Meet the Development and Mobilization Team | LIRS
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Vice President for Development and Mobilization

Andrew G. Steele

Coordinator for Development and Mobilization

Atefeh Hosseini

Senior Philanthropic Advisor

Beth Nelson Chase

Prospect Research Analyst

Bradley Stefan

Donor Database Administrator

Brandy Freeman

Network Organizer

Chelsey Johnson

National Volunteer Action Coordinator

Christina Iwuagwu

Program Assistant - LVC

Hallie Millsaps

Philanthropic Advisor

Hannah Freedberg

Donor Database Specialist

Kaitlyn Oberhaus

Philanthropic Advisor

Karla Leitzman

Grants Coordinator

Kendra Hernandez

Director for Mobilization and Faith Relations

Kristin Witte

Leah Johnson
Corporate and Foundation Relations Specialist

Leah Johnson

Networking and Engagement Officer

Muzhgan Azizy

Philanthropic Advisor

Nassir Ahmad

Program Assistant - LVC

Pablo Bejarano

Pastor-in-Residence

Rev. Eric C. Shafer

Senior Grants Manager

Ruth Famini

Manager for Donor Services and Annual Giving

Valerie Kurka

Program Officer for Mobilization

Whitney Palmer Lopez

Vice President for Development and Mobilization

Andrew G. Steele

As Vice President for Development and Mobilization, Andrew G. Steele leads a dynamic team responsible for all development, fundraising, church relations, and outreach efforts. Prior to joining LIRS, Andrew was the Assistant Vice President for Advancement & Director of Campaigns at his alma mater, Wittenberg University. Before serving in that capacity, Andrew was the Director for Global Mission Funding at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), overseeing $30+ million of revenue as part of a successful five-year, $250 million comprehensive campaign. An avid traveler, Andrew annually returns to South Africa and Lesotho where he once lived and co-founded BLOOM Africa, a 501(c)(3) organization.

Coordinator for Development and Mobilization

Atefeh Hosseini

From the heart of Asia, Afghanistan! A new American to be! I love people and nature – meeting new people, talking about new ideas while sitting in the middle of the woods or beside the beach is what brightens my soul!

Senior Philanthropic Advisor

Beth Nelson Chase

Specialty: Major Donor relations; Planned Giving; Major Donor Event Friend and Fundraising; Public Speaking

Phone
: 815-979-4628

“I am a performing artist in piano and choral direction and co-winemaker with my husband, John, at Cedar Creek Vines in Northern IL.”

Prospect Research Analyst

Bradley Stefan

Specialty: Constituent profiling and wealth analysis

“I currently live in Towson and have worked in the Baltimore area most of my life. I’ve been with LIRS since 2018 and absolutely love having a career devoted to helping the less fortunate!”

Donor Database Administrator

Brandy Freeman

Specialty: Raiser’s Edge

“Isaiah 41:10 NKJV: ‘Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’”

Network Organizer

Chelsey Johnson

 Specialty: Strategy, Mobilizing, and Network Development

“As a life-long Lutheran, I love the Lutheran traditions of 1) speaking out against systems that take advantage of folks on the margins and 2) potlucks. My go-to potluck recipe is a whipped cream fruit salad, a classic among my fellow Minnesota natives.”

National Volunteer Action Coordinator

Christina Iwuagwu

“I believe relationships open the doors to heart change and systemic transformation. I believe food should be delicious, exercise should be fun, and kind words should never be kept to yourself.”

Program Assistant - LVC

Hallie Millsaps

Born and raised in Forest, Mississippi, I thoroughly enjoy writing, tasting new foods, exploring new places, and engaging in thought-provoking conversations. Above all these things, I value giving back to my community and those who have sacrificed for me to be where I am today.

Philanthropic Advisor

Hannah Freedberg

Hannah has spent nearly two decades connecting powerful organizations with bold funders in order to build a better world. She believes that fundraising at its best is a radical act which more justly allocates the resources of our planet and its people in order to ensure the health and well-being of all. She came to fundraising from the world of environmental and farm-based education and spent many years as a camp director and counselor. Hannah finds joy in sharing stories, music, play, good food, meaningful work, and outdoor exploration with family and friends.

Donor Database Specialist

Kaitlyn Oberhaus

I have lived in Maryland all my life and am very grateful to have a career where I can help people on a large scale doing work I am passionate about. I enjoy training dogs, volunteering at my dog shelter, watching horror movies, and traveling abroad every chance I get!

Philanthropic Advisor

Karla Leitzman

Karla comes to LIRS with nearly a decade of fundraising experience, most recently at her alma mater, Gustavus Adolphus College, where she managed a portfolio of donors and coordinated all reunion giving initiatives. During her time at Gustavus, Karla is particularly proud of significant increases to endowed scholarships, making a liberal arts education more accessible for incoming students. Karla is currently earning her Master of Divinity with a focus in Justice and Reconciliation at Luther Seminary, and If you see her consuming copious amounts of Nerds and Diet Coke. you’ll know she’s working on finals. Karla has a deep love for the ELCA and its ministry of accompaniment and service, and she is eager to live into these vocational callings at LIRS. When not working, Karla is an avid reader and traveler, and she loves enjoying outdoor activities all year round, namely boating in the summer and downhill and cross-country skiing in the winter. Karla lives in St. Paul, MN.

Grants Coordinator

Kendra Hernandez

Specialty: Administrative support and networking

“Native to Southern New Mexico, I love hiking, spending time in the sun, and ample amounts of coffee. I enjoy hearing other people’s unique stories as well as serving the communities around us.”

Director for Mobilization and Faith Relations

Kristin Witte

Specialty: Strategy and Diplomacy

“I am a native Marylander who is deeply in love with her husband Andy and our precocious 6-year old daughter Kyra. Stemming from my father reading me Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, I love mysteries and solving puzzles. I bake when stressed, adore live theater, and I am a high-maintenance eater. ”

Corporate and Foundation Relations Specialist

Leah Johnson

I love building connections with people and growing relationships. In my spare time, you’ll find me planning out my next trip abroad.

Networking and Engagement Officer

Muzhgan Azizy

Muzhgan Azizy graduated from English Department of Heart University, Afghanistan in 2007. She was awarded with Fulbright scholarship in 2013 and came to the U.S. for her master’s degree. Holding her master’s degree in TESOL (Teaching English to the Speakers of Other Languages), she returned to Afghanistan in January 2015. She started working with the State Department, U.S. Embassy Kabul as educational program manager overseeing contractor implementing education program centers. Later, she was promoted to the position of Cultural Affairs Specialist.

With the recent political changes in Afghanistan, she moved to the U.S. with her husband and 13 years old son to start her life from scratch leaving her home and extended family members behind. She started working as senior program officer for Afghan Placement and Assistance program with LIRS helping her fellow Afghans to resettle in the United States in October 2021. She is now Networking and Engagement officer within LIRS’s development team.

Philanthropic Advisor

Nassir Ahmad

My name is Nassir Ahmad. I was born in Afghanistan. I’ve been in the United States for 14 years. I was a Combat Interpreter and Cultural Advisor with the US military in Afghanistan and in the United States for twelve years. I am a Pashto and Dari linguistic professional with 12 + years of experience as a case manager/housing coordinator and legal and cultural orientation interpreter with both the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Lutheran Immigration Refugee Service (LIRS).

Program Assistant - LVC

Pablo Bejarano

Hola, my name is Pablo Bejarano. I am from Tijuana, a border city right across from San Diego. I grew up in Mexico while enjoying some of the amenities that the US provides; it is a limbo of cultures. I went to school in Mexico, then high school in the US, and went to college at Hope College, a small liberal-arts college in west Michigan, to get my philosophy degree. I am a volunteer for the year here at LIRS, and excited to work.

Pastor-in-Residence

Rev. Eric C. Shafer

The Rev. Eric C. Shafer, a pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), is Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service’s “Pastor-in-Residence.” He recently retired after more than eight years as Senior Pastor at Mt. Olive Lutheran Church in Santa Monica. There he helped open the Students4Students Shelter at Mt. Olive, the first shelter for homeless college students in the USA. His previous positions include Senior Vice President for Odyssey Networks in New York City and Director of Communion for the ELCA in Chicago. Shafer has taught in South Africa and Madagascar and made multiple trips to Jerusalem and the West Bank. He is the host of the YouTube program Hope Matters.

Senior Grants Manager

Ruth Famini

Specialty: Government funding proposals

“A transplanted New Yorker, I now call Maryland my home. I love music, cats, and horses…and of course my adorable grandchildren!”

Manager for Donor Services and Annual Giving

Valerie Kurka

 Specialty: Donor Engagement, Mid-level giving, Learning

More than ten years in nonprofit organizations, working with refugees and asylees, living abroad, and learning from others inform my contributions to this creative team! I am inspired everyday by those LIRS serves.

Program Officer for Mobilization

Whitney Palmer Lopez

Specialty: Program management and community engagement

“I’m a native Southern Californian living in Charm City, Baltimore! Most of my plans revolve around what I’m eating next; I love trying new foods and exploring the diversity of the world through cuisine. ”

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