Ann Svennungsen, past president of Texas Lutheran University and The Fund for Theological Education (FTE), started The Presidents' Pledge Against Global Poverty in 2010 in conversation with higher education colleagues.
Inspired by her cousin Dr. Norman Borlaug (founder of the Green Revolution and Nobel Peace Prize winner), Svennungsen has a long history of work toward social justice and the eradication of global poverty.
Svennungsen is Bishop of the Minneapolis Area Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the largest synod in the denomination. She is the first woman to serve as a bishop in the ELCA's six Minnesota synods. Her installation was celebrated on May 6, 2012.
As a Lutheran minister, Svennungsen has highlighted and organized support for issues of peace and justice throughout her career. Her congregational work includes service as senior pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, a 3,700-member congregation in Moorhead, Minnesota, then the largest Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) congregation to be led by a woman senior pastor. Svennungsen has also served parishes in Iowa City and Minneapolis.
She was the first woman president to lead FTE, a national, ecumenical nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the next generation of excellent and diverse ministers and scholars, annually awarding more than $1.5 million in fellowships. As the Fund's president, Svennungsen guided strategic planning, fundraising, public outreach, national fellowship and leadership development programs, including the coordination program for 88 colleges and universities that each received at least $2 million in grants from the Lilly Endowment. She was a member of the first Pastors Working Group of the Louisville Institute and also served as a member of the Alban Institute Board of Trustees.
As president of Texas Lutheran University, Svennungsen led the creation of a new university master plan, "Boldly Investing in Lives of Purpose," and strengthened relationships among faculty, students, alumni, donors, congregations, community leaders and local government officials.
In addition to directing The Presidents' Pledge Against Global Poverty, Svennungsen recently served as Interim College Pastor at St. Olaf College, where she worked closely with young people and academic leaders who share a passion for community service and issues of social justice. Prior to her work at St. Olaf College, she held an appointment as Resident Scholar at the Collegeville Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research at Saint John's University.
Svennungsen received her Master of Divinity degree from Luther Seminary and graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Concordia College in Minnesota. She and her husband, Dr. William Russell, reside in Minneapolis and are the parents of three adult children.