Lad Lake Hires Dan Magnuson as New CEO to Take Helm in January When Current CEO Gary Erdmann Retires After 35-Year Tenure

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New CEO moves from successful tenure serving homeless youth at Pathfinders to lead $14 million organization that is the largest licensed nonprofit residential care organization for boys and girls in Wisconsin.

Dan Magnuson will become CEO of Lad Lake, Inc. in January 2014

“We are confident that Dan will continue the Lad Lake legacy of helping more than 1,500 troubled youth each year to change their lives and learn to become productive, independent adults.”- Phil Zwieg, President, Lad Lake Board of Directors

Lad Lake, Inc. announced today that it has hired Dan Magnuson as its new CEO to succeed Gary Erdmann when he retires in January 2014. Magnuson is currently serving as President and CEO of Pathfinders, a role he has held since 2003. He will take the helm at Lad Lake on January 6, 2014.

“We are very excited to bring Dan Magnuson into the Lad Lake family, where his strong leadership skills and innovative strategies will provide a solid foundation for the future of the organization,” said Phil Zwieg, president of the Lad Lake board of directors. “We are confident that Dan will continue the Lad Lake legacy of helping more than 1,500 troubled youth each year to change their lives and learn to become productive, independent adults.”

Lad Lake and Pathfinders have similar missions to serve the most at-risk youth in Southeastern Wisconsin and help turn their lives around. Erdmann and Magnuson have known each other for a number of years and both men serve on the board of directors of the Wisconsin Association of Family and Children’s Agencies (WAFCA).

Magnuson led the rebranding of Pathfinders, which was previously known as The Counseling Center of Milwaukee, and built its reputation as a leading advocate of homeless youth, providing shelter, street outreach, education and mental health services. The organization has nearly tripled in size under Magnuson’s tenure.

Erdmann announced his retirement in late June 2013, as he was about to celebrate his 65th birthday and 35th service anniversary, giving the agency’s board of directors six months to find a successor and to implement an orderly transition plan.

“We will be forever grateful to Gary for his dedication and leadership, and his service to many thousands of vulnerable adolescents who are now living as productive adults in our community, thanks to the care and services they found through Lad Lake,” said Zwieg. “While Gary is enjoying his well-earned retirement, we will be striving to continue building on his legacy of achievement for at-risk youth.”

Under Erdmann’s leadership, Lad Lake built a tremendous track record of success and respect within the human services industry in Wisconsin. With nearly $14 million in annual revenue from services, Lad Lake is the largest licensed nonprofit residential care organization for boys and girls in the state and the largest Milwaukee-area provider of alternative school services to Milwaukee Public Schools for youth with behavior problems.

Erdmann led Lad Lake’s expansion from its 365-acre campus in Dousman, Wisconsin, to three additional locations in Milwaukee County:

  •     Synergy South – An alternative school, acquired in 1999, for boys and girls in grades 6 – 12 that improves the academic and interpersonal skills of at-risk youth on Milwaukee’s South Side.
  •     Educational and Life Skills Development Center – A multi-service center developed in 2006 that encompasses the ULTRA day treatment program for students with anger management, drug and alcohol issues; the Synergy North alternative school; an independent living program to help students aging out of foster care to successfully transition into the adult world; and outreach programs such as mentoring, in-home therapy and parent training for at-risk families.
  •     St. Rose Center – A campus acquired in 2010 primarily for girls ages 10 – 18, including a residential unit, a short-term temporary stabilization unit, two group homes (one for girls and one for boys transitioning back into the community from Lad Lake’s residential program in Dousman), an outpatient clinic and a family reunification program for children with incarcerated parents.

Before Pathfinders, Magnuson led several major national initiatives at the Alliance for Children & Families, a Milwaukee-based national nonprofit association serving 350 nonprofit organizations and 4 million people annually. He was also the founding president of Ways to Work, Inc., a sister organization to the Alliance, which provides financial assistance to low-income families in 20 states.

Magnuson began his career in Milwaukee social work roles, and soon moved to Syracuse, New York, where he advanced from a Marriage & Family Therapist to the Executive Director of Family Services Associates, Inc., before returning to Milwaukee in 1993 to join the Alliance. He holds master’s degrees in social work and family counseling, as well as bachelor’s degrees in social science and history.

About Lad Lake
Founded in 1902, Lad Lake is dedicated to guiding growth and changing lives of more than 1,500 boys and girls ages 10 – 20 each year who are experiencing emotional and behavioral problems or have aged out of foster care. Its core programs areas of education, independent living, outreach and residential care help at-risk youth learn to live productive, independent lives in our communities. Lad Lake has four locations in the Metro-Milwaukee area, which include alternative schools, groups homes, independent living services, spiritual care, mentoring and other services to help children to overcome trauma, abuse and mental health problems; improve their educational attainment; develop positive social and vocational skills; and learn to become self-sufficient adults. Visit for more information.

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Tracy Shilobrit
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