LSG's 2014 Heroes: R.N.C. Industries

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Each year, Lutheran Services of Georgia honors community heroes at the annual Heroes of Hope, Healing, and Strength Gala! On Thursday, September 25, 2014, LSG will honor Lutheran leaders Rev. Darrel and Mary Peterson, community leader Erroll B. Davis, and business leader R.N.C. Industries. For more information about the Gala, click here.

R.N.C. Industries has been in business since 1990. It was founded by Larry Clark. In 1995 Charlotta Clark joined Larry at R.N.C. and the business was incorporated. They have moved from being a very small business, to a company that employs almost 70 people.

R.N.C. produces one of the highest quality shipping containers on the market. Control Temp Packaging is used to ship all types of temperature sensitive products from blood and vaccines, to chocolates and cheesecakes. We strive for customized, high quality service and products for each of our customers.

Beyond providing excellent products to our customers, R.N.C. is committed to giving back to the community.

R.N.C. is named for the son of Larry and Charlotta Clark, Ralph Noye Clark, who passed away at age 5 from pediatric cancer. With the growth over the past 24 years, R.N.C. is now thrilled to be able to give to Camp Sunshine, an organization that organizes programs for children with cancer and their families. Taylor Clark, the Vice President of Marketing, and Maria Cornejo, the Human Resources Manager, are also volunteers for Camp Sunshine.

R.N.C. plans to continue the tradition of excellence in all realms of business, making a wonderful work environment for employees, providing only the best for our customers, and giving back to the community.

LSG's 2014 Heroes: Erroll B. Davis, Jr.


Each year, Lutheran Services of Georgia honors community heroes at the annual Heroes of Hope, Healing, and Strength Gala! On Thursday, September 25, 2014, LSG will honor Lutheran leaders Rev. Darrel and Mary Peterson, community leader Erroll B. Davis, and business leader R.N.C. Industries. We’ll be sharing  information about our 2014 Heroes on our blog. For more information about the Gala, click here.

Erroll B. Davis, Jr. served as superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools (APS) from July 2011 until his retirement in June 2014.   Prior to joining APS, Erroll served as chancellor of the University System of Georgia, where he was responsible for the state’s 35 public colleges and universities, approximately 302,000 students, 40,200 faculty and staff, and an annual budget of approximately $6.3 billion.

Before leading the University System of Georgia, Erroll served as chair of the board of Alliant Energy Corporation – an energy holding company with $8.3 billion in total assets and annual operating revenues of $3 billion at that time – since 2000. Erroll joined Alliant in 1998 as president and chief executive officer. He retired from his dual roles as president and CEO in July 2005, and retained the chair’s post until his move to the University System in early 2006.

Prior to the creation of Alliant Energy, Erroll served as president and CEO of WPL Holdings from 1990 to 1998. From 1978 to 1990, he rose through the senior management ranks at Wisconsin Power and Light Company, starting as vice president of finance and ending as CEO and president.

Erroll’s higher education experience includes serving as a member of the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents from 1987 to 1994, and as a former chair and life member of the board of trustees of Carnegie Mellon University. He also served as a member of the University of Chicago Board of Trustees.   A native of Pittsburgh, Pa., Erroll earned a bachelor of science in electrical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University in 1965 and an MBA in finance from the University of Chicago in 1967. He is a member of the board of directors of General Motors, Union Pacific Corp. and the Public Broadcasting System. He is on the advisory board of the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO) and a member of the National Academy of Sciences roundtable on community resilience. He is a former member of the U.S. Olympic Committee board (2004–2008) and has served on the boards of numerous corporate and community-based organizations.

He is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the 2014 100 Black Men of Atlanta Leadership Award and the 2014 Atlanta Partners for Education Partnership Champion of the Year Award given by the Metro Atlanta Chamber. He was also recognized by the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) as one of the “100 Most Influential Directors in America” in 2013 and 2014. He was also recognized as one of Georgia Trend magazine’s “100 Most Influential Georgians” from 2007 through 2011; the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s “100 Most Influential Atlantans” in 2006 and 2007; one of the “75 Most Powerful Blacks in Corporate America” in 2005 by Black Enterprise magazine; one of the “Top 50 Blacks in Technology” at the Black Engineer of the Year 2005 Awards Conference; and the Carnegie-Mellon Alumni Distinguished Service Award in 2004. Erroll also was named one of the “50 Most Powerful Black Executives in America” by Fortune magazine in 2002 and received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business in 1993, the same year he received a Bronze Medal in Financial World’s “CEO of the Year” competition. In addition, Erroll was honored by the magazine U.S. Black Engineer as the “Black Engineer of the Year” in 1988.

Erroll and his wife, Elaine, established the Davis Family Foundation, which makes annual grants to numerous students in need.


LSG's 2014 Heroes: The Rev. Darrel and Mary Peterson


Each year, Lutheran Services of Georgia honors community heroes at the annual Heroes of Hope, Healing, and Strength Gala! On Thursday, September 25, 2014, LSG will honor Lutheran leaders Rev. Darrel and Mary Peterson, community leader Erroll B. Davis, and business leader R.N.C. Industries. For the next three weeks, we'll be sharing more information about our 2014 Heroes on our blog. For more information about the Gala, click here.

Mary and Darrel Peterson have ties that run deep with Lutheran Social Service agencies. Mary was adopted as an infant from Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota. Darrel has served on and has chaired the Boards of Lutheran Social Service Agencies in South Dakota, Colorado and Georgia. Both have been and are active advocates for social ministries in the Lutheran community.

Darrel is in his 45th year of being a Lutheran Pastor. He served congregations in Sioux Falls, SD, Aurora, CO and Marietta, GA. Prior to his retirement in November of 2013, he served as an Assistant to the Bishop of the Southeastern Synod of the ELCA. Darrel spent twelve years with Lutheran Brotherhood / Thrivent, first as a financial representative and later as an Agency Resource Manager. He has a history of working with stewardship and social ministry.

Mary has been a financial representative with Lutheran Brotherhood / Thrivent for 25 years. She is a Certified Financial Planner CFP® and a legacy consultant. She has worked in support of LSG management and staff in their planning and benefits.

Mary and Darrel are both natives of Minnesota and graduates of Augsburg College in Minneapolis. Darrel is an alumnus of Luther Seminary in St. Paul. Mary was an elementary teacher prior to going to work for Lutheran Brotherhood.

The Petersons have two grown sons, Derek and Adam. Derek lives in Marietta and is Mary’s business partner. He is married to Jennifer and they have two children, Fiona and Lars. Adam lives in Lakeland , Florida where he works for an environmental consulting company.

Darrel and Mary were instrumental in their Lutheran Brotherhood context initiating the annual LSG golf outing, as well as organizing the Lutheran Night at the Braves. In 1994, more than 5,000 Lutherans attended Lutheran Night at the Braves.

Nur Abdi's Story

When Nur Abdi first arrived at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, little did he know that within a few months he'd be working alongside other airport employees. Nur's journey to employment with the airport began in 2008, when he and his sister fled violence and instability in their home country of Somalia. They traveled to India where they lived as refugees in camps that lacked adequate governmental support. To support himself and his sister, Nur accepted a position with an international organization's income generation program. The program trains refugees to produce materials like plates, teacups, and paper that could then be sold for an income. Nur assumed a leadership role in the organization, handling quality control and program monitoring. Life in India was difficult, however, and Nur dreamed of the day when he could leave for the United States.

On March 14, 2013, Nur's plane finally landed in Atlanta, Georgia. He remembers that day clearly. "I met my caseworker in the airport," he recalls, "shaking hands and saying welcome to the United States of America. It was a dream which became a reality, a dream which [started with] a land of opportunity."

After a mere three days in the U.S., Nur began volunteering with LSG, using his language skills to interpret for other refugees and LSG staff during cultural orientation classes and the Match Grant program. He also helped translate test papers. Within two months, Nur accepted a job at the airport, where he works hard to support himself. He is proud of securing stable employment in such a short time. He reflects, "Finding a job in the United States of America is not easy. It needs a lot of effort, time, and hard work. For me, getting a job in the airport is an achievement."

Although Nur is excited about his new life in the U.S., he misses his family often. His parents, six sisters, and brother remain on the other side of the ocean, making communication difficult. Nevertheless, he has hope for a bright future. Nur views coming to America as "a step forward" in his life, and looks forward to acquiring skills and experience at the airport. He is grateful for all of the help he has received from LSG staff and volunteers. "They are amazing people," he says. "They always encouraged me and said, 'Here in America, everybody can make a difference and you can make it. It doesn't matter where you are from or who you are or what your last name is.'

Nur Abdi recently shared his story at LSG's 6th Annual Heroes of Hope, Healing, and Strength Gala. Click here to read more about Heroes of Hope.

Celebrating Our Heroes of Hope

Lutheran Services of Georgia thanks all who attended our 6th annual Heroes of Hope, Healing, and Strength Gala on Thursday, August 29, 2013. Each year, LSG honors an employee, donor, or member of the community who embodies our mission of bringing hope, healing, and strength to those in need. This year, we recognized the Rev. Dr. Rusty Edwards and For the Kid in All of Us for their heroic contributions.

Previously held at Turner Field, this year’s gala took place at the Defoor Centre, an elegant space hung with colorful paper lanterns and decorated with artwork. The evening began with a reception and a silent auction featuring items that ranged from gift cards for local businesses, sightseeing opportunities, and handmade scarves. Over 25 individuals, companies, and organizations generously donated auction items. As attendees browsed, they also enjoyed cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and a live jazz trio playing “A Foggy Day in London Town” and other favorites.

WSB-TV news anchor John Bachman once again served as our Masters of Ceremonies for the evening’s program. As attendees enjoyed their meals, LSG employees and clients shared stories from foster care and refugee services. Simonette and Declan Taitt spoke of how fostering a child through LSG “could change your life forever.” Nur Abdi, a Somalian refugee, told stories of LSG’s support throughout his resettlement process.

Attendees watched inspiring videos detailing the work of the Rev. Dr. Rusty Edwards and For the Kid in All of Us. A talented musician and songwriter, Rusty has written thirty one hymns that appear in hymnals all over the world. As the Volunteer Manager for the 2003 ELCA National Youth Gathering in Atlanta, Rusty helped LSG become the recipient of their in-kind offering. Because of Rusty’s efforts, LSG received over $27,000 in gifts cards for children associated with LSG's programs. Rusty thanked LSG, his congregation, his family, his friends, and his “beloved dentist” for recognizing him this year.

LSG also celebrated For the Kid in All of Us, an entirely volunteer-run non-profit organization that serves underprivileged children throughout Georgia. Each year, For the Kid in All of Us hosts two major events—the Toy Party and Backpack in the Park. As an official beneficiary of both events, LSG has received backpacks and toys for children in our programs. One year, we even received a bicycle which was then given as a Christmas present to a child in foster care whose bike was stolen. For the Kid in All of Us gives children “the strength to grow and to learn during the school year, the hope that Santa will come on Christmas morning, and the healing they need to make all their dreams come true,” said Brian Isabell, President-Elect of For the Kid in All of Us’ Board of Directors.

LSG thanks all who joined us in honoring these community heroes. We especially thank all those who made this event possible: silent auction donors, supporters, the Defoor Centre, John Bachman, and, of course, the Rev. Dr. Rusty Edwards and For the Kid in All of Us. We look forward to 2014, when we will celebrate others who bring hope, healing, and strength to those in need.

For more photos from the 2013 Heroes of Hope, Healing, and Strength Gala, click here to visit our Facebook page. Don't forget to "like", "share", and tag familiar faces!

A Man of Many Hats

This summer Gary Danielsen retired after serving for 18 years as President and CEO of Lutheran Services of Georgia. He will be honored Thursday evening at LSG’s annual Heroes of Hope event for his accomplishments and contributions to the agency. Some members of LSG’s staff were around to witness many of these accomplishments and contributions, having worked with Gary for all or most of the 18 years that he served as President and CEO. How do they remember him as a leader, coworker, and friend?

According to staff, Gary was an enthusiastic leader who was willing to take risks to expand LSG’s services. Gary Johnstone, now in his twelfth year at the agency, recalls a moment when LSG was attempting to broaden its FACES program. Gary D. persuaded investors to contribute $150,000 to finance the extension of FACES. “Those guys,” Gary J. explains, referring to the investors, “heard enough enthusiasm and belief coming out of him that they were willing to fly down to Atlanta and meet with us and discuss our program and then invest money, expecting nothing back—they just gave us the money—so it was a huge outcome for us, a huge benefit, and that was one of his major accomplishments for us.” Steve Oliver, also in his twelfth year, recounts another challenge that Gary confronted as LSG’s leader. In the fall of 2000, at a time when refugee services and adoption were LSG’s two main programs, Gary had to decide whether or not to expand the foster care and adult placement programs. He decided to finance the expansion of foster care and adult placement, a move which Steve thinks “required that he get out of his comfort zone.” Steve praises Gary’s willingness to take calculated risks and lauds his broad vision for the agency. “He actually saw the possibility of what could happen,” Steve adds, “and fortunately it paid off in growth without detracting from anything else.”

As an ordained minister in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Gary was also influenced by his faith. He was compassionate toward his employees and the clients of LSG’s services. Mary Kay Kates, who has worked at LSG for 22 years, describes Gary as a “very caring and compassionate person about everyone he met, but in particular about the clients we served and about the vulnerable populations in general.” Obaid Rasoul, who has been a refugee services case manager for 30 years, remarks that Gary would always ask about Obaid’s family when passing by in the hallway. Obaid also thinks that Gary deepened his concern for refugees and their families after returning from his time in the Middle East as an Army chaplain.

Not many people are CEOs, pastors, and Army Reserve members at the same time. As Steve remarks about Gary, “He had different hats.” “Sometimes you’d see him in the clerical collar,” Steve says, “and then there’s the uniform, and then there’s the suit, and then there’s the short-sleeve shirt.” “He could relax at a potluck lunch for someone leaving the office,” Steve continues, “but at the same time he could deliver a sermon to a Lutheran congregation and speak to the Board of Directors, and enjoy seeing a little baby get adopted.” A man of many hats indeed.

Did Gary have a sense of humor as well? You bet. Mary Kay points to the 1999 Hunger Walk as an example of Gary’s “fun-loving side.” To encourage the staff of LSG to raise funds for the Hunger Walk, the coordinator of the event convinced Gary to let the person who raised the most money hit him in the face with a pie. Who raised the most money? Mary Kay. A picture is worth more than a thousand words: