Through a Different Lens

Rich life experiences shape Lawrence Stroud’s contributions to boards of Alliance, Alliance member

When Lawrence Stroud is at an event, it is inevitable that he has his camera in tow. Most recently, during a June 2010 reception for the Alliance for Children and Families Board of Directors in Milwaukee, Stroud aimed to capture everyone in the room in at least one photograph.

Stroud is a man committed to service, and his extensive archive of photographs—which he estimates to number more than 80,000—captures the many people and experiences that have shaped his life, as well as the events and organizations upon which he has left his mark.

Stroud is a member of the Alliance Board of Directors, and he also serves as chair of the board of directors for Alliance member Family Service Association, Egg Harbor Township, N.J. He’s served on the board at Family Service Association for 18 years.

A ‘Common’ Perspective

Stroud is quick to point out that, unlike the several Alliance member CEOs who serve on the Alliance Board of Directors, he doesn’t have formal training in organizational operations or executive experience working for a human service organization.

“I don’t consider myself to be an expert on anything,” he says. “I’m just a general person, and I hope that I am always providing that common, fundamental approach by drawing on my life and its experiences.”

A born leader, Stroud took on one of his first leadership roles in high school as president of the photography club. He went on to demonstrate his commitment to country and community by serving in the military for 28 years and holding leadership roles with St. Mary’s Episcopal Church; the Zoning Board of Adjustment for the City of Pleasantville, N.J.; and a local chapter of the NAACP, among others.

“All my life, I have been involved in governmental agencies and other organizations, which allowed me to develop an understanding of the system, proper training procedures, and funding systems,” Stroud says. “I have been able to transfer my knowledge of important processes to benefit the different organizations I have been involved with.”

Jerome Johnson, president and CEO of Family Service Association, praises Stroud for his tenacity and willingness to accept any challenge. Johnson specifically recalls the role Stroud played in securing a new 32,000-square-foot facility that allowed the agency to expand.

“His support, as well as his belief in taking a risk, was unbelievably valuable,” Johnson says. “The facility has worked out beyond our expectations.”

Anyone, Everyone Must Serve

Stroud, who is currently writing a memoir about his life, says one message has rung true throughout his life: Everyone can do something to aid their community. “The memoir will show that everything you do has the possibility of benefiting others,” he says.

For some, this may mean volunteering. For others, it may mean board service.

“Stay connected with an organization that provides insight, help, encouragement, and results,” he says. “By being a part of the processes, you are helping to generate those successes in the community.”

Despite the challenges board members face, Johnson says Stroud remains an eternal optimist, never failing to see the glass as half full.

As Stroud says, “I am always thinking about making people’s lives better and I see good things happening every day.”

Networking at the National Level

Stroud regularly represents Family Service Association at the Alliance National Conference, attending every conference since 2002. He says he learns something new at each, and what he appreciates most is the opportunity to network with board members and staff from other Alliance member organizations.

“I like to meet new people, I like to know what they’re involved in, and I like to see what they present to the world,” Stroud says. “When you go to the Alliance National Conference, you have time to mingle and sit down with people. You learn little things that you wouldn’t otherwise hear if you weren’t sitting face-to-face.”

Johnson says he is not only grateful for Stroud’s interest in attending the conferences, but also for the detailed reports he provides to educate other board members about what he learned.

“Attending the Alliance National Conference gives me an opportunity to see leaders from across the country performing in outstanding ways, and to hear about new trends and plans for the future,” Stroud says. “After attending conferences and seeing what other organizations are doing in their communities, I realized how significant it is to be a part of the Alliance.”