ELKHART, Indiana (Mennonite Mission Network) — After an open national search, Mennonite Mission Network has filled the first of two new senior executive positions with a familiar face.
Executive director and CEO Mike Sherrill announced July 29 that Marisa Smucker will be the senior executive for the newly formed Ventures division of Mission Network. Smucker, currently one of the agency's Church Relations representatives and director of Mennonite Voluntary Service (MVS), will lead Ventures, which combines the former Resourcing and Mobilization and International Partner Engagement departments. The senior executive of Ventures oversees the team responsible for creating and maintaining collaborative programs and services for constituents and partners. Smucker will report directly to Sherrill.
"Marisa is a talented innovator and mobilizer, with a passion for faith formation, bringing broad experience with programs, conferences and constituency that fits well with the vision for the new Ventures division," Sherrill said.
Smucker said she is truly grateful for the opportunity to serve in this new role. "I am renewed in my commitment and passion for serving God, caring for others and for our work together here, at Mennonite Mission Network," she said.
Smucker, who began at Mission Network in 2016 as a Church Relations representative, has experience in both international and domestic ministry.
After graduating from Goshen College with a degree in social work, she participated in PULSE (Pittsburgh Urban Leadership Service Experience) and worked with churches and schools to provide resources for disadvantaged children and youth at East End Cooperative Ministry. She worked with the Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania) Youth Network and Urban Impact Foundation, where she connected and resourced pastors and other ministry leaders. While attending Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, she embraced the call to return to her birth country, Costa Rica. There, she assisted with short-term mission groups, taught English to adults and teens, and was a teacher for sixth graders. After returning to States, Smucker began leading MVS since June of 2019.
Smucker is currently working on a Master's of Arts in Christian Formation at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Indiana. She lives in Goshen, Indiana, and works out of the Elkhart Mission Network office.
This is the first new senior executive position to be filled since Sherrill announced in April that Mission Network was beginning a realignment process. The agency is striving to improve efficiencies, to re-position itself to meet the changing needs of congregations, as well as domestic and international partners. Five divisions were streamlined down to three divisions: Ventures, Operations and Advancement. Wil LaVeist is senior executive for Advancement, and the senior executive for Operations position has yet to be filled.
Realignment gives the opportunity to respond to the movement of the Holy Spirit in the following ways:
- Extend Mission Network's capacity to serve global partners and Mennonite Church USA conferences.
- Revitalize the agency's commitment to BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) communities.
- Grow Mission Network's capacity in discipleship training and church planting bilingually, with global networking.
- Implementing anti-racism throughout the entire agency to become a truly anti-racist workplace.
Mennonite Mission Network, the mission agency of Mennonite Church USA, exists to lead, mobilize and equip the church to participate in holistic witness to Jesus Christ in the world. Mission Network envisions every congregation and all parts of the church being fully engaged in mission — across the street, all through the marketplace and around the world.
Marisa Smucker (first row far left) has been named Mennonite Mission Network's senior executive for the agency's new Ventures division (see story below). Here she is enjoying her team leader's role during a Youth Venture trip in Peru in summer 2019. Others pictured are: Back row, Julian Mateo Martinez, Mariel Aranguren Caballero, Alyssa Nisly, Amanda Miller, Kate Krabill, Leigha Gomez, and Arlen Miller. Front row, next to Smucker are local leaders Elena Buckwalter and Freddy Santalaya. Photo provided.