Australian Lutheran World Service (ALWS) Executive Director Chey Mattner is heading to Geneva, Switzerland, to take up a senior role with Lutheran World Federation (LWF) next month.
Mr Mattner will leave the LCA’s aid and development agency after 10 years, having served as Executive Director since May 2013 and as Program Manager from 2008. He also spent time acting as Executive Secretary, as the lead position was previously known, prior to taking on the director’s role. His new position will be Head of Operations, LWF World Service.
Mr Mattner said ALWS provided people in the LCA with an opportunity to serve others overseas ‘in a very meaningful way’.
‘But it is much more than that today’, he said. ‘ALWS also brings the stories of the forgotten, such as those in South Sudan and Djibouti, to the dinner tables and school desks around the country, especially when the media can’t. ALWS reminds people of the hurt around the world, but also of the hope and joy felt because of our church’s work.
‘I’ve been privileged to see our church at its very best: children who forego their pocket money, farmers who give generously during lean years, and pensioners who gather up what they can to serve others through ALWS. And to work with staff who know why they get up every morning and come to the office.
‘[People in the LCA] should continue to support ALWS not only because it’s Lutheran but also because it does an incredible job with very little.
‘ALWS sits on the governing body of Lutheran World Federation Department for World Service. It’s our main partner. But it’s also the fifth largest partner to the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) in the world, and is an active member of global humanitarian groups. While we are only a small church in Australia, we’re connected to something extraordinary.’
‘While a job like this one at ALWS comes with its challenges at times, it’s not lost on me the privileges that also come with it, such as to be inspired by the fortitude shown by refugees who have lost everything, and to open the letterbox each morning to retrieve donations from extremely loyal supporters, such as a pensioner who has raised money by collecting cans or a young boy who has made pencil holders to sell for the poor.’
Mr Mattner said knowing that he would still be serving the same people, ‘but just at a different stage along the process’, was part of his reason for applying for the new role, having originally been approached by LWF.
His new post will include managing the team responsible for LWF’s World Service operations globally – about 10 people in Geneva and more than 7000 staff around the world. These operations cover both long¬-term development work and emergency responses, and ensure support for staff in the field.
Mr Mattner will relocate to Geneva around the middle of this month, with his wife Libby and children Finn and Ruby joining him as soon as possible.
ALWS Program Director Leah Odongo will be the acting executive director until a new executive director is appointed.