaker on character development, diversity and leadership empowerment. Darrell earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from Notre Dame, a Juris Doctorate from Northern Kentucky Law School, a certification in fundraising management from Indiana University School of Philanthropy and strategic perspective in nonprofit management from Harvard Business School.

LISTEN to Darrell Gordon’s story on why he was called to join Lutheran Services in America.

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Colleen Frankenfield

Board Vice Chairperson

Lutheran Social Ministries of New Jersey

President & CEO

Colleen Frankenfield is the President & CEO of Lutheran Social Ministries of New Jersey. She has worked in faith-based healthcare and senior services for over 30 years. While in law school, she worked for the CMS/Maximus as a Medicare Appeals Adjudicator. In addition to practicing law in the area of professional liability, she had the opportunity to work with healthcare providers and educational institutions in matters related to workers compensation, special education, school law and other general corporate practice areas.

Colleen served as a member of several boards, including as the Chair for Leading Age NJ/DE, the Co-Vice-Chair and board member at Felician University and a member of the advisory committee for the College of Arts and Sciences at St. Joseph University. She has been instrumental with several health systems in developing and implementing plans to improve financial viability, while improving the quality of care and services.

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Jane Isaacs Lowe

Board Secretary

Jane Isaacs Lowe has had an extensive career in philanthropy, academics and social work. Prior to her retirement, Jane served on the program staff of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. She was formerly a faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Work where she focused on health care practice and non-profit management. She began her career as a social worker at Mt. Sinai Medical Center (New York City).

Jane has served on the boards of several youth-serving community organizations and earned her doctorate in social work from Rutgers University, a master’s in social work from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree from Cedar Crest College.

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Rev. Jeffrey Thiemann

Board Treasurer

LISTEN to Rev. Jeffrey Thiemann’s story on why he was called to join Lutheran Services in America.

Portico Benefit Services

President & CEO

The Rev. Jeff Thiemann is President and CEO of Portico Benefit Services, a ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which provides innovative health and retirement programs to those who serve. He is Board Chair for the Church Benefits Association and is on the Steering Committee of the Church Alliance. He was executive pastor at Saint Matthew Lutheran Church in Walnut Creek, California.

Prior to answering a call to ordained ministry, Jeff worked in a variety of business settings including President and CEO of a Silicon Valley startup and nearly 20 years at Hewlett-Packard. He earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a Master of Divinity from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and graduated from Harvard Business School’s The General Manager Program.

LISTEN to Rev. Jeffrey Thiemann’s story on why he was called to join Lutheran Services in America.

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David Duea

Lutheran Community Services Northwest

President & CEO

David Duea is the President & CEO of Lutheran Community Services Northwest. LCSNW provides services to people in Oregon, Washington and Idaho with support to meet life’s most difficult challenges and thrive in communities that are healthy, just and hopeful. David led significant growth for the organization over the past seven years, including bringing Compass Housing under the Lutheran Community Services umbrella, expanding their services to include emergency services and affordable housing.

He holds a B.A. from Pacific Lutheran University in social work and an M.B.A., with a focus on total quality management, from City University. David and his wife Jane live in Tacoma, Washington. They have two adult children that live in Seattle and San Diego.

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Dr. Kristen Gay

Gemma Services

President & CEO

Dr. Kristen Gay serves as President & CEO of Gemma Services. She has devoted her career to care for children and families, previously at Silver Springs – Martin Luther School prior to its merger with theVillage, and now at Gemma Services.

After receiving a B.A. in psychology from Franklin and Marshall College, and an M.Ed. in psychological services and a Ph.D. in school, community and clinical child psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, Kristen joined the Silver Springs staff in 1999. Kristen has clinical experience in Counseling and School Psychology and has served as an Adjunct Instructor at the University of Pennsylvania.

Kristen’s diverse experience informs her passionate vision for the future of the organization and the myriad of ways through which Gemma Services brings hope and healing to children and families.

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Eric Gurley

Immanuel

President & CEO

Eric Gurley is a skilled financial and operational professional with decades of senior housing and healthcare experience, excelling in the areas of strategic planning, implementation and reporting.

Under his leadership, Immanuel grew from 300 employees to 1,400 and expanded missional service to underserved populations through the implementation of three innovative models of care. Eric also oversaw the creation of the Immanuel Vision Foundation and the Immanuel Community Foundation.

He is a member of the Experimental Aircraft Association Board and Finance Committee, Omaha Symphony Board and Finance Committee, Lutheran Giving Board and Nebraska Lutheran Outdoor Ministries Finance & Audit Committee.

 

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Karen Himle

LISTEN to Karen Himle’s story on why he was called to join Lutheran Services in America.

Thrivent Financial

Senior Vice President of Corporate and Government Affairs

Karen Himle is Senior Vice President of Corporate and Government Affairs at Thrivent. She joined Thrivent in November 2014 as Vice President of Corporate Affairs. Karen is responsible for leading the enterprise corporate communications, reputation and public policy, federal and state government affairs and community affairs functions of the organization.

Karen serves as Chair of the Public Affairs Council and Chair of the Governance Committee for Lutheran Services in America (both based in Washington, DC). Karen is also a member of the board of directors of the Basilica Landmark, Greater Twin Cities United Way and the Minnesota Orchestral Association.

LISTEN to Karen Himle’s story on why he was called to join Lutheran Services in America.

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Rev. Dr. Rafael Malpica Padilla

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Executive Director

The Rev. Rafael Malpica Padilla serves as Executive Director for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Service and Justice Home Area, which fosters and facilitates the ELCA’s engagement in service, promotes efforts to call and act for justice and supports the freedom of Christians to love and serve their neighbor globally and locally.

Pastor Malpica Padilla has served the ELCA as bishop of the Caribbean Synod (1987–1993) and as member of the Churchwide Organization staff since 1993. He holds a Master of Divinity from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia and several honorary doctorates from theological education institutions in the United States, India and Mexico.

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Dr. Antonio Oftelie

LISTEN to Dr. Antonio Oftelie’s story on why he was called to join Lutheran Services in America.

Leadership for a Networked World

Executive Director

Dr. Antonio Oftelie conducts research, teaches and advises on how leaders create exceptional environments for organizational innovation and adaptation. Based in the Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard University, Antonio has developed and taught in more than 60 Harvard executive education programs.

Antonio advises senior government and business executives on organizational transformation. In this capacity, he has directly advised three governors, public and private organizations and two White House administrations. Antonio is the current U.S. Federal Monitor for the consent decree overseeing the Seattle Police Department.

Antonio holds a B.S. in Management and Ethics from Crown College, an M.P.A. with a Business and Government Policy concentration from Harvard University and a doctorate in Law and Policy from Northeastern University.

LISTEN to Dr. Antonio Oftelie’s story on why he was called to join Lutheran Services in America.

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Rev. Kevin Robson

LISTEN to Rev. Kevin Robson’s story on why he was called to join Lutheran Services in America.

The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

Chief Mission Officer

The Rev. Kevin D. Robson has served as the Chief Mission Officer for The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) since 2015, supervising the Synod’s Offices of International Mission, National Mission and Pastoral Education as well as its Mission Advancement (donor engagement and fundraising) and Communications units. He had previously served God’s faithful as a parish pastor for LCMS congregations in Minnesota  from 2001 onward.

Prior to earning his MDiv at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne in 2001, Pastor Robson enjoyed a broad career in R&D, product management, sales, business development and consulting with Union Carbide Corporation (Chicago, IL) and Air Products and Chemicals (Allentown, PA). He is a graduate of The University of Chicago Booth School of Business (MBA Finance and Marketing, 1988) and The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (BS Chemistry, BSE Chemical Engineering 1982).

LISTEN to Rev. Kevin Robson’s story on why he was called to join Lutheran Services in America.

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Dr. Anthony Bateza

Board Adjunct and Theologian
in Residence

St. Olaf College

Assistant Professor of Religion and Race Program Advisor

Dr. Anthony Bateza is an Associate Professor of Religion and Race Program Advisor at St. Olaf College and an ordained pastor in the Lutheran Church (ELCA). He earned degrees from Iowa State University (B.S.), Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (M.Div.) and Princeton Theological Seminary (Ph.D.).

Anthony is a specialist in Martin Luther, moral theology and Christian ethics. His research examines Luther’s understanding of human agency and his relationship with the virtue tradition. His other scholarly interests include the broader Augustinian tradition, the impact of Luther’s thought on 19th century philosophy, and questions of race, identity and social justice.

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Charlotte Haberaecker

READ Charlotte’s reflections, launched at the start of the pandemic to connect with our member CEOs during a dark and uncertain time.

President and CEO

Charlotte Haberaecker is President and CEO of Lutheran Services in America. Under Charlotte’s leadership, Lutheran Services in America has consistently been recognized by the Chronicle of Philanthropy and Forbes as one of the nation’s top nonprofit organizations. She is at the forefront of developing and implementing groundbreaking initiatives and collaborative learning models to drive systemic change.

Prior to joining Lutheran Services in America in 2012, Charlotte was the #2 Executive at Global Impact and held senior leadership positions at Price Waterhouse and Fannie Mae. She also was the recipient of the 2018 Rebrand 100 Global Award for one of the top 100 brand transformations in the world, the 2017 Humanitarian award from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and the 2015 NonProfit Times Magazine’s “Power & Influence Top 50.”

Charlotte holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration in management science from the University of Illinois.

READ Charlotte’s reflections, launched at the start of the pandemic to connect with our member CEOs during a dark and uncertain time.

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Vice President, Marketing & Communications

Wendy Beach is Vice President, Marketing and Communications at Lutheran Services in America, leading the organization’s corporate messaging and positioning, brand management and marketing efforts, and media relations strategy. Wendy was previously Director, Brand Marketing at Choice Hotels where she led the marketing strategy for nine of its hotel brands, spearheaded targeted media campaigns, brand redesigns and innovative partnerships, as well as pioneered a digital marketing tool to empower thousands of franchisees.

Prior to Choice Hotels, she was Director, Marketing and Communications at Global Impact, a $120 million nonprofit, where she transformed the marketing of the world’s largest workplace giving campaign leading to a record-breaking $67 million campaign. Earlier in her career, Wendy was Senior Manager of eBusiness Marketing at Fannie Mae.

Wendy graduated cum laude from the Whittemore School of Business and Economics at the University of New Hampshire.

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Senior Director of Public Policy and Advocacy

Sarah Dobson serves as Senior Director of Public Policy and Advocacy at Lutheran Services in America. In this role, she leads the pursuit of sound public policies that improve the health and well-being of people in America and strengthen the nonprofit sector. Sarah represents the Lutheran Services in America network before Congress, the Administration, regulatory agencies, national organizations and coalitions.

Sarah began her career working on legislative policy for two different members of the House of Representatives, making policy and funding recommendations on issues from healthcare and social security to education and the arts. After moving to the private sector and working for two small lobbying firms, Sarah most recently served as the Senior Government Relations Representative at Independent Sector.

Sarah holds a bachelor’s degree in international relations and French from the University of Toledo.

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Christopher Findlay

Senior Manager, Marketing & Communications

Christopher Findlay serves as Senior Manager, Marketing & Communications at Lutheran Services in America. Chris develops and implements integrated marketing communications strategies and campaigns that center on digital and print marketing, branding, advertising, social media, website management and media relations.

Chris previously managed communications and marketing efforts for seven client associations at the management services company Verto Solutions and the Renewable Fuels Association, the leading trade association for the U.S. ethanol industry. Prior to moving to the nation’s capital, he worked on independent film productions in Los Angeles.

Chris holds a master’s degree in public relations and corporate communications from Georgetown University and a bachelor’s degree in film and television from Boston University.

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Vice President, Member Engagement

As the Vice President, Member Engagement for Lutheran Services in America, Alesia Frerichs serves as the chief strategist for the network’s collaboration and innovation efforts. During her tenure, Alesia launched several groundbreaking initiatives, including the Results Innovation Lab, Rural Aging Action Network, Reimagining Diversity Collaborative and other programs that connect national partners with social sector leaders and empower older adults, children, families and others experiencing need.

Prior to joining Lutheran Services in America, Alesia was an entrepreneur who launched and led an independent consulting practice for 10 years, providing strategic management support to nonprofit executives. She also held senior leadership positions at MCI WorldCom and Sapere Consulting. She currently serves on the board of Thrivent Charitable Impact & Investing and the Lutheran Financial Managers Association and is a member of the Lutheran Church of the Reformation in Washington, DC.

Alesia earned an M.S. in statistics from The George Washington University and a B.S. in economics from St. Olaf College.

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Vice President of Development

Deborah Hoesly joined Lutheran Services in America in October 2014 as Vice President of Development. In this role, Deborah is responsible for individual, corporate and foundation giving, as well as donor relations and development strategy.

Prior to joining the organization, Deborah served as Director of Development at George Mason University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts in Fairfax, Virginia, where she was responsible for securing and monitoring compliance of $2 million in annual support for the college’s seven academic disciplines as well for the “Great Performances at Mason,” the university’s premiere presenting series of national performances, and ARTS by George!, the College’s signature annual benefit event.

Deborah earned an M.A. in arts management from George Mason University and B.A. degrees in political science and Spanish from the University of South Carolina.

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Director, Children, Youth and Family Practice Lead

Renada Johnson serves as the Director, Children, Youth and Family Practice Lead at Lutheran Services in America. In this role, Renada supports the Results Innovation Lab in empowering families and transforming policy and practice in the child welfare system.

Renada has more than 20 years of experience in child welfare, nonprofit, social justice and community engagement. She previously served as the Director of Youth and Birth Family Engagement at the National Center for Children and Families in Washington, DC where she led evidence-based and evidence-informed practices and programs concerning issues of trauma, child abuse, substance abuse and poverty. Renada also has trained and mentored over 400 youth and young adults to create a pipeline of community leaders and mental health professionals with expertise on communication, mental health, civic engagement and racial equity.

Renada has an M.A. in Counseling Psychology and a B.S. in Psychology, both from Bowie State University.

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Director of Public Policy and Advocacy, Lutheran Services in America-Disability Network

Bill Kallestad serves as the Disability Network Director of Public Policy and Advocacy at Lutheran Services in America.

 

Bill has a long history as an effective advocate for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Through his work at Lutheran Services in Iowa and the Iowa Developmental Disability Council, Bill led outreach and shaped policy to improve the lives of those he serves. He has advocated at the state and federal levels on issues including changes to special health care respite rates, updated voting laws, addressing the staffing workforce shortage, addressing Iowa’s growing waiting list, and making Iowa more accessible to all. Bill’s career includes more than 25 years working in the nonprofit sector.

 

Bill holds a master’s degree in public administration from Drake University and a bachelor’s degree in human services from Grand View University.

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Susan Newton, Ed.D.

Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives

Susan Newton serves as Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives, leading cross-cutting programs focused on race, equity and inclusion, operational efficiencies and senior services.

Prior to joining the organization, Susan served as Senior Vice President at the National Park Foundation, where she developed programs to protect the natural, cultural and historic resources of the national parks and connect all people in America to the parks. She worked closely with the National Park Service and partners, awarding more than $250+ million to parks and partner organizations. Prior to NPF, she worked for 10 years in telecommunications, during which time she oversaw $1.2 billion in operational savings from the merger of Sprint and Nextel.

Susan holds a doctorate at the University of Missouri – St. Louis, with research on increasing diversity in the national parks, an M.A. in public policy from the University of Chicago and a B.A. in public administration from Miami of Ohio.

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Director of Leadership Development and Growth

Kimberly Roque serves as the Director of Leadership Development and Growth at Lutheran Services in America. In this role, Kim provides programmatic support for the CEO Summit and the Strength and Service webinar series, as well as corporate partner and member engagement.

Kim brings decades of programmatic nonprofit leadership back to Lutheran Services in America, where she worked for several years as Director of Member Engagement. She joined Lutheran Services in America from the Foundation for Women & Girls with Blood Disorders and a nonprofit consultancy. Prior, she also served as Director at the Council on Foundations, MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and First Book.

Kim has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Davidson College and a Master of Public Administration degree from George Mason University. Kim is an active volunteer with community organizations serving older adults and children.

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Naomi Sonne

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Social Ministry Organization Engagement Manager

Naomi Sonne started in October 2021 as the Social Ministry Organization Engagement Manager for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), overseeing the affiliation process, endowment grants and support for social ministry organizations. She previously worked as Manager of Homeless Services for Pathways to Housing PA, where she oversaw partnership building and outreach for all new program members.

Naomi lives in Philadelphia and has a background in social services, mental health, environmental sustainability, global development, housing equity, theological studies and gender justice. She has an M.A. in International Development from Eastern University.

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Dorothy Krans

The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

Director of Recognized Service Organizations

Deaconess Dorothy Krans serves as the director of Recognized Service Organizations (RSO) for The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS), overseeing the processing of RSO applications, relationships with the organizations and managing networks and resources.  She previously served as a teacher, worked in campus ministry and as a deaconess in LCMS aging facilities.  She has served internationally in volunteer positions working with LCMS missionaries and volunteering with the British Aid Society in Panama, providing home visits to the elderly.

Dorothy has a bachelor’s degree in theology and deaconess certification from Valparaiso University. She also holds a master’s degree in family life education with a concentration in aging ministry, from Concordia University, Nebraska, Seward, Neb.

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Senior Director of Business Operations

Bola Sodeinde joined Lutheran Services in America in November 2013 as the Business Operations Manager and provides financial, administrative and operational support to staff members. Part of his role also includes overseeing financial management of Managed Network Funds for all Lutheran Services in America networks. He serves as the point of contact for finance/IT-related issues and is responsible for overseeing daily office management functions.

Before joining the organization, Bola was an accountant at Park Associates, a consulting company, and Dreammaker International, a lifestyle company. Bola has an M.S. in accounting from Western Governors University and a B.S. in accounting from Southeastern University.

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Elizabeth Vetter

Program Associate

Elizabeth Vetter serves as a Program Associate at Lutheran Services in America. In this role, Elizabeth supports the member engagement team through various activities, including program support for member initiatives, newsletter curation and distribution, and impact reporting and data management.

Previously, Elizabeth was a Supply Chain Associate Analyst at PepsiCo Beverages North America, where she managed weekly demand forecasts and developed data-driven insights. Elizabeth also served as the Digital Media and Marketing Intern for the Center of Social Value Creation at the Robert H. Smith School of Business. Elizabeth has worked closely with several nonprofits, serving as a digital marketing consultant, social media marketing intern and event planner.

Elizabeth earned a B.S. in marketing and supply chain management from the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, College Park.

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Director, Aging Initiatives

Ashley Washington serves as the Director of Aging Initiatives at Lutheran Services in America. In this role, Ashley supports the work of members who provide home- and community-based programs to support the healthy, independent aging of older adults in America

Ashley previously served as the Director of Healthcare Forums at The Health Management Academy where she managed peer-learning programs for C-suite healthcare executives. Prior, she was a Health Systems Manager for the American Cancer Society where she co-led a national workgroup working with VA Medical Centers on veterans’ cancer care and partnered with health systems to identify interventions for their patient populations. Ashley also served as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant with the U.S. State Department in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

Ashley has a Master of Public Health from the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine and a B.A. from Wake Forest University.

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Cristina Zegarra-Valente

Program Assistant to the President & CEO

Cristina Zegarra-Valente is the Program Assistant to the President and CEO of Lutheran Services in America. In this role, she provides logistical support and office coordination to the organization, as well as delivers comprehensive support and assistance to the President & CEO.

Before joining the organization, Cristina was the Executive Assistant to the President and CEO, Administrative and HR Coordinator at Global Foundation for Democracy and Development. She also served as the Filmmakers and Special Guests Liaison and Logistics Coordinator for the Dominican Republic Environmental Film Festival.

Cristina earned a B.S. in Management from Purdue University and a Master of Human Resources from the University of Phoenix.