About Us

Helping Families Thrive

Leadership Team

Dennis Hoffman

Executive Director

Gretchen Thornburg

Business and Finance Director

Shayne Pearson

Deputy Director

JT Plummer

Human Resources Director

Megan Evenson

Director of Youth Development and Child Care Nutrition

Cathy Johnson

Program Coordinator Behavioral Health

Kayla Abel

Program Coordinator Woman Infants and Children

Nicole Busboom

Program Coordinator Youth Development

Kyle Steinacher

Program Coordinator Youth Development

Sarah McMaster

Program Coordinator Youth Development

Leslie Bitenieks

Program Coordinator Housing and Support Services

Agency History

In 1891, a small group of community leaders in Lincoln, Nebraska, established an organization to assist people in need. The Charity Organization Society, as it was then called, had as its principle purpose the coordination of private relief giving activities of individuals and groups. The Society acted as a third party between giver and receiver. A few years later, the Society’s constitution was changed to make direct relief giving an official function of the agency. Later, the society’s efforts emphasized casework activity. In more recent years, agency programs have been directed towards meeting the needs of families with young and/or school-aged children.

For more than 125 years, our organization has helped hundreds of thousands of people. While our name and specific services have changed over the years, our accomplishments have woven a common thread of helping families achieve their goals through better health and education. Currently, we have over 175 full time and part-time staff that provide service in 85 of Nebraska’s counties.

  • 1891 – Established a plan for distribution of food to needy persons at Thanksgiving and at Christmas
  • 1895 – Established the Woodyard as a means of employment for wayfarers
  • 1904 – Inaugurated Lincoln’s first visiting nurse program
  • 1909 – Established a day nursery for working mothers
  • 1916 – Financed a program to combat tuberculosis
  • 1918 – Submitted a plan to the City for the hiring of first police woman
  • 1937 – Began intensive social casework for rehabilitation of families and children with problems
  • 1939 – Developed a prevention and acute care medical and dental plan for children
  • 1945 – Name changed to Family Service Association
  • 1969 – Started developmental child care program
  • 1972 – Initiated first day care home training program in Nebraska, third in the nation
  • 1974 – Adopted Open Door Health Advocacy Center, which provided referrals for free, or reduced cost health care
  • 1975 – Began sponsoring the Child Care Food Program, offering child care providers consultation, training and reimbursement to ensure nutritious meals and snacks are offered to children
  • 1977 – Began School’s Out before and after school child care program in Lincoln elementary schools
  • 1978 – Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program started
  • 1985 – Started Building Tomorrow program with training opportunities, a resource library, and telephone support line for child care providers and parents
  • 2001 – West Lincoln Community Learning Center (CLC) begins with Family Service as the lead agency
  • 2006 – Youth Development before and after school program enrollment surpasses 1,000 youth and the summer program grows to more than 300 youth
  • 2006 – Behavioral Health Program counsels children and families in seven (7) Lincoln Public Schools
  • 2007 – Child Care Food Program (CCFP) serves 1,484 licensed in-home child care providers and 23,327 children, expanding to 84 Nebraska counties
  • 2016 – Family Service celebrates 125 years of providing services to children and families

We are


We value all families and put them first.



We are flexible to meet the needs of families.


We are committed to quality for better outcomes and bigger impacts.



We strategically partner across programs and with other organizations to ensure families succeed.


We operate with integrity and are transparent in all our interactions.


We promote health and prepare families for the future.

"So Thankful"

I absolutely love my job and being able to work with children is something I enjoy doing! My supervisor and co-workers are amazing and just all around am so thankful to work for Family Service Lincoln.

"Great Opportunity"

As a college student, Family Service Lincoln allows a great opportunity to work with kids (which builds a professional experience) while working around your class schedule. It is so unbelievably nice to not be limited to work in retail or the food industry just because I am a student.

"Wonderful Team"

I am passionate to work with kids and, at the same time, I have my wonderful team who is helping me a lot. I am fortunate to be part of an amazing team that helps kids and changes lives. Thank you for this opportunity!

"Professional Growth"

My position has provided me terrific opportunities for professional growth. I greatly admire my dedicated, hard-working co-workers and appreciate the opportunity to work alongside them.