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Lutheran World Relief Announces Acting President

Contact: Emily Sollie, Lutheran World Relief, 410-230-2802 or

BALTIMORE, Oct. 9 /Standard Newswire/ -- The board of directors of Lutheran World Relief (LWR) has appointed Jeff Whisenant, currently LWR's vice president for finance and administration, as acting president, effective Nov. 1. Whisenant will step in for LWR's current president, Kathryn Wolford, as she departs on Oct. 31 to serve as president of the McKnight Foundation, a Minnesota- based philanthropic organization.

Whisenant will provide transitional leadership as LWR searches for a new president. He served in a number of positions on the LWR staff from 1987 to 1999, including senior program director, program director for Latin America and assistant program director for Africa.

Prior to returning to LWR in early 2006, Whisenant gained valuable experience as vice president for program operations at Pact Inc., in Washington. He has also held leadership positions at ORBIS International in New York. A former Peace Corps volunteer in Gabon, he holds an M.S. in Public and Nonprofit Management from New York University; an M.A. in International Political Economy and Development from Fordham University, and a B.A. in chemistry from the University of North Carolina.

"I am thrilled that Jeff Whisenant has been named as acting president," Wolford said. "He is an excellent leader and manager, and is surrounded by a strong senior leadership team. LWR is in very capable hands."

Wolford, LWR's third president, has headed the organization since 1993. Under her direction, LWR has sharpened its focus on poverty eradication, sustainable development and advocacy, where efforts have centered on global trade justice, gender equity and peace-building. She oversaw the organization's move from New York to Baltimore in 1999. Under her leadership, LWR in 1995 became a founding member of Action by Churches Together (ACT) International, a global coalition of faith-based organizations working together to respond to disasters. During her tenure, LWR has become a leader among faith-based groups in the Fair Trade movement.

Whisenant has been a key member of LWR's leadership team in the period leading up to Wolford's departure. As Wolford brings to an end her 13 years of dedicated service, Whisenant is confident about the future of the organization.

"Kathryn is leaving an organization that is in great shape. Under her leadership, LWR has grown in depth, intensity and reach," he said. "I look forward to working with our board, staff and partners to continue to extend LWR's programs, serving as a bridge until the permanent president is in place."

Betty Duda, chair of LWR's board, has appointed a three-person committee to manage the nationwide search for a permanent replacement for Wolford.

Who is LWR? Headquartered in Baltimore, Md., Lutheran World Relief (LWR) has been responding to emergencies and disasters since its founding in 1945. Working through partners and global relief and development networks, LWR works in 35 countries to provide not only relief but to combat the causes of poverty and restore the dignity it robs from people's lives. LWR advocates for fair trade that helps farmer and artisan families earn a better income. LWR teaches people to better care for themselves, their communities and the environment. LWR teaches people how to be less vulnerable to natural disasters. LWR advocates with them for policy change that more fairly represents them. LWR counsels them after human and natural disasters, and helps them recover with material aid and long-term programs. LWR does all of this exclusively with partners from the communities we serve.

Lutheran World Relief is a ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS), individuals and parish groups in international relief, development, advocacy and social responsibility.