Lee Gagen to Move to National Staff

Lee Gagen to Move to National Staff


A Celebration of Lee's time at the Conference will be held online on April 20 at 4:00 PMRegister here.

Lee Gagen, Director of Individual and External Donor Relations, will be leaving the Conference staff to become the Major Gifts Officer for the national setting of the United Church of Christ. Her last day with the Conference is April 15. 

Lee joined the staff of the historic Massachusetts Conference in August of 2017 in what was at the time an “18-month experiment” intended to help the Conference increase income and expand the nurture of the vitality of local churches and the connections between them.

“I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity I was given when I joined the historic Massachusetts Conference nearly five years ago. The support I have received along the way – from my colleagues to members of the board to Conference volunteers and supporters – has been unbelievable,” Lee Gagen said. “This has been more than a job. My experiences have opened my eyes to what it is to have found one’s calling. I truly love the work that I do, and I hope that I can continue to do the work that makes the mission of the UCC a reality.” 
As the Conference’s first Fundraising and Development Specialist, Lee immediately began working on the Annual Appeal, raising money for the Conference’s ministries and programs. Soon after, she worked with staff on a Giving Tuesday drive, focused on racial justice ministries in the historic Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island Conferences. While her initial focus was on individual giving, Lee soon expanded her work to include other fundraising efforts, such as grant writing. 
One of the first grants Lee submitted was to support clergy development. The Conference was successful and was awarded $1 million from Lilly Endowment. In addition to providing essential program funding, this grant served as a model of successful partnership.  
A spirit of partnership has remained a theme of Lee’s work, as she worked with donors through the formation of the new Southern New England Conference. One of the first fundraising initiatives for the new conference was for RIP Medical Debt, a collaborative effort by 122 United Church of Christ congregations, four Associations, and more than 100 households in the new Conference, which raised over $200,000 - abolishing $26.2 million in medical debt.
In 2021, Lee worked with new Executive Conference Minister Rev. Darrell Goodwin to launch the Phillis Wheatley Fund for Innovation. The fund is aimed at sponsoring creative and innovative programs that help to further the missional imperative of the SNEUCC, that might otherwise not be possible with existing budgetary limitations. In 2022, that fund is supporting the Conference’s Theologian-in-Residence program. 
Lee wraps up her time with the SNEUCC serving the newest committee of the Conference – the Property Committee. Established the fall of 2021, the Property Committee is overseeing a review of all real properties owned by the Historic Massachusetts and Rhode Island Conferences and the Missionary Society of Connecticut.   
“I have had the honor of working with Lee who has been a bright star in the newly formed and forming Southern New England Conference. Lee has been instrumental in helping us think outside the box in her role as Director of External and Individual Donor Relations and the ways the Conference can live into its identity as a faith based non-profit for justice,” said Rev. Goodwin. "Lee is now moving on to share those skills within the Philanthropy area in the National Setting. In many respects though we are losing Lee as an immediate staff member we look forward to greater connection with this area of the national setting and in our covenant together around stewardship.” 
The Conference will be posting an opening for a Major Gifts Officer role to assist in the area of Stewardship and Development in the coming weeks. Recommendations for great talent in this area can be sent to Irma Reyes, Director of Human Resources, at reyesi@sneucc.org . 


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