LSSND CEO Jessica Thomasson will step down as she is named to ND DHS Leadership Team

November 1, 2019

FARGO, N.D. – Today, NDDHS Director Chris Jones named Jessica Thomasson, CEO of Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota, as the new Director of Community Inclusion for the North Dakota Department of Human Services, effective February 1, 2020.

“Lutheran Social Services is an amazing organization that I am so proud to be part of,” said Thomasson. “It is an organization that has a generations-long history of finding innovative ways to serve people across our state. That legacy isn’t changing. I am so excited about the work we have done together and about the work that will continue as the dedicated team at LSSND pushes ahead. Every single person in the organization is committed to finding ways to help people live and be well in their families, homes and communities.”

Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota is one of North Dakota’s largest human service organizations serving more than 15,000 North Dakotans each year. Thomasson joined LSSND in 2008 as the first director of Lutheran Social Services Housing; she moved into the LSSND CEO role in December 2014.

“We’re very proud of the work Jessica and the whole LSSND team have done to demonstrate what it means to love your neighbor and to serve people with dignity and grace. LSSND is a forward-thinking organization that is committed to serving this state in ever-evolving ways,” said Murray Sagsveen, Board Chair for Lutheran Social Service of North Dakota.

In the last 12 years the Lutheran Social Services team has worked diligently to expand services to people living in both large and small communities.

LSS Housing. Launched the affordable housing subsidiary commonly known as the Lutheran Social Services Housing, which today owns almost 600 units of rental housing in 14 rural North Dakota communities and has a management portfolio that touches more than 1,000 household across the state on a daily basis.

Abound Counseling. Created Abound Counseling, a new therapy focused line of service that aims to improve access to mental health services for children, families, and adults in North Dakota. The team has a special focus on delivering community-based supports whenever possible and a strong commitment to serving children and teens.

Imagine Thriving. Coordinated the integration of Imagine Thriving into the work of Lutheran Social Services. In addition to its efforts to reduce mental health stigma amongst youth, Imagine Thriving recently evolved to bring Skills Coaching to both school and community settings, piloting the service in the areas surrounding Bismarck, Minot and West Fargo.

Family Strengthening Hubs. Developed three family strengthening hubs (centered in Dickinson, Watford City and Grand Forks) to demonstrate a new service delivery model that brings core groups of staff together to serve people in community based settings, delivering evidence-based home visiting, juvenile justice diversion, and family coaching supports to people in an early intervention context.

Aging Life Care. Expanded the Agency’s offering of services to older adults and people with disabilities in six counties, with a focus on care coordination as an essential bridge during times of transition in people's lives.

Disaster Response. Continued to mobilize volunteers and resources from the faith community and beyond to help communities develop a coordinated response to meet the recovery needs of the people who are affected by natural disasters, regardless of whether the number of households directly affected is 5 or 500.

Child Care. Advanced the state’s support of quality early childhood experiences by growing the Bright and Early quality rating system for childcare, expanding the Growing Futures workforce registry project, and offering expanded technical assistance and training resources to child care providers across the state.

Restorative Justice. Deepened efforts to integrate restorative practices into both school and juvenile justice settings.

Statewide Focus. Pushed the organization to embrace a statewide focus, expanding service line footprints into more parts of the states with new service delivery models. Embraced a re-imagined workforce which includes both the establishment of office hubs in more locations (Dickinson, Jamestown, Devils Lake and Watford City) and the flexibility of a work-anywhere culture, facilitated by the organization’s digital transformation efforts.

Culture of Welcome. Created spaces where both conversations and learning could occur on topics involving welcome, inclusion, and integration; race, religion and economic class; immigration, migration and refugee resettlement; faith and community.

“My last 12 years as part of the LSSND team has given me a deep understanding of both the needs and opportunities in our state,” said Thomasson. “I am excited to work with the team at DHS to help identify new ways we can help people navigate the life challenges they are facing. When we work together, we can help people find new ways to live fully engaged lives in communities large and small across this state.”

The Board of Directors, led by Mr. Sagsveen, will start the search for a new CEO by mid-November. LSSND will be seeking a CEO who is a strategic thinker who is passionate about caring for people in all stages of life, in communities across North Dakota, and who is committed to continually building relationships with governmental agencies and other human services organizations to enhance people’s overall wellbeing.

Contact: Sara Hauschulz



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