Mark Peterson departs as head Lutheran Social Service of Minnesotaby Sasha Aslanian, Minnesota Public Radio,
Steven John, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Mark Peterson is retiring after 24 years as head of Lutheran Social Service.
LSS provides a range of services from mental health counseling to veterans services for 100,000 Minnesotans a year, with 80 percent of the work coming through government contracts.
Non-profits can often get the work done less expensively than government, but they can't provide the whole safety net, Peterson said.
Recent budget cuts by government for housing for homeless children and reimbursements for serving for the disabled heavily affects LSS, Peterson said. To cope, the organization is innovating and redesigning to deliver services more efficiently.
"Our organization, as is true of a growing number of not-for-profit organizations including faith based organizations, are results driven," Peterson said. "We're not interested just in serving, we're interested in changing lives, inspiring hope and building community."
What started in 1865 when a Lutheran Church near Red Wing opened its doors to care for four orphaned children, has grown into an agency which well-known for its adoption and mental health counseling services. But during Peterson's tenure LSS also has also increased its work in providing housing for homeless youth and families, financial counseling, and support for people with disabilities.
Peterson's last day is Thursday. LSS Chief Operating Officer Jodi Harpstead takes over as CEO on Friday.
Sasha Aslanian is a reporter with MPR News' Twin Cities metro reporting unit.