LSSWis - Lutheran Social Services (LSS) of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan

Lutheran Social Services of
Wisconsin and Upper Michigan


Meet John Howman

John Howman has a passion for cultivating leadership and maximizing success. He is an entrepreneur and CEO of several companies, and he provides consulting services to other C-level executives from multi-million dollar corporations to help them enhance their company’s performance. John is also the chairman and facilitator of The Executive Committee (TEC), a group of local CEOs that make up a powerful networking alliance. In fact, it’s because of TEC that John became acquainted with our organization and is now the chairman of our Board of Directors.

“In 2008, LSS President David Larson joined TEC, and we gained a lot of insight having him in our group. In 2010, I was asked to join the LSS board, and I was really happy to do so. I’m adopted, and both of my children are adopted, so I was already warmed up to the mission.” 

What John didn’t realize until he was a formal member of the board was that adoption was just one of many vital programs  we provide that make a difference in the community daily. 

“Like others who are vaguely familiar with LSS, I thought of it strictly in the context of foster care and adoption,” John said.  “Learning about the hundreds of programs that LSS offers and the depth of those programs was really incredible.”

With such a wide range of services spread throughout Wisconsin and Michigan, John says the board’s responsibility is to achieve a balance between the mission of our organization as well as viability. That requires both a mission and a business-oriented mindset in equal measure. With that responsibility in mind, the board made two key decisions.

First, it created a governance committee that identifies prospective board members who can bring unique and complementary skills to the board. It also created a committee that has been evaluating how to attract and maintain top-flight talent to our organization.

“One of the things most impressive about LSS is the leadership team,” confirms John, who took over as chairman last February. “They do a tremendous job, and many of our managers and directors have been with LSS better than ten years. We want to continue to ensure that this is a place where they can grow in their careers.

All of this is essential because the community needs that propel our mission are only growing.

“Unfortunately, it appears there is going to be a never-ending demand for our services,” noted John. ”The challenge is whether we can we staff the organization to meet the demands that the world is throwing at us.”

He points to a recent example when he, Dave Larson and other members of TEC drove their motorcycles to Wittenberg to attend the graduation ceremonies at Homme Youth and Family Services, a treatment program for children and adolescents dealing with sexual perpetration, delinquency, victimization, alcohol or drug abuse, cognitive-behavioral issues or dual diagnosis.

“It was hard not to cry during the ceremony because you realize the impact LSS has,” said John. “It’s my understanding that if we doubled the size of Homme and doubled the staff, we could double the census. And, if we truly believe we are best provider for these critical types of services, it’s imperative that we develop a strategy to meet the challenge.”

When asked what’s been most rewarding for him personally in his time on the  board, John says: “It’s hard to describe how proud I am to be associated with LSS knowing the impact it has on our community. When you are involved in business, you think or hope you are making a difference, but you’re never sure. With LSS, there is immediate feedback about the difference the organization is making. The board can’t take credit for much of that, but it’s great to be part of it. When you walk in the front door on Virginia Street, it’s just a positive place to be.”

John has been married for 35 years to his wife, Laura, and has two children. He is an avid motorcycle enthusiast who’s been known to conduct conference calls while traveling on his bike. He and Laura are going to Italy on a motorcycle tour, and although his wife has encouraged him to learn some Italian, he admits the only thing he can say is “buongiorno.”

647 W. Virginia Street
Milwaukee, WI 53204

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© 2016 Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan