Coming from a long career with Lutheran social ministry organizations, Julie Swanson, President and CEO of Lutheran Family Services of Virginia (LFSVA), has been involved in the Lutheran system since before the founding of LSA. For Julie, getting involved in the LSA network was an easy decision. "It's the other LSA member agencies, and the staff that work for them, that are your best allies and sources of information," she said in an interview with LSA this fall. She went on to discuss how the LSA network guides her as she connects with other members to improve programs as well as seek emotional and spiritual support. She said, "It makes everything that much richer … in the experience."
Julie has been particularly active with LSA's Disability Netowrk. In August 2007, Julie joined forces with the LSA-Disability Network (LSA-DN) for a Partner Project Team that led LFSVA to a successful expansion into services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Julie announced, "We will help individuals with disabilities experience what we all desire – lives of abundance, well-being and grace – as close as possible to family and loved ones. It is our hope that together we will create an even wider community of care for those who need us most."
Julie carries on that same mission today. This summer, she took on the leadership role of LSA-DN Convener nearly a decade after her introduction to the Disability Network.
"The Network is intellectual power. We've seen concrete needs and taken those needs to action by developing strategies to address them. A prime example is Sarah Meek who serves in Washington, DC as Director of Public Policy and Advocacy for LSA-DN."
As the LSA-DN Convener, Julie plans to strengthen these resources for the Network's 25 member organizations. "LSA-DN helps us do our jobs better and serve individuals with disabilities better. We will continue to build the network so that organizations gain from their membership."
This October, Julie was recognized as a Woman of Achievement for Social Services by the DePaul Community Resources organization in Virginia in recognition of her significant contributions to the community through educational achievements, leadership and volunteer activities. The Social Services category honors, "a woman from the Social Services field who demonstrates leadership, success and integrity, and who has made a significant impact not only on the lives of those she serves but also in her community."
Julie is also one of the newest members to the LSA Board of Directors, elected on October 15. "I'm honored to be a part of the Board and it is something I have always wanted to do – to have the opportunity to participate in that way," Julie said. LFSVA is also a participant in the LSA 20-500 Fund.
LSA thanks LFSVA for its support and Julie for her spirit of service and leadership.