By Annette Brill Bergstresser
ELKHART, Indiana (Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary) — The Board of Directors of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Elkhart, Indiana, has appointed Deanna A. Risser, M.B.A., of Goshen, Indiana, as vice president for administration and chief financial officer, beginning Aug. 1, 2021. The appointment took place during the board’s April 14–16 meeting over Zoom.
“Deanna’s references praised her for her character and integrity, attention to her own spiritual growth, deep commitment to church/nonprofit organizational leadership, strong financial management skills and collaborative work style,” said David Boshart, Ph.D., AMBS president and chair of the search committee for the position. “We are excited about the gifts and experience that Deanna brings, and we’re eager for her to join us in building on Ron’s legacy and carrying out AMBS’s mission.”
Risser earned a Master of Business Administration from Indiana University South Bend and a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Bluffton (Ohio) University. She is a graduate of Bethany Christian High School in Goshen. Between 2014 and 2018, she also took courses in Christian formation at AMBS.
A GC employee since 1999, Risser was promoted to her current role in 2016. Prior to that, she served as an administrative assistant, manager of business operations/budget analyst, assistant director of institutional research, and budget and financial reporting manager. In addition, she was co-director for a GC Study-Service Term in Nicaragua in 2012. Prior to joining GC, she served as office manager, bookkeeper and registrar at Camp Friedenswald in Cassopolis, Michigan.
In her role as GC vice president for finance, Risser led a process that successfully balanced GC’s operating budget, also streamlining the annual planning process and improving financial reporting; developed and implemented an annual capital project and deferred maintenance planning process; refinanced long-term debt; and secured federal Payroll Protection Program funding for campus operations during the global pandemic; among other achievements.
She has served the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) as a peer reviewer for accreditation (2019–present) and has been part of various GC committees, including the C. Henry Smith Trust Directors, the HLC Steering Committee, the Crisis Management Team and numerous search committees.
Risser is also an active volunteer, having served in various capacities on the boards of Camp Friedenswald; The Hermitage Community in Three Rivers, Michigan; Ten Thousand Villages – Goshen; Mennonite Economic Development Associates – Michiana Chapter; and Habitat for Humanity in Cass County, Michigan.
The search committee unanimously recommended Risser to the board and the AMBS community.
“During Deanna’s interview process, her knowledge, experience and love of the church came through loud and clear,” said Daniel Grimes, M.P.A., vice president for advancement and enrollment and a search committee member. The fact that Risser took several AMBS courses while serving at GC demonstrated to him that she wanted “to deepen her understanding of Scripture and grow in her faith.”
“Not only does she possess knowledge of financial matters, administration and budgeting, but her desire to serve the church and its institutions is evident,” he continued. “Her collaborative and supportive work style feels like a good fit for who we are as a learning community, and I look forward to working with her.”
John Daniels, an AMBS board member from Sarasota, Florida, who served on the search committee, said he was impressed by Risser’s background, experience in higher education administration and familiarity with AMBS.
“During the interview, Deanna exhibited an easygoing manner and forthrightness as she discussed her personal journey and how the AMBS VP/CFO position fit with her career goals,” he said. “I’m looking forward to all that she will bring to AMBS.”
Risser expressed gratitude to be able to use her gifts and skills at AMBS in the next chapter of her vocational journey.
“I was attracted to the community and connectedness of AMBS and the opportunity to participate in the seminary’s mission of educating future church and community leaders,” she reflected. “The Holy Spirit is at work at AMBS; I look forward to continuing to advance this good work and to help lead AMBS to a strong financial future.”
Risser is leaving her role at GC with the blessing and affirmation of her colleagues there.
“Deanna has stewarded the resources of Goshen College with skill and integrity in several positions over her 22 years of employment — and five years as vice president,” said Rebecca Stoltzfus, Ph.D., GC president. “She brought impeccable loyalty, collegiality and a warm heart to her work. AMBS is fortunate to gain her leadership, and we are thankful that Deanna will remain close by in the community of Mennonite higher education.”
In addition to Boshart, Daniels and Grimes, the search committee consisted of Paula Killough, M.Div., director of campaign; Linsey Vandrick, executive assistant for business services; and Dave Weaver, an external consultant who serves as senior executive for Mennonite Mission Network services.
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