Thomas Getman is president of a private consulting group that specializes in international, United Nations and Non Governmental Organization affairs and university seminars and workshops on UN Reform and humanitarian interagency partnership building.  He was World Vision’s executive director for international relations with tenure until March 1, 2009.  In this role, he managed World Vision’s liaison activities with the UN and the World Council of Churches and was responsible for diplomatic relations with UN government member missions in Geneva and with countries on sensitive tax, staff and protocol negotiations.

He served until 2009 on the board of principals for the UN Deputy Secretary General for Emergency Relief in the UN Office of the Coordinator of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and as chair of a premier NGO consortium the International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA).

From 1997 to 2001, Getman was director of World Vision’s programs in Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip where he was responsible for a staff of 30 and $5-8 million a year in relief and development projects in Palestine, Israel, Jordan, and advocacy for peace with justice.

Previously, Getman served for 12 years as director of government relations and special assistant to the president of World Vision United States at which time he founded WV’s office in DC. Getman interpreted U.S. government policy, pressed for needed foreign assistance, and advanced human rights, relief and development concerns with Congress and the White House.

From 1976 to 1985, as a Congressional legislative director for Senator Mark Hatfield his primary assignments were African foreign policy and social justice, human rights and welfare issues. His most notable legislative contribution was to participate in the drafting team for the Anti-Apartheid Act of 1985 (Law of ’86) after participating in the legal sanctions against Rhodesia and Uganda.   Getman helped negotiate protocols with the presidents of Uganda and Zambia and encouraged warring African factions in their peace negotiations. In the mid-1980s, Getman played a central role to persuade the South African Foreign Ministry to cease support for the Mozambican rebel group Resistencia National Mocambicana (Renamo).    He also was an adjunct speechwriter for other regional and national political figures, including President Gerald R. Ford.

Getman served 1963 to 1976 as Young Life area director in Philadelphia and regional director in New England, where he established field education programs for university and seminary MA youth ministry programs.  Notably his team participated in the training and encouraging of city government and education officials in the desegregation of Boston schools.  

Getman holds a bachelor’s degree from Wheaton College (Illinois) and a master’s in theology (equivalency certificate) from Fuller Theological Seminary.  He serves on a number of boards including Global Priorities, Sojourners, and Refugees International.  Formerly he was a board member of the Ramallah (Palestine) Friends School, The YMCA (West Jerusalem) and Bread for the World.  He was based in Geneva, Switzerland, with his wife Karen from October 2001 to March 1, 2009.  The Getmans are presently resident in Washington, DC where they are active in St. Mark’s Episcopal Church-Washington Diocese, and social justice advocacy with Members of Congress.  They have three grown children, Andrew, Eliza and Tim, and five grandchildren.  Andrew is a Russian and French scholar, bibliophile and book-store manager, Eliza a PhD ordained Anglican priest - chaplain in Durban, South Africa, and Timothy a notable regional stage actor.  

Posts By This Author

Historic Meeting Held in Cape Town – Kairos SA & ANC

by Tom Getman 03-09-2012
Key members of the SA Kairos Committee with two senior ANC representatives. (Pho

Key members of the SA Kairos Committee with senior ANC representatives. (Photo courtesy Tom Getman)

In 1985 the South African writers of the Kairos Document declared the Dutch Reformed Church’s “state church” theology to be heretical because of its justification of apartheid. In the months following, Desmond Tutu and many other anti-apartheid leaders risked their lives for change.

On the 2012 Centenary Celebrations of the African National Congress, 21 years after Nelson Mandela’s release from prison, the Kairos Southern Africa theologians have released, “A Word to the ANC in These Times.” The document boldly calls attention to the “certain contradictions [that] continue to militate against … fully achieving the dream that the injustice … meted out to black South Africans by the colonizers would come to an end.”

The document raised other critical issues, such as diminishing diversity, party factionalism and inappropriate security measures. The authors clearly declared, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” (Matthew12:25)

The Kairos steering committee met with the ANC executive in a closed meeting February 8. The discussion focused on poor standards of education, unsustainability of an “opulent ‘American dream’ lifestyle, respecting the Constitution of the Republic, and closing the gap between the richest and poorest.

Heeding the Bethlehem Call: Freedom Comes from Tenacity

by Tom Getman 12-23-2011
Graffiti on the "security wall" that runs through Bethlehem. Via http://commons.

Graffiti on the "security wall" that runs through Bethlehem. Via

A hegemonic power that separates and excludes is not of Jesus. I came away from the deep darkness settling on the land of the Holy One to declare along with my fellow Kairos delegates that, to paraphrase Bishop Marianne, “the fate of the free world depends on a civil society committed to Christ and a persistent, all-encompassing faithful non-violent tenacity pursuing creative and compassionate resistance.“

We must respond to those faithful ones behind both sides of the walls who are saying to us, “Come and See and Be with the people.” We must feel what Jesus felt as he witnessed tyranny and empire – the principalities and powers that oppress and dispossess and kill the poor for whom He had a heart. Please listen to the cries of the oppressed and act today in doing at least one small thing to bring a just peace…make a personal and if possible corporate choice in this critical moment of God’s Kairos.  

If all who hear the “Bethlehem Call” respond then momentum will build for the liberation of all God’s children in the Holy Land.

Holy Land Farce

by Tom Getman 11-01-2011

Glenn Beck's exploitative event in Israel ignored justice and U.S. public opinion.

Opportunity Missed in the U.N. Veto of the Israel Settlement's Resolution

by Tom Getman 03-04-2011
President Barack Obama's decision to veto the February 18 U.N.

The Lens of Justice

by Tom Getman 03-01-2010
With God on Our Side, directed by Porter Speakman Jr. (Rooftop Productions)

Pilgrims' Regress

by Tom Getman 09-01-2001
Why 'Holy Land Tours' miss the real story

What Makes for Middle East Peace?

by Tom Getman 11-01-2000
Reaching Across the Barricades