Meet the Team
Dr. Jonathan Laabs, Ed.D.
Jon cares deeply about educators in Lutheran ministries! He’s responsible for carrying out the mission of LEA — to link, equip, and affirm educators and workers in ministry for the purpose of building up the body of Christ.
Jon works closely with LEA’s board, crafting the organization’s strategic plan and overseeing its fiscal health. He advocates for educators worldwide, reaching out a hand to any organization with parallel goals to further LEA’s mission.
Jon followed in his father's footsteps as a Lutheran teacher and administrator. He received both a Bachelor’s and Master of Arts in Education and Administration degree from Concordia University Chicago. After one year in his first call to Concordia University in River Forest, he began his first teaching position at St. Paul Lutheran School in McAllen, Texas. There, he taught seventh and eighth grade together for two years. Next, he accepted a call to St. Lorenz Lutheran School in Frankenmuth, Mich., where he served thirteen years.
Jon began his time at St. Lorenz as Assistant Principal and Media Specialist. In that role, he worked to bring the latest available technology to support the school’s teachers. He helped the school embrace microcomputers in the early 1980s, produced cable TV programming for the church, and oversaw the development of the ministry’s first television studio.
Then, he served for four more years as the school’s principal. While in that role, he helped grow the school’s enrollment and oversaw the development of its early childhood program.
Next, Jon went to work for Concordia University in Ann Arbor as their Director of Teacher Education. During that time, he earned his Doctor of Education degree from the University of Michigan, where he specialized in instructional technology.
As an educator, Jon always valued his LEA membership. When called upon, he served in a volunteer capacity as Vice-President for Public Relations and Membership for four years. Then, Jon served as President-Elect for two years and President for two more. He accepted the full-time position of Executive Director in 1997.
Now, true to his background, Jon continues to push LEA’s service to educators forward. In addition to continually adapting new technologies in service to teachers, he’s also helped bring LEA’s resources and community to educators worldwide. Jon offers his expertise to councils and boards internationally to help further LEA’s mission.
In his free time, Jon enjoys photography, golf, and travel. He lives in the Chicago area with his wife, June, also a lifelong Lutheran educator.
Edward C. Grube, LL.D.
Ed Grube has been a valued member of LEA's staff for over 20 years, most recently serving as LEA's Director of Communications. While he formally retired in June of 2023, Ed is still helping LEA by writing weekly devotions and giving guidance to our staff.
Ed is also continuing to serve as the editorial director for LEA’s magazine, Shaping the Future.
Though Ed entered college to study business, he quickly changed his focus to teaching. He received a Bachelor of Arts in education with an emphasis in psychology, then a Master of Arts in education administration — both degrees from Concordia University River Forest. In 2006 the university honored Ed by awarding him an honorary Doctor of Laws degree (LL.D.).
Ed began his teaching ministry in 1970 in Mobile, Ala. There, he served concurrently as principal of Faith Lutheran School (where he also taught third and fourth grade) and part time principal at Trinity Lutheran School.
After two years, he returned to his hometown of Chicago, Ill., where he served as principal for Apostles Lutheran School in Melrose Park, Ill. for five years. From Apostles, he moved to St. Paul Lutheran School in Addison, Ill., where he spent twenty fulfilling years.
While there, he founded The Sunrise Players Drama Club, producing one hundred student plays. He also founded The Beautiful Feet Club, an extra-curricular group that involved students in service to the parish. At the end of his career at St. Paul, Ed led the consolidation of that school with Zion Lutheran School, Bensenville and became the “founding principal” of Concord Lutheran School.
Throughout his time at St. Paul and Concord, Ed stayed involved in special district and synodical projects. He also wrote and edited Sunday school and day school curriculum for Concordia Publishing House (CPH). He currently serves as contributing editor for Lutheran Education Journal.
Eventually, he accepted concurrent calls as Editor of Special Projects for both CPH and LCMS School Ministry. He also wrote numerous books of devotions for educators.
Ed accepted the call to LEA in 2001. He was responsible for producing LEA Monographs and various other print resources. He took over the editorial role at Shaping the Future magazine, then originated all of the digitally-distributed publications, podcasts, and webinars LEA members enjoy today. He has written more than 1,000 devotions for various publications.
Ed lives in the Chicago area with his wife, Renee, and their two dogs, Stella and Sadie—and a Russian tortoise named Flash. The couple has two children — both Lutheran church workers! — and five grandchildren.
Director of Educational Resources
Denise’s motto is, “What can I do for you?” She creates resources for LEA’s educators and manages the resources side of our content platform, LEAconnects. Denise also oversees LEA’s social media, the Lutheran Junior Honor Association, our weekly News and Networks communications, our series Teachers to Teachers, and our weekly encouragement video Words on Wednesday.
She’s also a crucial member of our event planning team, working on all of our conferences, including our triennial convocation.
Denise received her undergraduate degree from Concordia University Texas, where she studied elementary education with an emphasis in English and Language Arts. She received two Masters of Arts from Webster University: One in Teaching (specializing in Communication Arts); the other in Applied Educational Psychology.
Denise has held teaching positions throughout the U.S., including at St. Paul’s Lutheran School in Lakeland, Fla.; Messiah Lutheran School in St. Louis, Mo.; Messiah Lutheran School in Independence, Mo.; and H.F. Epstein Hebrew Academy in St. Louis.
She also worked in publications and accounting for Creative Communications for the Parish.
However, she spent most of her career to this point — twenty-nine years! — at St. Paul’s Lutheran School in Des Peres, Mo. While there, she was the upper grades Language Arts teacher. She coached volleyball, cheerleading, and basketball; and was responsible for plays, musicals, and Christmas worship services.
Denise began volunteering for LEA in 2005 and served on the planning team for our 2019 convocation. Outside of LEA, she’s served on a variety of committees at both the district and synodical levels. She’s also written for a number of synodical publications such as Portals of Prayer, Chapel Talks, and It’s Elementary.
Now, in a role created for her at LEA, she takes her experience as a week-in, week-out teacher to provide resources for our educators.
Denise lives in the St. Louis area with her husband, Jeff. The two have a daughter (Sarah who is a DCE), a son-in-law (Matt), and three granddaughters.
She’s also a committed walker, having completed dozens of races, including the Disneyworld Dopey — a 5K, 10K, half-marathon, and marathon in four days — twice.
Director of Member Services
Julie is joining the LEA staff after years of being influenced by this organization in her walk as a Lutheran School teacher and administrator. Through relationships with fellow LCMS educators in LEA, participation in convocations and conferences, and a variety of leadership and speaking opportunities, LEA has helped her grow as a Lutheran school teacher and administrator. It has also helped her develop a great appreciation and passion for encouraging and engaging fellow and new teachers. As Director of Member Services, She will work closely with Lutheran educators and schools with their LEA memberships and related services.
She is also excited to be assisting with registrations for LEA Convocations and Conferences, as well as serving as a writer and editor of some LEA related materials.
Julie began her teaching/administration career at St. Luke’s Nursery School in Montgomery, Illinois. Following her marriage to Paul Klopke, a DCE/teacher, the two served together in team ministry for several years before they moved to Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, so Paul could pursue God’s leading to become an ordained pastor. During their seminary years, Julie served at Zion, St. Louis, MO., St. Paul, Wood River, Il. and Mt. Calvary, in Omaha, NE, as a primary level, art, and substitute teacher. Upon completing these seminary years, they moved to Carmi, Illinois, where she had an opportunity to work as the Pre-K At-Risk Coordinator, Teacher, and Grant Writer for the Carmi-White County Public Schools. Following their years in Carmi, the Klopkes moved to Arlington Heights, Illinois where she served for 23 years at St. Peter Lutheran School as an Art & Early Childhood Teacher, Extended Care & Summer Camp Coordinator, Early Childhood Director, and Assistant Principal. While in Arlington Heights, she was blessed to serve the church-at-large as a conference speaker, NLSA captain & national reader, teachers conference chairperson, university student teacher supervisor, and one of NID’s early childhood consultants. She was also honored to serve as one of the writer/editors of the LCMS book IN HIS HANDS, which assists congregations and their leaders with establishing and enhancing their early childhood ministries. Before joining LEA as Director of Member Services in the summer of 2023, Julie also served as the principal at St. John Lutheran School in Indianapolis.
Julie is thankful for the variety of opportunities she has had to share Jesus’ love, care, and compassion in both Lutheran and public school settings, grade levels, and communities. She also is extremely thankful for the support of her loving husband, Paul; their son and daughter-in-law, Philip and Kyrie; daughter and son-in-law, Jillian and Matt and their three precious grandsons, Porter, Paxton, and Briggs. In addition to family and ministry activities, Julie enjoys gardening, scrapbooking, and playing with her cat, Moxie.
Technology Project Coordinator
Paul’s talents make him well-suited to be LEA’s technology project coordinator. His duties include the production of webinars, WOW videos, and other technology related matters. Paul is passionate about this ministry because it assists teachers and their ministries. Paul has also been serving other LEA team members with their tasks.
Paul’s undergraduate degree is from Concordia Teacher’s College River Forest, now known as Concordia University Chicago. He earned elementary and secondary teaching degrees specializing in history and political science. He then earned a Master’s from Concordia University Chicago in administration and supervision.
Paul served at a variety of Lutheran schools in the Chicago area. His first call was to St. Paul Lutheran School in Norwood Park (more commonly known as Canfield). There he served as the seventh and eighth grade teacher before becoming the assistant principal and eventually the principal. After serving at St. Paul, he spent one year at Immanuel Lutheran School, East Dundee where he served as principal. Then Paul accepted a call to St. Peter Arlington Heights where he served in a variety of roles including junior high science teacher as well as occasionally teaching math, social studies, and religion.
During his teaching years, Paul coached boys sports, served as athletic director, and as a Walcamp director. He orchestrated science fairs and served as yearbook sponsor. He also helped with school activities such as eighth grade class trips and graduation banquets.
Paul began his service with LEA more than 20 years ago, serving on two networks (CUREnet and ETnet). He also served on the planning team for five convocations! Paul’s service outside of LEA has been at a district level. He has been the technology coordinator for the Northern Illinois District as well as having served on the Superintendent's Advisory Cabinet. Paul has also led countless accreditation teams. He is currently serving as the chairman of the Lutheran High School Association of Greater Chicago Educational Service Center.
Paul joined LEA’s staff because he is committed to linking, equipping, and affirming teachers in their ministries.
He lives in West Dundee with his wife, Pam. They have four children; two are married and all are educators. Paul is the proud grandfather of three grandchildren. He also loves to work on his house building a basement, installing hardwood floors, and renovating bathrooms.
Board of Directors
Bob Ziegler, Chair
Nebraska District LCMS
Executive Director/Head of School
St. Mark Lutheran School
Mt. Calvary Lutheran School
Diamond Bar, Calif.
Gretchen M. Jameson
St. Paul Lutheran School
Prior Lake, Minn.
Good Shepherd Lutheran High School
Elk River, Minn.
Bethany Lutheran School
Yuma Lutheran School
Zion Lutheran School