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The Thriving in Ministry Coordination Program

People in teams

about thriving in ministry

We are building a learning community.

Funded by Lilly Endowment Inc., Thriving in Ministry awarded 129 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.

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Wanda White

Assistant director,
Thriving in Ministry Coordination Program

Wanda White started as the Assistant Director for the Thriving in Ministry Coordination Program in March 2020. She has worked with Leadership Education since 2015 as a Staff Assistant maintaining finances, managing day-to-day office operations, and processing mini grant applications for grants issued to cohort participants. Wanda received her Bachelor of Arts degree from North Carolina A&T State University, Master of Arts degree from Strayer University, and a few certifications from Duke University. Wanda believes her purpose in life is to use her God-given gifts to listen, give, and help others in various capacities of their life.


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

Thriving Congregations Coordination Program

Kelly Ryan joined Duke Divinity School in February 2008. Kelly became the director of the Thriving Congregations Coordination Program in February 2020 to facilitate a learning community of grantees committed to helping congregations thrive through understanding their changing contexts, exploring their values and mission, and engaging in Christian practices. Prior to that, she spent 12 years as senior director of communications for Leadership Education at Duke Divinity, overseeing its online learning resource Faith & Leadership. From 2003 to 2008, 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, Kelly was a reporter for the St. Petersburg (now Tampa Bay) Times in Florida, where she covered public schools, city government, criminal justice and other topics. She has a bachelor's degree in journalism and political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is pursuing a master's degree in Christian practice at Duke Divinity School. She is a lay leader at St. Philip's Episcopal Church in Durham, N.C., where she is serving her second three-year term as an elected vestry member. Ryan has completed Level I (3-6), Level II (6-9) and Level III (9-12) formation courses to become a catechist in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program and co-leads a Sunday school classroom for fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders.

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