By Emily Gross, Senior Manager of Program Development and Outreach
Today’s Front Line Hero is Dr. LaSharnda Beckwith, President and CEO of Lutheran Social Services of Southern California (LSSSC).
Dr. Beckwith joined the organization last year as the first African American CEO in LSSSC’s 75-year history. Her tenure began just weeks into the onset of a global pandemic and Dr. Beckwith has courageously led her team in addressing COVID-19 through community-wide efforts. She is also a member of the Lutheran Services in America Race Equity Network, a cohort of leaders that meets quarterly to discuss how to promote racial diversity, equity, and inclusion among Lutheran social ministry organizations and inform the national policy agenda on issues affecting racial equity. By her own effort, Dr. Beckwith has led virtual round tables to foster strategic conversations about the impacts of systemic racism in our society.
Before joining LSSSC, Dr. Beckwith worked at California Southern University as Provost and Chief Academic Officer. She also served for 27 years in the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) and created the Professional Christian Women in Service in 2005.
Dr. Beckwith says her personal mission is to “enable, encourage, empower, and energize others to be all that God has called them to be.” LSSSC staff note how she inspires them every day to embrace, equip, and empower individuals and families through 70 different programs in Southern California.
Speaking to what calls her to her work, Dr. Beckwith says, “Ultimately, my desire is to live out Proverbs 31:8-9 – Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
You can find out more about Dr. Beckwith on her website, www.lasharndabeckwith.com. For more information on the incredible work that Dr. Beckwith and her team are doing to help others through the pandemic, visit the LSSSC website, www.lsssc.org.