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September 22nd

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Press Release Archives • Upbring

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Announcement of New CEO

Upbring CEO, Dr. Kurt Senske, announces plan to step down in 2020 after nearly 25 years with the organization

The Austin-based nonprofit names current President and COO Michael Loo as Senske’s successor.

AUSTIN, TX – May 8, 2019 – Dr. Kurt Senske announced that he will step down as chief executive officer of Upbring, effective December 31, 2019.  Senske has served the organization for almost 25 years, 22 of those as chief executive officer. Michael Loo, currently the agency’s president and chief operating officer will succeed Senske and hold the title of president and CEO.

“On behalf of the Upbring Board of Directors, I want to thank Kurt for his remarkable leadership as CEO,” said Upbring Chairman of the Board Sig Cornelius. “Kurt oversaw the evolution of the organization’s rebranding from Lutheran Social Services of the South, refocusing on its origins in child welfare. Kurt’s passion for Upbring’s mission to break the cycle of child abuse by empowering children, families and communities is evident to all who know him, and he has served the organization exceptionally well.”

During Senske’s two-plus decades of service, he helmed the organization while it more than tripled in size. Upbring’s significant growth has made a difference in the lives of tens of thousands of children and families each year throughout the state of Texas as well as in parts of Louisiana.

An innovative trailblazer inside the child welfare and education arenas, Loo joined Upbring in 2013 as chief financial officer before his promotion to the role of president and COO in 2015. Loo has broad experience in areas ranging from strategic planning and operations to technology and finance. Under his operational direction, Upbring programs have experienced exponential growth with the current trajectory showing great promise to lead to systemic change in child welfare and social services.

“While Michael’s professional skills and talents led him into the business and industry sector, his passion for helping families, inspired by his love and dedication for his wife and three children, called him to his current role in the nonprofit sector,” Cornelius said. “We are profoundly grateful for the leadership Michael has already brought to the organization through his innovative strategies and growth of operations. We are fortunate to have an exceptional visionary in Michael to take the organization into the next decade and beyond.”

Prior to joining Upbring, Loo spent more than 25 years in business operations roles, 20 years of which were in higher executive management positions such as executive vice president and chief financial officer. He has held these positions in complex organizations that range from start-ups to large corporations. He formerly served as vice president of finance and administration of Kamehameha Schools, a private, multibillion-dollar endowed trust that was the largest private commercial, residential and agricultural real estate landholder and private school system in the State of Hawaii. He also spearheaded the initial public offering efforts of Sopogy, Inc., a technology provider in the micro concentrated solar power sector and was vice president – controller and treasurer in the restructuring of Hawaiian Airlines, Inc.

Senske and Loo will continue to work closely together and with Upbring’s senior leadership team to provide for a seamless transition and ensure the organization’s strong momentum continues.

 

About Upbring

Upbring is a leading Texas-based, faith-inspired nonprofit organization working to break the cycle of child abuse by empowering children, families and communities. Upbring partners with federal, state and local government agencies, community groups, small businesses, large corporations and dedicated individuals to deliver services that produce measurable progress toward five key markers of every child’s wellbeing: safety, life skills, education, health and vocation. Upbring benefits nearly 30,000 families each year with its life-changing programs—including foster care, adoption, education, children’s centers and community services. While Upbring has evolved over more than 136 years of service, our organization remains firmly focused on delivering innovative programs and services that address the root causes of child abuse and neglect. For more information, please visit upbring.org.

Upbring Innovation Labs
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Upbring Launches Innovation Lab Dedicated to Breaking Cycle of Child Abuse

Today, Upbring Innovation Labs rolled out its first product, an online marketplace to help make an immediate impact on the lives of children and families that need extra support

AUSTIN, Texas, Nov. 26, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Upbring, one of Texas’ leading nonprofits in the child wellbeing sector, constantly explores innovative strategies for achieving its mission to break the cycle of child abuse. With that in mind, the agency today announced Upbring Innovation Labs, which is believed to be the first innovation lab at a Texas-based organization that operates a private foster care agency. The lab partners with entrepreneurs, business leaders, startups and universities to explore and build solutions for at-risk children, families and communities.

“As Texans, we live in an exciting time and place where new technologies, bold ideas and creative talent should be united to serve those most in need,” Upbring President and COO Michael Loo said. “Texas’ entrepreneurial ecosystem is shaping the way nonprofits innovate, design and approach important issues. We invite the community to partner with us to help give all children the bright futures they deserve.”

Based at the organization’s Austin headquarters, Upbring Innovation Labs, overseen by Upbring Director of Innovation, Ryan Park, maintains a presence at Capital Factory, an accelerator and co-working space known as the center of gravity for entrepreneurs in Texas.

Through collaboration, Upbring Innovation Labs has begun exploring augmented and virtual reality, blockchain technology, community-based programs, corporate social responsibility partnerships and other innovations that have the potential to help break the cycle of child abuse.

Last year alone, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services confirmed more than 63,657 cases of child abuse and neglect. Research suggests that approximately 30 percent of the children who have been abused are likely to repeat the cycle of abuse.

The lab is already making progress and today launched its first product – Upbring Marketplace – an online wish list of urgently needed items for the children in its care.

“It is not unusual for children to enter the child welfare system with nothing more than the clothes they are wearing,” Park said. “Yet across the great state of Texas, foster care agencies often have to rely on slow and outdated systems to fulfill critical-needs items for children—think diapers and car seats, for example. We’ve created the technology solution to streamline this process. Upbring Marketplace leverages retailer application programming interfaces (APIs) to automate the in-kind donation process and empower donors to help Texas children by giving where it’s needed most. In an era where everyone uses Uber and Instacart, why can’t nonprofits provide a similar experience to donors?”

Those passionate about helping children can visit Upbring.org/Shop and sort by location to purchase items for children or families in their community. They can also purchase items for those being served in an Upbring program that is close to their heart. All gifts, which are 100 percent tax-deductible, are shipped directly to the appropriate Upbring program.

By streamlining the giving process, Upbring Marketplace eliminates the administrative costs associated with sorting and transporting gifts. Ultimately, Upbring staff has more time to spend doing what they are passionate about: serving the children and families in their care.

About Upbring

Upbring is a leading Texas-based, faith-inspired nonprofit organization working to break the cycle of child abuse by empowering children, families and communities. Upbring partners with federal, state and local government agencies, community groups, small businesses, large corporations and dedicated individuals to deliver services that produce measurable progress toward five key markers of every child’s well-being: safety, life skills, education, health and vocation. Upbring benefits nearly 30,000 families each year with its life-changing programs—including foster care, adoption, education, children’s centers and community services. While Upbring has evolved over more than 136 years of service, our organization remains firmly focused on delivering innovative programs and services that address the root causes of child abuse and neglect. For more information, please visit upbring.org.

Upbring Conference to Feature Foster Care Expert Dr. John DeGarmo

FLOWER MOUND, TEXAS – September 13, 2018 – Nearly 4,000 children in the DFW area were in foster care last year. Each child had immediate needs for food, clothing and shelter. But as a foster care expert and foster parent who has welcomed more than 55 children into his home and heart, Dr. John DeGarmo knows that most importantly, every child in foster care needs love.

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Upbring, Texas Institute for Child and Family Wellbeing Release First-of-its-Kind Study on Youth in Foster Care

AUSTIN, TX – March 7, 2018 – Upbring, a thought leader among child welfare nonprofits, and the Texas Institute for Child and Family Wellbeing today released the pilot report from the Texas Youth Permanency Study (TYPS). The study asks whether the child welfare system’s focus on legal permanency (adoption, reunification, kinship care) for children in foster care is sufficient— and offers an alternative model to give youth everything they need to succeed in adulthood.

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Upbring Names 2017 CFO of the Year Award Nominee as Finance Director

AUSTIN, TX – December 19, 2017 – – Upbring, a nonprofit organization working to break the cycle of child abuse, is pleased to welcome Holly Raymond as senior vice president of finance. As a direct report to the chief executive officer, Raymond’s responsibilities include strategic planning, financial reporting, cash management, budget preparation, and contract review and approval. Read More

RIGHT NOW: Provide Urgent Support and Resources to Texas Families Affected by Hurricane Harvey

Upbring working to raise $200,000 in the next 200 hours
to help more than 350 families facing post-hurricane challenges

Austin, Texas – September 1, 2017 – Upbring, one of Texas’ largest foster care and adoption service providers, and those we serve are in need of immediate assistance.

Following the devastating impacts of Hurricane Harvey and the flooding that has affected millions of Texans, Upbring is poised to help Texas families rebuild their lives. There is an opportunity for the public to help quickly and directly.

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Upbring BeREAL Program Recognized by Texas Network of Youth Services

Houston, Texas – June 29, 2017 – Today, Austin-based Upbring, one of Texas’ leading foster care and adoption services providers, will be recognized for the success of its BeREAL program by the Texas Network of Youth Services (TNOYS) at its 34th Annual Conference on Services to Youth and Families. The conference is at the Westin Galleria – Houston, 5060 W. Alabama Street, and the awards presentation will take place during the luncheon from 12:15 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. Read More

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