The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology has named Cathy Loerzel (MA in Counseling Psychology, 2007) Executive Vice President of The Allender Center. Prior to co-founding The Allender Center in 2011, Loerzel has worked at The Seattle School since 2007 in marketing, events, and advancement; this new role is a distillation of her former work, allowing her to focus exclusively on leading The Allender Center as it expands its vision for the years ahead.
“Cathy has led The Allender Center for seven years of impact and growth,” says Dr. Craig Detweiler, President of The Seattle School. “As we move into its next iteration, this new role frees Cathy to realize the vision and hope of The Allender Center, reflecting her function as Executive Director and articulating her role in executive leadership on behalf of our entire organization.”
Prior to moving to Seattle, Loerzel worked in leadership development and process and change management with Price Waterhouse Coopers and IBM Consulting. While her current role draws heavily on her extensive business experience, her approach to business and style of leadership were radically altered by her time as a student at The Seattle School. Her classes—particularly those with Dr. Dan Allender. “He was speaking things that I always knew to be true in my heart but never had words for,” she says. In contrast to the perfectionism and impenetrability that had been required of Loerzel in past business and personal contexts, her time at The Seattle School was stirring a deep desire to be seen, known, and impacted by others.
“There was a sense of power in my capacity to push my strength forward and lead from a place of strength,” says Loerzel. “But at The Seattle School I was now given permission to lead from my most vulnerable parts, to be porous and impacted and soft. My assumption was that if I led from that place I would lose my power, but it was actually more powerful because I was able to show my humanness and to build a team around me when I didn’t know the answers and needed help.”
After graduating, when Loerzel was invited to work in The Seattle School’s events and conferences department, she realized that disrupting old styles of relating did not have to mean abandoning her gifting and expertise—it meant stepping into them in a new, more human way. “I began learning to lead from a sort of ‘exiled feminine,’” says Loerzel, “instead of the false masculine persona I had been equipped with to lead in past contexts—including the church context.” For her first year on the job, Loerzel traveled around the country with Allender, sitting in audiences, listening to participants, and gathering data. The year culminated at a Recovery Week, where, says Loerzel, “I had such radical revelations about my own stories and saw God in a way that I don’t think I had ever seen God before. At that point, given everything else I had seen, I was more certain than ever that there was something important here, something that can radically change people’s lives.”
In the ensuing years, Loerzel began developing new conferences and worked to develop curriculum that elucidated Allender’s methodology in clear, accessible, replicable ways. These new offerings quickly gained traction, and Loerzel discovered the significant need for an organization that integrated story work, trauma studies, and Christian leadership in new ways. Loerzel wrote an official proposal and in 2011, alongside Dan and Becky Allender, co-founded The Allender Center.
“I was more certain than ever that there was something important here, something that can radically change people’s lives.”
The Allender Center grew exponentially over the years, reaching thousands of people around the world with conferences, trainings, workshops, and online courses, and it became evident that, to help the organization flourish and meet the deep needs it had tapped into, it would need to become the primary focus of Loerzel’s vision and leadership. As The Seattle School worked to build new teams for marketing and events and to restructure its approach to donor relations, Loerzel has been empowered to bring the full breadth of her business expertise, personal experience, and vision to The Allender Center as Executive Vice President.
Loerzel continues to dream about The Allender Center’s growth and plan for its next era. A significant part of that growth has been building a vibrant team that can complement Loerzel’s leadership by stepping into her blind spots, tending to the daily functioning of the organization, and caring for its growing roster of leaders and facilitators. All of this means that Loerzel and her team are poised for what they refer to as “Allender Center 2.0”—an expanded vision that has grown out of both continued dreaming and the evolving needs around them.
“The culture has started to catch up with what we have already known to be true, which is that abuse and trauma are pervasive, that they dramatically impact who we are as people and what we are as a culture,” says Loerzel. “When Dan entered the scene with The Wounded Heart 30 years ago, very few people were talking about abuse. He was radical. Now people are talking about it. And because we have been faithful in learning how to do good work with survivors and people who are wanting to address trauma in all its forms, we are now prepared to lean in and do this on a larger scale, to stay close to the work we have always done while we build a network of hope and find new ways to offer the most care to the most people.”