Wise Stewards Initiative

Whenever presidents or board chairs gather, the conversation turns to questions about how to maximize the board’s potential. Although it is generally agreed that a theological school will be no stronger than its board — at least not in the long term — institutional leaders often struggle with the task of encouraging the continuous growth and development of their board.

The In Trust Center’s Wise Stewards Initiative addresses that struggle with a focus on building board and staff capacity for better institutional governance. The curriculum, resources, and format of the project have been designed especially for leadership teams of theological schools by experienced educators, administrators, and consultants, all of whom have firsthand knowledge of graduate theological education. The Wise Stewards Initiative is funded in part by a grant from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust. 

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Interested in learning more about the Wise Stewards Initiative?



(302) 654-7770

Cohort-Based Learning

The Wise Stewards Initiative uses a cohort-based learning model that includes assessments, resources, faculty coach led presentations, and peer learning opportunities with governance teams from other schools. Each cohort includes 10 theological schools.


  • Creating space for innovation, leading change, and maximizing. 
  • Reimagining governance as a force for change.
  • The president/board partnership in institutional renewal.
  • Roles and responsibilities of boards of theological schools.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of the Wise Stewards Initiative?

The purpose of the Wise Stewards Initiative is to encourage boards of theological schools to take a bold step beyond the usual approaches to governance — fiduciary responsibility, policy-oriented governance, and “governance as leadership” — through an exploration of governance as a change agent. The Wise Stewards Initiative also challenges institutional teams to identify a series of strategic next steps and benchmarks needed to create a sustainable future.

How many schools will have the opportunity to participate?

A total of 30 theological schools can participate in the Initiative — 10 in each year of the three-year project. Cohorts are based on school type: Freestanding institutions in year 1, Roman Catholic and denominationally owned theological schools in year 2, and embedded seminaries in year 3. Priority in the selection process is given to schools located in the five-state region of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. Schools are selected on a rolling basis and must hold a current membership with the In Trust Center. 

In addition to the schools selected to participate, all theological schools will benefit from the initiative through access to Initiative-generated resources, articles in In Trust magazine, and webinars.

What is the format of the initiative?

The Wise Stewards Initiative utilizes a three-pronged approach for board learning: (1) One day of individualized, campus-based coaching at your school's Fall board meeting, (2) a multiday seminar during which four-member institutional teams interact with and learn with and from board members and presidents of other similar schools, and (3) One day of continued coaching with your Faculty Coach.

Soon after a theological school is accepted for participation in the Wise Stewards Initiative, all of the school’s board members are asked to complete a board assessment. The president, board chair, and coach assigned to the school use the findings from the assessment to design a custom learning plan for the board.

What is the cost to participating schools?

Thanks in part to support from the M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust, there is no financial cost to schools participating in the Wise Stewards Initiative.

What are the expectations of participants?

Each school that is selected for participation names a four-member Wise Stewards Leadership Team (including the president, the board chair, and two other board members) who will take part in the Wise Stewards Initiative Seminar.  At embedded schools, the Wise Stewards Leadership Team should include the chief executive of the theological school, the board chair, and two other board members.

The school’s Wise Stewards Leadership Team must commit to the following:

  1. Ensure that all board members (including those not part of the Wise Stewards Leadership Team) complete the board assessment.
  2. Develop a learning plan in consultation with the Wise Stewards Faculty Coach.
  3. Attend the Wise Stewards Seminar.
  4. Submit a summary report at the end of the Wise Stewards Initiative that includes next steps for continuing board development.
  5. Notify the Wise Stewards Initiative program director if the school must withdraw its participation.
What are the dates of the Wise Stewards seminar?

Year One: March 27-28, 2019
Year Two: March 25-26, 2020
Year Three: March 24-25, 2021

Faculty Coaches

The Faculty Coaches design the curriculum and work hand in hand with participating schools. Each faculty member serves as a governance coach for at least two participating schools and teaches during a two-day seminar.

Rebekah Burch BasingerProgram Director
Rebekah Burch BasingerProgram Director

Rebekah Burch Basinger is an independent consultant for board development and fundraising who has worked closely with the In Trust Center for Theological Schools for more than 25 years. Rebekah’s consulting practice has been enriched by her experiences on the boards of numerous organizations.

A regular contributor to In Trust magazine, Rebekah has written numerous articles on fundraising and board life. In addition, she is the coauthor with Thomas Jeavons of Growing Givers' Hearts: Treating Fundraising as Ministry (Jossey-Bass, 2001) and is the lead author of "The President's Role in Institutional Advancement" in the ATS Handbook for Seminary Presidents.

Rebekah received a B.A. in English from Trinity College in Illinois, an M.A. in English from Wichita State University, and a doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies from Temple University. She blogs at www.generousmatters.com.


Lynette M. Brown-SowFaculty Coach
Lynette M. Brown-SowFaculty Coach

Lynette M. Brown-Sow is president of L.M Brown Management Group, LLC, a strategic consultancy firm based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Brown-Sow’s extensive experience in board governance, organizational development, marketing and communications, and government relations spans a career of more than 40 years in the private and public sectors.

Through her firm, she ensures clients achieve their desired goals for growth and sustainability by way of services which include but are not limited to: governance, organizational development, strategic positioning, and branding. Brown-Sow has nurtured the development and wellness of communities by dedicating her personal and professional life to improving the non-profits, businesses and governments that serve them. She currently sits on numerous local, national and international boards, working alongside the best and brightest to drive innovation and social impact across diverse sectors and industries.

Brown-Sow holds a BS in Administration from Antioch University; a M.S.S. in Policy, Planning and Development from Bryn Mawr College; a Governing for Non-Profit Excellence certificate from Harvard University Graduate School of Business; and a Strategic Perspectives in Non-Profit Management certificate from Harvard’s Graduate School of Administration.


Amy L. Kardash President
Amy L. Kardash President

Amy Kardash joined the staff of the In Trust Center for Theological Schools in 2009 as director of programs and became president in 2017. She oversees and directs all the In Trust Center’s work in resourcing seminaries and theological colleges, including Resource Consulting, In Trust magazine, and the In Trust Center’s webinars and other educational programs.

Kardash created the In Trust Center’s popular webinar series, which has served 190 seminaries, theological colleges, and related organizations in the United States and Canada. In 2012 and 2013, she helped to launch the In Trust Center’s Resource Consulting program and was named its first director. Since then, she and her team have consulted with more than 120 institutions and helped them identify the resources they need to thrive.

Before joining the In Trust Center, Amy Kardash enjoyed a 10-year career in corporate banking and marketing at PNC Bank and Wilmington Trust Company, where she held multiple management and executive positions overseeing diverse staffs from ten to more than a hundred employees.

Kardash holds both a bachelor of science in marketing and management and an M.B.A. from the University of Delaware. 

Byron KlausFaculty Coach
Byron KlausFaculty Coach

Byron Klaus served as president of the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Springfield, Missouri from 1999-2015. He previously served for 20 years on the faculty and in the administration of Vanguard University of Southern California.

Klaus presently serves as Vice President of ChildHope, a child development ministry engaging more than 100,000 children at risk in the Caribbean and Latin America. He also serves as a consultant for educational and ministry leaders globally.  His articles and books have been published by Baker Books, Crossway Books, Logion Press, Moody Press, Regal Books, Regnum Books and Routledge Publishers. He is an ordained Assemblies of God minister.

Rod WilsonFaculty Coach
Rod WilsonFaculty Coach

Rod Wilson is teaching pastor at Capilano Christian Community in North Vancouver, British Columbia, as well as a mentor-advisor to the senior leadership of both A Rocha Canada, a Christian environmental organization, as well as the Society of Christian Schools in British Columbia. He is past president of Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Wilson holds a B.S.C. in English Literature and Psychology (University of Toronto), an M.T.S. in theology (Conrad Grebel College) an M.A. and Ph.D. in Clinical-Counselling Psychology (York University) and an honorary D.D. (Trinity Western University. He is the author of Counseling and Community and How Do I Help a Hurting Friend? and the co-author of Exploring Your Anger and Helping Angry People. His most recent co-authored book is Keeping Faith in Fundraising.

Schools Participating in the Initiative