The newly announced president of the US Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Linda Hartke, has said she will work to make the United States a more welcoming place for immigrants and refugees - writes Peter Kenny.
The LIRS board of directors announced in a statement made available to Ecumenical News International on 28 January, that it has appointed Hartke to take up her post in Baltimore on 22 February. The announcement followed a LIRS board meeting on 22 January 2010.
Of her appointment as president and CEO, Hartke said, "I look forward to working together with the LIRS board, staff, partners and friends across the country to make the United States a more welcoming place for immigrants and refugees."
Until the end of 2009, Hartke headed the Geneva-based Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, a broad international network of churches and Christian organisations cooperating in campaigning on food and HIV/AIDS issues.
Prior to her EAA post, Hartke worked with US-based Lutheran agency Church World Service, which works with the ACT Alliance and other ecumenical groups related to the World Council of Churches and the Lutheran World Federation.
Earlier in January, the EAA's board of directors announced that international affairs and human rights expert with the Lutheran World Federation, Peter Prove, would become the executive director of the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance on 1 July.
A lawyer by profession, Prove holds a master's degree in law from the University of Queensland in Australia. He represented the EAA on the United Nations' international task team in its successful work on having HIV-related travel restrictions to the United States lifted.
"Linda Hartke's arrival as LIRS president means that strategic planning has moved back to the top of our board's agenda," said the Rev Roy Riley, incoming LIRS board chair and bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's New Jersey Synod.
Hartke is from the US state of Massachusetts, and a graduate of the state's Smith College, where she complemented her studies in religion and biblical literature with a second major in government.
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service: www.lirs.org 
Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance: /www.e-alliance.ch/en/s/
[With acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International  is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the Conference of European Churches.]