Maryjeanne Schaffmeyer Being Honored with the 2024 Distinguished Service Award

Headshot of Maryjeanne Shaffmeyer

Maryjeanne Schaffmeyer, a decade-long member of the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago’s board of directors, is being honored with the 2024 Distinguished Service Award. This esteemed recognition, given by the seminary at its spring leadership dinner in May, is presented annually to individuals whose commitment to Jesus Christ and collaborative efforts within seminary life serve as exemplary models.

Schaffmeyer’s commitment to effective communication is a hallmark of her leadership style. She emphasizes clarity and understanding on the board, ensuring that all messaging is not only conveyed but can be easily comprehended and shared.  A trained speech pathologist, Schaffmeyer boasts over 50 years of experience in healthcare, in roles that span from administration to academic. The skills she learned during her leadership tenure at a non-profit healthcare organization, where she eventually became the Chief Operating Officer (COO), have been particularly valuable to her board service at LSTC.

Schaffmeyer’s board leadership at LSTC began in 2014 when she was invited to serve by the Bishop of the East-Central Synod of Wisconsin. As the wife of a rostered minister—who later became an intentional interim pastor who served nearly 20 congregations within the ELCA—Schaffmeyer’s unique perspective on ministry and management enrich her contributions as a board member.

“I approach the school’s mission of cultivating leaders for the church with a strong focus on fostering leadership across diverse contexts,” said Schaffmeyer. “The values I hold in high regard are integrity and wholeness of our mission and message across diverse people and cultures. Diversity in our leaders and our church spurs innovation which can be integrated within the traditions.”

Schaffmeyer’s vision for the seminary extends beyond conventional templates. She recognizes the need to prepare leaders for the Church of the future and envisions LSTC influencing the broader ecclesiastical landscape by producing thought leaders capable of shaping the church’s trajectory.

In her initial two years on the board, Schaffmeyer served on the Academics and Community committee before assuming the role of Board Chair in 2016, chairing the Governance Committee.  In 2018, Schaffmeyer established the board’s Review Committee and was a major contributor to the establishment of a structured presidential and board of directors’ evaluation and review process.

Since 2018, Schaffmeyer has been instrumental in supporting the seminary’s strategic path in her capacity as the chair of the Marketing and Fundraising committee.

An advocate for transparency and effectiveness, Schaffmeyer actively champions the implementation of robust tools and processes within her committee and on the board at-large. By asking for detailed plans on improvement strategies, timelines, and anticipated outcomes, she consistently initiates conversations that move from measurement and data to outcomes.

According to Schaffmeyer, this results-driven approach has over time significantly enhanced the accessibility, clarity, and transparency of advancement data.  The team has improved communications with boards, donors, and other departments within the school.  

Schaffmeyer is no stranger to transformation. During her tenure as the hospital COO at Theda Care, Schaffmeyer actively contributed to the hospital’s implementation of a management system and philosophy aimed at maximizing customer value and optimizing organizational efficiency while minimizing waste.

Reflecting on her work at ThedaCare she says this experience instilled an understanding that organizations experiencing transformation require standard processes, transparency of purpose, consistent communication, and valuable feedback mechanisms essential for growth. “In a unique context like LSTC, there is a significant need for stability and routine processes that provide crucial support during times of transition.”

Beyond her official duties, Schaffmeyer extends her support to staff and leaders, providing guidance and mentorship. She remains committed to retaining and nurturing talent and ensuring a smooth transition for newcomers both in the school and on the board of directors.
Schaffmeyer joined the Foundation Board of Trustees as a representative from the board of directors in November 2020. In this role, she continues to shape the future trajectory of LSTC. While her term on the board concludes in Fall 2026, she is certain that her work at the seminary is far from complete.

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