LIRS Welcomes New Board Members as 75th Anniversary Celebration Nears!

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lirslogothumb-100x100I’m honored to announce that four talented new directors are joining the LIRS board!

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.

It’s exciting to welcome these skilled 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.

Here’s a look at each of our 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. We’ve been extremely blessed by their contributions, we welcome their re-election, and we thank them for the leadership they have provided.

Our four new directors succeed Senator Betty Boyd, Mr. Richmond Appleton, and Bishop E. Roy Riley. 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. 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.

These new directors will add valuable leadership to LIRS’s work with and for refugees, asylum seekers, unaccompanied children, immigrants in detention, families fractured by migration, and other vulnerable populations. Their knowledge and dedication will help guide our service to migrants, which is achieved through working with over 60 grassroots legal and social service partners nationwide.

On behalf of LIRS, I’d like to extend a warm welcome to our new board members! 

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