Alesia Frerichs is the President & CEO of Lutheran Services in America. Alesia previously served 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.
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.
Christopher Findlay serves as Senior Manager of 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.
Deborah Hoesly is the Chief Mission Advancement Officer at Lutheran Services in America. Deborah joined Lutheran Services in America in October 2014 as Vice President of Development. 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.
Renada Johnson serves as the Senior Director of Children, Youth and Family Initiatives 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.
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.
Kent Mitchell is Vice President of Strategy & Innovation at Lutheran Services in America. Kent leads the development and implementation of high-impact partnerships and collaborations that empower nonprofit leaders, build organizational capacity and incubate learning and innovation.
Kent has more than 20 years of experience expanding evidence-based education and health and family strategies on a national scale. Kent directed state government affairs for the National Head Start Association where he led the Early Head Start Rising initiative. Prior to that, he designed research and policy initiatives at the Pew Charitable Trusts. During his tenure with the Corporation for National and Community Service, Kent co-led the launch and first year of the Obama Administration’s Social Innovation Fund.
Kent earned a master’s degree in public policy and nonprofit management from the Harvard Kennedy School and a bachelor’s degree in politics from Earlham College.
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.
Sue Pechilio Polis is Vice President of Public Relations and Government Affairs at Lutheran Services in America. Prior to joining Lutheran Services in America, Sue was the Director of Health and Well-being for the National League of Cities (NLC) Institute for Youth, Education, & Families. Sue founded and developed Cities of Opportunity, a multi-year effort to engage mayors and city leaders in addressing the root causes of poor health (social determinants of health).
With expertise in health policy, Sue’s work spans the connection to housing, economic opportunity, mental health, substance use disorders, obesity, trauma, systems alignment, and data for well-being. Prior to NLC, Sue led the development and management of the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) external relations and strategic partnership efforts in support of the organization’s public policy goals. Sue’s background includes work with AARP on health and financial security-related issues with an emphasis on advancing policy to address the needs of vulnerable 50+ populations. She was also the founding National Director of Advocacy for the American Heart Association.
Joe Riffe serves as the Leadership Gifts Officer for Lutheran Services in America. In this role, he builds relationships and customizes strategies to help individual donors realize their philanthropic objectives.
Before joining Lutheran Services in America, Joe served as a Development Manager at Faith in Public Life where he was responsible for cultivating relationships with institutional donors, managing grants, and stewarding relationships with individual donors. In this role, Joe raised $6.3 million from institutional donors. Previously, Joe served as the Grants Manager for Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless where he secured $1.3 million in grants from over 30 federal, state, local, and private funders.
Joe is also a pastor and served as the Interim Team Pastor at Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Fairfax and Clifton, Virginia. Joe earned a Master of Divinity from Gordon-Conwell, a Master of Theology from Boston College, and a Certified Fund Raising Executive credential.