Wise Stewards Initiative

Efforts to maximize the potential of governing boards have taken on even greater urgency. Every day, leaders are faced with unprecedented challenges and fast-emerging opportunities, and presidents and board chairs seek help that is institutionally relevant, affordable, and specific to the strengths and expertise of their boards.

The In Trust Center’s Wise Stewards Initiative meets all three criteria and more.

The curriculum, resources, and format of the project are designed especially for leadership teams of theological schools by experienced educators, administrators, and consultants; all of whom have firsthand knowledge of graduate theological education. And with funding from the M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust, participation is within financial reach of every school.

Cohort-based Learning

The Wise Stewards Initiative utilizes a cohort-based learning model that includes assessments, resources, faculty coach-led presentations, and peer learning opportunities with governance teams from other schools. Cohorts are comprised of up to 10 theological schools.


  • Creating space for innovation, leading change, and maximizing board potential. 
  • Reimagining governance as a force for change.
  • The president/board partnership in support of institutional renewal.
  • Clarifying 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 and engine for innovation. As part of their participation in the Wise Stewards Initiative, institutional teams identify strategic next steps and benchmarks in support of the board’s participation in creating a sustainable future for their school.

How many schools will have the opportunity to participate?

Up to 30 theological schools can participate in the Initiative — 10 in each year of the three-year project. 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 learning communities.

How is the initiative structured?

The Wise Stewards Initiative utilizes a three-pronged approach for board learning: (1) One day of individualized coaching at the school's fall board meeting, (2) a multiday seminar during which four-member institutional teams interact and learn with and from board members and presidents of other theological schools, and (3) one day of follow-up coaching with a 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. 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?

Cohort 7: March 26-27, 2025
Cohort 8: March 25-26, 2026
Cohort 9: March 17-18, 2027

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.

David RoweFaculty Coach
David RoweFaculty Coach

David Rowe is one of the youngest higher education CEOs to lead a financial turnaround in the wake of the Great Recession. As interim president during the global pandemic, David co-facilitated the merger of Lancaster Theological Seminary with Moravian University.

An ordained United Methodist elder, David earned a B.S. in Chemistry from Southwestern University in Georgetown Texas, an M.Div. from Emory University, and a Ph.D. in Educational Policy Studies from Georgia State University. He also holds a certificate in Ecumenical Studies from the University of Geneva and the World Council of Churches (Bossey).

David guides boards and presidents through institutional transformations as president of The Windermere Group and helps them fund their visions as principal of The Development President.

Rod WilsonFaculty Coach
Rod WilsonFaculty Coach

Dr. Rod Wilson has worked as a psychologist, consultant, and researcher, served as a Pastor in three different churches, and been involved in multiple roles in theological education including as President of Regent College in Vancouver, Canada from 2000-2015. Currently, he servers as a mentor-advisor to a number of international leaders and organizations, including Lumara Grief and Bereavement Care, A Rocha, a Christian environmental organization, and the Society of Christian Schools in British Columbia. He is a Senior Writer for Faith Today magazine, and is the co-author of Exploring Your Anger, Helping Angry People, and Keeping Faith in Fundraising. He is also the author of Counseling and Community, How Do I Help a Hurting Friend? and Thank You. I'm Sorry. Tell Me More. How to Change the World with 3 Sacred Sayings.Wilson holds a B.Sc. in English Literature and Psychology (University of Toronto), and M.T.S. in Theology (Conrad Grebel College), and M.A. and Ph.D. in Clinical-Counseling Psychology (York University), and an honorary D.D. (Trinity Western University).

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Previous Participants in the Initiative