By Evan Ratke
To say Fred Kraegel’s life has always centered on helping people might be an understatement. From oldest child in a family of community volunteers, to board member and leader of numerous organizations over a decades-long career, to Chairman of the Board of Directors for Lutheran Family Services of Virginia; Kraegel’s catalog is extensive and multi-faceted. Despite his far-reaching experience, Kraegel knows there’s always more to learn and do, no shortage of ways to advance and succeed.
“I’m just somebody who likes to get involved and serve others,” he says. “I’ve been very blessed with the resources in my life that help me do that.”
Born in Tokyo, Japan, to the daughter of a Lutheran minister, Kraegel is the oldest of five children born in a seven-year span. He spent his youth in the suburbs of Washington D.C., where his mother imparted a dedication to service in all her children.
“My mother was a very active volunteer at church and around the D.C. community,” Kraegel remembers. “From the time my siblings and I were little kids, she was raising us to give back and serve others. She would bring us with her on her volunteer work and have us take part.”
While his mother was teaching Kraegel and his siblings to help people, his father was teaching them to always seek ways to expand their knowledge and understanding.
“My father was an educator and a member of the National Science Foundation. So we grew up in a house where education was very important.”
Those parental lessons were not lost on Kraegel as he moved about his career. As a CPA and a financial adviser to various organizations, and as a member and chairman to several human-service boards for more than 25 years, Kraegel strove to find the best ways to meet the needs of his organizations and the people those organizations serve.
“Even if you’ve been on boards before, it’s important to get acquainted with a new organization, have an orientation, an onboarding to their mission.”
LFSVA is one organization Kraegel has had time to become familiar with, and the efforts of LFSVA resonate well with what his parents taught him.
“With programs like the Minnick Schools, Lutheran Family Services recognizes the importance of education and opportunity, that everybody deserves to have what they need, and that some are not going to get that from a standard classroom. The lack of identification of individual needs is what so often sets kids and people back. LFSVA helps provide opportunities for individuals to achieve their own personal success and development, and not just through the Minnick Schools, but across all its programs,” says Kraegel, whose board chairmanship ended in November.
“The goal for me is seeing the positive outcomes of these efforts, the success of the mission. I don’t need personal self-satisfaction, just to see that others have been helped, that they’ve accomplished what they didn’t think they could achieve.”