Behind the Scenes

Current Country Coordinator Rev. Tessa Moon Leiseth and her spouse, Associate Country Coordinator Jon Leiseth provide the coordination, leadership, and support for the YAGM program in Southern Africa.  Tessa and Jon have enjoyed journeying together and seeing the world through each other’s eyes for almost 15 years but it is definitely a new experience for them to live abroad together and with their two children, Isaac and Sophia.

Tessa is originally from the state of North Dakota in the United States.  She majored in Art History at Concordia College (Moorhead, MN) and after trying out a couple of career options, including being a residence hall director at a university, she discerned a call to ordained ministry.  Tessa has served two congregations in the metropolitan Minneapolis-St. Paul area in the state of Minnesota.  She has also served as a campus pastor at Concordia College and even has had a short chapter as a stay-at-home parent, congregational and life coach.  Tessa has a particular passion for working with young adults – accompanying and encouraging them in their journeys of faith and transformation.  Tessa has always been interested in other cultures, travel, and exploring new things.  She is delighted to be a part of the YAGM program as it combines these parts of herself in a new way as she seeks to live out her calling.

Jon is originally from Minnesota in the United States. Also a graduate of Concordia College (where he majored in Communications/Theatre and Business), Jon earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in Drama (Directing) from the University of Montana in Missoula. Having spent most of his professional life as a teaching artist, Jon has worked with students ranging from three to 73 but, like Tessa, especially enjoys working with young adults. Jon studied at seminary where a class in forgiveness and healing changed the way he looks at relationships, stories and the world. Jon’s work with YAGM especially focuses on stories, vocational reflection, discernment and spiritual wellness.

Tessa and Jon met in a math class, back when they each thought their future careers would need a lot of math.  Their careers and lives went different directions but nine years later their lives intersected in a new way when they married in 1998.  They have lived in Minnesota, Connecticut, Minnesota (again) and now live in South Africa with their two children.

You can follow their family journey on their blog.


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