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Lutheran World Relief President Kathryn Wolford Named President of The McKnight Foundation

Contact: Emily Sollie, Lutheran World Relief, 410-230-2802, esollie@lwr.org


BALTIMORE, Aug. 9 /Christian Newswire/ -- Lutheran World Relief President Kathryn Wolford announced today that she will resign her position at LWR to assume the presidency of The McKnight Foundation, a Minnesota-based philanthropic organization. Her last day at LWR will be October 31, and her work with McKnight begins December 1.


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. 


Wolford joined LWR as program director for Latin America in 1991, after serving in positions in the U.S. and the Caribbean and Latin America at Church World Service.  She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Gettysburg College, where she received a B.A. in history, with departmental honors. She earned her M.A. in public policy from the University of Chicago, and a second masters in religious studies from the Divinity School of the University of Chicago. Wolford has received honorary doctorates in public service and humane letters, from Gettysburg College and Muhlenberg College, respectively.


Her honors include being named one of “Maryland’s Top 100 Women” three times by Baltimore’s The Daily Record newspaper. She has previously served as board chair of InterAction, an association of over 150 U.S. organizations that work internationally; and board chair of Action by Churches Together. She also has served on the boards of the Lutheran Community Foundation, the Maryland Association of Nonprofit Organizations, Gettysburg College, and the Foods Resource Bank; and on an advisory committee of the Johns Hopkins University Institute for Policy Studies. She has received Gettysburg College’s Young Alumni Achievement and Woman of Distinction awards.


“I am filled with a profound sense of gratitude for the opportunity to have served as LWR’s president,” Wolford said.  “It is very difficult to leave LWR, an organization that I love deeply and feel so passionately about.  I am humbled by what God has accomplished through LWR over these years. What attracted me to the McKnight Foundation are many of the same qualities I will miss as I complete thirteen years of service as LWR's president:  clear and compelling values, a strong mission, a wonderful track record in innovation, and a commitment to positive social change through grant-making, building networks on issues and strategic policy reform.”


“In a time of decreasing public trust in institutions,” she continued, “whether government, private industry or charities, I am very proud of LWR's stellar reputation--within the Lutheran Church community and beyond, including its peer organizations, major private foundations and government officials.  We are known for having a strong ethical stance while operating in the nitty-gritty challenges of providing effective humanitarian action in often complex, polarized global contexts.”


The McKnight Foundation, founded in 1953, makes grants in support of children and families, the arts, region and communities, and the environment, primarily in Minnesota; and select international and scientific research efforts. LWR received a $60,000 McKnight grant in 2004 for a sustainable agriculture, natural resource management, and livestock husbandry program for women in Uganda. McKnight, like LWR, works with local partners in the communities it serves.


“I have the utmost respect for Kathryn Wolford and have tremendously enjoyed working with her,” said Betty Duda, chair of LWR’s board of directors. “I wish her all the best as she moves on to the next phase of her distinguished career. LWR is blessed with an incredibly mission-minded, knowledgeable and experienced staff team which is fully aligned with the goals of our organizational strategic plan and will continue to move this organization forward in ways that increase LWR's innovation, influence and impact. LWR is in great and capable hands during the upcoming transition to a new president.”


Duda named board members Kirk Betts, Paul Miles and Myrna Sheie to a transition committee to lead the national search process for a new president for the organization.  The next meeting of the 13-member LWR board will be in September 2006.


WHO IS LWR? Headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland, 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. We advocate for Fair Trade that helps farmer and artisan families earn a better income. We teach people to better care for themselves, their communities and the environment. We teach people how to be less vulnerable to natural disasters. We advocate with them for policy change that more fairly represents them. We counsel them after human and natural disasters, and help them recover with material aid and long-term programs. We do 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 ChurchMissouri Synod (LCMS), individuals and parish groups in international relief, development, advocacy and social responsibility.