The Professional Renewal Initiative renews passion for life and career journeys. The primary objective is to provide scholarships and grants for targeted professional programming and access to services promoting emotional and physical wellness, systems work, and tools for stronger resilience in leadership roles. The Initiative seeks to underscore the importance of self-care by promoting personal wholeness.


The Professional Renewal Initiative is a public, philanthropic 501 (c) 3, whose purpose is to provide support to the careers and personal lives of those who are in frontline and caregiving service vocations. These professionals such as educators, ministers, chaplains, and other caregiving providers, maintain a positive community profile while serving beyond typical work hours. The Initiative is founded on the belief that those called to service vocations are exposed to, and experience, high levels of primary and secondary stress in normal times, as well as during trauma events. Professional Renewal Initiative will develop programming for these professionals and award scholarships and grants toward renewal and resilience opportunities. PRI’s focus is to help these individuals gain access to and assist financially with programs, workshops, and seminars devoted to emotional, physical, and spiritual wellness.


The Professional Renewal Initiative – formerly the Clergy Renewal Fund – was founded in 2005 for clergy, missionaries, chaplains, and other church professionals in response to the immense community stresses they encountered during the Gulf Coast hurricanes. Many congregations were experiencing fatigue trauma with clean-up and rebuilding, and the church leaders began to need resilience and self-care. Years later, this same fatigue and burn-out still appears with each natural and manmade disaster, and our caregiving community leaders we depend on still need help revitalizing their careers and personal lives. Also, they experience stress and trauma in everyday life, so wellness, resilience, and self-care remain vital.


In 2022 and 2023, PRI has been awarded grants from The Duke Endowment for North Carolina UMC pastors to attend the Clergy Program developed by Davidson Clergy Center, concentrating on resilience, self-care, and specifically targeting issues for those going through the stressors related to current denominational transitions. Recently, PRI has also received grants through individual foundations and The Rotary Foundation for ongoing clergy wellness opportunities and programming.

Director of Development

The Reverend Rick Schilling

Rick is a United Methodist clergy (elder) in the Western NC Conference with over 20 years of experience in team building, teaching, counseling, preaching, and pastoral care with an emphasis on leadership development. He received his M. Div. from Duke University, and Master of Social Work from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Rick is also a musician, composer, marathoner, and blogger. [email protected]

Board of Directors

The Reverend
Dr. Joseph Seymour

Jody is recently retired from Davidson United Methodist Church, Davidson, NC, and currently serves a nearby interim position. He received his M. Div. from Duke Divinity School, and D. Min. in Graduate Theological Foundation (spiritual direction). He is an author, spiritual mentor, certified Enneagram instructor, and retreat leader.

Leesa Sluder, MA

Leesa is founder and President of Triple Bottom Line Consulting, LLC, and is currently Financial Advisor for Earth Equity Advisors based in Asheville, NC. She holds an MA in Psychology, and certification in professional coaching. She has developed and led seminars around the United States in her areas of expertise.

Gordon Russell Jacobs, Chair

Gordon, and her husband, George, founded the Professional Renewal Initiative, formerly Clergy Renewal Fund, in 2005. They both work closely with renewal programming for clergy and other professionals. Gordon graduated from Centre College of Kentucky, and resides in Concord, NC.


Please contact the Professional Renewal Initiative using the details or form below:


[email protected]




706 Northeast Drive
Suite 5
Davidson, North Carolina 28036