Larisa Friesen came to Sojourners with a background in real estate sales and marketing and joined the organization as the Director of Advertising Sales in January, 2006. In August, 2009 she transitioned to the position of Director of Major Gifts and then to Chief Advancement Officer in 2013. She is daily inspired by stories of how our friends and supporters are connecting to the mission of Sojourners. Larisa spent her formative years on the family farm in Henderson, Nebraska and began to learn then—and continues to learn now—that whether it is life, a business, or organizational mission, it takes creativity and determination to make things happen and pull it all together. From the tall cornfields of Nebraska to tall city buildings, Larisa is now a resident of our own Columbia Heights neighborhood taking in the sights, sounds, and culture of Washington, D.C.
Larisa earned her associate’s degree at Hesston College in Hesston, Kansas and bachelor’s degree in international business and economic development from Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Her hobbies include loving life in Washington, D.C., running races, starting good books (and rarely finishing them), and cooking dinner for friends.
Articles By This Author
Getting Children Out of Work and Into School
Beau Underwood reminded us at this year’s Sojourners’ Christmas chapel that Jesus was not born into a calm, peaceful world in a serene nativity scene. It was a chaotic world in which the Jews were oppressed by Roman rule and Jesus’ very act of being born freaked Herod out, resulting in a mass genocide of baby boys. All was not calm and peaceful as the birth of Jesus challenged the sinful powers and structures of the world from the very start of his life.
This Christmas the world remains a very frightening and chaotic place for many children around the world. Jim Wallis and I met with former U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown just a few days ago and Gordon told us about a group of children in Delhi, India who were being held in unspeakable conditions — forced to work for up to 15 hours a day making Christmas decorations.
Children! Forced slave labor, some of them as young as 8 years old, imprisoned, beaten, and required to make decorations intended celebrate the birth of the savior of the world. Making matters worse, these are only a few of millions of young children trafficked into slave labor around the world all year long. What horrible irony.
Women, Foreign Policy, and the Presidential Debate
Thanks to Melanne Verveer’s article in Foreign Policy magazine, I’m going to be listening for what the presidential candidates say tonight about women in this foreign policy focused debate. Verveer has served since 2009 as the United States ambassador at large for global women’s issues. She is the first to ever serve in this particular position.
Ambassador Verveer is a leading expert in mobilizing support for women’s rights globally, and as a woman of faith, I am paying attention. I believe that women’s rights are human rights and that the advancement and empowerment of women is a central strategy for economic growth and promoting peace and stability around the world. Praise the Lord that this logic is now increasingly understood by government officials and international development organizations and pragmatic good sense. More importantly, as a Christian I believe that Jesus’ liberating word declares that men and women are equal in the eyes of God.
Actions, however, are lagging behind what is now becoming more mainstream thinking.
The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates
Last summer at the Aspen Ideas Festival I had the opportunity to hear Wes Moore speak. Moore is an investment banker, a former Rhodes Scholar, and a former aide to Condoleezza Rice. He is a young black man from Baltimore who rose above the drugs, crime, and poverty that so often lead others in his demographic down another path.
In the same year that Moore was named a Rhodes Scholar, he saw an article in the Baltimore Sun about a man who was convicted of armed robbery and murder of an off duty police officer and sentenced to life in prison without parole. This man not only had the same name, Wes Moore, but was also about the same age and grew up in the same area of Baltimore in a single-parent household.
Wes reached out to this other young man in prison and eventually they came to know one another. Moore wrote a book, The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates, about their stories.
I read the book shortly after hearing Wes speak. What makes it remarkable is the parallel examination of both of their narratives, giving the reader an opportunity to identify the points when their lives begin to diverge.
Fierce For Peace
'Does the bullet know Christian from Muslim? Does the bullet choose?'