Speakers & Leadership

The coordination program is funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. and administered by the Center for Congregations.


Matt Bloom, Ph.D.

"Wellbeing in Trying Times"


Rev. Dr. Reggie Blount

"Relationships with Underresourced Communities"


Aimée A. Laramore, MBA

"Relationships with Donors"


Fran Wyatt


Elise Erikson Barrett

Coordination Program Director

Elise Erikson Barrett serves as Coordination Program Director for the Initiative. A former ordained United Methodist pastor, she served churches in South Carolina as both a pastor and a pastor's spouse. Her current household includes persons worshiping with the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, and the ELCA, and one of her favorite things about this work is experiencing the goodness of diverse parts of God's family working in community on these common challenges. Elise holds degrees from Hanover College (BA, Economics) and Duke Divinity School (MDiv), and she is pursuing a doctorate in American Studies at IUPUI.


Rick Foss

Coordination Program Co-Director

Richard (“Rick”) Foss serves at Coordination Program Co-Director. He served as the interim president of Luther Seminary from December 2012 – May 2014. He came to Luther Seminary as director of Contextual Learning in 2008. Previously, he served as bishop for the Eastern North Dakota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), a position he held since 1992. Rick holds degrees from St. Olaf College (BA) and Luther Seminary (MDiv and MTh). Prior to serving as bishop, he served for 21 years as senior pastor in congregations in Minnesota, Washington, and North Dakota. In 1995 he was named as one of three finalists for presiding bishop of the ELCA.

Karen Stone

Coordination Program Event Manager

Karen Stone serves as the event manager of the Coordination Program for this initiative. Prior to joining the Coordination Program, Karen served as the Program Manager at Lake Institute on Faith & Giving. Karen has 15 years experience in event management and meeting design. She has worked with diverse audiences and religious institutions across the theological spectrum planning conferences, lectures, seminars, board meetings, receptions, and more. Karen is a native to Indianapolis and holds degrees from Purdue University (BA and MA) in Community Relations.



Lilly Endowment, Inc.

Chris Coble, Vice President for Religion

Chris Coble is the vice president for religion at Lilly Endowment Inc. He was elected to that position in December 2012, having served the Endowment as a program officer in its religion division for sixteen years. Chris is ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and has served congregations in Indiana, North Carolina, Iowa, and Massachusetts. Trained as a historian of American religion, his research interests focus on issues of religious formation and the transmission of faith in Christian churches. He holds degrees from Wabash College (AB), Duke Divinity School (MDiv), and Harvard University (ThD).

Lilly Endowment, Inc.

Brian Williams, Program Director

Brian Williams, a native of Cleveland, Ohio, served as a pastor in United Methodist congregations in North Carolina and Indiana since 2006, most recently at University United Methodist Church in Indianapolis. Brian holds responsibilities in the Endowment’s religion and community development divisions. He holds degrees from Duke Divinity School (MDiv), the University of Michigan (MBA) and Purdue University (BS, management/marketing).

Center for Congregations

Rev. Timothy Shapiro, President

Tim is the Indianapolis Center's president. He began serving the Center in 2003 after 18 years in pastoral ministry. For 14 years, Tim served Westminster Presbyterian Church in Xenia, Ohio. Prior to his pastorate at Westminster, he was pastor of Bethlehem Presbyterian Church in Logansport, Indiana. He holds degrees from Purdue University and Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Tim's interest in how congregations learn to do new things is represented in his book How Your Congregation Learns. After his extensive work on the Center's Sacred Space initiative, Tim co-authored the book Holy Places: Matching Sacred Space with Mission and Message. 

Center for Congregations

Susan Weber,

Director of the Evaluation & Communication Project

Susan directs the Evaluation Project for the Religion Division of Lilly Endowment Inc. In that capacity she works directly with grantees in helping them create evaluation plans and processes for the purpose of improving and sustaining their grant programs. She spent several years as the Center's director of evaluation and congregational learning, as well as a resource consultant to congregations. Prior to her work at the Center, she served the Archdiocese of Indianapolis as coordinator of boards of education, Office of Catholic Education. She has served as an independent consultant and group facilitator for dioceses, churches, religious communities, and schools nationwide. Sue has degrees from St. Mary-of-the-Woods College (B.S., Humanities) and Indiana University, Bloomington (M.S., Adult Education) and is professionally certified as a group facilitator through Indiana University. She is certified through Case Western University in the use of Appreciative Inquiry both in evaluation and in strategic planning.

"One of my ultimate hopes...for these projects is that

together we are seeing a nascent movement in formation. Nothing less  

than a movement is needed to tackle these systemic issues that have plagued American Christianity for so long... We all have to keep at this, and keep alive the hope that we are making a difference. That hope is rooted in a claim... from 2 Corinthians 9. That is to say that our hope is rooted in the life of God's generosity as given to us in Christ Jesus."

--John Wimmer, 1957-2020
From remarks given at Gathering First Fruits: National Summit on the Economics of Ministry