Eight from LSS honored with awards for excellence in leadership

Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota (LSS) has recognized eight honorees statewide who received the 2023 President’s Leadership Excellence Award. The award […]

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Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota (LSS) has recognized eight honorees statewide who received the 2023 President’s Leadership Excellence Award. The award recognizes exceptional employees who demonstrate outstanding leadership, inspire colleagues, drive innovation, and build community.  

Some of the awards are for people who work in disability services. Alaina Ericksen is the senior director of Partners in Community Supports or PICS. PICS offers expanded choices and services for individuals with disabilities, older adults and their families. Within two years as the PICS senior director, she led and helped achieve several initiatives, including implementing new outreach efforts to reach rural families and a new business system that offers enhanced solutions to serve more than 1,850 program participants and 3,000 caregivers supporting them. 

Jared Griffin is the senior director at Camp Knutson, where his unwavering commitment to campers with identified needs shines through in his work daily. He seeks to provide the highest quality camp experience for all campers and partner staff through Camp Knutson’s first-class camp facilities and programming. His passion for the camp’s mission is contagious, inspiring others to join the cause. Under his leadership, the camp continues to grow with generous donor support, dedicated camp staff, and retreat partnerships. Colleagues admire his ability to thrive in challenging situations, offer creative ideas, and lead with compassion and optimism.  

Shanon Kalbrener is a regional director for LSS Disability Services. Colleagues describe her as a creative thinker, outstanding coach and tireless go-getter who is continually seeking ways to help individuals supported by LSS to grow and lead fulfilling lives. She also leads her team with positivity and inspires others to strive toward their best work. 
Melody Raw is a designated coordinator for LSS Disability Services. Since 2017, Raw has played a key role in launching and growing the LSS Employment First Services Program for people with disabilities. She provides leadership and coaching that has resulted in many individuals finding not only finding jobs, but also improving their lives in other ways. On top of her daily job responsibilities, she served as a Healthy Hero during the pandemic and supported individuals in several homes affected by COVID. 

Other honorees are Erin Sutton, senior director of advocacy; Kathy Sauve, program director for LSS Youth Services in Brainerd; Elizabeth Saevig, senior director of grants and Kim Prinsen, program director for LSS Housing Services  

“I am grateful for the unique skills, knowledge and dedication each honoree brings to our organization,” said Patrick Thueson, president of LSS of Minnesota. “Their passion for excellence and innovative thinking helps LSS inspire hope, change lives and build community.” 

LSS of Minnesota began in 1865 when a Lutheran pastor and his congregation opened an orphanage for children near Red Wing in southeastern Minnesota. Today, with 2,500 employees and 10,000 volunteers, LSS helps one in 65 Minnesotans through services that inspire hope, change lives and build community. 

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