consultant and active layperson
unanimously elected NCC Transitional General Secretary
May 21, 2012 – A nationally known change management consultant and active
Congregational laywoman has been elected Transitional General Secretary of
the National Council of Churches.
Peg Birk, President and CEO of Interim Solutions, Minneapolis and a member
of Plymouth Congregational Church, Minneapolis, was unanimously elected to the position
today by the National Council of Churches Governing Board, meeting here May
21 and 22.
A service of installation in her new position followed in the national
offices of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Birk was recommended to the board by a 15-person search committee chaired by
the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church
Bishop Hanson, chair of the search committee, said: "Peg Birk brings to the
National Council of Churches exceptional experience leading organizations
through a process of building upon their strengths while making significant
changes in order to more effectively carry out their mission in a rapidly
changing context. Her clear witness to her Christian faith, her love for the
church, her attentive listening and her confidence in a vibrant future for
the National Council of Churches make her an outstanding choice for
Transitional General Secretary."
The position of Transitional General Secretary is described by the search
committee as “a transitional leader in the role of General Secretary” who
will be in place for 18 months to work with the NCC board and staff “to seek
a new vision and clarity of mission for the NCC.”
The position of General Secretary has been open since January 1 when the
Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon left the office citing health concerns. NCC Deputy
General Secretary Clare J. Chapman has been serving as Interim General
Secretary since her election by the Governing Board on January 20, 2012.
The unexpected transition in leadership, accompanied by budget deficits
caused by shortfalls in revenue, prompted the Governing Board to form a Task
Force on Re-envisioning and Restructuring, and to seek transitional
leadership while the restructuring was taking place.
“Our financial situation is challenging,” the search committee said, “yet it
is not the defining or driving factor in this moment of change. Instead, we
are actively discerning the future to which God is calling us. This is our
core ecumenical commitment, our vocation as churches.”
Peg Birk, a layperson who is a member of a congregation that is affiliated
with the United Church of Christ, has led Interim Solutions since 2007. The
consulting firm has had notable success working with foundations and
non-profit organizations undergoing management and organizational changes.
“Through a thoughtful combination of commitment to progress, understanding
of the challenge, and a deep listening experience,” the company tells
clients, “Interim Solutions maximizes your transitional time.”
In her contacts with the NCC search committee, Birk expressed “keen
interest” in the transitional position they were offering. Citing her
experience in change management, funds development, constituent
relationships, and staff leadership, Birk said, “I believe that my values,
skills and experience … make me well suited for this position.”
An attorney and former adjunct faculty member of the William Mitchell
College of Law in St. Paul, Minn., Birk served as interim president for the
Fund for Theological Education in 2009-2010[K1]. She is credited with
implementing new leadership practices to deepen the board and staff’s
ability to clarify and deliver on the group’s mission.
Birk has also served as interim president of the McKnight Foundation in
Minneapolis, where she managed a 38-person staff and operations that
included approving grants of about $90 million.
She was senior vice president and general counsel of Federated Insurance
Companies in Owatonna, Minn. from 1999 to 2005.
As City Attorney of St. Paul, Minn., from 1997 to 1998, Birk managed a
60-member staff and oversaw all aspects of municipal law. She led a staff of
attorneys and support staff and represented the city for labor relations and
Birk serves on the Dean’s advisory council at the University of Minnesota’s
Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, the Strozzi Institute
Advisory Board and the Beatitudes Society.
She previously served on the McKnight Foundation board of directors, the
Minnesota Early Learning Foundation board of directors, the Hamline
University board of trustees, the International Alliance of Executive Women,
the Minnesota Women’s Economic Roundtable board of directors, and was
co-chair of the Center for Religious Inquiry with former Vice President
Walter Mondale at St. Mark’s Cathedral.
National Council of Churches President Kathryn M. Lohre, who served on the
search committee, welcomed the election of Peg Birk.
The election “signals that the National Council of Churches is ready for the
kind of transformational change that will enliven us as an instrument of the
ecumenical movement in the United States,” Lohre said.
“She is a respected professional in the field of change management, with a
calling to interim leadership for transformative change, and a love of the
church. This is precisely the kind of leader that the National Council of
Churches needs as its Transitional General Secretary. I believe that Peg has
been called to serve with us at this time, and I look forward to working
alongside her, the Task Force, our leadership, and our exceptional staff in
these 18 months.”
The other members of the Transitional General Secretary search committee
were Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, The Armenian Church in America; the Rev.
Canon Peg Chemberlin, Immediate Past President of the NCC; Bishop Thomas L.
Hoyt, Jr., Christian Methodist Episcopal Church; and Mr. Nick Kiger,
representing the New Fire young adult network and a member of the United
Church of Christ.
Also, the Very Rev. Leonid Kishkovsky, Orthodox Church in America; the Rev.
A. Roy Medley, American Baptist Churches USA; the Rev. Gradye Parsons,
Presbyterian Church (USA); Dr. Tony Vrame, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of
America; the Rev. Dr. Angelique Walker-Smith, National Baptist Convention
USA, Inc.; the Rev. Dr. Robert Welsh, Christian Church (Disciples of
Christ); Bishop John F. White, African Methodist Episcopal Church; and
Bishop Sharon Zimmerman Rader, United Methodist Church.
Since its founding in 1950, the National Council of
the Churches of Christ in the USA has been the leading force for
shared ecumenical witness among Christians in the United States. The NCC's
37 member communions -- from a wide spectrum of Protestant, Anglican,
Orthodox, Evangelical, historic African American and Living Peace
churches -- include 40 million persons in more than 100,000 local
congregations in communities across the nation.
NCC News contact:
Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2228 (office), 646-853-4212 (cell),