The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Portico chief touts ministry transition

Jeffrey D. Thiemann is pursuing his passion one year into his job as president and CEO of Portico Benefit Services (formerly ELCA Board of Pensions) by transitioning the ministry into a resource for wellness, retirement planning and health-care reform.

Before the Portico board of trustees chose him to replace John Kapanke, who retired, Thiemann, 53, an ELCA pastor and former trustee, was impressed with the ministry's cost-containment discipline (members' health-care coverage expenses are kept below the national average) and its 2003 switch toward a focus on wellness rather than disease management. 

"The shift to the wellness model had a [positive] impact on our costs and on the well-being of our congregational leaders," Thiemann said.

Portico's 50,000 members comprise ELCA pastors and paid congregational staff, as well as churchwide, synod and seminary employees and their families. The nonprofit had $6.1 billion in assets under management as of Dec. 31, 2011, mostly in members' retirement funds, and operates as a self-insured health insurance provider for 35,000 of its members and their dependents.

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