The Rev. Louise N. Johnson

Director for Leadership Development, LEAD 

Louise N. Johnson is a pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, ELCA. She serves as the Director for Leadership Development for LEAD (www.waytolead.org).  

Prior to her work with LEAD, Johnson served as the fourteenth president of Wartburg Theological Seminary, Dubuque, IA, where she led the seminary to its largest fundraising and enrollment years in the history of the school. 

Johnson is a native of Akron, Ohio. Her father, William, was a Lutheran Church in America pastor, and her mother, Valerie, is a retired higher education administrator, English teacher, and research librarian. At Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio, Johnson majored in German.  During her college years, she worked in Lutheran Outdoor Ministries, where she developed a strong sense of call to serve the church. 

After college, she pursued her love for youth ministry, serving congregations in Chicago and Madison, Wisconsin. In 1995, she began studies at Wartburg Seminary and received her Master of Divinity in 1999. Following seminary, Johnson served at Wartburg, primarily in Admissions. Between 2000 and 2004, Johnson also served as pastor of Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church in Spragueville, Iowa.  

Johnson was called to serve the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP) in 2004 as Associate Director of Admissions, quickly rising to Director of Admissions in 2006. During her tenure, she worked with others in the development, writing, and execution of Project Connect, a $4.5 million dollar grant from the Lilly Endowment, Inc. to build a network of leaders and institutions to provide theologically sound vocational discernment for young adults. Johnson served LTSP as Vice President for Mission Advancement beginning in fall 2012.  Johnson’s responsibilities included strategic planning, accreditation, and alumni relations.  

During her years in Philadelphia, Johnson also pursued an interest in organizational leadership, undergoing several courses including the completion of a Certificate in Leadership and Management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Johnson continues to teach, speak and consult in change leadership in church organizations.  

In 2017, Johnson received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Wartburg College, Waverly, IA. In 2020, Johnson is receiving the Outstanding Executive Award from the Association of Lutheran Development Executives.