My family moved to Salem in January of 2012.  One of our top priorities was to find a church with a group of people in a similar life stage – couples with young children.  We quickly found the Synergy community group at Salem Alliance, which at that time was being led by Mike and Diane McLaran.  One night we had the McLarans over for dessert and a conversation about leadership in Synergy.  As we were saying our goodbyes, Mike said to my wife Joy and me, “I’m so happy you two are here.  I’m so happy for Salem.”  We have never forgotten this moment.  The McLarans believed that it was just the right time for us to be in Salem.  As I have been reflecting on my experiences in Salem, I can more clearly see that it was just the right time …

For me to be at Union Gospel Mission when our team was praying, planning, and doing some initial fundraising for what would become the new Men’s Mission we have downtown today.

For me to participate in the Salem Chamber’s Leadership Salem, where I connected and learned from leaders like Raquel Moore-Green, Nick Williams, Nita Kennedy, Morgan Sund, Jerry Ambris, Katie Costic, Luis Garcia, and many others.

For SLF to connect me with The Gate Youth Association, where I was hired to serve alongside faithful volunteers to complete a capital campaign for a new community center at First Baptist Church, which provides a safe space for the youth of Independence/Monmouth.

For SLF to connect me with Isaac’s Room, where I worked with the IKE team to raise funds to open Isaac’s Downtown, which provides more opportunities to train, mentor, and employ divested youth in our community.

I strongly believe that it is just the right time for me to be at Salem Leadership Foundation.  I am both humbled and honored to take the baton from my dear friend and mentor, Sam Skillern, and continue to engage people-of-faith and people-of-goodwill to transform the community neighborhood by neighborhood.  I am excited about the work that lies ahead as he and I work together through the rest of 2024.

It is my hope and prayer that as you read these words, you will be encouraged and inspired to consider if now is the right time for you to take on a new project at your job, serve in a new way in your neighborhood, or even reach out and thank a few people in your life who were there for you at just the right time.


Executive Director Designate

SUPPORT A HARDY RAINFEST GOLFER ON 2/26 and 3/2.    Our quirky wintertime golf event is 13 years old, and this is the 4th year we’ll be hosting two RainFest events to maximize the fun and the fundraising.  On Monday, Feb. 26, ‘The Traditionalists’ will be at Salem Golf Club slogging in the rain, sleet, mud, fog, ice and maybe snow!  On the following Saturday, March 2, ‘The TopGolfers’ will be heading up to Hillsboro for a variety of fun golf feats and challenges – it’s driving range, video games, pinball, and bowling all rolled into one!  In total, we’re hoping for 15 teams and 60 golfers who will raise $140,000+ (eclipsing the 2023 record of $131,500).  All to support SLF and our 50+ partnerships in the neighborhoods.

There’s plenty of time to sponsor a golfer, and each one is ‘driving’ to raise at least $2,500 in pledges to compensate for their bravery and fortitude. To sponsor one of our fearless golfers, go to  and hit the ‘Pledge’ box.  We are grateful for the 362 folks who have said “sure!” to a golfer with a $100 pledge (or more!) that has us past the $75,000 mark.

We’re also looking for cool prizes and RainFest corporate sponsorships at $3,000 (Titleist), $2,000 (Propane), $1,000 (Gortex) and $500 (Umbrella).  To tee it up with us, call Slammin’ Sammy Snead at 503-884-8194 or sam@salemLF.orgFORE!