Synod Staff

Portrait of Bishop Joy

Rev. Joy Mortensen-Wiebe
(608) 270-0201

Bishop Joy Mortensen-Wiebe was elected in 2020 to serve as bishop of the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin-ELCA. Bishop Joy is returning to our synod after previously serving as our Interim Director for Evangelical Mission in 2018 and as an intentional interim pastor at First Lutheran Church in Beaver Dam in 2017. She most recently served as pastor of St. Luke Lutheran Church in Slinger, Wis.. Previously she served several Wisconsin churches including St. Paul in Mayville, Living Hope in Saukville, All Saints in Oshkosh; and Grace in Tomahawk. Bishop Mortensen-Wiebe also served as Associate to the Bishop in the East Central Synod of Wisconsin from 2004-2014 and as pastor chaplain of Lutheran Homes of Oshkosh Inc.

Bishop Mortensen-Wiebe received a Bachelor of Science degree from Carroll College in Waukesha, Wis., in 1988, a Master of Divinity degree from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., in 1992, and a Master of Education degree from Lakeland University in Plymouth, Wis., in 2004. Bishop Mortensen-Wiebe is married to the Rev. Darin Wiebe and they have two daughters, Elida and Julia.

Rev. Walter Baires Photo

Rev. Walter Baires
Assistant to the Bishop, Director for Evangelical Mission
(608) 270-0201

Rev. Walter Baires serves as the Director for Evangelical Mission and Assistant to the Bishop.  He was called to this position in April, 2019 and started in the office on May 1, 2019. Rev. Baires was ordained in the Lutheran Church of El Salvador in 1994. He graduated from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago in 1993. He served as associate pastor at Resurrection Lutheran in San Salvador, director of the Sister Parish Program, and vice-president of the Salvadoran Lutheran Synod.  Beginning in 2001, he began serving as co-pastor at Ascension Lutheran Church, a multicultural congregation in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. During his time at Ascension he also has served as vice-president of the Latino Ethnic Association of the ELCA, coordinator of the Synodical Latino Strategy and member of the ELCA Latino Strategy monitoring team. Rev. Baires is married to Elizabeth, an ELCA pastor currently serving as bridge pastor at Saint Luke Lutheran in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Their children are Atzin (31), Itzel (29), and Walter Jr. (27).

Marie Leafblad

Marie Leafblad
Associate to the Bishop for Leadership
(608) 270-0201

Marie joins the Synod Staff in March 2021 as Associate to the Bishop for Leadership Support with primary responsibilities in mobility, relational networking, care of congregations, and youth and family ministries. Marie is a graduate of Bethel Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, with a Masters in Global and Contextual Studies (2013) and North Park University with a Bachelor’s in Biblical Studies and World Religions (2008). After years of serving in Baptist and Non-Denominational churches, Marie moved to the ELCA in November 2015 when she started on staff of St. Luke Lutheran Church in Slinger, Wisconsin, as their Youth and Family Director. Prior to her call to St. Luke, Marie was general manager at Barley Johns Brew Pub. She still claims it is “the best church she’s ever served.” Marie has plenty of international experience working with disaster relief, orphanage care, organizations and businesses in Nepal, Kenya, Haiti, and Guatemala. She acts as a Discipling Peer Coach with the ELCA, mentoring others in youth ministry. Marie and her beloved dog Chai look forward to moving to the Madison area and enjoying all the different cuisines.


Deacon Vicki Hanrahan
Assistant to the Bishop for Synodical Life
(608) 270-0201

Deacon Hanrahan currently serves as Assistant to the Bishop for Synodical Life. Vicki supports our congregations by working with rostered and lay leadership through conference work, by resourcing through the synod’s help desk and Speaker’s Bureau, and by equipping leaders through event management of the annual Synod Assembly, LEAD, and Bishop’s Convocation. She loves the day of the event when we all gather for capacity-building and conversation and then leave equipped and excited for God’s work! Vicki is also passionate about communicating where God is at work in the world in, among, and through Lutherans of our congregations, campus ministries, partners and worshiping communities in south-central Wisconsin and produces the weekly e-newsletter, What Matters. 

Deacon Hanrahan joined the synod staff in January of 2008.  She received a BA in Communication Arts from the University of Wisconsin and is a 2009 graduate of the synod’s Lay School of Ministry.  She continued her education and was ordained as a deacon in 2016. Prior to serving on synod staff, Vicki spent the first 20 years of her career in the teleconferencing industry keeping people virtually connected.  Similarly, she finds keeping people in our synod connected to each other and to the greater church the most exciting aspect of her work. “Together, we can accomplish so much more than what we do alone; I’ve seen us do some amazing things that really do matter as we strive to serve our brothers and sisters in Jesus’ name.”  Over the past 25 years, she has also served in several leadership roles in her congregation as council president, and chair of several committees including Stewardship, Church in Society, Public Relations, God’s Work. Our Hands. Sunday and co-chair of their capitol campaign.  She brings this breadth of congregational experience to her work with our synod’s worshipping communities.


Robyn Zimmerman
Director of Operations & Executive Assistant to the Bishop
(608) 270-0201

Robyn is our Director of Operations and Executive Assistant to the Bishop. She works with the Bishop’s calendaring, candidacy, mobility, mission support, volunteer management and a myriad of other duties as required in a busy synod office. Robyn comes to us with over 30 years of Administrative and Hospitality experience. Before coming to work at the synod she spent eleven years serving at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Madison & Verona as Director of First Impressions, Worship Assistant, and Office Manager. Robyn is an active volunteer at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, and finds great joy in being able to help others. Robyn and her husband, Kris, live in Madison and have two sons – Bryan and Aaron. She is very excited to be sharing her gifts and is looking forward to growing with the Synod and ELCA in the years to come.

Jason Xiong Web

Rev. Jason Poole-Xiong
Contracted Webmaster & Technical Consultant
(847) 893-9226 – Mobile

Jason serves as the content manager for our synod website and YouTube channel along with assisting with other digital media resources. He also collaborates with the synod office and congregations on technology related resources including online worship and digital meetings. Jason graduated from Wartburg Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity in 2020 and now serves concurrently as Associate Pastor at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Beloit, WI.

Care Connect Equip

Becky Johnson
Contracted Accountant & Financial Consultant
(608) 270-0201

Becky Johnson serves as our Synod Accountant and consultant on our financials working alongside our elected Synod Treasurer. She handles all accounts payable and prepares our financial statements.