Rev. Michael Rinehart joined the LIRS board in 2013.
As Bishop of the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), Michael Rinehart enhances the board with his leadership skills and his career focus to carry out the mission of LIRS. Bishop Rinehart realized his affinity to LIRS after witnessing laws and policies that he has described as unjust. Under his leadership, the Gulf Coast Synod is working to create welcoming communities in an area of the United States that is increasingly diverse.
A graduate of Valparaiso University in Indiana, Rev. Rinehart earned his Masters of Divinity from Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio. He has served congregations in Iowa and North Carolina and is currently serving at Grace Lutheran Church in Conroe, Texas. He was elected bishop in 2007. He currently serves on the boards of the Texas Lutheran University Corporation, Houston Coalition for Mutual Respect, Louisiana Interchurch Conference, Houston Coalition for Immigration Reform, and the Texas Conference of Churches.
Mrs. Linda Stoterau joined the LIRS Board in 2015.
A graduate of Concordia College, St. Paul, Minnesota, Mrs. Stoterau has taught in Lutheran schools and was a mathematics teacher in schools with immigrant children for 18 years in Mesa, Arizona. She earned a Masters’ Degree in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona. She retired as Director of Curriculum from the Orange Unified School District in July 2013.
She has served the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod for 9 years as a member of the Commission on Worship and for 6 years as a member of the Board for National Mission.
Linda is married to Larry Stoterau, LCMS pastor, and currently President of the Pacific Southwest District of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod and is the mother of two adult sons.
Mr. William Swanson became affiliated with LIRS in 1998 and served as treasurer for approximately seven years. He remained deeply connected to the LIRS mission and rejoined the board in 2012. After chairing the Finance and Investment Committee and serving as Secretary, he was elected to the role of Treasurer in 2015.
Mr. Swanson devotes his time and expertise in investment management to LIRS out of a shared compassion for the plight of refugees and asylum seekers. He has been a personal sponsor of refugees, both officially and unofficially.
Mr. Swanson’s commitment to standing for welcome is also evident in his eight years of work on the board of Ascentria Care Alliance, formerly Lutheran Social Services of New England, where he has served as chair of the Governance Committee and a member of the Executive Committee. That experience, as well as leadership roles in his church, informs his service and invaluable contributions to the LIRS board.
Evan joined the LIRS Board in 2015 and currently chairs the Audit Committee.
Evan brings experience, energy, and innovative thinking, based on 20 years of Executive leadership and Board service for non-profits across the United States. Currently a consultant with Gronlund Sayther Brunkow, Evan’s professional background includes service as Chief Mission officer for Upbring a multi-state social service agency focused on children’s services and Executive Director of the Lutheran Foundation of the Southwest.
Additionally, Evan has served in Executive leadership and development roles with a diverse array of non-profits from camp & retreat centers to global relief agencies. As a volunteer Evan currently serves as the Vice-President of the TX-LA Gulf Coast Synod, and on the Board of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services.
Holding the Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) credential, an undergraduate degree from Arizona State University, and a graduate certificate from the University of Texas in Non-Profit Management, Evan brings passion and expertise to organizations large and small.
Ms. Benke joined the LIRS board in 2014. She served as the Vice President for Church and Community Relations for the Lutheran Care Network prior to her retirement in December 2014.
Having served a variety of Lutheran organizations over the years, she contributes a wealth of experience with church related agency leadership, the capacity to expand efforts, and a strong passion for social justice. Previously, she has had involvement with the Lutheran Schools Association Board of Directors, the Lutheran Counseling Center Board of Directors, the District Commission on Women, and the Atlantic District Health and Human Care Task Force. Ms. Benke has been recognized with countless awards for her volunteerism and dedication.
A graduate of Wisconsin State University-Whitewater and Hunter College in New York, Ms. Benke began her career as an educator, having completed her Master of Science in Administration and Supervision. She is married to The Rev. Dr. David Benke, President of the Atlantic District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.
Mrs. Ashton joined the LIRS board in 2017.
Mrs. Ashton is a retired Research Analyst at University of North Caroline School of Medicine. She has worked as a researcher at number of leading universities, and she brings to the board a broad knowledge of about the ELCA and the church’s advocacy policies. She feels strongly that America is an immigrant country and should continue to keep its borders open and work for government reform.
A graduate of Lenoir-Rhyne University with majors in Biology and Chemistry, Mrs. Ashton has done graduate work at Duke and UCSF. Mrs. Ashton has been active with various church volunteer service organizations including ELCA Church Council, NC Synod of the ELCA, and served as President of the North Carolina Women of the ELCA.
Wilmot Collins joined the board of Lutheran Immigration & Refugee Service in 2015.
Wilmot was born raised and partly educated in Liberia, West Africa. Wilmot is a graduate of the Liberian Foreign Service Institute, holds a BA in Political Science and Sociology. While in Liberia Wilmot began his teaching career as a Special Education teacher at the SOS Children Village an International Organization for orphans. Wilmot and his wife fled Liberia 1990 due to Liberia’s bloody civil war and were refugees in the Republic of Ghana.
Wilmot entered the United States as a refugee in 1994 after two years and 7 months separation from his family. Today, he is living happily in Montana with his wife and two children. Wilmot holds a Masters of Science in Human Resources Management and completed his PhD course work in Forensic Psychology.
Presently, Wilmot is a member of the United States Naval Reserves, teaches Psychology at Helena College-University of Montana, and working as a Child Protection Specialist for the Montana Dept. of Health and Human Services, prior to DPHHS, Wilmot worked at VA Montana as an Administrative Officer (Facility) and as an Immigration Service Officer for the Dept. of Homeland Security.
Rev. Day joined the LIRS board in 2013 and currently chairs the Outcomes Committee.
Rev. Day brings to the LIRS board in-depth skills in research, accounting, auditing, church-related agency leadership, fundraising, theology, and public relations and communication. He also brings connections to a number of networks: academic, research, church bodies and related institutions, ethnic communities, foundations, NGOs and social ministry organizations, students and young people.
He is currently the executive director of the Office of National Mission of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Previously Rev. Day served as associate pastor of Memorial Lutheran Church in Houston and headmaster of Memorial Lutheran School. In addition, he has served as a liturgical advisor and instructor, presenter and teacher in various programs related to music, teaching, Bible, and ministry.
A graduate of Concordia College in Seward, Nebraska, Rev. Day did theological studies at Westfield Theological House in Cambridge, England and received his M.Div. from Concordia Seminary (St. Louis).
Ms. Lori Fedyk joined the LIRS board of directors in 2012 after serving on the Finance Committee and as liaison between the Finance and Audit Committees in 2011. Ms. Fedyk is currently Vice President, Corporate Finance/CFO at Lutheran Life Communities in Arlington Heights, Illinois.
Through her 20 years of business experience, she has achieved successes that undergird her commitment to services of compassion and justice. She feels serving as a board member gives her an opportunity to pursue work for which she has a passion and can make a difference in the lives of others.
Through her work in in financial management, leadership development, and project management, Ms. Fedyk has provided financial guidance to both private and public organizations. A certified public accountant with a background at Arthur Andersen from 1987-1995, she has provided integrity to other businesses, safeguarded company assets, assisted in the turnaround and growth of companies, and developed her employees. Her accomplishments in financial analysis, auditing, process improvement, and developing and executing strategic marketing initiatives inform her invaluable leadership to the oversight and guidance of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.
Ted W. Goins, Jr. is President and CEO of Lutheran Services Carolinas. Prior to being named President in 2000, Mr. Goins was employed by LSC for over 10 years as administrator of Trinity Village nursing home in Hickory, N. C. He also previously served for three years in administration and development, and has spent his entire career in health and human services.
Mr. Goins received his AB from Lenoir-Rhyne University, and earned his MS from Pfeiffer University. He is a certified nursing assistant and licensed nursing home administrator. Mr. Goins is active in a number of local, state, and national organizations, including serving on the North Carolina Medical Care Advisory Committee, the Board of the North Carolina Health Care Facilities Association, the Board of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, and as Chair of the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce.
He previously served on the Lutheran Services in America Board, including two years as Chair, and also served two terms on the Association, the Board of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, and as Chair of the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce. He previously served on the Lutheran Services in America Board, including two years as Chair, and also served two terms on the North Carolina Study Commission on Aging. He was appointed to the North Carolina State Board of Examiners for Nursing Home Administrators and went on to serve for seven years, four of those as Chair. Mr. Goins received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Lenoir-Rhyne University in 2012.
Ms. Graves joined the LIRS board in 2013.
Ms. Graves brings to the board her deep skills in church-related agency leadership, fundraising, nonprofit board leadership, nonprofit management, and services for migrants and refugees.
As an executive, fundraiser, and management consultant, Ms. Graves has dedicated her career to building the capacity of organizations serving at-risk children and families. She has worked with numerous organizations including: Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area (LSS/NCA), For Love of Children, The Fishing School, Montgomery Housing Partnership, and the Metropolitan Center for Assault Prevention. Her extensive involvement with these and other institutions allows her to connect the LIRS board to a number of networks: church bodies and related institutions, ethnic communities, foundations, NGOs and social ministry organizations, political and advocacy networks, refugees, asylees, people in detention, immigrants, and national and state government.
Ms. Graves holds a Masters in Public Administration (MPA) with an emphasis on nonprofit management from George Mason University. She is a resident of Rockville, Maryland, and a member of Christ Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Washington, DC.
A successful entrepreneur and businessman, Mr. Johnson is President of Johnson Kellogg Properties, LLC. Previously, he was employed by UFE Incorporated (formerly a Division of Kroy Industries and United Fabricators and Electronics) for 38 years with the last position as co-owner and chairman.
Mr. Johnson has served as a member and held leadership roles on the boards of: Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, Stillwater Rotary, Tozer Foundation, Luther College, Lakeview Hospital, St. Croix Valley Foundation, Croixdale Care Facility, and Courage St. Croix. Previously, he served as a member of Bishop Hanson’s Advisory Committee (ELCA).
He holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Minnesota and is a member of Our Savior’s Lutheran (ELCA) in Stillwater, Minnesota. He has been married to Kathy for 58 years; they have four children and 11 grandchildren. The Johnsons have supported several African students at ELCA colleges and refugees/asylees from Vietnam, Hungary and South Sudan/Ethiopia over the past 40 years.
Ms. López joined the LIRS board in 2013. She is the International Secretary-Treasurer of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. In her role at the UFCW, Esther spearheaded UFCW’s advocacy of comprehensive immigration reform and she created programs to help new Americans in the UFCW on the path to citizenship. She brings to the board extensive skills in research, legal affairs, nonprofit management, public policy and advocacy, and services for migrants and refugees. The board also benefits from her connections to networks in academia, research, and think tanks; ethnic communities; national and state government; and political and advocacy networks.
Previously, Ms. López served as Deputy Chief of Staff for Labor in Illinois, and in the governor’s cabinet as Director of the Illinois Department of Labor. She has fought for working men and women and immigrants and refugees on several fronts, from legislation and politics to worker and community organizing. Her experience in the labor movement is extensive and diverse. Ms. Lopez serves on the national boards of Jobs with Justice, the National Consumers League, the Center for Community Change, and the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement. She also co-chairs the Immigration Task Force of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
Ms. López is a graduate of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque and Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago.
Evelyn Soto joined the LIRS board in 2017.
Ms. Soto has partnered with LIRS for many years. Since she began her service with the Churchwide Offices of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America(ELCA) in 1988, she has participated and/or led immigration work as part of her ministry.
She currently is the Director for Unit Operations and Programs, Domestic Mission Unit, of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Her responsibilities include the operational management of the unit, staffing, strategic planning, implementation, and communication. She has been a key partner in the development and implementation of the AMMPARO (Accompanying Migrant Minors with Protection, Advocacy, Representation and Opportunities) Strategy in the ELCA.
A graduate of DePaul University in Chicago, IL, Ms. Soto holds a Master of Arts degree, with distinction, in Reading & Learning Disabilities and Bilingual Special Education. She holds an undergraduate degree from University of Illinois in Chicago where she graduated with a BA in Elementary Education. She began her career as a Bilingual Elementary and Special Education Teacher.
She is married to Rev. Gordon Straw and they have a daughter, Amanda.
Selena Sujoldzic was born and raised in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Europe. Due to the war, which consisted of genocide and ethnic cleansing, her family resettled to the United States as refugees in 1995.
From that experience she became passionate about human right laws. She attended Wichita State University and received a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. She then moved onto law school at the University of Kansas School of Law.
She is now working as an attorney at Feldmann Nagel, LLC in Denver, Colorado where she is part of the Family Law Team. She is also on the Board of Directors for the LIRS, an instructor at the LIRS Refugee and Migrant Leadership Academy, as well as an active advocate at the Refugee Congress.