Q&A with Mark Zander, new Samaritan CEO

By Samaritan staff  ·  Aug 30, 2021

(Pictured: Kathy and Mark Zander)

New Samaritan CEO shares his faith journey and the blessings that Christ has shown to him along the way

Mark Zander is the new Samaritan Ministries Chief Executive Officer. We asked the longtime corporate executive several questions in order for you to get to know him better. 

Samaritan Ministries: Mark, tell us a little bit about your family.

Mark: I’ve been married to my wife, Kathy, for 30 years. We have three boys: Ben 26, Sam 23, Gabe 20. Kathy is an amazing mom who stayed at home with the boys throughout their upbringing. Ben is an accountant/CPA working in Chicago, Sam works in a hospital and is applying to physician assistant graduate schools, and Gabe will be enlisting in the Navy in early October. We lived in Waunakee, Wisconsin, for 25 years prior to moving to Peoria.

Samaritan Ministries: Could you share your faith journey?

Mark: Kathy and I grew up in strong Catholic families in our formative years. When we started our family, we followed family tradition by enrolling our boys in Catholic elementary school. As the years went on, we felt God calling us to a deeper personal relationship with Jesus Christ and a deeper personal experience with His Word. We found these deeper experiences with Jesus in the Evangelical Free Church, where we were born again. Our Christian faith had always been at the center of our family, but the love, mercy, and saving grace of Jesus truly became alive and active in our lives when God called us to meet Him and love Him personally in the Evangelical Free community. Our boys are all Christians, each on their own unique walk with the Lord. As the Apostle Paul said in Philippians 3:12, we are certainly not yet perfect but we press on as a family to reach a perfection that can only be obtained through the saving grace of Jesus Christ. We love the journey the Lord has set before us and are energized to serve Him and the Body of Christ through this new role at Samaritan and in any role He calls us to in the future.

Samaritan: What do you like to do for fun?

Mark: We love the outdoors, whether that be walking our dog,  riding bikes, hiking, boating, fishing (even ice fishing), or hunting, which are all activities we grew up doing in Wisconsin.

Samaritan: What does success look like for you?

Mark: Using the gifts and experiences God has blessed me with to serve Him and to serve the Body of Christ wherever He places me and to do so to the very best of my ability.

Samaritan: What is one of the kindest things someone has ever done for you?

Mark: Jesus Christ loved me, wiped away my sins, and gave me eternal life, even though I deserved none of it. Jesus loving me, even knowing my many flaws and shortcomings, is the gift that means everything to me.

Samaritan: Who are some individuals who have positively influenced your life?

Mark: Not sure if this is a trick question, but, without a doubt, Jesus Christ has been everything to me in my life and the only role model that I have ever aspired to emulate. Along that journey, a great friend and elder at our church, Mark Schweiger, has discipled me and helped me grow in spiritual maturity in so many ways over the last 25-plus years.

Samaritan: What virtue do you want more of in your life?

Mark: Without a doubt it’s wisdom. There are so many non-Biblical worldviews at work in today’s culture attacking our faith and our families. Constantly seeking and growing in God’s wisdom is essential to navigating the pressures of the world and staying focused on His truth as the eternal compass.

Now I can look back and see that through the ups and downs, He was preparing me for such a time as this.

Mark Zander

Samaritan: What is something new you recently tried and loved?

Mark: Let’s go with a food. Kathy loves Brussels sprouts. I refused to participate in her Brussels sprout experiences. But she finally got me with bacon and baked, seasoned Brussels sprouts. My life will never be the same.

Samaritan: What is the most meaningful book or verse of the Bible to you and why?

Mark: My first deep experience with the Bible happened in college in a Navigators Bible study I attended. The focus of the study was the Gospel of John. That book and that study were the beginning of me building a deep personal relationship with Jesus Christ and His Word.

Samaritan: What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?

Mark: I was raised in a family that placed a high level of importance on humility. Feeling or behaving with a sense of self-importance or seeking attention for one’s accomplishments as a way to feel superior in some way was not acceptable. Jesus came to us as a humble servant, even though many expected the Messiah to be a king. Biblical and family teaching calling me to humility is the best advice I’ve received, and I have tried to pass that along to my boys.

Samaritan: Could you summarize your work history before Samaritan?

Mark: Thirty years in secular business as a general manager working for large, medium, and small companies with a strong focus on servant leadership and developing people based on the gifts and experiences God has blessed them with. I was constantly learning and growing as a faith-based leader in a secular business world that was for the most part godless and motivated by earthly treasures.

Samaritan: Why did you want to work here?

Mark: God has blessed me with so many wonderful learning experiences across the years, including both successes and failures. For most of my secular business career, however, I’ve felt like something was always missing and wondered, is this really where He wants me to be? God’s plans are always right and good, and now I can look back and see that through the ups and downs, He was preparing me for such a time as this, a time where I could use all the gifts and experience He has blessed me with to join Samaritan and serve Him, serve the Body of Christ, and help build His Kingdom all for His Glory. To say this is my dream job is an understatement. What an amazing gift He has blessed our family with through Samaritan, and, as always, we will rely on Him to guide us through this journey step by step. 

Photo: Tyler Sellers of Samaritan Ministries