Personal Message from Wess Stafford
- Santiago (Jim) Mellado, President of the Willow Creek Association for 20 years
- Born in El Salvador, he grew up in seven countries
- Earned his MBA from Harvard Business School
- Jim, his wife Leanne, and their three children are longtime Compassion sponsors
Read Jim's Bio
President and CEO
As you may know, last fall I informed Compassion’s Board of Directors of my plans to retire from the presidency of Compassion. After 35 years of serving this ministry, 20 of them as President, I made that decision with a real sense of peace and with great hope for the future.
My wife, Donna, and I have been overwhelmed by the love and support that have been extended to us during this season of transition. I can assure you that my passion for Compassion’s mission remains strong. I’m thankful that the Board has invited me to continue in a part-time capacity with the ministry, and I look forward to continuing to speak up for children for many years to come.
Following many months of earnest prayer and an exhaustive selection process, I’m pleased to announce that Compassion’s Board of Directors, with the help of our CEO Search Committee and an external executive search firm, has chosen Compassion’s next President and CEO.
Santiago (Jim) Mellado, President of the Willow Creek Association for the past 20 years, has answered God’s call and Compassion’s invitation to lead the ministry into the future!
Jim was born in El Salvador to parents with a very strong faith foundation. Due to his father’s engineering career, he had the incredible opportunity to grow up in multiple countries and was exposed to many diverse cultures from an early age. After he earned a degree in engineering from Southern Methodist University and an MBA from Harvard Business School, Jim’s professional career has been dedicated to inspiring and equipping local church leaders in more than 90 countries to redeem and restore our world for Christ. He is an authentic, visionary, servant leader with a tender heart for God and is accustomed to leading in a multi-cultural context.
Jim and his wife, Leanne, as well as each of their three children, are longtime Compassion sponsors, and they are deeply passionate about reaching children in extreme poverty with the love and hope of Christ. I have the utmost faith in his ability to lead Compassion’s complex global ministry, and I have an overwhelming sense of joy for Compassion’s future.
I am confident that it is by God’s divine design that Jim Mellado has been selected to serve the ministry during the coming season. I’ve known this remarkable man for 20 years, and I’m certain that he will both wisely steward the ministry of Compassion and boldly lead us into new areas of kingdom impact.
Please know that Jim and I will be working closely together during the upcoming transition period. For the next several months Jim will be oriented to Compassion’s culture and operational realities in order to create a strong footing from which he can strategically lead Compassion onward. The official leadership transition will take place in September.
Will you please join me in prayer for these exciting months of change? Jim and I are both committed to honoring God throughout this process and to working diligently to make this transition as smooth as possible.
Thank you for your prayers and for your continued commitment to this great calling we share of releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name.
May God richly bless you,
Dr. Wess Stafford
President and CEO