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Vice President of Seminary Relations

The Institution

Established in 1869, Luther Seminary is the largest seminary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the result of having consolidated six separate institutions through a series of mergers, the first in 1917, into a single seminary.  One of eight ELCA seminaries, Luther has educated one-third of ELCA pastors in addition to an increasing number of ELCA lay professionals, and leaders of many global Lutheran and ecumenical churches.  With a reputation of having a talented faculty in an innovative environment, Luther currently has 622 students, graduating about 150 each year in degree programs that include Master of Divinity (M.Div.), Master of Arts, Master of Theology, Doctor of Philosophy, and Doctor of Ministry in addition to certificate, non-degree and special programs.  Over half of the student body is enrolled in the M.Div. degree program; 120 of those are pursuing that degree in a distributed learning environment.  The seminary also supports a distributed learning program for a Master of Arts degree in Children, Youth and Family Ministry.  The first M.Div. distributed learning cohort graduated in 2012.  Nearly one-third of the student body represents 41 denominations outside the ELCA.  There are 56 international students from 25 countries.

Luther Seminary educates leaders for Christian communities
called and sent by the Holy Spirit
to witness to salvation through Jesus Christ and
to serve in God's world

Luther Seminary has a budgeted income of $21M, nearly half of which is the result of gifts and grants from individuals, congregations, and foundations.  Approximately one-fifth of the budget is supported by tuition and fees, and the balance is drawn from the endowment, ELCA church-wide and synod support, and other sources.  The institution has an $87M endowment and a campus whose net asset value is approximately $25M. Luther Seminary is accredited by the Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada and by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Seminaries and Schools. 

In the fall of 2012, Luther Seminary experienced a significant liquidity crisis.  The gravity of the crisis prompted the board to take serious measures to stabilize the financial situation and prompted the resignation of the President and the Vice President for Finance and Administration.  The boards brought in experienced leaders to serve as interim CEO and CFO. By December 2012, the seminary was able to stem the operating cash drain with the support of extraordinary gifts from some of the seminary's most loyal donors.

Over the ensuing months, the interim leadership worked with the boards, faculty and staff to develop a turnaround plan to restore financial sustainability. Luther Seminary has outperformed its turnaround plan in the last two years, largely on account of the remarkable responsiveness of its donors and strong investment performance. In the final six months of FY2013 (July-June), losses were reduced from a projected $4.5M to $2.9M, while at the same time the structural deficit was reduced by $3.2M per year. In FY2014, the seminary essentially broke even on operations and reported a change in net assets of $9.2M including non-operating gains. Currently, there remains an on-going structural deficit and the FY2015 budget anticipates a loss of $1.5M.

On November 12, 2014, the seminary completed the sale of a 150-unit student apartment complex, yielding over $8M in proceeds. Of this, $6M was used to repay the majority of the amount owed to the endowment. The remaining balance of just over $1 million is scheduled to be repaid through operations and/or future asset sales. This transaction also resulted in the establishment of a $2.5M cash reserve.

Board Structure

Luther Seminary's governance structure includes a Board of Directors, charged with providing leadership in establishing policies and priorities, and a Board of Trustees, charged with providing key leadership in developing the financial support necessary to fulfill the Seminary's mission.  The structure is unique in that both boards meet together, and committees of the Board of Directors comprise members of both boards.  The Board of Directors comprises 24 members, 16 of whom represent Regions 1 and 3 of the ELCA and eight of whom are appointed to the Board by the ELCA Church Council.  The Board of Trustees is a self-perpetuating board of 12 members who are appointed by the Board of Directors.

The President's Table

During 2014, Luther Seminary recruited a new President and VP of Finance and Administration.  The Rev. Dr. Robin J. Steinke was elected by the Luther Seminary Board in March 2014, the first woman in the 145-year history of the seminary to be named president. She took office on June 1, 2014.  Since 1999 she had served as dean of the seminary and professor of theological ethics and public life at Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg.  Previously Rev. Steinke served as an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) pastor; a training manager and financial planner at American Express Financial Advisors; and a middle school band director in Marietta, Ga. A graduate of Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D., she holds a Master of Divinity and a Master of Sacred Theology from Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge in England. 

Known for her strategic leadership and passion for sharing the gospel, Steinke is involved in a number of important church and academic initiatives. She is currently co-chairing the national ELCA Theological Education Advisory Council that is evaluating and exploring the future of theological education. She serves as the ELCA Representative to the Lutheran World Federation Council and chairs their Endowment Fund. She is a member of the ELCA Ecclesiology Task Force and serves on a number of other church and academic committees. In June 2014, she concluded a six-year term as a commissioner for the Association of Theological Schools' Commission on Accrediting.

Michael Morrow joined Luther Seminary in October 2014 as Vice President of Finance and Administration.  He brings experience in a wide range of large and small organizations. He has held a number of executive positions, including interim CEO and president of the ancillary insurance subsidiaries of Health Care Service Corporation; vice president, CFO and treasurer of Children's Home Society and Family Services in St. Paul, Minn.; and executive vice president and CFO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota. Morrow holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Carleton College and an MBA from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.  A proven leader with expertise in financial management, contract negotiations and staff development, he has a strong track record of successfully helping organizations address key challenges. He enjoys leading teams to collaborate and identify creative solutions to address complex issues.

These seasoned and talented leaders are bringing a new level of rigor and sophistication to the seminary. They join a President's Table that also includes the Vice President, Human Resources; Vice President, Student Affairs and Enrollment/Dean of Students; Vice President, Academic Affairs/Academic Dean; and Vice President, Seminary Relations. Current operational priorities are focused on reversing the decline in enrollment and tuition, pursuing growth opportunities based on the new curriculum and distance learning capabilities, eliminating the remaining structural deficit, and aligning the facilities and campus with the emerging enrollment profile.

Seminary Relations

Luther Seminary has a rich history of successful fundraising. The Seminary Relations group, led by the Vice President, has historically raised approximately 50 percent of the seminary's annual income from donors and congregations. Fundraising efforts include a variety of approaches ranging from direct marketing, online marketing, phone solicitations and in-person asks.
In addition to the annual fundraising efforts, the seminary also manages special campaigns. One such fundraising initiative, called the Bold and Faithful Campaign, was completed on June 30, 2014. The goal was to raise $70 million over 3 1/2 years in current and deferred gifts to support strategic priorities for the seminary. This "quiet" campaign targeted leadership donors and surpassed the goal by over $11 million, raising more than $81 million. As a result of this campaign, 65 new scholarships were established, 713 new leadership gift prospects were identified and the deferred gift pipeline increased by $26 million to exceed $100 million for the first time in its history.
One of the amazing aspects of this campaign was that it occurred in the midst of the seminary's financial turnaround, a signal of the strong degree of support that Luther Seminary enjoys from its donors.
The Position

The Vice President of Seminary Relations serves as the chief development officer for the seminary and reports directly to the President.  S/he leads all aspects of the Seminary's development platform, sitting at the President's Table and working closely with the President and the Board of Trustees on key fundraising priorities.

The Vice President of Seminary Relations has three primary areas of responsibility -- to provide strategic direction and vision for the seminary's fundraising programs, to ensure comprehensive and cost-effective fundraising programs in conjunction with the President and the Foundation Board, and to manage the Seminary Relations function and position the Seminary for its next capital campaign:

  1. Leadership -- The Vice President of Seminary Relations provides strategic direction and vision for fundraising and communications for the Seminary Relations team and program.  The Vice President of Seminary Relations supports the Foundation Board of Trustees' activities by ensuring that they are positioned, personally and as a group, to positively impact Luther Seminary's financial well-being through gift-giving, receiving and investment management.  In addition, the Vice President of Seminary Relations is an active and involved member of the President's Table as a key member of the Seminary's leadership and as liaison between Seminary Relations, faculty and staff.

  2. Fundraising -- The Vice President of Seminary Relations is responsible for conducting comprehensive and cost-effective fundraising programs in accordance with the vision of the President and the Board of Trustees.  In collaboration with the Board of Trustees and the Seminary Relations group, the Vice President of Seminary Relations leads the development and execution of a comprehensive fundraising plan representing best practices to identify, cultivate, solicit, and steward a prospect pool and donor portfolio.  The Vice President of Seminary Relations ensures compliance with all relevant regulations, laws, and code of ethics for professional conduct for fundraisers and maintains accountability standards.  In addition, s/he works with a select group of high potential donors, managing their relationship with Luther Seminary and soliciting their gifts.  Much of this work is done in collaboration with other members of the Seminary Relations team and the President.

  3. Management -- As the leader of the Seminary Relations group, the Vice President is responsible for helping the team succeed.  The Seminary Relations staff of 21 includes Directors of Volunteer Services, the Sustaining Fund, and Marketing and Communication.  The Vice President also oversees a Director of Gift Planning, five Philanthropic Advisors (Gift Officers), a Donor Relationship Manager, Coordinator of Donor Relations and two Administrative Assistants.  The Vice President of Seminary Relations oversees a budget of $2.7 million.  The Vice President of Seminary Relations sets clear and achievable performance goals and accountabilities for the team and inspires a shared sense of unity, mission, and collaboration.  The Vice President of Seminary Relations provides leadership, professional advice, prospect research, and mentoring as appropriate to help build capacity and professionalism among the staff.  The Vice President of Seminary Relations is expected to build and train this team commensurate with fundraising goals and success, creating a working environment that is rewarding, encouraging, and instills confidence.  The Vice President of Seminary Relations develops and reviews policies and procedures, including gift acceptance policies, and oversees the design and maintenance of donor and prospect records, gift management systems, acknowledgment programs, and informational reports according to industry standards, retention policies, and general principles of ethics.

Over the next 12 months, the new Vice President of Seminary Relations will be expected to:

  • Work closely with the President, Boards of Directors and Trustees, and the Seminary Relations staff to implement fundraising strategies that will achieve the financial goals set by the organization for both unrestricted and restricted funds;

  • Plan and implement strategies and tactics to ensure that efforts in the solicitation of new major gifts are optimized in the wake of the most recent Campaign;

  • Evaluate the structure and performance of the Seminary Relations group and conduct a needs assessment of the resources, tools, procedures, and organizational changes required to fulfill the strategic objectives of the organization;

Key Selection Criteria

Luther Seminary seeks a seasoned Advancement leader with both vision and implementation skills, who discerns this opportunity as a call to work with a new and energetic leadership team at the start of its tenure and with a new President who recognizes the importance of fundraising and is eager to be involved.  S/he will be attracted to the opportunity to lead as a member of a sophisticated leadership team that is innovating and re-thinking the direction of the seminary within the changing landscape of theological education.

The successful candidate will be a respected and collaborative leader who can connect a high level of competence with the mission of the school and who will be a strategic partner to the President, Cabinet, and Boards in leading the Seminary faithfully into the future. He or she will have a passion for the mission of educating leaders for the Church, the ability to bring together donors who share that passion, and the ability to deliver a persuasive message about the impact of investment in the Seminary's priorities. 

The new Vice President of Seminary Relations will have effective people management and technical development skills, superior interpersonal communication abilities, and a sense of urgency in helping the organization to fund its priorities.  The Vice President of Seminary Relations must have experience in cultivating and maintaining strong partnerships with current and potential donors.  The Vice President of Seminary Relations must be collaborative, transparent, open-minded, resourceful, organized, politically savvy, results-oriented, data-driven, and smart -- a strategic creative thinker who can get things done.

The following criteria are essential in candidates for the position:

  • A commitment to the mission of educating leaders of Christian communities and an understanding of trends across the wider Church accompanied by the ability to effectively articulate Luther Seminary's mission and goals to existing and potential donors;

  • A minimum of 7-10 years of senior-level nonprofit development experience across a variety of fundraising platforms with a deep understanding for the complexities of program development as it relates to fundraising;

  • A Bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university is required.

  • Quantifiable successes in planning and executing capital campaigns with experience leading capital campaigns in excess of $30 million accompanied by the ability to consolidate learnings from Luther Seminary's most recent Campaign in order to leverage them for the future.

  • Demonstrated success in the cultivation of strong donor relationships that result in major gifts and in meeting established fundraising goals;

  • Demonstrated success in building strong relationships; ability to motivate staff and work effectively with a President, Board members, donors, and other key stakeholders to include faculty and staff;

  • The ability to work closely with the Vice President for Finance and Administration and the Investment Committee of the Board of Trustees to ensure the integrity of constraints on the acceptance and use of donor funds.

  • The ability to work closely with the Director of Marketing and Communication and her staff to ensure that Luther Seminary remains on brand in all of its publications.

  • Experience in recruiting, training, managing and motivating a high performing development team, and enabling Philanthropic Advisors to be successful in their fundraising efforts;

  • Financial acumen including a clear understanding of budget and financial reporting;

  • Demonstrated success growing, managing, and productively engaging volunteer boards;

  • Familiarity with technological innovations that can streamline the development process. An understanding of the importance of good systems to track development projects and priorities.

  • A commitment to promoting transparency, integrity and high ethical standards within the institution;

  • Demonstrated commitment to building community and vigorously promoting equity and inclusion.
  • A team-building, collegial approach to work;

  • A strong work ethic, coupled with energetic leadership qualities and strong follow-through;

  • A willingness to travel;

  • Personal and professional integrity and honesty;

  • A warm personal style with a good sense of humor.


Cynthia P. Barth, Managing Director

Kim M. Morrisson, Ph.D., Sr. Managing Director
(215) 656-3546

Nancy Helfman, Vice President and Senior Associate

Deborah Lim, Executive Assistant

Diversified Search
One Commerce Square
2005 Market Street, Suite 3300
Philadelphia, PA  19103
(215) 732-6666 (Main)
(215) 568-8399 (Fax)

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Wait Staff (on-call)

Luther Seminary is seeking experienced wait staff to serve in an on-call capacity to cater functions on and off Luther campus.


  • Set up tables according to diagram
  • Set fill glassware as needed
  • Serve meals/beverages on time and courteously
  • Provide attentive, knowledgeable service
  • Complete routine cleaning and breakdown of tables


Commitment to Luther Seminary's mission and vision

Desired education and experience:

  • 2 years previous waitstaff/catering experience required
  • Team lead abilities desired

Desired knowledge, skills, and abilities:

  • Knowledge of proper service etiquette desired
  • Energetic attitude and attention to detail required

Special requirements:

  • Must be 18 years of age or older
  • Physical requirements include: active involvement e.g. standing, walking, bending over, able to lift 25 lbs.

Time requirements:

  • Shifts start at a 1 hour minimum

Luther Seminary supports your success at work and in life with a competitive compensation and benefits package.  Luther Seminary is committed to fostering diversity in its faculty, staff and students.  Come be a part of our engaging and innovative community!   Learn all about Luther Seminary at www.luthersem.edu. ; To apply, please forward your resume and cover letter to employment@luthersem.edu. ; Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled.

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