Lakeside for Children names Sandra “Sam” Lealofi as new CEO

Sandra "Sam" Lealofi has been chosen to be the next CEO of the residential treatment facility and school Lakeside for Children. Lealofi will take over from Don Nitz who is retiring as CEO after 12 years. 

The 111-year old Lakeside helps vulnerable boys and girls in Kalamazoo ages 12 through 17. Its mission is to prepare children to lead responsible and fulfilling lives by providing mentoring, education, living skills, and support within a safe, structured, dynamic environment. Up to 124 youths live and attend school year-round on Lakeside’s 48-acre campus, supervised and cared for by 145 teachers, counselors, and administrators.

“We picked a winner,” says Joe Brogger, longtime Lakeside board member who led the search process for the new CEO. “Sam is a natural leader with a deep commitment to helping vulnerable kids succeed. Her experience in teaching, working with diverse populations, and building partnerships, will combine well with her background in organizational, board, and fund development. She’s just the right person to lead Lakeside forward.” 

Since 2011, Lealofi has served as executive director of Eastside Youth Strong, a nonprofit organization serving marginalized youth in the Eastside and Eastwood neighborhoods of Kalamazoo. She previously served as executive director of Eastside Neighborhood Association, as child and family advocate program manager for a community initiative serving the Eastside neighborhood, as both director of vocational education for the Work First Program and supervisor of Michigan Prisoner Re-Entry Initiative with Goodwill Industries of Southwest Michigan, and as a program officer with Kalamazoo Community Foundation.

She also spent 12 years in the U.S. Air Force as an academic instructor and law enforcement specialist. 

She earned a B.S. degree in occupational therapy from Western Michigan University (WMU) and has completed master’s degree coursework in development administration, also at WMU.

In 2016, she received a Woman of Achievement award from the YWCA of Kalamazoo for outstanding leadership and community involvement. In 2017, she was named an Outstanding Alumnae by the WMU College of Health and Human Services for significant contributions to the youth and families of Southwest Michigan.

Lealofi will work alongside Don Nitz until his April 1 retirement.

“I’m honored to help carry forward the legacy and mission of Lakeside,” said Lealofi. “There is such enthusiasm and energy on campus. I want to spread the word about this vital community asset and invite the community here to see it for themselves. Lakeside is changing lives. Who wouldn’t want to be part of that?”

Source: Lakeside for Children
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