Meet the Office for Philanthropy staff

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LTSP Office for Philanthropy Staff

The Office for Philanthropy staff (clockwise from left)
John Puotinen, Kathie Afflerbach, Tom Henderson,
Merri Brown, Louise Johnson, Yvonne Jones Lembo

The Rev. John V. Puotinen, CFRE • 215.248.7304 •

The Rev. John Puotinen was called to LTSP just over three years ago, and serve as Vice President for Philanthropy and President of the LTSP Foundation. He believes he was called to this ministry, which supports theological education for leaders of the church, and which helps individuals see ways in which they can invest in that mission for the sake of the Gospel.

John and his wife Janet love to spend time in northern Wisconsin at the family cabin, where the sound of loons and the sighting of bald eagles is a daily treat. Needless to say, that’s a drive from Philly, so those moments are treasured. Having grown up and lived around Lake Superior and Lake Michigan, he loves the water, and finds being in Philadelphia, close to the ocean (and fresh seafood), is a gift.

Pr. Puotinen grew up in Detroit as a preacher’s kid, and has been a parish pastor and mission developer before moving into the work of philanthropy in social ministry, higher education, and seminary settings. He loves the energy, hope and dedication of LTSP’s students, and is thankful for the opportunity to live and work among them.

Kathie Afflerbach • 215.248.6348 •

As Director for Donor Services, Kathie Afflerbach, AIM, feels her primary objectives are to be accessible to all of our donors, make sure their donation wishes are honored, and maintain an accurate database of addresses and the giving histories of LTSP's constituents.

Prior to joining LTSP in December of 2000, Kathie worked in human resources administration. She is truly a “people person,” and the experience of working with a wide variety of people has enhanced her role at LTSP, where she has developed skills as good listener, paying attention to detail, and developing strong working relationships with donors and staff alike. 

Kathie was commissioned as an Associate in Ministry in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in 2011. She is a member of St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Quakertown, PA, where she serves as Director of Christian Education. One of her pet volunteer projects is to work as coordinator of the annual Sleep Out for the Homeless Event. She is a Lutheran Advocacy Ministry Pennsylvania (LAMPA) Ambassador, and enjoys participating in many ecumenical and Lutheran social service events.

Thomas Henderson • 215.248.6315 • 

Tom Henderson joined the Office for Philanthropy as a Philanthropic Advisor in 2011, focusing on major gifts for student scholarship funds. In his work, he increasingly found himself involved in congregations, coordinating LTSP’s “Seminary Sunday” program and the “Stewards of Abundance” initiative, attending wider-church functions, and meeting with ministry leaders. As a result, Tom has recently been named Church Relations Director, but will also continue his efforts around raising scholarship dollars.

A native of Scotland and raised in Charleston, South Carolina, Tom is a graduate of Newberry College and Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary. He is the proud father of Cullen, a freshman at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School, and they attend Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in King of Prussia. In his spare time, Tom enjoys playing golf poorly, cooking well, spending time with friends abundantly, and following his beloved Clemson Tigers passionately.

Merri Brown • 215.248.6323 •

Merri Brown is honored to be a member of the LTSP community for almost eight years, first serving as a freelance graphic designer, then a full-time employee as Creative Manager, and currently as Director of Communications — establishing and guiding the integrated marketing strategy for the seminary including publications, the website, social media, public relations messages, and collateral, maintaining consistency in the seminary's message and brand — and editor of PS magazine and PS Portions, the seminary’s monthly e-newsletter (sign to be in touch at Merri values her interaction with LTSP's inspiring students and learned professors and is passionate about being enrolled in the Master of Arts in Public Leadership (MAPL) program, and feels this “boots on the ground” perspective is key to understanding the seminary’s communication needs through that lens. Merri also enjoys singing as a member of the seminary choir. 

Merri is a “cradle” Lutheran, growing up attending Redemption Lutheran Church in Northeast Philadelphia, and now lives near the seminary with her husband Drew and three active children, Emily, Cameron, and Graeme. She is a member of Christ Ascension Lutheran Church in Chestnut Hill, where she enjoys singing in the choir and serving on various committees, currently including church council. She also has volunteered in a fundraising capacity for her church and the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge. Her secret favorite church activity? Covered-dish suppers. 

“I have always felt called to serve and comforted by my faith, and hope to continue to serve and be moved by the Holy Spirit, wherever that may lead.”

Full disclosure: Every Sunday in the fall, Merri bleeds green turning into a crazed Philadelphia Eagles fan. She has been known to play “Monday-morning Quarterback,” calling into Sportsradio 94WIP’s morning show.

The Rev. Louise Johnson • 215.248.7313 •

As Vice President for Mission Advancement, the Rev. Louise Johnson has responsibility for working with LTSP in accreditation, strategic planning, and institutional evaluation. She is also honored to work with our alumni, serving as staff liaison to the alumni board. As part of the Philanthropy staff, she meets with and encourages donors, and oversees communications. Pr. Johnson has been in this role for just a year now, and enjoys the challenge of learning new tasks.

Louise loves to travel, and is blessed with extraordinary friends with whom she loves to spend time. She loves to visit family when able, and likes hiking and biking as well as anything connected to the water — kayaking, canoeing, going to the beach. And she loves to cook.

Pr. Johnson grew up in a church family. Her father was an ELCA pastor, and she swore not follow in his footsteps — she had seen the best and worst of what the church could be. The Holy Spirit had other plans. Camp Mowana was her first experience working in the church and learning that she had gifts for articulating faith. She continued work in youth ministry, responding to an invitation to participate in a youth ministry training program through the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Louise was called to study at Wartburg Seminary, graduating with an MDiv in 1999. Still unsure of her call to serve in congregational ministry, she began work at the seminary, serving roles in admissions, continuing education, community life, and pastoral care., and found she had a knack for admissions and administration. Along with work at the seminary, she was called to serve as pastor of Salem Lutheran Church in Spragueville, IA. Pr. Johnson came to LTSP in 2004, to work with the Eastern Cluster in writing the Lilly Grant for Project Connect and to serve as Associate Director of Admissions. She became Director of Admissions in 2008, and Vice President for Mission Advancement in 2012. Pr. Johnson’s life is a testimony to the mysterious work of the Holy Spirit, and could not even imagine the roles in which she has served, much less imagine being suited to fulfill them.   

Through all of this, Louise has discovered a gift for innovation and a passion for leadership development, and is honored to serve on the staff at LTSP and participate in the work of the larger church.

Yvonne Jones Lembo • 215.248.6318 •

Yvonne Jones Lembo, a Philanthropic Advisor for The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP), helps people carry out their good intentions of support in a way that brings the best benefit to them and the seminary. Prior to entering LTSP’s MDiv program in 2008, she served as an ecumenical lay minister for over 30 years, where she learned the value of building relationships to carry out a common mission.

Now a candidate for rostered ministry in the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod of the ELCA, she served as Vicar with St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Northwest Philadelphia from 2009-2011. In addition to her work at LTSP, she serves as Chief Ministry Officer with Catalyst for Change Church of God in Christ, a rapidly growing five-year-old congregation in West Philadelphia.

One big staple that holds together faith communities, ministry life, and philanthropy is good food! Yvonne is a confirmed foodie and love preparing, sharing, and enjoying dishes from many cuisines, from Southern-style African American soul food to Caribbean, Mediterranean, and Asian fusion cooking, to raw vegan salads and juicing. Yvonne would love to get to know you better over a good cup of coffee and a tasty bite to eat!

Oh, and we are a group that loves working together and brings fun to all we do:

Philanthropy staff - fun...

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