Nov. 4, 2013 NEWS RELEASE — LIRS Elects New Board Members as 75th Anniversary Celebration Draws Near

Published On: Donate

For Immediate Release     

Press Contact: Jon Pattee
(202) 591-5778,

WASHINGTON, D.C. Nov. 4, 2013 — Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), which will mark its 75th anniversary in 2014, today announced the election of four new board members.

“LIRS is honored to have four new directors with great skills join our board,” LIRS President and CEO Linda Hartke said. “Ms. Judith Benke, Ms. Monique Nunes, Ms. Diane Padilla, and Bishop Michael Rinehart bring a wealth of expertise and relationships to LIRS, and we’re grateful for their commitment.”

“LIRS is excited to add these talented board members as we gear up for our 75th anniversary in 2014, a year in which we’ll mark many decades of welcoming refugees and migrants on behalf of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church in America,” Hartke added.

LIRS’s new board members:

  • Ms. Judith Benke is Vice President for Church and Community Relations with The Lutheran Care Network, where she has developed the Association of Congregations and various community outreach programs. She is a resident of Oakland Gardens, NY; and attends St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, Brooklyn, NY(The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod).
  • Ms. Monique Nunes is Assistant Director of Multicultural Programs at Valparaiso University and previously served as Director of Student Development, Concordia University (Seward, NE). She attends Immanuel Lutheran Church, Valparaiso, IN (The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod).
  • Ms. Diane Padilla is Executive Director-Human Resources at JP Morgan Chase. She previously led legal immigration work for JP Morgan Chase and was an asylum officer for the Immigration and Naturalization Service. A resident of Glen Ellyn, IL, she attends Glen Ellyn Bible Church (non-denominational).
  • The Reverend Michael Rinehart is Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod.  A member of the ELCA Bishops Immigration Ready Bench, he also serves on the boards of the Texas Lutheran University Corporation, The Houston Coalition for Immigration Reform, the Houston Coalition for Mutual Respect Board; the Texas Conference of Churches, the Louisiana Interchurch Conference Board; and the Gulf Coast Synod Council.

These directors were elected on Oct. 24 and their three-year terms begin on Jan. 1, 2014. Current directors Mr. Chris Andersen, Rev. Dr. Stephen Bouman, and Ms. Christine Grumm were re-elected to the board.

“LIRS is extremely blessed by the contributions of Mr. Chris Andersen, Rev. Dr. Stephen Bouman, and Ms. Christine Grumm,” said Hartke. “We welcome their re-election and thank them for the leadership they have provided.”

“LIRS’s four new directors succeed Senator Betty Boyd, Mr. Richmond Appleton, and Bishop E. Roy Riley,” said Hartke. “We are so thankful for these leaders’ time, effort, and deep commitment.”

LIRS also elected several officers for 2014:

Board Chair — Mr. Mark A. Stutrud, Lutheran Social Services of Michigan, Detroit, MI
Board Vice Chair — Mr. William Swanson, Pembroke, MA
Board Secretary-Treasurer — Ms. Lori Fedyk, CPA, Green Oaks, IL

Newly elected as at-large member of the Executive Committee was The Rev. J. Bart Day, who heads the Office of National Mission, Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, St. Louis, MO.

“LIRS’s ability to achieve our vision, in which all migrants and refugees are protected, embraced, and empowered in a world of just and welcoming communities, depends on a strong team of officers,” said Hartke. “The leadership of these four talented people will be key to the success of our work.”

LIRS welcomes refugees and migrants on behalf of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, thereby following God’s call to welcome and lifting up the importance of congregations in the work of welcome.

LIRS is nationally recognized for its leadership with and for refugees, asylum seekers, unaccompanied children, immigrants in detention, families fractured by migration, and other vulnerable populations. LIRS serves migrants through over 60 grassroots legal and social service partners nationwide.

LIRS has received a number of awards, including the National Leadership Award of the Vietnamese American National Gala and the Checago Bright Foundation, Inc. Outstanding Achievement Award in Community Service. LIRS’s 2012 accomplishments included welcoming 9,933 refugees, providing foster homes for 277 refugee and immigrant children, working towards the release and legal protection of 318 survivors of torture in detention, and reuniting 324 migrant children with family in the United States.

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