Citizens for Backus/AB, Inc. will have a new executive director Jan. 1, when Lois Lundin succeeds Ward Merrill who retires having served as director for the past 13 years.

Lundin brings more than 25 years of corporate experience to the position, but also a deep passion for the Backus mission and the two historic buildings, said a news release. She was selected as Merrill’s successor at the September Backus Board of Directors meeting.

“The board has every confidence Lois will continue the excellent executive director work of Ward Merrill,” said Backus Board President Tim Fairchild. “Her management ability, volunteer spirit, and dedication to Backus will make her our next great executive director. Lois will be leading a super team of Backus staff.”

Like many in the community, Lundin’s connection to the buildings began as a student and was re-established as a volunteer later in life. That connection was broadened in 2015 when she served as one of the community organizers of Ruby’s Pantry. Since then she has filled perhaps the most critical part of the massive food distribution program – as “food line coordinator” or “distribution coordinator.” The position involves making sure an average of 16 tons of food is distributed among almost 300 “guests” each month.

Lundin and her husband Greg have been two of the many volunteers who have helped make Ruby’s a success, the release said. Lundin has also partnered with Lee Grim in recent years to coordinate the annual Community Christmas Dinner, which is a fundraising event for the Falls Hunger Coalition.

Since March of this year, Lundin has served as the Backus Event Coordinator. In that time she has acquired a much more intimate feel for the programs offered at Backus, the workings of the organization and its 14-member staff.

“Backus Community Center is a wonderful civic asset in our community and has always held a very special place in my heart,” Lundin said. “The programs and activities that are at work in this building align beautifully with my personal values, making any work that I would do here a very natural fit. I am excited and honored that the Citizens for Backus AB Board chose me to be the new executive director. I look forward to continuing to serve our community at Backus.”

“I have full faith and confidence in Lois’ ability to assume the executive director position and to bring Backus to the next level of service to the community,” said Merrill. “Her passion for Backus was evident many years ago when she organized her co-workers at United Health Care to serve on several volunteer projects at the community center. She has a unique ability to bring people together as volunteers and interacts positively with everyone she encounters.”

Lundin and her husband are life-long residents of International Falls and have two daughters Erin and Erica.

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