Helping the Church Be the Church
Sandra Joireman Begins Her Term as Board Chair
In March, seasoned Bread for the World board member Sandra Joireman stepped up to lead as board chair, a position previously help by David Miner.
Joireman is a professor of Politics and International Relations at Wheaton College in Indiana. A noted author on property rights in the developing world, Joireman has spent considerable time abroad researching, writing, and teaching. Last fall, Joireman was a Fulbright scholar and visiting professor at the American University in Pristina, Kosovo.
"Sandra Joireman is an expert on international development, a teacher within the evangelical Protestant community, a grassroots activist, and a visionary leader," says Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, noting that Joireman’s professional accomplishments are matched by her faith. "When she and I talk, she often ends the conversation by asking how she should pray for me."
Joireman is enthusiastic about leading the board: "I think that Bread is uniquely positioned to help the church to be the church, to help the church to be engaged with the poor and hungry people," says Joireman about the road ahead. "I want to see Bread become secure enough financially to make a significant impact on hunger and development issues into the next century."
Throughout her life, Joireman has sought answers to injustices among people living in poverty or strife. In 1988, then a student at Washington University in St. Louis, Joireman went on an eight-week mission to Liberia with a University Christian Fellowship group. The experience had a profound effect.
"Suddenly I saw the things that I had studied in books. I saw that there was such a human component to the work I could do," she recalls.
Joireman was struck by the stark difference between her idea of plenty and what it meant for her host family. "It was amazing to me what was in their kitchen. They had a bag of rice, a container of instant coffee, and three or four other things," Joireman says. "It was clear that the food cushion of that family wasn’t anything like it was in my house. And that family was not bad off."
That experience and others strengthened Joireman’s commitment to advocating for change. As an undergraduate, she first learned of Bread through the World through an Offering of Letters and remembers feeling empowered by the action of communicating directly with lawmakers. Later, as a professor, Joireman re-entered Bread’s orbit when she discovered background papers on cotton subsidies published by Bread for the World Institute.
In 2005, Joireman volunteered to lend her expertise and voice to the Bread for the World delegation at the G-8 summit in Edinburgh, Scotland. She was impressed that the approach of her fellow Bread members to hunger "was sophisticated and deeply Christian." Shortly thereafter, Joireman was asked to join the board. She readily accepted.
Joireman’s current work as a professor and scholar focuses on how communities rebuild after war and the significant displacement of population due to violence.
"The countries I am working in are almost all foreign aid recipients and Bread’s work on modernizing foreign assistance is relevant," she says. "It is my regular encounters with hunger and poverty in the developing world that has made me aware that these things are real."