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“The Lord is using you in ways you haven’t even imagined yet,” the Rev. Raymon Pedersen recently told his daughter, LeAnn Pedersen Pope ’79.

As the Carthage alumna intensifies her advocacy for social change, her father remains a primary inspiration.

LeAnn grew up in Kenosha, where her father was the Senior Pastor at St. Mary’s Lutheran Church for over 20 years. LeAnn remembers her Dad’s ministry in Kenosha far exceeding the walls of the church.

Through his involvement with a number of community organizations, LeAnn witnessed her dad as a trusted advisor and confidant to many diverse city business leaders. Pastor Pedersen could calm emotions when tensions ran high, a quality LeAnn still admires.

In her father’s honor, LeAnn recently established the Rev. Raymon L. Pedersen Distinguished Professorship in Social Change to ensure that Carthage students explore racial disparities while becoming leaders in their community. Endowed with a $1.5 million gift as part of the “Light that Travels” campaign, the professorship will further the College’s equity and inclusion goals.

This faculty member will help academic departments develop inclusive learning practices and serve as a resource for discussions on contemporary social topics. LeAnn envisions the position as part of a transformative liberal arts education that will prepare students to dismantle the systems that hold back people of color.

Following a long, successful career as a litigation attorney, LeAnn retired from the legal profession to pursue a Master of Theology degree from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. What came next was a self-reflective experience that profoundly transformed her faith and completely changed her thinking about racism, as detailed in her published thesis, “From Colorblind to Clearer Vision: A White Christian’s Unexpected Journey Toward Redemption.”

Today she serves nonprofit organizations such as Opportunity International and Chicago CRED (Create Real Economic Destiny), as well as Carthage’s Board of Trustees.

The love she has for her father (who lives in Naples, Florida), her relationship with Carthage, her experiences as a student, and her desire to see social change … as LeAnn explains, “all comes together with this endowed professorship in honor of my dad.”


Ms. Pedersen Pope’s gift supports the Excellence priority in the Light that Travels Campaign for Carthage.