From 1879 until 1952, Buckner was led by someone with the name Buckner. When our founder, R.C. Buckner died in 1919, he passed the torch to his sons Hal and Joe, who continued the family legacy 33 more years. That’s a total of 73 years, or more than half the life of our organization.
It’s no surprise when we talk about the culture of our organization, the word we hear most often is “family.” We’re in the business of helping families, whether it’s a family who is struggling in a multitude of ways or a family making hard decisions about an aging parent.
Many of us who serve at Buckner feel like those we work alongside are family. That’s how I feel about our executive leadership team (ELT). As a group, we have a wonderful dynamic and enjoy working together. When we meet for our annual retreat each August, we rely on that sense of family and trust during in-depth conversations about strategic decisions and long-range planning. That trust enabled us to focus on four key areas of our ministry during our retreat the first week of August.
International strategic planning
First, we focused on long-term strategic planning for international ministries. The ever-evolving nature of our world and the ongoing requests we receive to aid and assist countries around the globe with issues relating to child care mean we must constantly adapt our international work. We asked our Buckner Children and Family Services leadership to guide this process and come back to ELT for more discussion.
Serving children and families domestically
Second, we are taking a good look at our domestic services for children and families. The cornerstone of Buckner for 143 years has been service to the most vulnerable children. Ongoing changes in historically stable systems, such as foster care in Texas, are leading us to consider the future of permanency programs while also strengthening our family preservation programs so we can respond to evolving needs of vulnerable children and families. Samela Macon, vice president of domestic programs for Buckner Children and Family Services, is guiding our strategy.
Addressing workforce challenges
Third, we spent extended time discussing our workforce strategic planning. Because Buckner is a people-oriented ministry dependent on people to deliver our services, this is one of the most critical areas of our organization. With the help of the People Operations team, we looked at volumes of data, giving us a clearer picture of our workforce challenges that need to be strategically addressed. While we reflect vast diversity in our workforce, we are aware we must do more to reflect diversity in our leadership positions.
Lastly, we spent time looking at our leadership structure. Like the workforce planning discussion, we realize the importance of ensuring our leadership structure as it currently exists is what Buckner needs for the future. While our conversations at the retreat focused on executive leadership, we realize it’s always wise to look at the whole organization. We discussed several options for evolving our structure and our plan is to focus on one or two ways we can position our leadership going forward.
You may be wondering what all of this has to do with serving vulnerable children, families and seniors. The centerpiece of Buckner is excellence. Our vision statement calls on us to “set the standard of excellence in serving vulnerable children, families and seniors.” So many people we serve have faced difficult circumstances in their lives. Things haven’t always gone as planned. They deserve the best we can give them. Seniors living in a Buckner community need to know they can trust us to deliver excellent service and hospitality.
Things change. Life changes. Our world is ever-changing. Buckner cannot sit still as the world passes by. We are committed to being a leader with a vision for excellence. To that end, we are committed to viewing and reviewing everything we do. We serve the Lord of lords, the King of kings. The God of the universe. He deserves our very best.