LifeWay Leadership


Ben Mandrell

Ben Mandrell

President and Chief Executive Officer

Ben Mandrell was elected the 10th president of LifeWay Christian Resources on June 28, 2019. As president and CEO, Mandrell provides vision and strategic leadership to the 4,000-employee organization headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. 

Prior to joining LifeWay, he pastored churches in Colorado and Tennessee. A native of Tampico, Illinois, Mandrell graduated from Anderson (Indiana) University in 1998. He also holds a Master of Divinity degree from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Union University in Jackson, Tennessee.

Mandrell and his wife, Lynley, have been married since 2001. The couple has four children: Ava, Max, Miles and Jack.

Brad Waggoner

Brad Waggoner

Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

Since 2010 Waggoner has served as LifeWay’s executive vice president and COO, overseeing daily operations and helping provide strategic leadership of the organization.

Waggoner came to LifeWay in 2006 as the inaugural director of LifeWay Research. Previously he served as dean of the School of Leadership & Church Ministry at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He joined Southern's teaching faculty in 1999 and assumed the position of dean in 2001. During his tenure as dean, Waggoner developed and taught several classes on leadership and discipleship in addition to his administrative responsibilities.

Waggoner has served on staff at three Southern Baptist churches in Texas, Ohio, and Kentucky.

He received a Master of Religious Education degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas; a Master of Arts from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Chicago; and a Ph.D. from Southwestern.

Waggoner is the author of The Shape of Faith to Come and numerous other publications. He and his wife, Patti, have two sons, Brandt (daughter-in-law Jill and grandsons Judson, John Martin, and Jackson) and Blake.

Connia Nelson

Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer

Connia Nelson is a business and customer focused corporate leader who has held a variety of leadership roles, from engaging frontline employees in a call center environment, to senior leadership responsibilities of end-to-end strategic Human Resource initiatives.

In her current role at LifeWay as the chief human resources officer, Nelson is a transformational HR business leader and change agent, driving people strategy and key business objectives to deliver on cultural values and the overall mission. 

Prior to joining LifeWay in 2016, Nelson worked for Verizon as senior vice president of Human Resources. Throughout her career, Nelson consistently created talent management strategies to acquire and retain top talent, increase the employer brand, optimize training-to-competency cycle time, enhance leadership diversity, deliver total rewards, accelerate employee engagement, and build a strong succession plan.

She has served in various roles in the local church including music, children, teen, and women’s ministries. She is currently a women’s community group leader at Rolling Hills Community Church. 

Nelson holds a bachelor’s degree from Indiana State University and a master’s degree in organization management from Dallas Baptist University. She and her husband, Darrell, have one daughter Adriel, who is married to Leroy, and two grandchildren.

Earl Roberson

Earl Roberson

Acting Senior Vice President and Chief Business Officer

Earl Roberson is the acting senior vice president of the Resources Division and Chief Business Officer for LifeWay.

Prior to joining LifeWay in 2012, Roberson served as the COO at Student Life, Inc., in Birmingham, Alabama. For almost two decades, he has been involved in Christian publishing, live events, and other offerings that serve the local church.

Roberson holds a business administration degree from Baylor University. He enjoys fly-fishing, hunting, and many other outdoor activities.

Roberson and his wife, Missy, have one daughter, Addison, and a yellow lab, Major. They live in Franklin, Tennessee, and attend Brentwood Baptist Church where Missy serves on staff in the kids’ area.

Joe Walker

Joe Walker

Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Joe Walker is senior vice president and chief financial officer of LifeWay. Prior to serving in this role, Walker served as corporate controller for 12 years. He has held various financial positions at LifeWay since 1986. As senior vice president, he gives oversight to several shared services within LifeWay, including distribution services, legal services, investment services, facility management services, and the corporate finance department.

Walker has served in various roles at his church, First Baptist Church, Hendersonville, Tennessee, including deacon, Sunday school teacher, and member of the finance committee.

Walker is a CPA and holds a bachelor’s degree with a major in accounting from the University of Tennessee, Martin. He lives in Hendersonville, Tennessee, with his wife, Lisa, and has two grown children who are both married. He enjoys playing golf and tennis with friends and spending time with his family, especially his granddaughter, Kinsley.