BISMARCK — Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota will search for a new CEO as Jessica Thomasson heads to the North Dakota Department of Human Services to serve as director of community inclusion.

In her state government role, Thomasson will be "responsible for strategic leadership and management of overall quality, effectiveness and service delivery of a major divisional unit with multiple programs providing client services," according to DHS spokeswoman Heather Steffl.

The new leadership role replaces an existing full-time position in the department, Steffl said. The job was posted in September and is a result of Senate Bill 2124, which authorized four full-time leadership positions in the DHS. The other three positions will be posted and filled in the coming months, she said.

"We look forward to Jessica joining our leadership team to guide this important work,” DHS Executive Director Chris Jones said in a statement. “Her extensive experience in both affordable housing and the provision of supportive services will be beneficial to DHS as we strive to deliver critical services more effectively and efficiently to North Dakotans."

Thomasson joined Lutheran Social Services in 2008 as the first director of housing and moved into the CEO role in 2014, according to LSS. In 2015, she was named The Forum's Area Person of the Year for her efforts to resettle refugees and eliminate the stigma around them.

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“My last 12 years as part of the LSSND team has given me a deep understanding of both the needs and opportunities in our state,” Thomasson said in a statement. “I am excited to work with the team at DHS to help identify new ways we can help people navigate the life challenges they are facing.”

Under her direction, LSS launched programs to provide and enhance affordable housing, counseling services, disaster response, child care, elder care and restorative justice. The organization serves more than 15,000 North Dakotans each year.

The LSS board of directors will begin searching for a new CEO by mid-November. Thomasson begins her new job Feb. 1.