Leadership transition

  •  November 04, 2016

Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois (LCFS) a leading social-service provider focused on nurturing and protecting children, strengthening families and enhancing communities, has announced the retirement of Gene Svebakken (pictured above with his wife Carol), MSW, ACSW as chief executive officer effective December 31, 2016. The board of trustees also announced the appointment of Mike Bertrand, MSW, LCSW as LCFS’ new chief executive officer and president.

“On behalf of the LCFS Board of Trustees, I have the privilege of announcing the retirement of Gene Svebakken and the appointment of Mike Bertrand as the agency’s next chief executive officer and president,” stated LCFS Board of Trustees Chair Tony Stephens. “The board has a strong, positive belief in Mike and incredible admiration for Gene. LCFS holds in high regard leaders who inspire and we are confident that Mike will step into that role left by Gene’s retirement.”

Bertrand joined LCFS in 2005 and has served as LCFS’ Northern Illinois director of children services, chief of children’s services and VP and chief program officer in addition to his current role as LCFS president and chief operating officer. He also serves as the president of Lifelink International Adoption (a program of LCFS).

“Mike brings to his new role a vision for the future that is aligned with the board’s strategic priorities and values,” said Stephens. “We have comfort and confidence in him and his demonstrated capacities and leadership in the field of social work.”

With nearly 30 years of social-services experience, Bertrand has worked for the Department of Children and Family Services, Lutheran Social Services of Illinois, Hull House Association and United Healthcare Corporation. Currently, he is also on the board of directors for the Illinois Child Care Association, the Illinois Council on Youth and the International Youth Advocacy Federation.

Bertrand has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana, a master’s degree in social work from the University of Illinois at Chicago and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. He and his wife have three daughters.

“I am deeply honored by the confidence placed in me by the board of trustees to be LCFS’ next CEO. I hope to build upon the incredible legacy of Gene Svebakken, who has been a tremendous mentor to me and beaming example of Christ-centered leadership,” said Bertrand. “I am excited for Gene in his well-deserved retirement, excited to work with the board of trustees and excited to continue to partner with all of LCFS’ stakeholders.”

Gene Svebakken                                                              Mike Bertrand

Svebakken served in the chief executive officer role at LCFS for more than 38 years. He began his social-service career more than 55 years ago as a public assistance caseworker with the Iowa Department of Social Welfare. During his time at LCFS he also served on numerous national and state association boards devoted to social services including Council on Accreditation; Lutheran Services in America and the LCMS Synodical Board for Human Care.

“Gene has been a champion of children and families throughout his long tenure in the field,” stated Tony Stephens. “His calling to service and stewardship of the agency have been exemplary. Also his heart for and commitment to the principles of social ministry and the many we serve have given LCFS a strong foundation on which to build moving forward. As an agency, LCFS will continue to build on that foundation as we partner with youth, families and communities.”

“It has truly been a privilege to serve with such a remarkable staff throughout the years and to participate in the governance of LCFS with committed and inspiring trustees and directors,” said Svebakken. “It is time for new leadership, and I am confident that Mike Bertrand and the team which has developed will provide visionary leadership for the future. I will always treasure the many meaningful relationships, which have been developed over the years. But most importantly, I will treasure the impact that LCFS has had and continues to have in improving the lives of children, families and communities and in promoting the common good as a leading Lutheran social-ministry organization.”

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