The Changing World of Work at the De Pree Center

By Mark D. Roberts

April 12, 2021

De Pree Journal

My De Pree Center colleague Michaela O’Donnell often talks about the challenges and opportunities of “the changing world of work.” She was doing this even before COVID-19 hit us like a hurricane, turning just about everything related to work upside down.

We at the De Pree Center, including Michaela and I, are about to experience our own version of “the changing world of work.” I want you to know about this so you can share my excitement for what’s about to happen.

A few weeks ago, I gave Kara Powell, the Chief of Fuller’s Leadership Formation Division and therefore my boss, a proposal that I’d been developing for quite some time. I proposed two things:

  1. That we make Michaela O’Donnell the Executive Director of the De Pree Center.
  2. That I transition into a role of Senior Strategist so that I can focus more of my time on things that will bring the most value to the Center (Life for Leaders, Life for Leaders product development, DMin cohort in faith/work, and, crucially, our new Third Third Initiative).

My rationale for these changes was simple. I believe that they are what’s best for the present and future of the De Pree Center, and therefore for the people, churches, and organizations we serve.

Kara affirmed this proposal. It was endorsed by Fuller’s President, Mark Labberton, and members of the De Pree Center advisory board. The promotion was offered to Michaela and she accepted. I also accepted the offer to become a Senior Strategist. This transition will be official as of May 1.

Part of my excitement for this change has to do with Michaela, with whom I have worked closely for the past three years. She is a phenomenal leader and is ready for additional opportunity, authority, and freedom to lead. Plus, she is an innovative thought leader. In October, as a matter of fact, Michaela’s new book will be out. I’ve read the manuscript, and it is excellent. (If you’d like, you can pre-order a copy of Make Work Matter: Your Guide to Meaningful Work in a Change World.)

Michaela has solid marketplace experience, having built and run, along with her husband, Long Winter Media, a successful branding and communication business. She brings marketplace savvy to the Fuller center that focuses on marketplace leaders. Makes sense to me! Under the Michaela’s leadership, the De Pree Center will continue to thrive in our central mission to serve marketplace leaders.

You’ve noticed that I’m not planning on leaving the Center any time soon. If anything, I’m more deeply invested in and excited about our work today than I was six years ago when I began at the Center. But I believe that I can add more value to our work if I have time to invest in the things that will bear the most fruit. Life for Leaders is one of these, for sure, especially as we develop devotional and small group resources based on the daily devotions, currently sent to over 7,500 people each morning.

But the main area of potential is our Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. We’ve just begun this work and already it’s getting lots of enthusiasm and a growing audience. With 10,000 people a day turning 65 in the U.S., the need and opportunity are only going to grow in the years to come. The De Pree Center is uniquely positioned not only to help individuals in the third third of life flourish, but also to help churches do a much better job helping their older adults live abundantly as faithful, productive, and joyful disciples of Jesus. We’ve already drawn hundreds to our webinars and entered into promising partnerships with interested churches. But, in order to lead and grow our third third work, I need more time.

I will continue to be engaged full-time in the De Pree Center, serving under Michaela’s leadership and as an advisor to her, much as she has been an essential advisor to me. We are a great team right now and I am confident that our teamwork will become even stronger. I’m looking forward to being able to support her as she leads the De Pree Center into a promising future.

It has been my honor to lead the De Pree Center during these past six years as we have sought “to equip leaders to respond faithfully to God’s callings in all seasons of their life and leadership.” Under Michaela’s leadership, we will strengthen this commitment, enrich our existing programs, and create new ways to serve marketplace leaders (and also church leaders through our new Church Leadership Institute.)

I want to thank Michaela for her willingness to take on the new role of Executive Director, and thus to experience her own version of “the changing world of work.” I also want to thank the wonderful team at the De Pree Center, as well as our colleagues in Fuller’s Leadership Formation Division. Finally, I want to thank you for your engagement with us. Not only have you allowed us to serve you, but also you have encouraged us with your kind words, supported us with your purchases and donations, and prayed for us and our work. Thank you!


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Mark D. Roberts

Senior Strategist

Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders,...

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