Children’s Home Society names Lavallee as CEO

Experienced South Dakota Business Leader Will Guide Strategy and Advance Mission

Posted on September 20, 2019

Children’s Home Society (CHS) has appointed Michelle Lavallee as its next chief executive officer. Lavallee follows Bill Colson, who will retire at the year end and served as CHS’s head for the past 10 years.

Increasing workforce development services and expanding Children’s Inn, an emergency shelter for women and children, are Lavallee’s immediate priorities. Her extensive leadership experience within complex South Dakota organizations will serve this charge. Some of Lavallee’s previous positions include executive level positions within Raven, Avera McKennan Hospital and University Health Center, and The University of South Dakota.

“South Dakota’s children and families will benefit greatly from Michelle’s strong leadership skills in strategy development, fundraising and workforce development,” said Meg Warder, CHS board chair. “Michelle is a well-respected and experienced leader in South Dakota, grounded to lead CHS to future growth. She also has an incredible passion to advance our mission to empower our communities to be resilient, safe, healthy and strong. We are excited for CHS’s future with Michelle at the helm.” Warder added, “We also want to thank Bill for his dedicated service to our community in his leadership positions with CHS and wish him a well-deserved retirement.”

Lavallee is just the 10th leader in CHS’s 126-year history, a reflection of its stability and commitment to the nonprofit’s mission. She is also the first woman to lead the organization. Lavallee and Colson will work together during the leadership transition through the rest of the year. Colson had announced his retirement plan in 2016.

“I’m so inspired by the work of Children’s Home Society and am humbled to further expand its mission,” said Lavallee. “It will be an honor to work with this passionate team and positively impact the lives of so many children, adults and families within communities in South Dakota.”

Lavallee has been honored by Beacom School of Business – Distinguished Service Award; YWCA – Tribute to Women Award for Marketing and Innovation; and Sales and Marketing Executives, Inc. – Women of Excellence Award, Women Mentoring Women. She also was a lieutenant governor candidate for South Dakota and is an adjunct faculty member, Beacom School of Business, The University of South Dakota. She has extensive Board service including serving as the president of the Downtown Sioux Falls Rotary, incoming chair of the South Dakota Hall of Fame, co-president of the South Dakota Symphony, as well as Board positions for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation, Ronald McDonald House and the Washington Pavilion. Lavallee has a BS in Communications from Northwestern University and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management.

Lavallee’s primary office will be at the CHS campus in Sioux Falls, which houses the main administrative center. She will be regularly serving within the Black Hills campus as well.

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