After being at the helm of Lasting Change, Inc. for nearly three decades, Mark Terrell recently stepped down from his CEO position, but still remains onboard with the Fort Wayne-based nonprofit organization.
“I am passionate about the work we do at Lasting Change in addition to our culture, mission and vision,” says Terrell. “But I eventually came to the realization that the external part of the CEO job had really become a full-time job on its own to manage things like fundraising, advocacy and strategic relationships. I wasn’t going to do the organization justice and the organization wasn’t going to achieve all of its potential without someone focused solely on the external aspect.”
Terrell’s new role with Lasting Change is that of president. Tim Smith, who had previously worked as the general counsel and chief innovation officer of Lasting Change, officially assumed the CEO position on January 1st.
“We have the best of both worlds here and the reason this transition is working so well with Mark and I is the mutual love and respect we have for each other and Lasting Change, and because we have very clear roles,” says Smith. “We essentially have the founder of Lasting Change (Terrell) staying around and excited about the future. Mark is focused on the things he loves doing in a way that he never could have done before, but knew he always needed to. I have a fair amount of corporate background and I’m super excited about improving internal operations. In a couple of years, our internal and external efforts will congeal in a way that we believe a few similarly situated organizations in America will be able to boast and grow. It’s a beautiful thing.”
Lasting Change is headquartered in offices on Illinois Road in southwest Fort Wayne and is the parent company of three subsidiaries: Lifeline Youth & Family Services, Crosswinds Counseling and LC Residential. Additionally, it provides residential services through facilities in Fort Wayne and Pierceton, and operates a therapeutic boarding school in the Dominican Republic. The company also owns property near Valparaiso and in Canada, creating the potential for further expansion of services.
All of the organizations under Lasting Change are faith-based.
“Think of us as multiple types of counseling: residential-based, home-based and office-based,” says Smith. “Our residential facilities are group homes and provide 24/7 care to our residents who typically stay there for about a year. With our home-based services, we’re going into homes mostly on behalf of the Indiana Department of Child Services and helping those families. Our office-based services provide traditional counseling in an office setting. We also do virtual visits if necessary.”
Both Smith and Terrell are laser focused on an intense growth plan to meet the ever-increasing demands of mental health-related services, much of which they say was spurred by effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I have seen so many daunting statistics recently about how the need for mental health services has grown during the past couple of years. The need has never been higher and it continues to increase,” says Terrell. “I think we’re just at the tip of the iceberg and this is going to be like an avalanche where it starts slow, picks up speed and gets bigger and bigger. I don’t think we even know yet the full consequences of what people experienced the last two years and the impact it’s had on families.”
Family is at the center of both the mission and vision of Lasting Change.
“Even though we’ve had a change in leadership, our mission remains the same: Changing hearts and bringing hope to individuals, families and communities,” says Smith. “Our vision is to be the national leader in restoring, rebuilding and reclaiming the family. We are working to eradicate the barriers of mental health services, including the cultural stigma attached to it and letting people know how to obtain the help they need. We know that when individuals succeed, families thrive and communities prosper. Healthy families make for stronger communities. I cannot emphasize that enough.”
When Terrell was asked by the board of directors to take on the role of CEO nearly 30 years ago, the picture was pretty bleak and the organization’s future was in jeopardy.
“Back then, we had a budget of about $600,000 and maybe 17 employees, compared to the 575 we have today,” says Terrell. “We were about a month away from bankruptcy and every one of our buildings was in some state of despair. Through a lot of prayer, my wife and I made the decision to come to this small nonprofit, never imagining it would be this big and have this much impact all over the state today.”
While the Lasting Change footprint covers much of Indiana, an ambitious growth plan is well underway.
“We are ready to morph into something much bigger,” says Smith. “The growth plan I’m implementing is really the same plan that Mark birthed over the last three to five years. In 2021, we did nearly 800,000 hours of face-to-face counseling. Our growth plan has us reaching 3 million hours of counseling by 2030. It’s a big jump, but we are well poised for it. The team Mark installed coupled with the stable client stream, which equals revenue stream coupled with a working technical foundation, is really the reason we’re positioned for growth. It’s a geographic approach to growth with plans to expand our services to Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Kentucky and eventually beyond that. It’s also both an organic and inorganic growth plan through mergers and acquisitions that will all be tied together through our data and technology.”
Smith and Terrell see tremendous opportunities through the growth plan, but say it’s not about competing in the mental health industries; it’s about partnership.
“We’ve been building relationships all over the country with other nonprofits to work together and not stay in our own silo,” says Terrell. “There’s a book I like called ‘Rooting for your Rivals’ and it talks about the fact that we are part of one body, and the importance of figuring out how we can work together to reach our goals. We are dedicated to doing just that, as our success translates into success for the families we serve. That’s why I approached our board of directors last fall suggesting they split the role between CEO and president. The board agreed and we’re now moving faster than ever. Tim and I are excited about our respective roles, but more importantly we’re excited about the future growth of Lasting Change, Lifeline and Crosswinds.”
Owner(s): Tim Smith, CEO / Mark Terrell, President
Address: 4150 Illinois Road, Fort Wayne, Indiana 46804
Phone: (260) 745-3322
Years in Business: 50+
Number of Employees: 575
Products & Services: Mission Statement: Changing hearts and bringing hope to individuals, families and communities.