Mission advancement office has a new leader

Record Photo by Jessica Able
Melody Denson, above, is the new director of the Archdiocese of Louisville’s Office of Mission Advancement.

By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer

Though she’s been serving in the Archdiocese of Louisville for less than three months, Melody Denson said she feels at home.

The Southern Indiana native has lived in Alabama for the last 14 years, and recently returned home to the Kentuckiana area and said she feels that God has put her where she needs to be.

Denson began her role as director of the Office of Mission Advancement in December. Her predecessor, Richard “Tink” Guthrie, was named vice-chancellor of the archdiocese last fall.

She has spent 29 years in various fundraising and development positions, including at St. Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology, where she served as a planned giving officer.

“I have experience in annual funds, special events as well as planned giving and major gifts,” she said in an interview last week.

Each position, she said, has prepared her for her current role.

“Every position I’ve had, I’ve always learned from it and has prepared me for the next position,” she said.

The Office of Mission Advancement coordinates the annual Catholic Services Appeal, planned giving and capital campaigns among other initiatives. It also provides training and resources for parish-level fundraising. Denson leads the office of seven.

Denson attended Indiana State University and received a degree in marketing. Early in her career she worked in advertising and sales but quickly realized that’s not where her heart was.

She switched courses and accepted a fundraising role with the Volunteers of America.

“I realized I could use my skills of working with people to do some good. It’s what I like doing, raising money for a purpose,” she said.

She later held positions at St. Meinrad and at St. Bernard Prep School and Abbey, located in Alabama. Her most recent position was the regional director of major gifts at Troy University.

When the opportunity arose at the archdiocese, she said, it felt like it was meant to be.

“I believe God put me here. I love working for the church, to use my skills for good,” she said. “I prayed long and hard to find
the right position.”

Denson said her extensive experience helps her connect with her staff.

“I’ve been there, I’m able to relate to it, to those who are doing that job,” she said.

As director of the advancement office, Denson said she looks forward to working with pastors and assisting with needs of the parishes.

“I want to build a stronger relationship with parishes. As Brian (Reynolds) says, strong parishes make a strong archdiocese,” she said.

As Denson looks to the future of the Office of Mission Advancement, she said she envisions taking the office to “the next level.”

“My predecessor has done an outstanding job bringing it to this level. What I’d like to do is take my background in development and add some things to try to get it to the next level and add some new programs regarding donor relations, possibly some grant writing and stronger stewardship programs,” she said.

Denson and her husband, John, attend Mass at Holy Family Church in New Albany, Ind. They currently live in Greenville, Ind. The couple have two children: Amber, 30, who is engaged; and Richard, 27, who recently married his wife, Alyssa.

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