Leadership Awards 2023

Leadership Awards

Lutheran Services in America launched a new tradition in 2021 to recognize distinguished member organizations in the network each year for their exceptional work and leadership and for exemplifying our core values.


This award recognizes a member organization that is pioneering new solutions, technology or business practices to solve complex issues. Their breakthrough solutions are designed to empower all people in America to lead their best lives.


This award recognizes a member organization that is leading the way in its work in addressing justice, mercy and equity. This member best exemplifies the spirit of Micah 6:8, “Act justly, and love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.”


The Ken Daly Award for
Excellence in Mentorship

In honor of the late Lutheran Services in America board member Ken Daly, this award recognizes a leader with an exceptional gift for spotting potential in people and lifting up the next group of leaders.

Complete your nomination form and submit it to Kimberly Roque at kroque@lutheranservices.org.



Lutheran Services Florida Health Systems

Lutheran Services Florida Health Systems expanded an enhanced Certified Recovery Peer Specialist (CPRS) training program that addresses the region’s shortage of paraprofessionals with the skills and competencies to work with people at risk for behavioral health disorders — the first of its kind in Florida that has trained more than 300 people. It’s now expanding to include a specialized program for veterans and first responders. In addition, LSF Health Systems established one of the first apprenticeship programs for behavioral health paraprofessionals in the state of Florida. 

LSF Health Systems’ Dr. Christine Cauffield has promoted a culture of innovation within her team and throughout the state of Florida by launching and hosting annually Florida’s Behavioral Health Innovation Summit (now in its third year). This event provides an opportunity for local, state and regional stakeholders to learn more about how to promote innovation within their organizations. It also helps participants discover innovative programs that are achieving impact in local communities and can be replicated throughout the state.

Learn more about the work of Lutheran Services Florida Health Systems.


We Raise Foundation

We Raise Foundation used its resources to guide Lutheran Services in America member organizations on how to apply diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives through the newly created Reimagining Diversity Collaborative, which brings members together to explore race and inclusion in a safe setting.

Not only has We Raise Foundation sponsored this work, but its leadership has modeled this commitment in their approach to their mission execution. Paul Miles has been a champion of this work, and his willingness to be transparent and share his own learning has been inspiring.

Learn more about the work of We Raise Foundation.

Awards 4 - Ted


The Ken Daly Award for Excellence

Ted Goins of Lutheran Services Carolinas

Ted Goins exemplifies the Paragon Award through his warm welcome and mentorship of CEOs new to the Lutheran Services in America network. Ted listened, offered advice and connected with Lutheran social ministry leaders who were experiencing similar challenges. Through his generosity of time and mentorship and willingness to connect CEOs with other leaders, Goins helped his peers to see that they are not alone in navigating these challenges and has provided motivation and encouragement to pursue their goals.

Learn more about the work of Lutheran Services Carolinas.


Amelia Fox of Lutheran Services Florida

Over her 30-year career from Atlanta to Tampa, Amelia Fox has mentored at least 100 women.

During her six years at Lutheran Services Florida (LSF) as the Chief Strategy Officer / Chief of Staff, Amelia has recognized and encouraged women to achieve their goals. Amelia identified several women at LSF with potential and worked to ensure they had opportunities to grow and to showcase their talents. One of these women received two promotions within three years; another left the organization to pursue her dream career; and yet another was hired into LSF and quickly rose to be the right hand to her program executive director.

During Covid-19, Amelia helped form the LSF Women of Impact, a group of 20 senior women leaders in the organization. She worked quietly in the background to provide them with more than $30,000 in leadership training, ensuring as women that they were ready for the next level. The group is still meeting, thriving, and building each other up today!

Amelia is engaged with women in the community too. She has mentored young teens in the LSF foster care program and challenged them to approach things differently, to share their stories more holistically in order to help them grow from their trauma and become the person God intended them to be.

Amelia has also molded and mentored many of Tampa Bay’s up-and-coming professionals and leaders through the Tampa Bay Chamber mentorship program. In them she instilled servant leadership as the moral compass to pursue their career goals.

Learn more about the work of Lutheran Services Florida.

David Trost of St. John’s United

For 27 years, David Trost has served the residents, families and staff of St. John’s United through its mission to provide living opportunities within nurturing environments of hope, dignity and love. In the spirit of the Paragon Award, David has guided more than 20 people through a robust internship program that has produced leaders within the organization and externally in Montana and across the nation. The program has impacted the healthcare industry by producing hospital CEOs and CFOs and long-term care administrators. It has also produced teachers, consultants and numerous other industry leaders.

David’s unique approach to educating and mentoring interns and helping them navigate the long-term care landscape has not only set up St. John’s United for many years of continued innovative leadership but has also intentionally spread the organization’s mission throughout the community by way of those who go on to other sectors and positions of leadership.

Learn more about St. John’s United.


enCircle’s diversity, equity and inclusion work is grounded in its mission and articulated in its Guiding Principles. enCircle’s mission is to make the world a more loving place. Part of living out that mission is recognizing and honoring the diversity of races, religions, abilities and identities of the people in the community. enCircle’s beliefs are not rooted in any political agenda but in its founding as a Lutheran organization. To facilitate understanding of how we can live out its Guiding Principle, enCircle implemented a required staff training on DEI, offered DEI training to its board of directors and revised its strategic plan for diversity and inclusion.

To help change its culture and hold themselves accountable for results, enCircle created the director of DEI as a leadership position reporting directly to the CEO. With coaching from Tommie Lewis of Make It Plain Consulting, enCircle’s DEI director, Maurice Gallimore, helped create a DEI Committee that helps inform executive leadership decisions regarding employee engagement, programs, talent management, and development and training. With enCircle’s recommendation, Tommie Lewis shared DEI best practices and facilitated diversity conversations during the three-part Lutheran Services in America Strength & Service webinar series “Reimagining Diversity in the Workplace.”

Learn more about enCircle.

Lutheran Senior Services

Lutheran Senior Services in St. Louis, Missouri, is on a journey to transform the delivery of aging services, moving from a primarily health care orientation to one where wellness is prioritized and proactive, potentially predictive, action in partnership with those it serves. LSS knows that residents of the future value a holistic approach to wellness that includes a fit and active lifestyle and high-quality dining options. They’ll want to be more engaged than ever with what’s going on outside of the walls of LSS communities. They’ll be more tech savvy and connected.

The change within LSS to meet this need is imperative. In 2022, LSS unveiled a new strategic framework for growth that will guide it in this journey. It’s an ambitious vision that will innovate the types of services offered to older adults and where they can receive them. Optimizing experiences will be key in the future. That’s why LSS has installed one of the only Chief Experience Officers in the aging services field as a key member of the leadership team. LSS is poised to not only continue as a leader in the Life Plan Community and Affordable Housing markets, but to grow in new ways to serve a more diverse cross section of older adults.

Learn more about Lutheran Senior Services.

Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest

Responding to the growing need today for advocates for the vulnerable, Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest has taken a multi-faceted approach to tackle issues ranging from hunger, housing, inequity, and discrimination that individuals face daily. LSS has expanded its outreach, amplifying voices across Arizona to advocate for those in need. By educating stakeholders, partnering with essential organizations, and working to combat the biggest issues facing those in need, LSS has helped to strengthen the bonds of community and become a leader in equity and inclusion.

LSS created an Advocacy Committee and an advocacy stakeholder group to educate and call others to action. The Advocacy Committee keeps our staff, supporters and community apprised of the current obstacles and injustices facing clients and explains related legislation that could benefit or negatively impact populations.

LSS has also partnered with other organizations to promote equity among all Arizonans. LSS co-founded Lutheran Advocacy Ministry Arizona (LAMA), an advocacy ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Their mission states they were founded “to join with the most vulnerable of our society to voice our common needs in the public square, activating our faith in love.” In addition to LAMA, LSS has partnered with We Are All America to host a Refugee Day at the Capitol to educate representatives and support needed legislation. LSS committed themselves to learning about the obstacles to affordable housing and the inequities that exist, to better support clients.

Learn more about Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest.

Maria Dillon-Owens of Lutheran Social Services of Southern California

Maria Dillon-Owens, M.S., has truly revolutionized the way Lutheran Social Services of Southern California conducts employee hiring and staff relations. She recently conducted a series of employee forums and focus groups open to all of our nearly 200 employees. The data and comments garnered were a great gauge to let us know that our employee job satisfaction is on the rise.

More than any other executive on our team, Ms. Dillon-Owens, has mastered our LSSSC Dashboard software and gives timely and accurate breakdowns on employee matters to our board and executive team. From how many Covid exposures each week, to reporting on our increasing employee retention under her leadership, the pie charts and statistics are always coupled with her direct concern for each and every employee.

Maria loves to see people promoted from within and has been LSSSC’s biggest cheerleader of our employee education program that offers scholarships for further education. Her example causes others to pay forward the care and encouragement she gives. It’s simply infectious!

Learn more about Lutheran Social Services of Southern California.

Sally Montgomery of Mosaic

In her more than 40-year career at Mosaic, Sally Montgomery, executive director at Mosaic in northern Colorado, has mentored dozens of people who went on to become successful and visionary leaders within the organization, other service providers and the Colorado disability services division. Through a unique ability to see talent and cultivate confidence in people, she has built leadership teams that shape the ongoing move to personalized, quality services across Mosaic and in her home state.

Sally’s mentoring and leadership within Mosaic goes beyond her team. Sally led the transformation of all residential services within Colorado to Mosaic at Home. After successfully transitioning services in her own location, she helped shape the systems and processes used across Mosaic and mentors executive directors in other locations working to transition services. She is seen as the “go to” expert, not just on the service line, but also as the coach and to help leaders communicate the change effectively and successfully. She also has assisted other leaders with coaching and communication tips to support aligning teams with Mosaic’s strategic roadmap.

Find out more about Sally and learn more about Mosaic.


In 2021, Upbring responded to the rise of cryptocurrency and entered a new frontier of fundraising by accepting cryptocurrency as one of its donation types. This fall, Upbring Innovation Labs (UIL) launched the Crypto Endowment Fund for Better Childhood — a first-of-its-kind fund that enables donors to give cryptocurrency and maximize the impact of their gift by letting its value grow with the market. The endowment not only fields donations through the traditional sense of “an ask,” but has created earned-revenue partnerships with blockchain companies that help it sustainably fund its growth; these partnerships range from relationships with Bitcoin mining companies, NFT artists and cryptocurrency protocol companies.

UIL also launched a proof-of-concept blockchain application for child welfare data. The application is now being used as a case study and being shared with senators, house representatives and business leaders to demonstrates blockchain technology is applicable to child welfare and should be explored further. Future phases of the application will be developed should UIL garner support from outside investors and the Texas legislative community.

Upbring is intent on shifting the conversation from child welfare to child wellbeing. They are relentless in their efforts to revolutionize standards of care not only for the children of Texas, but for all current and future children of the world.

Learn more about Upbring.