The Rev. Louise N. Johnson

We are excited to welcome Louise N. Johnson as the Director of Leadership Development! Prior to her work with LEAD, Louise served as the fourteenth president of Wartburg Theological Seminary, Dubuque, IA, where she led the seminary to its largest fundraising and enrollment years in the history of the school.

Louise brings significant gifts to LEAD in innovation and new program development. She is a skilled workshop leader, teacher, and mentor particularly in the area of adaptive leadership.

Louise has a long track record of successful work in leading organizations in the practices of discernment, visioning, and planning. She brings the wisdom of experience, the heart of a fellow traveler, and a deep trust in the power of the Spirit to the practice of leadership. She is particularly passionate about how leaders and faith communities grow in their capacity to reach out with the good news of Jesus Christ to a world longing to hear.

If you are interested in having Louise as a speaker / consultant for your congregation or organization, please complete the online Request a Speaker form.

Louise N. Johnson is a pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, ELCA. She serves as the Director for Leadership Development for LEAD.

Louise is a native of Akron, Ohio. Her father, William, was a Lutheran Church in America pastor, and her mother, Valerie, is a retired higher education administrator, English teacher, and research librarian. At Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio, Louise majored in German.  During her college years, she worked in Lutheran Outdoor Ministries, where she developed a strong sense of call to serve the church.

After college, she pursued her love for youth ministry, serving congregations in Chicago and Madison, Wisconsin. In 1995, she began studies at Wartburg Seminary and received her Master of Divinity in 1999. Following seminary, Louise served at Wartburg, primarily in Admissions. Between 2000 and 2004, she also served as pastor of Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church in Spragueville, Iowa.

Louise was called to serve the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP) in 2004 as Associate Director of Admissions, quickly rising to Director of Admissions in 2006. During her tenure, she worked with others in the development, writing, and execution of Project Connect, a $4.5 million dollar grant from the Lilly Endowment, Inc. to build a network of leaders and institutions to provide theologically sound vocational discernment for young adults. Louise served LTSP as Vice President for Mission Advancement beginning in fall 2012.  Her responsibilities included strategic planning, accreditation, and alumni relations.

During her years in Philadelphia, Louise also pursued an interest in organizational leadership, undergoing several courses including the completion of a Certificate in Leadership and Management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She continues to teach, speak and consult in change leadership in church organizations.

In 2017, Louise received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Wartburg College, Waverly, IA. In 2020, she is receiving the Outstanding Executive Award from the Association of Lutheran Development Executives.