At the Annual Conference in San Antonio a few weeks ago, our members took some time during the CEO luncheon to honor and recognize two of their colleagues who are retiring within the coming year – Rick Herman, the CEO of Wheat Ridge and Gene Kaseman, the President of the Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch.
We thank Gene and Rick for their dedication and service to Lutheran social ministry and all the many lives they have touched over the years – your leadership, enthusiasm and commitment to your missions will be missed, and we hope that you will stay engaged with the network even after you retire. Maybe we’ll see you at next year’s conference in Minneapolis?
A few fun facts about Rick and Gene:
Wheat Ridge Ministries, Itasca, Illinois
- Rick has served at Wheat Ridge since 1992. He joined the organization as Vice President, then served as Chief Operating Officer. In 2006, he was promoted to CEO.
- Rick’s leadership has moved Wheat Ridge to seed ministries in two ways.
- Supporting new and emerging ministry ideas via their crowdfunding site, WeRaise. In addition to helping the ministry leaders learn and grow in their service, the platform has also introduced Wheat Ridge to new and different approaches and communities that they wouldn’t have found before.
- Pursuing replication and scale for those ministries that are particularly effective.
- Despite being the CEO, Rick’s passion for hands-on work with people remains clear. According to Senior Vice President Brian Becker, “Rick still gets worked up when somebody has a new ministry idea. He can’t help but get involved and try to help the project succeed.”
- Rick’s curiosity and desire to learn applies to his personal life, too. A fun activity for him and his wife is to explore a previously unfamiliar urban neighborhood – its restaurants, shops and experiencing the life of the locals as best he can. (We’re betting he will enjoy a lot of this in his retirement!)
Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch, Minot, North Dakota
- Gene has been at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch since 1972. He began as a special needs vocational instructor and rose to the role of President.
- His tenure has been marked by growth, establishing services in Bismarck and Fargo, growing the footprint of eight thrift stores in North Dakota and Minnesota. All told, Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch is the largest private social service agency in North Dakota.
- He easily invites people to come and experience Dakota Boys & Girls Ranch and it is a part of his daily life. Most every day you can find Gene eating lunch with the kids, getting to know them and being accessible to them. They know who he is, and they and the staff also get to know his family, who are involved in various capacities.
- Among Gene’s many professional and community affiliations is his role as Honorary Commander of the Minot Air Force Base