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ADF Names Kristen Waggoner Next President & CEO

On August 19, NRB member Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) announced Kristen Waggoner as its new president and CEO. ADF is the world’s largest legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, the sanctity of life, parental rights, and God’s design for marriage and family. Since 2011, ADF has won fourteen U.S. Supreme Court cases, including serving on the Mississippi legal team that overturned Roe v. Wade. Following Michael Farris, who has served as ADF’s CEO since 2017, and Alan Sears, who served twenty-three years as ADF’s founding CEO, Waggoner will take the office of president and CEO on October 1. Waggoner will continue in her role as general counsel, and Farris will serve ADF in a new role in “advancing the mission of the organization in specific key areas related to his expertise,” as ADF outlined in a press release.

ADF secured thirteen of its fourteen Supreme Court victories since 2011 under Waggoner’s leadership of the U.S. legal team. She personally argued and won two of these cases before the court, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission (2017) and Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski (2021). Later this year, she is scheduled to argue her third case before the Supreme Court with ADF, 303 Creative v. Elenis. Most recently, ADF celebrated the victory of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, in which ADF worked alongside the state of Mississippi in drafting and defending the Gestational Age Act before the Supreme Court.

“I’m honored to accept the call to lead ADF. It is an incredible privilege to represent clients around the world who courageously and winsomely advocate for the right to of all people speak freely and to live consistent with their religious beliefs and to partner with our allies and ministry friends to protect these God-given rights,” Waggoner said. “I look forward to helping build an even more powerful alliance to meet the formidable challenges ahead. We remain in a season where our fundamental freedoms face grave threats, so this work is more critical than ever. I am grateful to God and to those who have served before me that ADF is positioned well for this moment. I am especially thankful to Mike Farris for his incredible leadership and support.”

“It has been an honor to serve ADF these last six years,” said Farris. “God has truly blessed my time here through unprecedented growth. One of these blessings has been working with Kristen. When it became clear to me that Kristen was a well-suited successor and ready to lead, I urged the board to consider her. I am confident God will help Kristen and our team continue expanding our capacity to serve, and I look forward to assisting her and ADF along the way.”

At the close of the 2021 fiscal year in June, ADF crossed $100 million in revenue and has expanded in both legal and legislative work as well as its continuous work on the federal level. In addition to U.S. legal defense, ADF reaches across borders through ADF International, protecting fundamental rights and even saving lives in cases involving religious persecution. Under Waggoner’s leadership as general counsel, the advocacy powerhouse is recognized as one of the largest legal organizations leading the way in defending God-given freedoms, receiving over 10,500 requests a year.

“We are grateful to God for Michael Farris’s leadership of ADF and for all he has accomplished during his years of service to this ministry. Mike set a high bar for his successor, so we are equally thankful and confident that God has chosen Kristen Waggoner to succeed Mike as our new president and CEO,” said ADF Board Chair Terry Schlossberg. “Kristen met and exceeded the expectations of the board as we engaged in a thorough and prayerful vetting process with her. We are very pleased to report that she has not only the eager support of her predecessor, Mike, who recommended her to us, but also the full confidence of the ADF board. We are eager to see how God will use her to bless the ministry of ADF in the future.”

NRB commends Farris for his tireless work in leading ADF and congratulates Waggoner on this next chapter.

Watch Waggoner and Farris discuss what is on the horizon for ADF.

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