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About


PLI is devoted to empowering leaders for wider influence for the sake of the gospel in their communities and effective leadership in their ministries. Learn more about our vision and process here.

Learn


Life is better connected. Connect with others to experience life-giving community and build authentic relationships. We have several learning communities. Find the best fit for you.

Resources


We provide a number of resources and materials to educate both our participants and the general public on effective leadership principles.

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Interested in how PLI can impact your ministry? We'd love to get to know you and learn how we can empower your ministry.

Our Story

Who We Are

Partnering with God in building leaders with a Kingdom Vision.

Training and investing in multiplying missional leaders. That’s what PLI does.

We invest in pastors, spouses and church leaders by building empowering relationships where confidence and courage is born. PLI’s learning happens in these relationships.

Training happens at the intersection of leadership, discipleship and mission. We transform and equip leaders to lead change and to grow and multiply more missional leaders.

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PLI’s purpose is to help leaders, like you, revive your understanding and application of the Great Commission in your local context.  The result is discipleship lived out in vibrant communities. By God’s guiding, families and congregations are empowered to make deeper connections with non-believers, loving and leading as Jesus did. The result is wider influence for the sake of the Gospel.

Hundreds of pastors and spouses in the United States and 12 countries worldwide have been led to lead through the PLI Experience. The unique blend of couples learning together in PLI’s encouraging and accountable coaching environment results in distinctive leadership development. The PLI Experience changes lives and builds up the character of leaders to boldly reach the lost for Christ.

Our Strategy

Where leaders go to become multiplying missional leaders.

PLI believes that for leaders and churches to courageously represent Jesus and advance a fruitful church, women and men need highly supportive, intentional learning communities that provide leadership development, hope, direction, problem-solving and practical steps of implementation for each individual context.  

Learning communities are the heart of PLI and center around three components: Immersions, Coaching and Clusters.

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Immersions  PLI believes that gaining confidence and courage to lead happens in community.  PLI’s immersions are vibrant communities where fear and isolation are defeated through an experiential learning process.  

 

Coaching  PLI believes that in order to sustain growth and back home implementation, leaders need accountability and encouragement. Ongoing and regular coaching between each immersion gives leaders a place to build deeper connections and experience breakthrough.  

 

Clusters  We train and invest in leaders to start and lead out communities and clusters of people on mission. PLI believes that leaders and congregations will have a wider influence as clusters of people are invited into the learning journey and empowered to enter new places with the Good News. 

 

Our Team

Gail Ficken

Executive Leader

Gail serves as Executive Leader of PLI with her husband Jock. Gail has been the chief visionary for PLI, designing its Christian leadership pipeline, which boasts over 80 teachers, trainers and coaches, and navigating the global integration of PLI’s North American and International programming. Previously, Gail launched several businesses before joining the staff of her church, serving on the senior leadership team and overseeing its adult ministry teams. During that time, she built an extensive small group ministry and launched a women’s ministry that saw many women come to faith and discipled to become leaders in their own rights. Gail is a wife, mother of three, and GiGi of two. She combines her quick wit with positivity and strength to lead ministry around the corner into the future.

Jock Ficken

Executive Leader

Rev. Dr. Jock Ficken has served as the Executive Leader of PLI alongside his wife, Gail, since 2013. As Executive Leader, he is keen to share stories of the miraculous ways that God is using PLI-trained leaders to advance the Gospel in pockets and places all over the world. Jock is dedicated to partnering with leaders and seeing them achieve breakthroughs, especially knowing the many challenges they regularly face. He previously served as a vice president of the Lutheran Church Extension Fund, resourcing and connecting consultants to large congregations, and as the senior pastor of 25 years to a once dying Chicago-area congregation. Under his leadership, the church experienced new life and growth, birthing a second campus in addition to planting two new churches. Jock is an ultimate Nebraska Cornhuskers fan and enjoys spending time with family and neighbors, reading, and cycling.

Todd Moritz - PLI Strategy and Donor Engagement

Todd Moritz

Director of Strategy and Donor Engagement

Being involved with PLI since the very beginning, Todd loves the Christian leadership training from PLI. He joined the team in 2019 to lead our ministry in helping think through our strategy internally, with our Board and many other partners. He engages supporters through prayer, planning, recruitment and financial support. Todd is a Commissioned Minister of Religion, an MBA and CPA. He has 18 years of Fortune 500 experience concluding at the director level. Over the last 22 years, he has been in full time ministry as the Executive Director of one of the largest LCMS congregations plus the CEO of two different large high school associations. Before coming to PLI, he led Orange Lutheran High School, a $30M annual ministry with nearly 400 employees and 1,400 students. Todd enjoys travel, loves people and has a passion for sharing Christ. Todd is married to Sarah and lives in Southern California and has five sons, two daughters-in-love and two grandchildren.

Lori Rische

International Women’s Director

Lori has been the Women’s Director of PLI International since 2011, and enjoys encouraging and blessing the women of PLI as they partner with their spouses and faithfully lead. Lori passes on her passion and love of learning to those she works with. Seeing families, and especially children, grow in knowledge is the real joy of the job! She has served in the education field for over 30 years in various roles including preschool and primary school teacher, director of children’s ministries, and teacher and Vice Principal at Buena Vista Concordia International School in Shenzhen, China. In her free time, Lori loves most to be with her children and grandchildren, enjoys outdoor activities, and relaxes with craft projects at home.

Scott Rische

International Director

Rev. Scott Rische is enormously grateful to be serving as the International Director of PLI alongside his wife Lori. He coordinates Christian leadership training for churches in more than 12 countries. Scott’s passions and callings in life are to see people come into a faith relationship with Jesus Christ, as well as to teach, encourage, develop, and mentor leaders for mission and ministry. Prior to joining our team in 2011, he served as a church planter, lead pastor, and founder of a church planting network. Scott received his D. Min. from Bakke Graduate University in 2006 in the area of church planting movements. Scott is a private pilot and enjoys flying, writing, music, woodworking, and anything outdoors.

Raechel Pfotenhauer

Connections

Raechel connects people and teams from around the U.S., and sometimes the globe, into the right PLI leadership learning community. In this role, she is delighted by how God has woven together her education and experiences in community and church leadership with her love of people, cultures, the body of Christ and the sweet grace of Jesus. Raechel considers it an honor to invite people into a PLI space and marvels at the hope and courage and movement she has witnessed emerging as a result of the PLI experience. Having spent her childhood in Latin America, Raechel and her husband now call the western suburbs of Chicago home. She loves gathering lots of chairs around a big table so their three young adult children and family and friends and neighbors can enjoy the goodness of sharing a meal and long dinner conversation.

Matt Hewitt

Systems & Finance Leader

Matt ensures that PLI’s operations are running smoothly by leading both PLI’s financial and systems infrastructures. Practically speaking, that makes Matt a jack of many trades! In addition to having both an M.A. and an M.B.A., Matt also brings a wide range of experiences from building a data-science team at a fin-tech start-up to being the Director of Development at Concordia University, St. Paul. Before joining the team at PLI in 2018, Matt and several members of his church in Minnesota experienced PLI Christian leadership training first-hand at the inaugural D2MC cohort in 2014. Outside of work, Matt and his wife Jillian, enjoy hiking, snow-skiing, CrossFit, and baseball — even though they are a divided house. Matt cheers for the St. Louis Cardinals and Jillian cheers for the Chicago Cubs.

Dave Ficken

North American Director

Rev. Dave Ficken has been a coach and presenter for PLI since 2014 and joined the team as North American Director in 2018. Dave loves to inspire momentum and train and equip multiplying missional leaders through discipleship in community. He brings his strengths in writing, teaching, coaching, and strategic thinking to the PLI team and the leaders they train. He’s an extroverted church planter, coach, and strategist. Dave, and his wife Mia, have two young boys, and they are having a blast loving their neighborhood in Nashville, TN.

Artis Eglitis

Eurasia Development Leader

Rev. Artis Eglitis lives in Latvia, Europe and is our Eurasia Development Leader. He provides leadership for PLI throughout northern and Eastern Europe, the Baltics, Russia, Russian-speaking Central Asia, and Scandinavia. His ministry creates possibilities for leadership and missional ministry in European Churches by finding new ways to reach people in a post–Christian society. Artis received his theological education at Latvian Christian Academy in 2000 and is a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia (ELCL). In his free time, Artis enjoys traveling and reading.

Kyrie Klopke

Director of 1,000 Young Leaders

Kyrie joined the PLI team in 2018 alongside her husband Phil to lead this new learning community focused on training the next generation of passionate believers. Kyrie’s heart yearns for all young women to know who they are in Christ and own the strengths and gifts He’s given them. With her social work degree, Kyrie has been able to witness God work in impossible ways with families and youth. Previously, Kyrie and Phil had the amazing opportunity to be part of a church plant in Southwest Florida. Their love and passion for intentional discipleship in community grew, which aligned perfectly to help raise up young leaders with PLI. Being from the majestic land of Northern Wisconsin, Kyrie is naturally a fan of all things outdoors and the Green Bay Packers. She loves spending time with her husband and son, her boisterous family up north, her two black labs and soaking up time with the best in-laws and sister-in-law a girl could ask for!

Phil Klopke

Director of 1,000 Young Leaders

Phil has been leading this learning community alongside his wife Kyrie since 2018. He has a passion for equipping leaders to access further clarity so they can carry out their God dreams to further Gospel kingdom impact. Prior to joining the PLI team, they spent five years building up community at Florida Gulf Coast University as part of a church plant. Their passion for missional living grew — making it a natural fit to train the next generation of believers. Phil was born and raised in Chicago so you might consider him a superfan — go Bears, Bulls, Cubs, & Blackhawks! Phil enjoys living life fully with Kyrie and their son Porter, while finding new ways to post embarrassing videos of his wife on Instagram.

Rony Marquardt

Latin America Development Leader

Rev. Rony Marquardt was a participant in PLI from 2008 to 2012. Since 2013, he has provided leadership and introduced the PLI movement in Brazil and throughout the Lutheran Churches in Latin America. He has been a pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Brazil (IELB) since 1984 and was General Secretary and Vice-President of Theological Education on IELB’s National Board. Among his values, commitment and hard work are the most present. Rony lives in Brazil with his wife Anica. He has four children and three granddaughters. Rony loves to travel, make new relationships and work with texts, including writing, revising, and translating books and Christian messages.

Erin West

D2MC Coaching & Content Leader

After several years of coaching and teaching for PLI’s Discipleship to Missional Community track, Erin joined the PLI team to bring out the best of D2MC coaching and content. She wants all people to know Christ, to love those God has placed in her path, and to be continually molded and shaped by the Spirit. She is honored to walk alongside others as they recognize God’s movement in their lives and respond in big and small ways that result in wins for the kingdom. Walking into the West family home is like walking into a musical, as her husband Brian and their two daughters are never without a song. Whether it’s backyard barbecues or evenings around a firepit, the West family enjoys inviting friends and neighbors into their own personal crazy. It’s about families coming together, growing together and sharing both the joys and sorrows of life.

Beth Schult

Africa Development Leader

Beth and her husband Paul have served on our international team as trainers since 2015 and Assistant Regional Leaders since 2019. Over the past several years, Beth has walked alongside Scott and Lori Rische within the region of Uganda. In her current role, Beth explores other areas of Africa including Ethiopia, Tanzania, Ghana, Burundi, and South Africa. Beth has had the joy of launching many missional communities of 8-12 people, as well as smaller connect groups of 3-4 people. She has put into practice all the Christian leadership skills and discipleship teachings she has been sharing in Uganda. In 2016, they moved with their six children from the Midwest to the California Bay Area. Beth’s richest blessing from God comes in the form of being a wife and mother, and grandma! She has a passion for worship, music, and teaching. She loves to explore the beautiful coast of California, taking as many pictures as her iPhone can possibly hold!

Paul Schult

Africa Development Leader

Rev. Paul Schult and his wife Beth joined PLI as trainers in 2015 and as Assistant Regional Leaders in 2019. Prior to that, Paul was a participant in our Senior Leader learning community, which helped him recover from a time of significant burnout and rekindle his passion for leadership and mission. He is honored to share the life-giving ministry of PLI in Africa. His personal values of humility, leadership, faith, and discipleship have been profoundly affected and strengthened by PLI. Paul grew up in Indiana which influenced his initial career path of being a high school basketball coach and English teacher. After attending seminary, he served as a pastor in Council Bluffs, Iowa, St. Charles, Missouri and now in Redwood City, California. Paul and Beth love serving in ministry together and are blessed to be engaged in mission partnerships around the world. He loves being outdoors with Beth, traveling, reading, and most of all, spending time with their children and their families — especially their new grandchild Mara Beth!

Jennifer Hein

Leadership Essentials Coaching & Content Leader

Jennifer is passionate about creating spaces that empower others to live courageously in Jesus. She has been a coach for PLI since 2015 and joined the PLI team in 2016. Whether checking in with alumni to hear their stories and pray together; inviting the PLI family to partner with a financial gift; or coaching and teaching in Leadership Essentials, she loves helping people take intentional next steps as they follow Jesus. Jennifer lives with her husband Matt and their 4 children near Flint, MI. When not asking people thought-provoking questions, she can be found homeschooling and shuttling her little crew, knitting, reading, or looking for ways to engage in meaningful dialogue.

Erin Guelzow

NSYL Coaching & Content Leader

Erin has been a part of the PLI family since 2006 as a learning community participant, since 2015 as a coach and trainer and since 2020 leading Not So Young Leaders. She is passionate for loving lost people and sharing life with them. She knows Jesus loves them more than she ever could, so she seeks to show them that love however possible. Erin and her husband Nate have led and oversaw missional communities in Memphis, TN, and in Woodridge, IL. They have two wonderful boys, and two rambunctiously, sweet Havanese dogs. Silence is rare around their house, but she knows these days are precious and beautiful times. She enjoys walking, reading, baking, leisurely biking on her old-school cruiser, and spending time with family and friends.

Jessica Wardenburg

Marketing

Jessica joined the PLI marketing team in 2020 while being a participant in 1,000 Young Leaders learning community. She felt God’s call to use her passion and skills to share the good news of Jesus through social media. She has a Bachelor’s in Journalism from the University of Missouri and worked as a TV news journalist in Joplin, Missouri and Des Moines, Iowa. She then used her love of learning and storytelling at Two Rivers Marketing. Her work in public relations, blogging and social media marketing received awards from industry organizations. Jessica and her husband Lucas have two young children and live in West Des Moines. She enjoys opening their home to family and friends, playing rec sports, spending time on the water and aspires to be an avid reader one day.

Sarah Oestermeyer

Administration

Sarah puts her marketing experience and organizational skills to amazing use for her various roles at PLI. Since joining the team in 2014, she has helped with administration, connections, marketing and so much more. She and her husband, Jon, both grew up four miles from their current home and enjoy being surrounded by friends and family. They’re blessed with three children, and as her “Mom’s Taxi Service” keychain implies, much of her time is spent carpooling kids from one activity to the next. She is also quite the tennis player.

Brittney Ikeh

Administrative Assistant

Brittney joined the PLI team in 2020 as an administrative assistant in the Donor Engagement department. Brittney is always asking how she can make the world a better place. She comes to PLI with experience at Bank of America and Jackson National Life Insurance Company. In her spare time, Brittney loves to volunteer in her community, championing causes near and dear to her heart. Brittney lives in Nashville with her husband David. They love binge-watching their favorite shows and cooking new dishes together at home!

Board of Directors

Reverend Ronald D. Burcham

Rebeka Cook

Mike Gibson

Reverend Dr. Yared Halche

Lynn E. Henry

John McGInty

Reverend Aaron Rosenau

Lynn Thomsen

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