New Executive Team Announced

October 31, 2011

Dear Friends:

On September 1, I wrote to you about our executive team search and said that I hoped to have the new team in place by Diocesan Convention. I am very glad to tell you that we have met that goal with nearly three weeks to spare.

Late last week, I extended offers to three talented people who have all agreed to join the bishop’s staff at the Diocese of Chicago. Please join me in welcoming my new executive team:

Director of Ministries:  The Rev. Jim Steen, who currently serves as associate for congregations and administration, will become our director of ministries. Jim’s passion for congregational ministry and vision for the church of the future are familiar to many of you, and he has been an invaluable support to me during our diocesan restructuring. I am very grateful to him for agreeing to continue his service.

Jim served as rector of St. Paul and the Redeemer Episcopal Church from 1998-2010, a period of extraordinary growth for that congregation, and has also served congregations in Washington DC and New York City. Jim holds an MDiv from General Theological Seminary and a bachelor’s degree from Washington and Lee University. Jim, the father of a grown son, lives in Hyde Park with his partner, Tom Chesrown. Learn more about Jim here.

Director of Networking: The Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, who has been rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Syracuse, New York and Episcopal chaplain at Syracuse University since 2004, will become director of networking at the end of January 2012. I serve with Jennifer on the Standing Commission on the Structure of the Church, and have come to admire her keen listening, articulate questioning, and passion for creating a church for the next generations.

Jennifer was previously director of alumni and church relations at Church Divinity School of the Pacific, from which she holds an MDiv. She is also a graduate of Smith College and holds an MA from Cornell University in historic preservation planning. Jennifer, a triathlete, blogs at Cookin’ in the ‘Cuse, is an editor at Edible Finger Lakes magazine and has been published in the anthology Bread, Body, Spirit. She will be moving to Chicago with her husband, Harrison, their ten-month old son, Timothy, and a miniature dachshund, Chase, who I’m told is famous around the church. Learn more about Jennifer here.

Director of Operations:  Courtney Reid, currently senior director of organizational effectiveness at the Center on Halsted, a community center for Chicago’s LGBT community, will become director of operations on November 14. Courtney, who is a member of All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Ravenswood, impressed me with her skill and experience, but especially with her enthusiasm and passion for ministry.

Courtney has worked in management at Chicago-area health and social service non-profit organizations for fifteen years. She holds a BA from the College of William and Mary and an MDiv from Yale University. She has done work at the Center for Non-Profit Management at Northwestern University and earned a certificate in non-profit financial accounting. Courtney and her partner, Pam, live on the north side of Chicago with their three young daughters. Learn more about Courtney here.

As you can imagine, the prospect of working with these gifted people has ignited in me a new sense of possibility and a passion for our work together. I’m looking forward to seeing you at Diocesan Convention and sharing the fire.

I owe thanks for overseeing this search to Anna Stefaniak, our excellent associate for human resources, and to those who helped with interviews, including Standing Committee member M.E. Eccles, Congregations Commission co-chairs Andrea Mysen and Steve Godfrey, Chancellor Todd Young, Lonn Myers of Bishop and Trustees, Alvaro Áraica of the Hispanic Affairs Committee, Idida Pérez of the Anti-Racism Commission, and Canticle Communications partners Rebecca Wilson and Jim Naughton.

Thanks, too, to all of you who have continued to advance the mission of the diocese as we searched for new leaders. Please pray for our new team and welcome them to our ministry.

In peace,

Jeffrey D. Lee

Restructuring Update September 1

September 1, 2011

Dear Friends:

It’s been a full summer. Our pilgrimage to the Holy Land was a holy time of contemplating the mysteries of our faith and the complexities of peace and justice in that fragile place, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to experience the journey with fellow pilgrims from across the diocese. Lisa and I enjoyed time with family and friends when we returned, and I came back to work last week eager to continue our work together.

One of our top priorities is concluding the search for our executive team, which will include a director of ministries, a director of networking and a director of operations. We received 48 resumes in response to the posting of these three positions, and I’m delighted at the response and the quality of applicants.

I’ve asked M. E. Eccles of the Standing Committee, Idida Perez of the Antiracism Commission, and Anna Stefaniak, the diocese’s associate for human resources and technology, to help me review the applications. We began that process last week, and expect to hold the first round of interviews the week after Labor Day.

In addition to the persons I’ve already mentioned, leaders with relevant expertise have agreed to help us with these first interviews. Congregations Commission co-chairs Andrea Mysen and Steve Godfrey will interview the director of ministries candidates; Chancellor Todd Young and Lonn Myers of Bishop and Trustees will interview director of operations candidates; and our communications consultants, Canticle Communications partners Rebecca Wilson and Jim Naughton and Hispanic Affairs Chair Alvaro Araica will interview director of networking candidates.

At the end of September, when I have returned from the House of Bishops meeting in Quito, Ecuador, I plan to interview the final nominees for each position. It’s my hope that the entire executive team will be in place by our Diocesan Convention, November 18-19.

I am grateful to all of you and to our staff who have worked so hard this summer to provide continuity and advance the mission of the diocese during this time of transition. Thank you for your prayers and support.

In peace,

Jeffrey D. Lee



Restructuring Update July 8

July 8, 2011

Dear Friends:

In the last several weeks, since we took the first steps in restructuring the diocesan office and the bishop’s staff, I’ve been grateful not only for your prayers and messages of support, but also for your keen questions and insights about how we can reshape our diocese to serve more effectively the mission and ministry of our 124 congregations.

In response to your questions, today we’ve posted on our website a public version of the  restructuring report  produced by consultants Steve Smith and Gay C. Jennings. As you may remember, the report is the result of three online surveys distributed broadly to 85 people, ten intensive one-on-one interviews with diocesan leaders, and extensive conversation with me.

As you read the report, you’ll find that its twelve recommendations all lead toward building a responsive, service focused staff and culture that will help us better articulate and live out our mission. We’ve begun to act on some of the recommendations already by posting the three executive team positions, beginning to develop a strategic communications plan, and emphasizing  responsiveness during this interim period. Other recommendations will be implemented as the new executive team begins work with me in the fall. For now, all of us at 65 E. Huron are grateful for your patience, good humor, and helpful suggestions during the transition.

I’m going to take a hiatus from updating you about restructuring while Lisa and I take a couple of weeks of vacation with family in Michigan, and while, from July 24-August 8, we journey to the Holy Land on the Bishop’s Associates Pilgrimage. While I’m away, please talk with Jim Steen at 312-751-4210 or, or with any of the other staff  if you have questions, need assistance, or want to offer ideas about how the diocese can best serve you.

On page 15 of the report, you’ll see a reference to “shouting our joy.” As I leave for vacation, I’m shouting with joy at the richness of our ministry and the enthusiasm for it that we share.

Your servant in Christ,

Jeffrey D. Lee

Bishop of Chicago

PS You can now find links to all of my restructuring updates on the home page of Please share the news with your colleagues and leaders who are interested in our work.

Restructuring Update July 1

July 1, 2011

Dear Friends:

Earlier this week, I had a conversation with someone who is an expert in organizational development. He said something that I’ve been reflecting on all week: When you set out to raise money, you’re not selling a building or a program or a church. You’re not even really raising money … you’re raising enthusiasm.

I like the word enthusiasm.  It comes of course from a couple of Greek words that mean to be inspired by God.  That’s my prayer for all of us.

A few weeks into the restructuring of the diocesan office and the bishop’s staff, we have a lot of enthusiasm here at the Diocesan Center. The team that has accepted interim responsibilities is diving into new work and new offices and finding new ways of collaborating and problem-solving. They are eager to hear from you: an updated list of staff members, phone numbers and emails is on the website here.

Speaking of the website, we’ve begun working on a new one. If you have thoughts about what features and information you would like our diocesan website to have, please be in touch with our interim communications consultants at Canticle Communications. You can reach Rebecca Wilson at 330-524-2067 or We’re moving this project along quickly because we know that a new website is essential to providing the resources and information that parishes, clergy and lay leaders need.

A few weeks ago I wrote that restructuring the diocesan office is only a means to the end of our most important work: to grow the church, form the faithful, and change the world. As I see the enthusiasm for our common ministry building here at the diocesan office, I am convinced that we are moving closer to embracing the work that God is calling us to do. I look forward to sharing more news of our progress with you in the weeks to come.

Your servant in Christ,

Jeffrey D. Lee

Bishop of Chicago

PS You can now find links to all of my restructuring updates on the home page of Please share the news with your colleagues and lay leaders who are interested in our work.

Diocesan Restructuring Update June 23

June 23, 2011

Dear Friends:

In the last week, we’ve taken the next step in restructuring the bishop’s staff for more effective mission and ministry. I am pleased to announce that seven people have accepted new interim responsibilities to ensure that our day-to-day operations run smoothly while we complete our executive team search .  You’ll find a list of all diocesan staff contacts—new and continuing—with titles, phone numbers and names here.

Please be in touch with any or all of our interim team members to introduce yourself and extend a welcome. They stand ready to support our congregations. Thank you in advance for helping them learn the ropes of their new responsibilities.

Thank you also for your many calls and messages of support and confidence in our restructuring process. I am grateful to all of you for your continued passion for ministry. I especially appreciate your concern for those whose jobs have been eliminated. Please know that their response has been overwhelmingly gracious and professional, and I ask you to keep them, as well as our interim and continuing staff, in your prayers.

Your servant in Christ,

Jeffrey D. Lee
Bishop of Chicago

Diocesan Restructuring Update June 15

June 15, 2011

Dear Friends:

Today I completed the first and most difficult step in restructuring the diocesan office and the bishop’s staff. In order to make best use of our resources, we have regretfully eliminated nine staff positions, and today we said goodbye to the employees who have held these jobs:

  • Canon for Transition Ministry and Pastoral Care
  • Canon for Communications
  • Canon for Development
  • Building & Production Manager
  • Administrative Assistant for Transition Ministry and Pastoral Care
  • Administrative Assistant for Christian Formation
  • Administrative Assistant for Communications and Development
  • Administrative Assistant to the Assistant Bishop
  • Receptionist/Switchboard Operator

Eliminating jobs is painful and very difficult even when it’s done in the service of mission and ministry. I want you to know that my decision to do so is in the service of restructuring the diocese so we can better do God’s work in the world. No one’s job has ended due to performance issues or disciplinary problems, and I am eager to see all of our former employees find new positions worthy of their gifts and skills.

To that end, each person whose job was eliminated will receive pay and benefits for the remainder of the month, additional severance pay based on years of service according to the diocesan policy, and extensive outplacement assistance and vocational counseling. No matter how much support we provide, however, this is bound to be a difficult time for each person who is leaving us. Please join me in expressing heartfelt thanks for the ministries of Randall Warren, David Skidmore, Michael Stephenson, Michael Bond, Elizabeth Erickson, Barbara Rasero, Elizabeth Nelson, Juleigh Ruby and Tracey James, and please pray for them now and in the weeks to come.

I hope that you will support our remaining staff members as they learn new ways of working and serving you. Later this summer, we will take the next step in restructuring by hiring the three members of my new executive team; those positions are posted at  Once those people are in place, they will work with me to determine what additional support we might need to carry out our ministry. In the meantime, if you have questions about the restructuring process, please call or email Jim Steen at 312-751-4210 or

I am grateful for your support and your confidence, especially on difficult days, that God is calling to us and the Spirit is moving among us.

Your servant in Christ,

Jeffrey D. Lee
Bishop of Chicago

Diocesan Restructuring Update June 3

June 3, 2011

Dear Friends:

Last week, I wrote to you about a restructuring of the diocesan office and the bishop’s staff that will enable us to serve congregations more effectively. Today I am opening the search for the three people who will form my new executive team: the Director of Operations, the Director of Ministries and the Director of Networking.

Interested parties can visit the website to see the job posting and instructions for applications, which we will accept through July 15.

I hope that you will help me find the right people for my executive team by sharing this posting with people you know who might be called to our ministry together. Please also continue your prayers for the Diocese and for the ministry of all who serve us as employees, both now and in the future.

Yours in Christ,

Jeffrey Lee
Bishop of Chicago