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Friday, June 24, 2022

LCFS of Illinois and 360 Youth Services reach agreement, 360 welcomes new executive director


In early April, the leadership team of Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois (LCFS) announced their agreement to bring 360 Youth Services under the organizational umbrella of LCFS, a way to be “stronger together.”

Now in its 50th year, 360 Youth Services will continue to operate as a separate social service nonprofit, retaining its name, mission, values and services, but with LCFS providing administrative support and governance. Both organizations are committed to working together to strengthen and grow the youth and family-centered prevention, counseling, and housing programs provided by 360 to the Naperville, Aurora and surrounding communities.

“Our organizations saw each other as a good fit because our missions, values, and commitments around being welcoming to marginalized youth are in such strong alignment,” stated LCFS President & CEO Mike Bertrand of the agreement. “Having raised my family in Aurora, I’m aware of the incredible impact 360 has had in this community over the last 50 years, and I want this to continue. What made 360 attractive to LCFS is their preventative services because I believe we need to offer support to more children and families before they reach a crisis point.”

Together the two organizations already serve more than 5,600 young people and their families throughout Illinois, and hope to grow that impact. LCFS has a very strong commitment to serving older youth. Currently, LCFS is one of the largest providers of services to adolescents in Illinois’ child welfare system. 360 is the only youth-specific service provider for young people experiencing homelessness outside of Chicago in the state of Illinois.

“Our programs and impact are strong, but as a small nonprofit we’ve faced administrative challenges,” noted Dawn Melchiorre, serving as 360 Interim Executive Director at the time of the announcement. “LCFS’ organizational support will allow us to focus on serving more young people and their families in order to fulfill our vision of a community where all youth possess the necessary skills to successfully navigate life’s challenges.”

Within a couple weeks of the above announcement, Scot Thurman, J.D., M.A., was named 360 Executive Director. Late in the afternoon during his fourth day on the job, Thurman graciously welcomed PN into his new office.

Thurman comes to 360 with a wealth of education and experience and is also a longtime member of the Naperville/Aurora community. He spent nine years as the Director of Youth and Community Services for the Aurora Township and before that, seven years as the Youth Director at Wayside Cross Mission in Aurora. He’s also a current member and past president of the Rotary Club of Aurora. Thurman has a law degree, a master’s degree and is currently working on a PhD in Community Psychology.

As 360 embarks on the opportunities ahead, Thurman will bring his passion for serving youth, collaborative leadership and community organizing experience to his new role.

“Kids have been teaching me a lot,” said Thurman, who added he’s ready to dig in and see how he can help the organization “continue to grow and serve more youth within our communities.”

He also expressed gratitude to Melchiorre for her leadership and service, recognizing how the two nonprofits had navigated the partnership during this time of transition. And he’s looking forward to future “friendraisers.”

By the end of PN’s visit, Thurman’s personal history had revealed his deep roots in New York where he’d been born in Queens. He attended Stony Brook University on Long Island, University of Buffalo Law School and Moody Theological Seminary in Chicago. His credentials are impressive.

Noting his first name Scot is spelled with only one letter T, PN wondered if there were any significance.

With a chuckle, Thurman answered, “Funny. I wondered the same thing one time. When I asked my mother, she said she just wanted me to be different.”

And so it goes as 360 embraces what the future holds, helping to fulfill 360’s vision of a community where all youth possess the necessary skills to successfully navigate life’s challenges.

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PN Ombudsman
PN Ombudsman
An ombudsman is Scandinavian in origin dating back to Viking times; and refers to a community representative; usually acting independently on behalf of an organization, body of elected officials, or civic group. Thanks Scandinavia for inventing ombudsman.

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