After more than 20 years of service, Gary Schwammlein will step down as President and CEO of the Willow Creek Association (WCA) at the end of August. He will be succeeded in this position by Tom De Vries, currently the General Secretary of the Reformed Church of America (RCA). This transition is the culmination of a national search managed by the Slingshot Group that began in November 2015, and we believe was God-led every step of the way.
Gary joined the WCA in 1996 after a successful career as a corporate executive. He built the WCA’s international ministry almost from its inception to where it stands today with a presence in 128 countries via The Global Leadership Summit. In 2013, we asked him to become the President and CEO and after four years of exciting growth and expansion, he will pass the baton to Tom. Gary will remain actively involved on a reduced-time basis as an advisor to the organization with the new title of President Emeritus. He will be involved primarily with international, fundraising, strategy development, and wherever else the Board and Tom decide to utilize his gifts and experience.
Tom has served as the General Secretary of the RCA since 2011. As the General Secretary, Tom provides leadership to over 1,100 RCA congregations and new church starts, with over 200,000 members. In addition, he serves as the CEO of the bi-national office with 90 staff in five US locations and 100 mission co-workers in 40 countries around the world.
He holds a Doctorate in Ministry from Western Seminary, a Master of Divinity Degree from Fuller Seminary and a B.A. from Wheaton College.
Tom has a track record of innovation, strategic planning, and leading high-performance teams and brings a wealth of experience, knowledge, and relationships. He served as a pastor for 19 years in several churches across the United States and led in ever-increasing regional functions in the RCA where he provided leadership for church planting and church growth. These roles culminated in his eventual selection and appointment as General Secretary of the RCA. During his time as General Secretary he developed a 15-year strategic plan to cultivate transformation in Christ, to equip emerging leaders of today and tomorrow, and to engage in Christ’s kingdom mission. He also directed the international work of the denomination which provided guidance and support to ministry activities around the world.
He is a 20-year attendee of the Global Leadership Summit. He believes in the mission of the local church as expressed in the great commission and great commandment, as well as an ever-increasing need for greater leadership skills for all who influence others.
His life’s mission is to be an influencer of influencers for Jesus Christ. As part of this calling, he has felt an increasing passion to invest the remainder of his life developing leadership skills in all people. Tom believes that he can best live out this calling through the WCA and the Global Leadership Summit.
He will begin on June 15 as President Designate and assume the role of President and CEO on September 1, 2017. He is married to Laura and they have three adult children – Trey, Ty, and Torri. We are thrilled and grateful that Tom will be joining the WCA staff and ask you to help us welcome him in his new assignment.
Board of Directors
Willow Creek Association