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Leadership Advance

The Trust’s Leadership Advance conference is held annually in late November or early December for executive leaders who have the responsibility of leading organizations, including the development of other leaders.

Leadership Advance participants include Christian ministry leaders, educators, trainers, businesspeople and others. To learn more about the conference, please email Mary Hill at the Murdock Trust.

Find resources, audio files, and videos from past conferences below.


Our next Leadership Advance conference is December 4-5, 2019.

At last year’s Leadership Advance Conference, we looked to our Christian tradition for insight and wisdom. At our 2019 gathering of leaders—amidst a time of continued cultural change—we turn our listening outward to the wisdom of our neighbors—people outside our tradition or everyday experience—can bring to bear. Read more >>

Meet the Speakers

Bishop Claude Richard Alexander, Jr.

Senior Pastor, The Park Church

Bishop Alexander has served as Senior Pastor of the Park Church in Charlotte, North Carolina for 27 years. Under his leadership, The Park Church has grown from one local congregation of 600 members to a global ministry of thousands with three locations and weekly international reach. Bishop Alexander holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from Morehouse College (1985), a Master of Divinity Degree from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary (1988), and a Doctor of Ministry Degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (2004).

Beyond his leadership of The Park Church, Bishop Alexander has worked to leverage his faith leadership and expertise for social improvement through civic engagement. Currently, he serves on the boards of Charlotte Center City Partners, Wycliffe Bible Translators USA, Christianity Today, Mission America Coalition, Council for Christian Colleges & Universities, The New York City Leadership Center, and the Joint College of African-American Pentecostal Bishops. He is the Chair of Gordon-Conwell Board of Trustees and the Second-Presiding Bishop of the Kingdom Association of Covenant Pastors. Also an author, Bishop Alexander published Necessary Christianity, exploring the role of ‘must’ statements throughout the Gospels. He and his wife, Dr. Kimberly Nash Alexander, have two daughters.

Alec Hill

Former President Emeritus, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship USA

In 2001, Alec D. Hill became the President Emeritus of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship USA, a non-denominational ministry that serves students through mentorship and Christian discipleship. Beyond the 35,000 students and 550 college campuses InterVarsity serves, the organization also operates an award-winning publishing arm, Intervarsity Press, and hosts Urbana Student Missions Conferences.

Alec Hill holds an MA in Biblical Studies from Seattle Pacific University and a JD from the University of Washington School of Law. Prior to his leadership of InterVarsity, Hill was a professor of Law and Ethics at Seattle Pacific University. From 1995-2001, he served as Dean of SPU’s School of Business and Economics, leading the program to international acclaim by acquiring AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) accreditation. In the early 1980s, he served as Regional Director with World Relief.

Mr. Hill’s career of work and leadership has been defined by service to others. His book, Just Business, Christian Ethics in the Marketplace, has been published in multiple languages and compliments the international seminars he presents on business ethics. Presently, he serves as part-time faculty at Regent College in Vancouver, B.C.. and resides in the Seattle area with his wife, Mary, and their two daughters.

Eboo Patel

Founder and President, Interfaith Youth Core

Eboo Patel is an author, speaker, and educator with a vision to make interfaith cooperation a social norm. Named by U.S. News & World Report as one of America’s Best Leaders of 2009, Eboo served on President Obama’s Inaugural Faith Council and is the author of Acts of Faith, Sacred Ground, Interfaith Leadership: A Primer, and Out of Many Faiths: Religious Diversity and the American Promise. He holds a Ph.D. in Sociology of Religion from Oxford University, where he studied on a Rhodes Scholarship.

As an American Muslim himself, Mr. Patel’s belief in supporting the diversity of American identity and religion is central to his work and leadership. At the start of his career, he incorporated these principles into an alternative education program for high school dropouts and founded a cooperative living community for activists and artists in Chicago.

In 2002, Patel founded the Interfaith Youth Core, which partners with colleges and universities to turn religious diversity into a positive force for civic change and social improvement. IFYC’s programs target all angles of the university campus, from students and faculty to administration and alumni. Through curriculum and resources, IFYSC’s goal is to strengthen emerging leaders and steer communities toward greater civility and meaningful social engagement. Mr. Patel lives in Chicago with his wife, Shehnaz, and their two sons.

James Ackerman

President, Prison Fellowship

After a 25-year career in the entertainment and media industry, James Ackerman took the role of President of Prison Fellowship in 2016. Prison Fellowship is the nation’s largest non-profit serving prisoners, former prisoners, and their families, and is a leading advocate for justice reform. The holistic approach of Prison Fellowship seeks to end the cycle of recidivism with Gospel-based intervention at all levels, renewing the prison system from within and addressing the roots of crime itself.

Ackerman’s history of leadership in the entertainment world includes organizations like the Discovery Channel, Broadway Systems, and Spinnaker Media. Amid media-industry success, Ackerman made the decision to step down from his role as President of Broadway Systems to become Senior Pastor of Christ Memorial Church in Holland, Michigan. After making this transition into full time ministry, Ackerman’s years of volunteering with Prison Fellowship prompted his rise to President of the organization. He now applies his experience and expertise in business operations with his heart for service and ministry. Ackerman is also a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard. He and his wife Martha have two adult children and currently reside in California.

Shirley Hoogstra

President, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities

Shirley V. Hoogstra is passionate about strengthening Christian higher education and its impact for the common good. Since 2014, she has served as the President of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, an association of more than 180 Christian institutions around the world including more than 150 schools in North America and more than 30 from an additional 18 countries. CCCU institutions are accredited, comprehensive colleges and universities combining excellent scholarship with Christ-centered missions.

Having received a bachelor’s in education at Calvin College (Grand Rapids, MI) and a Juris Doctor, with honors, from the University of Connecticut School of Law, Hoogstra spent more than a decade practicing law as a partner at a firm that specialized in litigation in New Haven, Connecticut. There, she served on the New Haven County Bar Association, as well as on multiple civic boards and at local schools and churches. She was also a founding board member and officer of the Bridgeport Rescue Mission. Prior to her role at CCCU, Hoogstra served on the Board of Trustees at her alma-mater, Calvin College.

Through her leadership, Hoogstra promotes the importance of Christian colleges and universities as a part of a diverse, pluralistic system of higher education. Hoogstra and her husband, Jeff have two married children.  

Tyler Deaton

President, Allegiance Strategies

Tyler Deaton is President of Allegiance Strategies, LLC. Allegiance Strategies is a D.C. based public affairs consulting firm focused on helping clients achieve a freer, safer, and stronger world through political strategy, government relations, and issue advocacy. Deaton oversees conservative and Republican engagement on a range of issues on behalf of several non-profit organizations. His advocacy work includes issue campaigns with center-right strategy pertaining to LGBTQ freedom, healthcare, immigration, criminal justice, transportation, and education.  Tyler Deaton was introduced to the movement for LGBT freedom in New Hampshire, where in 2011-2012 he helped lead the successful lobbying and electoral efforts to protect the freedom to marry in New Hampshire and preserve New Hampshire’s nondiscrimination laws.

In addition to his work at Allegiance Strategies, Tyler Deaton is the Senior Advisor to American Unity Fund, a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the cause of freedom for LGBTQ Americans by making the conservative case for universal freedom. Tyler and his husband James split their time between Concord, New Hampshire and Washington, D.C.

Jeremy Courtney

President & Founder, Preemptive Love Coalition

Jeremy Courtney is founder and president of Preemptive Love Coalition, an international relief organization engaging on the frontlines of the world’s most polarizing conflicts in Iraq and Syria.

A decade ago, at the height of the Iraq War, Jeremy and his wife, Jessica Courtney, chose to move to Iraq. Rather than turn away from chaos and conflict, they were going to lean in and love anyway.

There, Jeremy met a little girl who was dying of a heart defect. Soon he discovered thousands more like her, all waiting in line for surgeries their country couldn’t provide. That’s when Preemptive Love Coalition began. Over the next several years, Preemptive Love provided lifesaving medical care for thousands of children and hands-on training for local medical staff — empowering them to be the long-term solution to Iraq’s child health crisis.

Everything changed when ISIS stormed across Iraq in 2014, killing anyone who stood in their way and forcing millions to flee. With militants on their doorstep and other aid organizations pulling out of Iraq, Jeremy, his family, and Preemptive Love chose to stay.

Since then, Jeremy and his team have rushed emergency aid to several hundred thousand people in Iraq and Syria—airlifting food to an entire city surrounded by ISIS, feeding thousands of families streaming out of Aleppo, and being the first to show up inside Fallujah and west Mosul as the battle against ISIS raged a few streets away. Jeremy and his team also help refugees start small businesses to get back on their feet and promote peace across long-standing sectarian divides in the Middle East.

As a sought-after speaker from the camera to the conference stage, Jeremy travels the globe, inviting people from all backgrounds to reach across “enemy” lines and choose love over fear. He has been featured on CNN, FOX, ABC, NBC, PBS, CBS, Al-Jazeera, the BBC, and in the New York Times, Washington Post, and USA Today, offering expert, on-the-ground commentary on conflict in the Middle East.

Jeremy’s first book, Preemptive Love, tells the story of the Courtney’s early years waging peace in Iraq. He is currently working on his second book, Love Anyway.

Jeremy and Jessica have two children, Emma and Micah.

Past Conference Resources

2018 Leadership Advance Conference | Listening to Wisdom

Session 1: Sandy Richter (audio)
Session 2: John Yates (audio)
Session 3: Trillia Newbell (audio)
Session 4: Panel (audio)
Session 5: Jeff Pinneo & Rich Stearns (audio)
Session 6: Sandy Richter & Trillia Newbell (audio)
Session 7: Closing (audio)


2017 Leadership Advance Conference | Telling THE Story: Telling YOUR Story

Session 1: Andy Crouch (audio)
Session 2: Andy Crouch (audio)
Optional Film Viewing: Terry Stokesbary & John Priddy (audio)
Session 3: Eugene Cho (audio)
Session 4: Andy Crouch & Romanita Hairston-Overstreet (audio)

Lunch Presentation: Tim Mackie (audio)
Breakout Resource: Getting Your Organization’s Story Told / Telling Your Organization’s Story in Times of Crisis or Misrepresentation | Brian Gard & Bill Robinson (PDF)


2016 Leadership Advance Conference | Preparing for the Future: The Vital Work of Developing People

Session 1: Brenda Salter McNeil (audio)
Session 2: Bruce McNicol, John Lynch, Bill Thrall (audio)
Session 3: Brenda Salter McNeil (audio)

Breakout Resource: Bill Robinson, “Executive Leadership: A Model of Growth & Development” (pptx)


2015 Leadership Advance Conference | Understanding the New Millennium: Reexamining the Cultural Narratives

Session 1: Alissa Wilkinson, “The Core of Our Cultural Narratives” (audio)
Session 2: Greg Jao, “Living With Pluralism” (audio)
Session 3: Peter Greer, “Navigating the Cultural Landscape: Anchors and Sails” (audio)
Session 4: Jason Locy, “Engaging a Post-Modern World with Your Organization’s Story” (audio)
Session 5: Dave Blanchard, “Harnessing the Entrepreneurship Narrative” (audio)
Session 6: Panel & Closing (audio)


2014 Leadership Advance Conference | Word Made Flesh

Session 1: Introduction by Steve Moore & Terry Stokesbary (audio)
Session 2: Sandra Richter keynote with Michael Lindsay response (audio)
Session 3: Mark Labberton Keynote with Michael Lindsay response (audio)
Session 4: Michael Lindsay keynote (audio)
Session 5: Sandra Richter keynote with Michael Lindsay response (audio)
Session 6: Mark Labberton keynote with Michael Lindsay response (audio)


2013 Leadership Advance Conference | Convicted Civility: Candid Conversations in a Conflictual Culture

Session 1: Introduction by Dr. Steve Garber (audio)
Session 2: Dr. Richard Mouw, “A Journey Toward Convicted Civility” (MP4 | audio)
Session 3: Dr. Richard Mouw, “The Hard Work of Convicted Civility” (MP4 | audio)
Session 4: Dr. Richard Mouw, “God Loves a Pluralistic Society” (MP4 | audio)
Session 5: Dr. Richard Mouw, “Every Person is Full of Hopes and Dreams” (MP4 | audio)
Session 6: Dr. Richard Mouw, “Common Grace for the Common Good” (MP4 | audio)
Session 7: Dr. Richard Mouw, “Leadership… Living with the Mystery of God’s Work” (MP4 | audio)
Session 8: Dr. Richard Mouw, “Cultivating Conviction and Passion” (MP4 | audio)


2012 Leadership Advance Conference | Leadership in a Changing/Unchanging Time

Session 1: Introduction by Steve Garber (audio)
Session 2: Eric Metaxas (audio)
Session 3: David Kinnaman (audio)
Session 4: Eric Metaxas (audio)
Session 5: Kentra Creasy Dean (audio)


2011 Leadership Advance Conference | Shaping the Soul of a Leader

Session 1: John Ortberg (audio)
Session 2: Ruth Haley Barton (audio)
Session 3: John Ortberg (audio)
Session 4: Ruth Haley Barton (audio)


2010 Leadership Advance Conference

Session 1: Steve Garber & Sharon Parks (audio)
Session 2: Andy Crouch & Sharon Parks (audio)
Session 3: Michael Flaherty (audio)
Session 4: Charlie Peacock & Sharon Parks (audio)


2009 Leadership Advance Conference

Session 1: Rob McKenna & Ron Carucci (audio)

The 'On Leadership' Video Series

How do you develop the leaders of tomorrow? At all levels of an organization, what qualities do existing leaders need to help people learn and grow? What tools and resources are necessary? In the Murdock Trust’s video series, On Leadership, nonprofit sector leaders with decades of experience and wisdom share their insights on these important topics. These short videos contain practical, illuminating perspectives on the most vital leadership themes, including making time to mentor, the traits of leaders, overworking, how to cultivate young leaders, and many more.