LeGrande Sees Great Opportunity in New Role as Omaha Social Services Director
Ryan LeGrande’s transition from social studies teacher to social services practitioner came with a bit of a learning curve.
It was minor, however, as his time in the classroom, albeit short, prepared him better than he originally thought.
Promoted to Director of Social Services at The Salvation Army Omaha effective Jan. 2, LeGrande’s journey has been filled with its share of challenges – but the rewards have been beyond anything he could have imagined.
“I enjoyed teaching, but I have definitely found my passion in social services and helping others,” he said.
LeGrande’s career in social services began in 2009 as a child welfare case worker with KVC Health Systems after receiving a job-opening tip from a friend. Up to that point, he had subbed for two semesters and was waiting to get his own classroom.
From there, LeGrande went to Nebraska Families Collaborative – which became PromiseShip – in a similar capacity before finding his way to the Salvation Army in 2019 as Quality Compliance Director.
Two years later, he moved into a Training Coordinator role but never lost his desire to want to be more directly involved with social services.
“I loved training our new staff members, but in my new role, I’m still able to connect with them and create relationships, which is so important to me,” he said. “I’ve done or worked with many different roles here that I feel I am able to take all those experiences with me into this new opportunity.
“That gives me a strong understanding of what everyone does and what they need to be successful.”
In his new role, LeGrande oversees The Salvation Army’s housing, mental/behavioral health, veterans, Material Assistance and Social Services (MASS) and Head Start programs, among other duties.
He said that, while it’s his goal in this role to make sure everyone involved – staff and clients – have the most positive experiences they can, ultimately, he’s most excited about refocusing programs on the organization’s mission.
“We’re all walking billboards for The Salvation Army, and for me, that means serving in a Christ-like manner by spreading the Gospel and serving the person,” he said. “The ability to reach people on a spiritual and religious level is part of that mission.
“I want our programs to continue to be impactful and meaningful to everyone who receives help from them. I want to make sure we’re doing more for them than just getting them housing or utility assistance. I want to help them become self-sufficient so they can eventually do for themselves.”