Ray Ratke will succeed Julie Swanson as Chief Executive Officer of Lutheran Family Services of Virginia in January, 2018, the social services agency’s Board of Directors announced.

Ratke has been LFSVA’s Chief Operating Officer since 2011. During that time, he helped steer the agency through a period of dramatic growth while raising LFSVA’s statewide profile as an advocate for people with disabilities.

“I am so fortunate to have the opportunity to serve this wonderful organization and the people we have the privilege of working with,” Ratke said. “Lutheran Family Services of Virginia has a 130-year history of changing lives. I am proud to be a part of that legacy but firmly believe that, with our fantastic leadership team and staff, our best years are in front of us.”

Ratke previously held a variety of leadership positions in the provision of state and local government human services. He served as the Executive Director of the Hanover Community Services Board from 1994 until 2002, when he was appointed by Gov. Mark Warner as Chief Deputy Commissioner for the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services. Ratke was reappointed in this role by Gov. Tim Kaine in 2005 and ultimately served as the Special Advisor for Children’s Services, leading the “Children’s Services System Transformation” initiative under the direction of former first lady Anne Holton with the goal of improving outcomes for youth in foster care. Ratke left state government in 2010 and, prior to joining LFSVA, he provided technical assistance to localities around the country that received federal “systems of care” grants as well as private consulting with a variety of human service organizations around Virginia.

Ratke and his wife, Amy Byrne, live in Mechanicsville. They have two grown sons, Evan and Ethan.

Swanson, CEO since 2005, announced last month that she would retire in early 2018. Under her leadership, Lutheran Family Services of Virginia grew from an agency with a $9 million budget and fewer than 100 employees in nine locations to one with a $35 million budget and more than 400 employees serving in 36 offices, schools, centers, and group homes.

“Thousands of families, adults, and children have benefited because of Swanson’s vision and leadership —  we are in a very different place than a decade ago,” said Robin Crowder, Chair of the LFSVA Board of Directors. “With Ratke’s expertise and vision, we are positioned to continue expanding the breadth, reach and quality of Lutheran Family Services.”

Lutheran Family Services of Virginia began as an orphanage in Salem, VA, in 1888. Its operations in towns and cities across Virginia now offer foster care and adoption services, family care homes, group homes and day support for adults with disabilities, in-home services for adults and children with disabilities, employment services for adults with disabilities, children’s behavioral health, and Minnick Schools for students who have educational and behavioral challenges.