August 6, 2018, Minneapolis — Bishop Ann Svennungsen is pleased to announce that Mr. Eric Howard joins the staff of the Minneapolis Area Synod today as Executive Assistant to the Bishop. Eric replaces Dee Cole Vodicka, who had served in this role until late May.

“From our initial interview, I was excited by the possibility of Eric joining our staff team,” says Bishop Ann. “He has a unique set of skills and strengths that will build our capacity to serve the congregations and leaders of our synod.”

Eric came to Minnesota as a participant in the Lutheran Volunteer Corps, assigned to work with ISAIAH as a communication assistant. He was quickly promoted to communication manager before taking a position as project manager with Seiche, a full-service strategy and creative consulting agency.

“Eric has a history of working with nonprofit organizations and being involved with a variety of congregations,” Bishop Ann adds. “His experience in marketing with nonprofit clients will help the synod to find creative ways to engage congregations.”

“I’ve worked closely with clergy and faith leaders to help strengthen church programs, build deeper ties with community members, and promote opportunities to act on the social justice mission of the church,” Eric explains. “I’ve led successful fundraising initiatives, consulted on strategic communication campaigns, worked with churches to build leadership capacity, and I’ve advised on racial equality committees.”

Eric graduated from Northern Arizona University with a B.A. in Public Relations and Speech Communications. He recently completed a fundraising project with Headwaters Foundation for Justice, where he advised a grantmaking committee and raised funds for organizations strengthening democracy. He is currently vice president of Exodus Lending (an organization providing an alternative to predatory lending) and is on the board of directors of the Kaleo Center at United Theological Seminary. He is a member of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Minneapolis.

“I’m thrilled to join the synod staff and work alongside Bishop Ann Svennungsen. Having grown up in a tight-knit church community, faith and congregational life are central to who I am and how I approach my work,” Eric offers. “I’m excited to now step in as the Bishop’s executive assistant; to support her and the mission of the Minneapolis Area Synod.”

“Eric brings both a calming influence and a great deal of focused passion to this work. I am excited for our rostered and lay leaders to get to know him,” Bishop Ann concludes.

Eric can be reached at or 612-230-3317.