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Req Number: NM954
Location: Baltimore, MD
Posted: 1/7/2019
Category: Government/Not-For-Profit : Education
Job Type: Permanent


For almost 80 years, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS) has been a champion for refugees, asylum seekers, immigrants and migrants from around the globe, saving and transforming the lives of millions of people who have found safety, refuge and hope in America’s communities. In the midst of the current political environment and the recent family separation crisis, there is a continued need, now more than ever, to ensure that refugees and migrants are protected, embraced, and empowered within just and welcoming communities.


The incoming President and CEO will join at a critical time in history and will play a pivotal role in sustaining LIRS’ work to serve the immigrant and refugee populations in the US. This leader will be inheriting an organization facing unique volatility and must be energized by the opportunity to tackle big challenges both internally and externally. This person will need to drive cultural and operational change within the organization to ensure appropriate systems are in place, while simultaneously ensuring that LIRS is poised to withstand extreme external pressures. As an organization that heavily relies on federal funding, LIRS must also adapt creative strategies to secure the necessary resources to carry out its work.


The next President & CEO will be a visionary driver, thought leader, and advocate in promoting the importance of welcoming newcomers, securing essential support and resources to care for those in need, and integrating refugees and immigrants into the community. S/he will have an incredible opportunity to shape the narrative and lead this powerful movement to stand up for social justice and the fundamental rights of vulnerable populations, help separated families, strengthen communities, and as a result, create transformative, sustainable impact.



Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) was founded in 1939 by Lutheran churches in the United States to serve uprooted people during World War II. LIRS has since grown into an internationally recognized leader known for innovative services for refugees, asylum-seekers, unaccompanied migrant children and families, migrants in detention, and other vulnerable populations.


For 80 years, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) has been a champion for migrants and refugees from around the globe. The LIRS legacy of courageous and compassionate service has made a difference in more than half a million people who have sought safety and refuge in America’s communities. The organization’s history reflects American Lutherans’ deep immigrant roots and passionate commitment to welcoming newcomers, especially those who are most in need. In partnership with community-based legal and social service providers nationwide, LIRS has helped migrants and refugees rebuild their lives in America.


Informed by decades of experience with migrants and refugees, LIRS has responded to people caught in conflict and facing persecution. LIRS has developed new service programs, birthed new service organizations, and influenced public policy in the best interests of those they serve.



All migrants and refugees are protected, embraced and empowered in a world of just and welcoming communities.



As a witness to God’s love for all people, we stand with and advocate for migrants and refugees, transforming communities through ministries of service and justice.



Welcome: “When I was a stranger, you welcomed me.” Rooted in faith, LIRS believes that we are called to welcome those fleeing persecution and seeking refuge in the United States.

Prophetic Witness: Not all are prophets, but all are called to be prophetic witnesses. At LIRS, this means we are committed to speaking out boldly and standing up for the just treatment of those we serve.

Integrity: Driven by a desire to serve vulnerable refugees and migrants, we refuse to compromise our moral, economic, and political integrity as we carry out our mission to that end.

Innovation: Committed to bold action and continuous learning, LIRS invites others to join our mission, eager to embrace fresh perspectives and explore new ways to engage in this work of welcome.

Interdependence: LIRS depends on a diverse network of community partners, faith-based groups, and private entities to magnify our reach and impact – and they rely on our expertise and leadership.





LIRS works with refugees, children, and migrants to ensure they are protected and welcomed into local communities throughout the United States. The organization’s faith and the nation’s values compel LIRS to respond compassionately to the worst refugee crisis in history, with over 22.5 million refugees worldwide. Through the organization’s services, unaccompanied children, refugees, and migrants obtain access to protection, integration, justice, and stability.


The organization’s services and advocacy fall into four concrete categories, which are hallmarks of their work:


Protection. Newcomers are safe from harm and have access to legal and physical support, and protection of human rights, as required under international law.

Stabilization. Newcomers are able to independently meet their basic needs in their communities through access to information and resources.

Integration. Newcomers are engaged with their communities. Healthy integration encompasses strong social connections and opportunities for economic success.

The Long Welcome. Successful integration is a long-term project encompassing the efforts of newcomers and the receiving community, professionals and volunteers.




Refugees: In its 80 years LIRS has resettled half-a-million refugees through a robust network of service partners, volunteers and churches, connects refugees with basic, essential services, while also helping them integrate into their new communities.


• Welcome and Stabilization Services

• Serving the Most Vulnerable Populations

• Promoting Economic Empowerment


Children: In 2016, LIRS partners served more than 26,000 children and their families, working with network partners across the country to provide a full continuum of federal services for vulnerable youth, from foster care to family reunification – and offering a wide range of services to support the health and well-being of children once they’ve settled into their new family.


• Foster Care

• Family Reunification


Migrants: LIRS advocates on behalf of migrant and asylum-seeking men, women, and families impacted by immigration enforcement and promotes access to due process and champions cost-saving alternatives to detention programs that prevent family separation and guarantee compliance with immigration officials.


• Detention Visitation Ministry

• Community-Based Alternatives for Adult Individuals & Families

• Torture Survivor Legal Services and Network


Travel Loan Services: LIRS oversees the travel repayment process for the refugees resettled, using loan counselors to guide refugees and help them gain basic financial literacy and establish good credit in their new country.




Over the years, LIRS has established a diverse network of community partners and faith-based strongholds for refugees and migrants in America.


Service Partners: LIRS carries out much of its work in partnership with local service providers across the country. With funding and technical support from LIRS, local partners help refugees put down roots in new communities and assist vulnerable migrants with legal and practical needs, allowing management of resources to effectively extend the reach of services and strategically share strengths and expertise.


• Refugee Resettlement Partners: A nationwide network of local agencies that welcome refugees to their new American communities

• Immigration Service Providers: LIRS-affiliated agencies throughout the country that provide immigration legal services

• Foster Care Programs Partners: Partners throughout the country who work with LIRS to find loving foster homes for refugee and migrant children

• Family Reunification Partners: LIRS and its partners support improving the family-based immigration system to ensure the timely reunification of families

• Safe Release Support Partners: The LIRS Safe Release Support Program is made up of 20 human service agencies across the country. These partners are strong community human services providers that have a number of existing services that can be offered to families who are going through the reunification process.


Church Partners: Rooted in Lutherans’ faithful and caring response to the challenges facing uprooted peoples, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service celebrates strong collaborative relationships with three national Lutheran church bodies. Each denomination brings commitment to following God’s call to love the sojourner, the experience of being an immigrant church, and the leadership to make ministry with migrants and refugees a priority. Each contributes financially to the LIRS mission.


• The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)

• The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod LCMS

• The Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (LELCA).


Foundation Partners: Support from the following partner foundations allows LIRS to carry out their mission of service and justice.


• InFaith Community Foundation

• Ford Foundation

• Oak Foundation

• Annie E. Casey Foundation

• J.M. Kaplan Fund




The President and CEO is charged with providing overall leadership and direction for the organization; establishing and overseeing effective management systems and ensuring the agency’s continued ability to create significant impact.  The next leader will tackle significant challenges and will be tasked with driving internal change for operational excellence while building an external strategy to ensure the advocacy and funding support required to continue vital programs and services.


The President and CEO leads the LIRS Leadership Team, comprised of the following: Chief Financial Officer, Vice President for External Affairs, Vice President for Programs, Vice President for Human Resources, General Counsel, and Chief Information Officer to achieve its strategic goals and objectives.


The President and CEO reports to the Board of Directors, which is composed of 17 members who have knowledge of and commitment to refugees and immigrants. There are also three former refugees or first-generation immigrants on the board. The LIRS president is an ex-officio member of the board. LIRS believes strength is found in diversity and that refugees and immigrants need a voice at the table of influence. The President and CEO serves as the primary spokesperson for the organization and is responsible for cultivating excellent external relationships with supporting church bodies, donors, constituents, the U.S. government, peer organizations, and the general public.




Strategic Vision and Leadership


• In collaboration with the Board and Senior Leadership Team, taking into account the organization’s strengths and challenges, as well as the external environment, refine and implement the strategic plan while ensuring that the budget, staff and priorities are aligned with LIRS’s core mission and values.

• Provide inspirational leadership and direction to the Senior Leadership Team and ensure the continued development and management of a professional and efficient organization; empower and establish effective decision-making processes that will enable LIRS to achieve both short-term and long-term goals and objectives.

• Cultivate a strong and transparent working relationship with the Board and ensure open communication about the measurement of financial, programmatic, and impact performance against stated milestones and goals.

• Help to build a diverse and inclusive Board representative of the community that is highly engaged and willing to leverage and secure resources.

• Create a culture characterized by open and direct communication, collaboration, decisiveness, a proactive results orientation, and a willingness to take calculated risks.

• Build and nurture relationships with the diverse constituencies of LIRS: church judicatories; employees and volunteers; congregations; affiliates and partners; other social ministry organizations and cooperative agencies; U.S. government; peer organizations; donors and other funding sources; and key institutional alliances.

• Lead the growth and diversification of the agency’s resource base and enhancement of the agency’s fundraising capacity in order to maximize LIRS’s potential and to ensure the continued financial viability and sustainability of the organization.

• Ensure that LIRS continues to be represented as an agent of change on the Hill in the debate surrounding comprehensive immigration reform. Together with the agency’s partners in advocacy, continue to help transform communities’ abilities to welcome the stranger.



• Sound transition into the leadership role with immediate assessment and actions to address current challenges, while ensuring all decisions are in the best interest of LIRS’ mission, vision, staff, stakeholders, finances, and operations.

• Professional representation of the organization in front of all key constituents, the media, and the public.

• Successful achievement of management and fiscal objectives to ensure a vibrant, healthy organization.



The ideal candidate will be a results-driven, innovative and strategic thinker with proven leadership, business acumen, problem-solving/analysis, decision-making, and performance management. S/He will have experience demonstrating strong advocacy, relationship-building, and inspirational communication skills. S/He will be deeply committed to the mission of LIRS and championing the organization’s efforts to serve refugees and migrants living within the borders of the United States.


Additional ideal qualifications will include:

• At least fifteen years of relevant work experience, preferably in nonprofit management.

• Active membership in a Lutheran church is not mandatory but is a plus; a high-level of comfort in dealing with the two Lutheran church bodies, however, is required.

• Excellent written and oral communication skills with a recognized ability for passionately engaging others in LIRS’s vision and commitment to hospitality and welcoming the stranger.

• Ability to build effective partnerships both nationally and internationally with an aptitude for fundraising.

• Empowering management style with an ability to mentor and develop a strong team.

• Commitment to a diverse organization and attuned to the culturally diverse needs of LIRS’s client base.

• Recognized as a visible leader who is focused, likeable, and has a commitment to ethical behavior and high standards.

• Subject matter expertise in immigration and/or refugee services is highly desirable.

• Spirit of a change agent, eagerness to tackle challenging and complex problems with innovative solutions, and experience working in volatile environments.



An undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university is required. An advanced degree and/or pertinent experience is preferred.


Korn/Ferry shall provide equal employment opportunity to all qualified candidates, and will refer candidates without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, veteran status or any other legally protected basis.





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