Board of Directors

Board of Directors

Director

Deborah Hutterer

This is a Holy Place The Rev. Deborah Hutterer has been a member of Board of Directors of Spirit in the Desert Retreat Center since 2013. In June 2018, voting members of the Grand Canyon Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America elected Deborah to be their bishop. She will leave left her position as Chief Development Officer for Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest to serve a six-year term as bishop, while continuing as a board member of…
Chair

Jennifer Braaten

“Spirit in the Desert is welcoming retreaters again. In January 2020, Spirit in the Desert Retreat Center, its Board of Directors, and staff, were still reeling from the sudden and unexpected death of its dynamic Executive Director, Richard Anderson, who had been leading the exciting growth of the Carefree, Arizona retreat center. The Board turned to Jennifer Braaten, Ed.D., of Sedona, Arizona to serve as Interim Executive Director with a portfolio of tasks including leading the search for a new…
Director

Paul Evenson

Charitable funds are oxygen. “Spirit in the Desert is one of the most exciting and dynamic ministries of the church.” That is the informed assessment of Paul Evenson who has spent years supporting Lutheran congregations, camps, colleges and institutions. When Paul was asked to serve a second term on Spirit in the Desert’s Board of Directors he enthusiastically said, “Yes.” He did so because he knows that the retreat center provides spiritual hospitality for guests of all people of faith. …
Director

Melissa Maxwell-Doherty

Expanding our circle of inclusion. Sometimes the Reverend Melissa Maxwell-Doherty, of Thousand Oaks, California attends the Spirit in the Desert Board of Director meetings via video conference.  However, she prefers attending the meetings on campus because, “I have a fondness for the desert, for the Center’s comfortable facilities, and the opportunity to have a retreat experience during a working board meeting.” Melissa, who was appointed to Spirit in the Desert’s Board of Directors in 2016, is Vice President for Mission…
Director

Joel Bjerkestrand

Involved from the Beginning Pastor Joel Bjerkestrand was appointed a member of Spirit in the Desert’s Board of Directors in April 2019, bringing thirty years of involved ecumenical experience with Phoenix area faith communities and civic organizations. He is a dynamic speaker, mediator, educator, and counselor, having served three Lutheran congregations in the Phoenix metro area, one as associate pastor and two as senior pastor. Since 2011 he has been on staff as visitation pastor at La Casa de Cristo…
Treasurer

Dave Schoenbeck

Respect. Mr. Schoenbeck was elected as a member of Spirit in the Desert’s Board of Directors in 2018. He brings to the organization his experience as a senior corporate executive and business coach. His personal values of respect for customers and co-workers were integral to his success as an executive with major national companies; those values harmonize with Spirit in the Desert’s mission of welcoming hospitality for all retreat guests. Dave was one of the co-founders and the Senior Vice-President…
Vice Chair

Doug Yock

Broadening the Reach of This Exceptional Place Doug Yock, M.D., was elected to the Board of Directors of Spirit in the Desertin 2018, bringing his leadership experience from healthcare to the retreatcenter. He graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Medical School andcompleted internship and residency at Stanford University and fellowship atthe University of California San Francisco. Prior to retirement, Dr. Yockpracticed neuroradiology at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis,where he directed Magnetic Resonance Imaging and led the development of the neuroscience…
Director

David Wilder

An Opportunity to Help Others David Wilder first became acquainted with Spirit in the Desert Retreat Centerwhen he met the late Richard Anderson, who at the time was its ExecutiveDirector. Richard learned David was an insurance broker and asked him tostraighten out the center’s insurance program. David made helpfulrecommendations and Richard knew he would be a valuable member on Spiritin the Desert’s Board of Directors. He was appointed to the Board in late 2019. After listening to Richard describe Spirit…
Director

Suki Kisling

Empowering Women Suki Kisling’s zeal for empowering women continues to find many opportunities. She lived in Las Vegas for 28 years where she opened her ownfinancial planning practice. Some of her clients were widows who were at aloss to manage finances. Some had never written a check or paid a householdbill. Suki was there for them with support and education. She said, “Teachingwomen to become independent became a passion. This passion combined withmy Christian faith became the focus of a…
Secretary

Julie Yates

An International Perspective Julie Yates has managed commercial real estate properties in the UnitedStates and London. After living and working in London for fifteen years,Julie and her husband Steve moved back to Arizona in 2015 and becamere-acquainted with Spirit in the Desert Retreat Center. She said, “Weloved living in London and experiencing the perspective of aninternational community.” In 1993, the Lutheran Church was given facilities and land in Carefreethat had been the International Restaurant and the Adobe Inn. Julie,because of…
Director

Gordy Griller

Fair justice for all. “Very few people want to come to my workplace,” said Gordy Griller of Scottsdale, Arizona whose life work has been as a court administrator, a place where the legal resolution of disputes are usually emotionally charged. Mr. Griller has served as administrator and chief executive officer for various courts in Hennepin and Ramsay counties in Minnesota and Maricopa County in Arizona. He was appointed in May, 2021 to the Board of Directors of Spirit in the…
Director
Amy Cassidy is on the board of directors at Spirit in the Desert

Amy Cassidy

Energy for Caring The first time Amy Cassidy visited Spirit in the Desert Retreat Center, she quickly assessed this was a special place with an important mission. The occasion was a dinner for a small group of people, that included Amy and her husband Joey, hosted by Executive Director Eric Simonson and his wife Michelle.   Amy listened to Eric describe how the center provides hospitality to retreaters who are on a journey of renewal, whether for one day or…