Developing A Leader
Cullen Rodgers-Gates can talk all day about the role that Westminster Schools of Augusta played in his early development as a leader, thinker and follower of Christ.
“Westminster was just an incredibly well-rounded time of growth for me in my life,” said Rodgers-Gates, salutatorian and graduate of the Class of 1996. “Really, it was more than just education. Spiritual formation, athletics, music, and drama were all a part of it.”
Earlier this year, Rodgers-Gates joined the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) as its Director of Development and Membership, a new position created to strengthen the organization’s outreach to its donors and members, and expand its network for greater impact.
“I am both humbled and energized to embrace this new opportunity,” said Rodgers-Gates, recipient of the 2011 Westminster Distinguished Alumni Award.
Rodgers-Gates said he is honored to help fulfill the NAE’s vision to be a thriving and unified evangelical community that bears faithful witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ in every aspect of life.
Representing more than 45,000 local churches from 41 different denominations and dozens of colleges, universities and organizations, the association is the largest and most established network of evangelical Christians in the U.S.
Before joining the NAE, Rodgers-Gates served for 12 years with Congo Initiative, first as Director of Operations, and since 2014 as Executive Director. Congo Initiative is an international organization committed to the training and development of strong indigenous Christian leaders in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The organization’s goal is to see these leaders transform their communities and nation in the name of Jesus Christ.
Rodgers-Gates credits Westminster for preparing him to take on such life-changing work.
“So much of my professional career has been characterized by understanding a vision clearly, communicating that vision in a compelling way as a leader, and collaborating with others in a shared pursuit of that vision,” he said. “I feel like in so many ways those skills were initially developed during my time at Westminster.”
Cullen arrived at Westminster in 5th grade after having lived abroad in Saudi Arabia with his family.
While at Westminster, he served as the student council president; sang and won a state title in men’s quartet; played tennis and basketball; ran cross country; and performed in musicals, including “The Sound of Music” and “Bye Bye Birdie.” On two different occasions, he received the prestigious Christian Leadership Award.
After Westminster, Rodgers-Gates received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Wheaton College in Philosophy and Historical and Systematic Theology, respectively.
Rodgers-Gates said he is tremendously thankful for the many teachers, coaches and mentors at Westminster who had a profound influence on his life.
“I consciously enjoyed my time at Westminster and appreciated my teachers and coaches, but I know that I didn’t fully appreciate what they were doing to sacrificially mentor and invest in me,” he said. “What they did for me caused me to look at how I can do the same for other people.”
Today, Cullen serves or has served his local church in children’s ministry, mission committee work and vestry membership. He is married to Mandy. They live in Durham, NC, and have three teenage children: Hannah, Ethan and Caleb.