Disciples News Service

Transitional president sought for HELM

Higher Education & Leadership Ministries (HELM)

St. Louis, Missouri

The Higher Education & Leadership Ministries (HELM) Transitional President is the ministry’s chief executive officer and is responsible for working with the Board of Directors to define and carry out HELM’s mission as a General Ministry of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and for developing and managing the resources to undergird that mission. Reporting to the Board of Directors, the Transitional President will have overall strategic and operational responsibility for HELM’s staff, programs, and execution of its mission for a three-year timeframe. PDF of this announcement

The Board of Directors of HELM seeks a Transitional President who will work with HELM’s board and higher education constituents to:

  • Assess the current mission and programs of HELM, and recommend what to keep and what to change;
  • Consult and network with other persons and entities within the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) that include leadership development in their core missions, especially for young adults;
  • Develop collaborative relationships that strengthen HELM’s capacity to enact its core mission;
  • Develop and begin to implement a plan for economic equilibrium and a sustainable funding formula to enable HELM’s ministry well into the 21st century.

The current president of HELM, Dennis Landon, is retiring June 30, 2014, after serving as president since 1997.

HELMs Context

HELM represents the continuation of over a century of organized Disciples commitment to the ministries of higher education as manifested in colleges and universities, campus ministries, and graduate theological education. Identifying, cultivating, equipping and supporting transformative leaders is HELM’s core work.

We live in an age of radical disruption of patterns of religious affiliation, a disruption that is markedly affecting congregations, regional and general expressions of church, and institutions of church-related higher education—both undergraduate education and graduate theological education.

The Transitional President will face a combination of opportunities and challenges in helping HELM discern and enact its mission, relationships, and programs.

  • God is at work in the world calling forth and equipping leaders to serve the future needs of God’s mission. This is HELM’s central opportunity and challenge. HELM seeks to join God in the work of calling and equipping leaders for a changing world, especially among those persons in Disciples-related institutions of higher education.
  • Many expressions of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) are either engaged in or talking about the work of leadership development. How might HELM take a more active role in networking and amplifying this work?
  • HELM’s Leadership Fellows and Leadership Institute programs have been signature programs with important and impressive outcomes. How will these programs be sustained and improved?
  • Funding the mission is a critical issue. Some endowed funds support HELM’s programs. Operating money from Disciples Mission Fund will continue to decrease. What does economic equilibrium look like for HELM in the near future?

·       Relationships with HELM’s core ministry partners need a fresh look:

o   Colleges and universities, through a council of presidents, indicate a new eagerness to collaborate in the work of forming and educating transformative leaders. Existing work with campus ministers and directors of church relations may be further developed as points of renewed connection with undergraduate higher education.

o   Relationships with the Council on Theological Education could be further explored to maximize potential synergies between the denomination’s priority of leadership development and the work of graduate theological education.

·     The HELM board is, overall, an active and committed group. That said, board development and achieving full engagement will be a priority.

·     Over the past two decades, HELM’s staff has been reduced. Moving forward, and connected to the issue of funding, the Transitional President will need to assess the staff—employed and volunteer—HELM needs in order to accomplish its mission.

Current Strategic Priorities

In May 2012, the HELM board adopted a set of strategic priorities. Actions taken on some of the priorities indicate particular priorities were not feasible. The Transitional President should continue to explore:

  • Our “polar star” as leadership development and focusing solely on programs that further our central mission.
  • How we can use current designated funds even more creatively to further HELM’s mission.
  • How HELM might expand our relationship to institutions of higher education to include support for the training of leaders in congregations where leaders are not able to follow traditional educational paths in preparation for ministry.
  • How we can best partner with the staff of undergraduate institutions, our seminaries and theological houses, church relations officers and campus ministries to help provide the leaders most needed for the church and the world.
  • HELM’s work as a committed partner with the Hope Partnership for Missional Transformation continually assessing how HELM’s mission is being served through those efforts.


Transitional Leadership & Management:

  • Provide executive leadership to the HELM staff and Board of Directors during the time of transition and change between called Presidents.
  • Provide insight towards redefining the organization’s mission, role and position in the larger scope of the denomination.
  •       Work closely with the higher education partners of the denomination to identify the ways to strengthen cooperation and collaboration best fit for the changing landscape of HELM, theological education, and the church
  • Assess the current organizational structure and programs, and identify areas of improvement that best meet the needs of HELM’s future.
  • Support and motiva
    te the organization’s staff in organizing and carrying out the ministry’s programs and activities.
  • Review current policies and procedures and bring recommendations for revisions.
  • In light of the assessment of mission, programs, and relationships, lead the Board in identifying new ways to use HELM’s designated assets with both creativity and faithfulness.


  • Ensure that the flow of funds permits HELM to make continuous progress towards the achievement of its mission and that those funds are allocated properly to reflect present programs and future potential.
  • Review and assess current fundraising strategies and identify areas to enhance marketing strategies.


  • Using the HELM website and other modes and channels of communication, ensure that the HELM board, affiliated institutions, and staff have sufficient, appropriate, and up to date information about HELM’s programs, the mission and ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and the larger operating environment.


The President will be thoroughly committed to HELM’s mission. All candidates should have proven leadership, coaching, and relationship management experience. Concrete demonstrable experience and other qualifications include:

  • At least 7 years of relevant organizational leadership experience; knowledge of nonprofits and multisite organizations preferred.
  •  Active membership and participation in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) denomination.
  • Exhibit a collaborative and entrepreneurial spirit
  • Possess theological sensitivity.
  • Unwavering commitment to quality programs and data-driven program evaluation.
  • Excellence in organizational management with the ability to set and achieve strategic objectives, communicate with constituents, raise funds, and manage a budget.
  • Success working with a Board of Directors in fostering a fully engaged board.
  • Ability to work effectively in collaboration with diverse groups of people.
  • Possess an understanding of the landscape, challenges, and opportunities for higher education and graduate theological education.


·       Advanced degree

The Transitional President will be eligible to apply for the executive leadership role at the end of the three year period.

Location: St. Louis, strongly preferred.

To Apply:

To be considered for this position, candidates should send a resume with a cover letter of intent and interest in the opportunities and challenges that HELM evokes for them.

Also include the names of four references. For clergy, one should be the regional minister; for laity, the pastor.

Send applications to:  helm.search@gmail.com

Applications will be accepted through 4 April 2014. Questions about this search may be directed to JoAnne Kagiwada, Search Committee chair, at jhkagiwada@aol.com

More information about HELM may be found at http://www.helmdisciples.org


HELM will utilize the Executive Search Process as outlined and adopted by the General Board of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

Higher Education & Leadership Ministries is an Equal Employment Opportunity employer. It is our policy to make all personnel decisions without discriminating on the basis of race, color, sex, disability, veteran status, age, marital status, sexual orientation, citizenship status, national or ethnic origin, and any other protected status