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Leadership Changes Planned for Christian Brothers Conference

A process is underway to develop a new leadership model for Christian Brothers Conference (CBC), the office for the Lasallian Region of North America (RELAN).

The Regional Conference of Christian Brothers (RCCB) and the Lasallian Education Council (LEC) have been working together to develop a new model that would introduce a single leader for the staff, programs and activities of CBC. The new model will take effect July 1, 2022, replacing the current model of leadership held among the General Councilor, executive director of the Office for Lasallian Education and director of administration.

In recent months, an LEC task force has reflected upon the current leadership structure of CBC and examined the organizational structures of other Regions, religious institutes and congregations. The task force also collected experiences, perspectives and ideas from others to propose a new leadership model for CBC, which the RCCB approved.

“We believe this new leadership structure for the Regional office will foster increased collaboration, enhance synergy between departments and prioritize employee wellness as we continue to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said LEC Chair Dr. Kurt Schackmuth, who serves as vice president for mission and associate provost for student success at Lewis University. “We feel this new approach will help us to meet the mission advancement needs of the Region in new and more efficient ways.”

Mark Freund, bottom left, with graduates, accompaniers and presenters at the final gathering of the inaugural cohort of the Regional Formation Institute in December 2021

This change includes the elimination of the position of executive director of the Office for Lasallian Education, a position Mark Freund has held since September 2015. In his more than six years of leadership, Freund has shown a great commitment to the Lasallian mission, guiding formation programs and events, promoting the mission to external entities to raise awareness and build partnerships, and collaborating with Lasallians Regionally and internationally to grow the mission. Most recently, he saw to a successful conclusion the first cohort of the Regional Formation Institute, a program to develop the next generation of formators that he grew from a concept into a reality. He also had a leadership role in developing innovative alternatives to in-person formation programs throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, including producing a series of webinars and collaborating to present the first virtual Huether Lasallian Conference in 2020, and then coordinating on planning to bring Lasallians back together safely for in-person programming.

“On behalf the Lasallian Education Council, I wish to express my gratitude to Mark for his heartfelt dedication to and passion for the Lasallian mission,” said Schackmuth. “I’m particularly grateful for Mark’s development of the Regional Formation Institute, his leadership of the Buttimer 2.0 Task Force, and the many ways he has creatively addressed challenges—most notably his leadership of the Office for Lasallian Education during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“It has been an honor to serve Lasallians from throughout the Region and around the world with formation programs and events that both reflect the signs of the times while also assuring the historical, pedagogical and spiritual traditions of Saint John Baptist de La Salle. My collaboration with Sarah Laitinen in our Office for Lasallian Education has been inspirational and rewarding. We have addressed the strategic goals and priorities of the Lasallian Education Council and responded to new challenges and opportunities,” said Freund. “Getting to know the Brothers and Partners from around the Region has been inspiring. Meeting and learning from incredible Lasallian scholars, such as the late Brother Jeffrey Calligan and Brothers William Mann and Gerard Rummery—and being able to reach out to them for advice and guidance—reminded me of why I connected so well with Brothers as a freshman at Calvert Hall too many years ago. Their genuine interest, care and concern is truly inspirational.”

The LEC and RCCB have partnered with AGB Search to identify an executive director for this new leadership role. CBC staff members and collaborators throughout RELAN are being invited to provide input regarding this new role. A position description and invitation to apply will be released before Christmas.