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Lauritzen named exec. dir. of senior organization

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By Tris DeRoma

Bernadette Lauritzen, the Los Alamos Monitor’s Assets in Action columnist and active community volunteer, was named executive director of the Los Alamos Retirement and Senior Organization, the organization that oversees the Betty Ehart and White Rock Senior Centers.

She shared the exciting news Friday.

“I am so thankful to the LARSO search committee and the LARSO Board for their faith in me. I am so proud to represent them and their interests. I look forward to working with the staff and doing great things together,” Lauritzen said.

Lauritzen will start her new job as director May 1.

Lauritzen moved to Los Alamos with her husband Chad in 1994 and has three sons, Chandler, Spencer and Aaron. She rapidly became an integral part of the community through her volunteer work and community outreach.

Before she became the center’s director, Lauritzen volunteered at the center in various capacities, writing articles for LARSO and creating events around holidays and other occasions. One of those events was the Festival of Trees, a fundraising and silent auction event at the Betty Ehart Center during the holiday season.

Lauritzen said she really began to get to know the senior center when her mother became ill.

“We utilized a variety of services and I was so very fond of the staff. It allowed me to see all aspects of the senior center, especially with the senior center,” Lauritzen said.

She also gained even more insight into the Los Alamos Retirement and Senior Organization through her efforts with the Senior Center Board, where she met people like senior Mary Brooks.

“I volunteered because I liked being in her presence. We did some fun projects like celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Betty Ehart Senior Center,” Lauritzen said.

Lauritzen was also a 2007 student of Leadership Los Alamos, where she attributes Rick Reiss, John Hoffman and Marla Brooks as being her mentors.

“They were honest, role models that brought us a wealth of education and leadership,” Lauritzen said.

Reiss was glad to hear the news about Lauritzen, saying that someone with her wealth of knowledge and experience will add a lot to the Los Alamos Senior and Retirement Organization and the two senior centers that it oversees.

“Her whole goal in life I think is to make everybody and everything a little bit better,” Reiss said.

When he heard the news, Reiss said he knew LARSO’s board made the right decision. “She is a very organized, go-getter type of person who will be out there in front leading the pack.”

Also happy to hear the news was Linda Boncella, LARSO’s outgoing executive director. Boncella who has been director of the center for less than a year, is moving to Washington state with her husband, who accepted a job at Washington State University and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

“I’m going to miss the people. I just love the people here, the members, our staff…It’s been a wonderful place for me to work, and feeling good about what we were able to provide,” Boncella said.

As for her successor, Boncella said LARSO will be lucky to have Lauritzen at the helm.

“I’m thrilled. She has wonderful skill and certainly has a great heart for this place, and I’m sure she will do good things,” Boncella said.

The interview process took five hours, but in the end, the LARSO Board picked Lauritzen to be the organization’s executive director.

“My eyes filled with tears when Board President Bob Swift called with the good news. It was a very proud moment for me. I also realized I’d better keep it together so Bob wouldn’t be concerned that he made a mistake. I am thankful to John Baillie, the search committee chair for walking me through such a great experience,” Lauritzen said.

Lauritzen’s goals include following the five year plan that Boncella and the staff have been busy over the last year preparing. Other goals include building on the organization’s foundation.

“My goals include promoting senior center programs, increasing membership and seeking additional funding opportunities,” Lauritzen said.