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The Thriving in Ministry Coordination Program

People in teams

about thriving in ministry

We are building a learning community.

Thriving in Ministry is a program of Lilly Endowment Inc. that awarded 103 grants to colleges, seminaries, denominations, congregations, and other non-profits to support pastors and the congregations they serve. These organizations serve pastors in a wide array of denominational and ecumenical contexts, geographic settings and regions, racial and cultural backgrounds, and contextual or transitional challenges.

Leadership Education at Duke Divinity serves as the coordination program for this initiative, providing resources and support to these projects, curating learning opportunities for project staff, and sharing the wisdom gleaned from the work with others who care about pastors. This learning community is cultivated through an annual meeting, regular online educational opportunities, site visits and resource collection. This initiative was featured in the Lilly Endowment Inc. 2018 Annual Report.

Leadership Education aims to create lasting change by strengthening the ecology of Christian institutions that enable U.S. congregations and pastors to flourish. We do this through designing educational services, developing intellectual resources and facilitating networks of institutions. We publish Faith & Leadership, a free online learning resource.

Alaina Kleinbeck

Alaina Kleinbeck

Thriving in Ministry Coordination Program

Alaina Kleinbeck is the director of the Thriving in Ministry Coordination Program at Leadership Education at Duke Divinity. In addition, she serves Duke Divinity School as director of youth ministry initiatives. She has served ministries and organizations in suburban St. Louis, urban Houston, Central America and Norway. She holds degrees from Concordia University Nebraska and Duke Divinity School. From 2013 to 2018, she was director of the Duke Youth Academy for Christian Formation. Before that, she was a director of Christian education working with middle school students. She is committed to developing faithful Christian practices within communities, eliminating barriers to resources for Christian communities and pastors at the margins, and including young people in all aspects of life in the church.


Rachel Sanchez

Assistant director,
Thriving in Ministry Coordination Program

Rachel Sanchez joined the Thriving in Ministry Coordination Program team as the assistant director in December 2018. Prior to that, she served as a program coordinator, managing programs for pastors serving in rural North Carolina, lay and ordained ministers, and Duke Divinity School students and alumni. Before joining as staff, Rachel completed her Master of Divinity at Duke Divinity School in May 2017, with a particular focus on the church and the justice system. She is passionate about providing radical hospitality through cultivating spaces of rest and beauty that allow participants to develop meaningful relationships, engage in deep dialogue and grow in their work and ministry.


David L. Odom

Executive Director,
Leadership Education at Duke Divinity

David L. Odom joined Duke Divinity School in August 2007 to launch Leadership Education at Duke Divinity and now oversees all of its programs and publications, including Faith & Leadership. He regularly teaches and facilitates events and both writes and solicits content for Faith & Leadership. In addition, Odom develops and supervises select initiatives at Duke Divinity School, where he serves as an associate dean. Before coming to Duke, Odom was the founder and president of the Center for Congregational Health in Winston-Salem, N.C., which supported healthy communities of faith through consultation, leadership development, interim ministry training and vocational discernment. Odom, who was an adjunct professor at Wake Forest Divinity School, has extensive experience in program development and evaluation, staff and adjunct faculty development, and strategic organizational management. He also plays a leadership role in the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. He is a graduate of Furman University, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and Princeton Theological Seminary.


Kelly Ryan

Senior communications director and Director of Thriving Congregations Coordination Program

Kelly Ryan joined Duke Divinity School in February 2008 and has overseen Faith & Leadership since its launch in January 2009. Prior to that, she served as a senior public relations specialist for Duke University's Office of the President and Office of News & Communications. Between 1995 and 2003, Ryan was a reporter for the St. Petersburg (now Tampa Bay) Times in Florida, where she covered public schools, city government and other topics. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a current student in the Master of Arts in Christian Practice program at Duke Divinity School. She is a lay leader at St. Philip's Episcopal Church in Durham, N.C., where she is serving a second three-year term as an elected vestry member and served as chair of the children's ministry steering committee. She has completed Level I (3-6) and Level II (6-9) formation courses and is enrolled in a Level III (9-12) course to become a catechist in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program.

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