The leadership of Shaping the Parish is made up of trainers who are all congregational and/or organization development practitioners.  

We are all committed to:

  • Providing a quality program.
  • Implementing in our own life and parishes what we teach others. We are doing what we are assisting others to do.
  • Coming to the program with the necessary training and experience. That includes completing a required course of training and interning as well as developing speciality areas of competence.



Michelle Heyne brings empathy, humor, and a solid grounding in ecclesiology and effective organizational dynamics to her work as a trainer.  She is committed to helping parish leaders bring about effective change by developing the skills they need to make the most of the gifts they already have.  She has worked as a financial services executive for over 25 years and served as a parish lay leader for 15.  She is now a partner in Prededent Consulting working with the financial services industry for organization development and compliance issues. Michelle lives in Seattle.




Robert Gallagher brings over 40 years of experience in leadership training and parish development. Bob offers exceptional skills in facilitating shifts and changes in people and organizations. He provides practical methods and vision for a transformed parish. He’s served on an industrial mission staff, as a parish priest and a diocesan staff person. He is the founder of the Church Development Institute. Bob has a masters degree in Organization Development from Goddard College. Bob lives in Seattle.


Susan Adam is a professional artist having been trained in fine arts at Colorado College, San Francisco Art Institute and the Massachusetts College of Art. She brings an individualistic, insightful perspective to the program. Susan is empathic, easygoing and inclusive. Susan is part of the congregational development consultant network in the Diocese of Maine. Susan lives in Maine.



Doug Wigner is a priest who has served parishes in Connecticut and Southwest Virginia.He’s been involved with the Church Development Institute since the mid 1980’s when he went through that program twice as he served different parishes. Doug founded and trained in the CDI in the Diocese of Southwest Virginia.




Susan Latimer brings keen intuition, strong analytical skills, and advanced work in emotional intelligence to her work as a trainer.  She has served 18 years as a parish priest in congregations of various sizes, and as a congregational consultant in the Diocese of Maine. Passionate about healthy congregations and healthy leaders, she enjoys creating a safe space in which people may be enabled to make needed changes.  Susan is from the Diocese of Southwest Flordia.


Richard Downing served as the rector of St. James, Capital Hill in DC for many years. He brings experience as a spiritual guide and diocesan leader. He founded and later conducted the Church Development Institute in the Diocese of Washington.

Dickie lives in Wilmington, DE 




Liz Tunney brings 29 years of corporate experience in process improvement, facilitation, and organization development.  Liz provides methods and tools for bringing the people in organizations together to manage and improve their life and mission.  She is committed to empowering people through competence in group process. She has done consulting and training in parishes in the Diocese of Western Massachusetts and is a trainer in CDI and LTI. She is a priest in the Diocese of Long Island.



Patricia Downing brings 15 years of experience as a parish priest, a firm grasp of the dynamics of congregational life and a wicked sense of humor to her work as a trainer.  She is passionate about offering to parish leaders the opportunity to gain the skills and techniques necessary to assist them in living out the Gospel in their particular parish settings. Patty is from the Diocese of Delaware.



Anne-Marie Jeffery brings insightfulness and the ability to develop a clear vision to her work as a trainer.  She is fascinated by congregational dynamics and is committed to helping parishes discover how they can be healthy. She has been ordained for six years and has served a variety of congregations both large and very small. Previously, she worked for the US Government as a physicist and brings this analytic ability to her work in the church. She is interning with the program in the Diocese of Washington,  Anne-Marie is from the Diocese of New Jersey.




Tom Purdy is the rector of St. Peter’s, Poolesville, Maryland.  Tom brings an enjoyment of leading and facilitating change through a cooperative and responsive style.  His experience in the professional world and the church have provided him with a breadth of experience that inform his ministry today.  Tom enjoys the creative challenge of helping revitalize a faith community, especially fostering spiritual growth and personal ministry.  He also enjoys laughter. Tom is in the Diocese of Georgia. 




Qualities for we are seeking in potential trainers

When we work with a diocese we help develop trainers from that diocese able to condcut the program aftera  few years.

1. Willing and able to apply the program’s approach, projects and such to their own parish.

2. Has a passion for developing healthy parish churches

3. Openness to learn, to try new ways learned in the program, to receive feedback on behavior.

4. Demonstrated interest in fields of spiritual practices, emotional and social intelligence, and change theory and practice.

5. Healthy relationship with authority. Is interdependent with those in authority. Able to be in an authority position with flexibility (able to adjust leadership style to fit the situation).

6. Able and willing to get additional training in human interaction, conflict management, group development, educational design, and organization development.

7. Interested in taking on an educational/training role.

8. Has the time and energy to fulfill the role.

There are no promises made on either side. The potential trainer may decide “this isn’t for me.” The program leaders may decide “we don’t think there’s a good fit with the needs of the program.”