The Policy Council is composed of representatives from each of the three synods, appointed by their respective bishops, plus representatives from Lutheran Social Services, PLTS Seminary and Women of the ELCA.
Jane AffonsoVice Chair
Jane has a passion for justice and peace especially in the interfaith context and has most recently focused on environmental advocacy and fair trade. She is Co-chair of her synod’s Green Faith Team which is working collaboratively with Lutherans across California as part of Lutherans Restoring Creation – California. She also serves on the Synod Council. She founded a Justice Team at her church, First Lutheran in Torrance, which has shown four films relating to justice issues, engaged in advocacy to implement California’s Human Right to Water bill, and promoted the use of fair trade products and the elimination of styrofoam at church.
Since 2009 she has chaired the Justice and Peace Action Team of the South Coast Interfaith Council and previously served on its Board. She is Treasurer of both Fair Trade Los Angeles and of Ten Thousand Villages, a fair trade store in Redondo Beach.She is also active with the effort to rid the Torrance and Wilmington refineries of modified hydrofluoric acid. She previously served as Deputy Director of Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice- California.
Edie feels a real call and passion for reaching out to care for those Christ called “the least of these.” She is a retired Special Education teacher. Edie and her spouse, Denny, have been active members of Truckee Lutheran Presbyterian Church (TLPC) for twenty-six years. In her retirement years she also has found a love of technology. For several years Edie has done most of the technology, social media and graphic design for TLPC. At the March 2020 Council -Session Meeting, the council voted unanimously to hire Edie as Director of Technology for TLPC. She and Denny also co-chair the Sierra Pacific Synod of the ELCA Hunger Network. Edie is a Christian anti-hunger activist, who believe Christ calls all Christians to work to end hunger and extreme poverty in our time. Edie finds great joy in living in Truckee and loves to hike, mountain bike, kayak and back-country ski.
Dr. LaSharnda BeckwithCouncil Member
As President and Chief Executive Officer of LSS SoCal, Dr. LaSharnda Beckwith oversees the strategic direction and execution of the agency’s core mission: ignited by faith, we live out God’s love by embracing, equipping and empowering vulnerable people in Southern California. Establishing a vision for community impact that works across private, public and corporate sectors, Beckwith leads a diverse team of 150+ employees across 18 offices in eight counties, to improve conditions for underserved and marginalized communities.
Dr. Beckwith joins the organization from California Southern University where she most recently served as Provost and Chief Academic Officer. She offers a wealth of fiscal and executive management to the position following a 27- year career with the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) retiring as the Vice President of Eastern Region, responsible for profit and loss for operations.
Supported by the work Dr. Beckwith’s done through the Professional Christian Women in Service organization she established in 2005, and other leadership and empowerment programs she created over her professional career, it is clear her heart is truly aligned with the values of Lutheran Social Services.
Dr. Beckwith holds lifetime professional certifications in the area of strategy from the University of Michigan and in leadership from both the Center of Creative Leadership and the Wharton School of Business. She is a graduate of Capella University, with a Doctor of Philosophy in Organization & Management with a Leadership specialization, an MBA with Distinction from Embry-Riddle University, Master of Arts in Business Management from Webster University and is finishing up a second Doctorate of Business Administration in Strategic Leadership from California Southern.
Wylie CookCouncil Member
Wylie (they, them, theirs) is a current Master of Divinity student at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, CA. Wylie has previous experience in national and international advocacy with ELCA advocacy in Washington D.C. and with the Lutheran World Federation. Wylie is extremely humbled to join the policy council and contribute to state-level policy initiatives. A recent graduate of Luther College, Wylie studied Women and Gender studies and critical race theory. This background has led Wylie to focus their activism and advocacy around the needs of the vulnerable especially how policy can better embody the nuances of racial and gender justice. Wylie’s advocacy interests vary from climate justice, immigration, affordable housing, to policies affirming LGBTQ+ folk. Wylie is passionate about empowering fellow people of faith to not only strive for justice and peace in all the earth but to also articulate how their faith calls them to activism and advocacy.
Larry DodsonCouncil Member
Larry is a member of Hope Lutheran Church where he has been active in social concerns and music programs for years. As the lead cook for the congregation’s “Guest Chef” team, he shops and prepares the menu for dinner at the homeless shelter in Riverside once a month. The team serves about 130 people. Larry retired as a manager of the Los Angeles Probation Department after 42 years of service. He and his wife have four children and eight grandchildren.
Karin KloehnCouncil Member
Karin lives in Encinitas, California, just north of San Diego, where she is a member of Bethlehem Lutheran Church. She has served on the Church Council, is a member of the Advocacy Team and is a trained Stephen Minister. She is a volunteer event planner, and has served as the chair of many special event committees to benefit her church, local schools, and non-profit organizations. She is a devoted supporter of Community Resource Center, an Encinitas social service agency, which provides shelter and wrap-around services to families experiencing domestic violence, homelessness and hunger.
Karin enjoys serving on the Lutheran Office of Public Policy Council because she is passionate about political activism as an expression of her faith. She believes that people of faith have the opportunity, and the responsibility, to advocate for justice and dignity in our churches, our communities and the world.
Carol RobertsCouncil Member
Carol Roberts has served as the President and CEO of LSS of Northern California since 2012. Prior to that she was the Director of Health and Human Services for Sierra County, where she served for six years. Dr. Roberts has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and over 25 years of administrative and executive experience in social services delivery. She has a passion for serving those in need, and is a strong advocate for the homeless and at-risk populations served by LSS of Northern California.