Establishment of Tearfund USA: Sonia Patterson named President and CEO

Tearfund USA, a Christian relief and development agency combating global poverty and injustice, announces that the Board of Directors has been formally established and has appointed Sonia Patterson as President and Chief Executive Officer effective June 1st, 2018.

Tearfund USA has been registered with the aim of inspiring US Christians to be generous and take action alongside people living in poverty. It will seek to “follow Jesus where the need is greatest”, playing an important role in sharing holistic mission theology and offering best practice models of sustainable development. It will have close links to Tearfund in the UK and join other Tearfund organizations around the world in addressing the underlying causes of poverty and injustice. At the heart of this is a commitment to mobilize the local church to play the pivotal role in restoring communities from extreme poverty. Tearfund’s distinctive process is based on scripture and is designed to release the potential of churches to transform the local community. It has achieved quite remarkable results around the world.

Chair of the Board is Clive Mather. He has served as the Chair of Tearfund in the UK for the past ten years covering all its international operations and is ideally placed to help get the US organization off the ground. He is the President of Relational Peacebuilding Initiatives, which is based in Geneva, Switzerland and a Director of Emissions Reduction Alberta, based in Edmonton, Canada. Clive retired from Royal Dutch Shell in 2007 after a career of 38 years which spanned all its major businesses, including assignments all around the world. His last position was President of Shell Canada Limited, one of the largest publicly listed companies on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Prior to this he was Chair of Shell UK Ltd, responsible for all Shell’s activities and reputation in the UK, and for Shell’s leadership development globally. For the past 10 years, Clive has been Chair of the Garden Tomb Association in Jerusalem, looking after one of the most important Christian sites in Israel, Chair of Shell’s Pension Funds in the UK, and Chair of Logen, a Canadian bio-tech corporation that is leading the development of cellulosic ethanol - a carbon neutral, renewable transport fuel.

Clive sets the tone, “Tearfund USA will be asking Christians to go deeper in thinking about how they live. A whole life response to poverty involves praying, giving, acting, volunteering and making lifestyle changes. Sometimes it will involve sacrifice and inconvenience, but it will be liberating and empowering in a way that defies worldly expectations.”

At this early stage in the Tearfund USA Board development, Mr. Mather is joined by Laura Meitzner Yoder and Jeff Galley. Laura is Director and John Stott Endowed Chair of Human Needs and Global Resources, and Professor of Environmental Studies, Wheaton College, IL. She accompanies learners from all academic disciplines who are committed to taking the lead from local integral mission practitioners in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Eastern Europe/Middle East. Laura has a Masters in International Agriculture & Rural Development (Cornell) and a Ph.D. in Forestry & Environmental Studies (Yale). She also serves on the Boards of ECHO Inc., Nazareth Project Inc, and the advisory council of the Bethany Land Institute, Uganda.

Jeff Galley also takes his place on the Board alongside a leadership role at Life.Church, with responsibilities for team and program leadership spanning Life.Church locations in eight states and oversight to 80+ local and global partnerships. Jeff has a MA in Organizational Leadership from Colorado State University, serves on the board of directors at The Chalmers Center for Economic Development, and is an instructor for Development Associates International MAOL program.

After a thorough selection process, the newly formed Board of Directors is delighted that Sonia will lead Tearfund USA as President & CEO and Board member. Clive Mather said: “Sonia’s servant leadership style and enthusiasm, combined with her deep experience of leading and growing international development will be invaluable to the new organization.”

CEO Sonia Patterson said: “The mission of Tearfund resonates with my lifelong sense of personal calling to bring hope and wholeness to people in need.” She brings 20 years of senior leadership experience in developing business, non-governmental and community relations in the United States, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Her career includes nine years working in strategic financial management with World Vision, followed by five years as CEO and President of Five Talents, a Christian micro-enterprise development organization, motivated by God’s love to enable holistic transformation that empowers the enterprising poor to liberate their families from poverty.

Most recently, Sonia founded Impact Wisdom, a philanthropy consultancy helping donors engage with a wide range of social issues. Her career includes entrepreneurial start-up experience coupled with working with larger INGOs, exactly what the Board had hoped to find in their ideal candidate. Fluent in English and Spanish, Patterson holds a B.A. from Wittenberg University and an M.B.A. from Thunderbird School of Global Management, where she concentrated on global entrepreneurship.

Sonia added, “I am excited to start this new chapter with Tearfund USA, building on the organization’s global legacy of helping the most marginalized and vulnerable. I’m looking forward to the process of setting up the organization in the US, meeting supporters and partners and following Jesus where the need is greatest.”

Led by the Board of Directors and new CEO, Tearfund USA is well positioned to become an important part of the global church – listening and speaking to the big issues of economic and environmental sustainability from a Christian perspective. It is seeking not only to highlight the serious impairment of our planet’s life support systems as a result of unsustainable economic and environmental policies and practices, but also offering inspiring, Biblically-based solutions for churches, individuals and institutions. Tearfund believes that restoring relationships is at the heart of lasting solutions to poverty so will seek out partnerships to help release generosity and build disciples as we respond together to poverty and injustice in all its many forms.

Notes to editors

  • Tearfund is a Christian relief and development agency and a member of the Disasters’ Emergency Committee in the UK. Founded in 1968, Tearfund has been working around the world for 50 years responding to disasters and helping lift communities out of poverty. For more information about the work of Tearfund, please visit
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