Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, one of the state's largest social services nonprofits, has a new CEO.
The St. Paul-based nonprofit, which has a $162 million annual budget, named Patrick Thueson its new CEO this week after Gov. Tim Walz appointed the organization's leader, Jodi Harpstead, commissioner of the Department of Human Services last fall.
"It's just an honor," said Thueson, 58, of Stillwater, a University of St. Thomas graduate who got his start working for Coca-Cola in finance, operations and marketing. "We plan to keep innovating; that's our hallmark so far."
Thueson, who's worked for Lutheran Social Service for 13 years, has been the interim CEO since Harpstead's departure and previously worked as the nonprofit's chief operating officer and chief financial officer.
He takes over in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, which has prompted the nonprofit, like others, to deliver all services virtually or by minimizing person-to-person contact, such as providing mental health counseling via video or delivering meals to seniors' homes.
Thueson said no services have been suspended or closed because of the pandemic. In fact, demand for services like counseling and food have increased along with the number of Minnesotans in need.
"We've been able to pivot so far," he said.
In the CEO role, he will oversee 2,400 employees and 10,000 volunteers at the nonprofit, which provides services to about 100,000 people a year in all of the state's 87 counties — from refugee resettlement to programs for veterans, seniors and people with disabilities. A majority of the nonprofit's services are funded through government contracts.
Board chairwoman Andrea Pieske said Thueson was chosen by the board unanimously for his "spirit of teamwork" and experience with the organization. The nonprofit's board will determine his compensation in May; in the CEO role, Harpstead earned $336,837 in total compensation, according to tax filings.