Craig and Jane Olson are passionate in their support of Concordia Seminary, Christian education and church renewal. The Orange, Calif., couple served as co-chairs of the Seminary’s volunteer board known as the National Campaign Council, which led the milestone Generations Campaign to its successful conclusion in December 2017, raising more than $200 million.
The campaign was the Seminary’s largest campaign in its 179-year history, rallying more than 52,000 donors who contributed more than 213,000 gifts to build endowment, increase annual support, renovate the library and invest in learning technology initiatives. The couple expertly guided the campaign, from its origins to its conclusion.
“The Generations Campaign is about our daughters and our granddaughters and the future generations of our family and your family, and the saving grace of our Savior, Jesus,” they said. “That’s what it’s about. That’s what we need to ensure, assure and support.”
Craig and Jane linked arms with the Seminary early on, participating in the “Campaign Readiness Study” in 2011 and the National Leadership Summit in 2013. In addition to chairing the National Campaign Council, Craig also has been serving on the steering committee guiding the development of the Seminary’s 2018-20 strategic priorities since it was established in spring 2017.
Craig holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Southern California and is a certified management accountant. He received an honorary Doctor of Laws from Concordia University, Irvine, Calif.
Craig joined Fresh Start Bakeries Inc. in 1978 as controller and vice president finance, becoming the company’s president in 1982. Fresh Start is one of the largest suppliers of bakery products to the McDonald’s restaurant system in the United States, Europe, Latin America, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. He retired in January 2011. He now provides strategic and financial consulting services to private enterprises and church-related institutions.
Craig and Jane serve as trustees for The Olson Family Foundation and also support Grace Ethiopian Outreach Ministry and Grace Theological College in Ethiopia. Also, they own vineyard property in Paso Robles, growing Cabernet Sauvignon and other wine grape varieties.
Craig is former chairman for the Board of Regents at Concordia University, Irvine, Calif. (CUI), and he currently serves as vice chairman. He was also the founding chairman and former member of the CUI President’s Advisory Council, and is former chairman and current member of the Board of Directors for Orange Lutheran High School.
Craig is a lifelong Lutheran, and Jane, who was raised Catholic, converted to Lutheranism after the couple married. They are active members of Salem Lutheran Church in Orange, Calif., where they have served in numerous leadership capacities. Craig is currently serving as volunteer business manager at Salem.
Jane is an active volunteer at CUI, Orange Lutheran High School and Salem Lutheran Church and School.
The Olsons have two grown daughters, Lisa and Amanda, and two granddaughters.
THE CHRISTUS VIVIT AWARD
Chosen by the faculty — after consideration of personal knowledge and/or recommendations by others — the recipient(s) of the Christus Vivit Award have demonstrated exemplary service to the church.