Farewell to a great leader

On June 29, 2017 the world lost a great social worker, colleague, boss, and advocate. Lisa La Forge was a force to be reckoned with in her tireless advocacy for appropriate and comprehensive child and adolescent mental health services. She was integral in starting the SASS (Screening, Assessment, and Support) Program that now provides about 1800 crisis assessments a year through FSA. Lisa started the Mental Health Juvenile Justice Program at our agency that serves some of the most at risk populations within our community. She also began our School-Based Mental Health Program which just recently expanded due to her success in getting an Illinois Children’s Healthcare Foundation grant. FSA went from originally serving 4 schools in U-46 to now serving 19 schools in U-46 and D300. She was invested and passionate about quality and accessible services to families.

Lisa was also a great mentor to many people in the mental health community. She had a great set of skills that she was willing to share. She always believed that if she could pass her skills and experiences on that it would only help improve the lives of those that we serve. Many, many social workers and counselors that have interacted with her have benefitted from her well-developed clinical skills. Along with many of us that work in leadership who have benefitted from her keen business skills as well as her ability to understand systems and work with them in a way that benefits everyone.

I also really appreciated the warmth, kindness and fantastic sense of humor that Lisa brought to us all. She loved to hear and tell stories. Lisa was an exceptional story-teller. She could make the mundane into something that had you interested and laughing. She could take frustrating moments and turn them into something joyous. She also could be very sincere and demonstrate how much she cared. Lisa paid attention to the details in someone’s life and talked with them about it. She would engage in difficult conversations and things that need to be said, but no one wants to hear. But most of all, Lisa could help you see all the great things in yourself that she saw.

Lisa was a dedicated leader at FSA giving 36 years of her career to us. She left a legacy with a really strong agency that provides quality services in a fiscally sound way. Saying goodbye to this great leader has been very hard and will continue to be so for some time. Lisa La Forge will forever be a part of FSA.

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