Over 140 senior service leaders and board members from over 30 LSA member organizations across the country came together at the 2016 LSA Member Reception at the LeadingAge Annual Meeting and Expo on October 30 in Indianapolis to network and share in the spirit of the event.
How can we prepare youth aging out of child welfare to be happy, productive adults? Is it important to for youth to have a permanent, positive adult relationship as they age out of the foster care system? How can we help them establish and maintain these relationships? These and many other questions were raised by members at the June meeting of LSA’s second learning cohort with the Provider Exchange®. The cohort met in New York at The Children’s Village, a nonprofit organization that works with children and families, to discuss improving permanency outcomes – both formal and informal – for youth aging out of the child welfare system.
What is the value of the LSA Annual Conference? It’s a question we ask ourselves at LSA in the wintery months as the LSA staff focuses on finalizing the details of an event that brings together Lutheran social ministry organizations from across the country. These are the finishing touches on an activity that actually starts many years in advance. The dedicated marketing team scopes out a place for the conference and negotiates a venue years in advance. Twelve months out we begin the planning in earnest. An advisory team is formed of staff and LSA members; plenary speaker and session profiles are drafted; and connections are made. The months move on as we craft and refine a program that we hope resonates with attendees.
Two years ago we laid out a new vision for our network, and we're seeing that vision realized more and more each year. Today, we are stronger and more connected, working together to innovate and transform lives. The reason we can do this – and what sets us apart as a network – is our common mission: our Lutheran legacy of caring for our neighbors that reaches back more than 150 years, and, most of all, our shared values. We have our North Star.
As someone steeped in the rich Lutheran tradition of service, I have known about this essential calling for a long time. I observed it as I watched my father and mother work in Lutheran schools and learned about it as I attended Lutheran schools and the Lutheran campus of Valparaiso University (Valpo).
To be at the table and to be talked about at a table are two very different things. I attended the Lutheran Services in America Disability Network (LSA-DN) meeting in Carefree, Arizona last month. I have served in a number of leadership positions related to disability ministry for the ELCA. My experience there had proven to be some of the most inclusive environments I have ever encountered. When I accepted the invitation for this meeting, I expected to enter a group that had a long-standing history of representatives with disabilities, similar to my experience with the ELCA. Instead, I found a group of administrative leaders gathering regularly to talk about us without us.
"If you’re not around the table, you’re on the table." These were words of wisdom imparted by Diakon’s President and CEO Mark Pile at the recent LSA 2016 CEO Academy, which was held in Carefree, Arizona, Jan. 31-Feb. 3. 55 leaders from within our national Lutheran social ministry network gathered for three days of networking, fellowship and learning around the issue of "Leading Through Innovation."