Staff

Rev. Viviane Thomas-Breitfeld

Bishop

(608) 270-0201

Rev. Viviane Thomas-Breitfeld was elected Bishop of the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin on May 6, 2018.  Prior to her election she served congregations in the Greater Milwaukee Synod and in Beloit, Wisconsin.  She currently serves as the co-chair of the Task Force on Women and Justice, ELCA; the Executive Board of the Women of the ELCA; and serves on the South-Central Synod of WI Racial Equity Team.  She served for six years on the Board of Trustees (Governance Com vice-chair) of the Mission Investment Fund as well as the ELCA Representative to the Illinois Synod Candidacy Team.

Bringing a rich history in community involvement while serving in congregations and on several synodical and churchwide teams, Bishop Thomas-Breitfeld envisions a synod that is a model for welcoming all people to God’s table.

Bishop Viviane Thomas-Breitfeld is married to the Rev. Fred Thomas-Breitfeld, pastor of Jackson Park Lutheran Church, Milwaukee.  They have two adult children, Leota and Sean, two son-in-laws and three grandchildren.

Rev. Walter Baires

Assistant to the Bishop, Director for Evangelical Mission

(608) 270-0201

Introducing The Rev. Walter Baires.  He joins the synod staff as Assistant to the Bishop for Evangelical Mission/DEM.  He was called to this position in April, 2019 and starts in the office on May 1, 2019.

Pastor Walter Baires was ordained in the Lutheran Church of El Salvador in 1994. He graduated from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago in 1993. Pastor Baires 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.

Pastor 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).

Rev. Steve Kottke

Assistant to the Bishop for Leadership Support

(608) 270-0201

Rev. Steve Kottke joined the Synod Staff as Assistant to the Bishop on June 1, 2014, with primary responsibilities in the areas of mobility, care of congregations, and youth and young adult ministries.

Pastor Steve is a graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College and the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. He has served Grace Lutheran Church in Dodgeville for the past twelve years. Along with his call to Grace, he has also volunteered with several teams benefiting Dodgeville and Iowa County.

Believing the call to ministry is also a call to the greater Church, Steve has been active in various capacities for our Synod, including Synod Council, Synod Executive Committee and Cluster Convener. He completed Mediation Skills Training through the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center, and has served on the Synod conflict management team.

Steve and his wife, Jennifer, live in Dodgeville, and are the parents of 3 adult children. We welcome him to this new call and look forward to our partnership in ministry.

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 Vicki 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 commissioned 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 looks forward to bringing this breadth of congregational experience to her future work with our conferences.

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 will work with Bishop Viviane Thomas-Breitfeld’s calendaring, candidacy, mobility, mission support and a myriad of other duties as required in a busy synod office. Robyn comes to us with over 20 years of Administrative and Hospitality experience. For the past eleven years she served 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.

We are church
We are Lutheran
We are church together
We are church for the sake of the world