CHICAGO, IL (February 20, 2013) – Meritt Lohr Sawyer has been named the new executive director of the Paul Carlson Partnership (PCP), it was announced today.
Sawyer brings more than 20 years of experience in guiding international development for nonprofit organizations. She previously served as international program director and vice president of Langham Partnership International (formerly the John Stott Society).
During her work with the organization, Sawyer directed staff and projects in more than 70 countries, helped lead extensive fund development, and executed international reorganization and contextual strategic planning in six global regions.
Sawyer also co-founded the Foundation for Christian Training, an innovative nonprofit organization that educated and equipped leaders in developing countries. She created the infrastructure and spearheaded its eventual merger with John Stott Ministries.
“She is an innovative and visionary leader with a strong background and effectiveness in international transformational ministries, strategic planning, and fund development,” said Curt Peterson, executive minister of the Department of World Mission.
Sawyer said she is excited to build on PCP’s past success and lead the organization forward at a time when the locus of Christianity is shifting to the developing world. “In the midst of global tectonic shifts in the worldwide church, PCP provides a historic legacy of relationships and reciprocity that guide investments,” she said. “It is the kind of team with whom I want to dedicate myself to the work of God’s kingdom.”
Although she has overseen development work around the world, Sawyer has expressed a particular affection for Africa. “Meritt’s love for Africa and passion to learn from African mentors and culture is inspiring,” said Peterson.
President Gary Walter said, “She brings a unique blend of missional heart, executive leadership, and strong collaborative skills. She is a welcome addition not only to PCP, but the whole of our global mission efforts.”
Those sentiments were echoed by PCP Board Chair Harold Spooner. “The board is excited about Merritt leading the organization,” he said. “She brings an incredible amount of organizational experience, both domestically and abroad. We feel she will be able to build on the foundation laid by Byron Miller and lead PCP to a bright future – the difference made in the lives of our brothers and sisters in the Congo.”
Prior to becoming professionally involved in international development, Sawyer was a marketing representative for IBM and associate dean of Northwestern University.
Sawyer, who lives in Menlo Park, California, has been a member of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church for 30 years. She has chaired the congregation’s five-year, $5 million investment in indigenously created and managed non-governmental organizations in Ethiopia. The initiative involved more than 2,000 volunteers.
She currently is a trustee for multiple organizations, including Fuller Theological Seminary. Sawyer recently graduated from Fuller with a Master of Theology magna cum laude. She also has a Master of Arts degree in higher education from Bowling Green State University and a Bachelor of Arts in music education from Bowling Green.
Her love of the arts led her to co-found and produce the annual Windrider Bay Area Film Forum over the past four years in Menlo Park. The forum grew out of the Sundance Film Festival and is “an immersive educational experiment to inspire conversation between filmmakers and film lovers.”
She lives in Menlo Park with her husband and has three grown children. Sawyer will continue to live in California, but also will spend time in Chicago when not traveling to Africa or raising funds for the ministry.