January 7, 2020
Easterseals Arkansas Board of Directors has hired Ron Ekstrand as its next president and CEO. Ekstrand brings more than 30 years of professional work experience to this role – including 10 years working as an executive leader within the Easterseals movement and another 20 years working for various businesses.
Most recently, Ekstrand served for two years as the senior vice president of Network Advancement and Affiliate Relations at the national Easterseals office located in Chicago. The Network Advancement and Affiliate Relations Department is responsible for supporting affiliate growth and service impact as well as leveraging the assets of the network to build organizational capacity and to enhance Easterseals collective. During his tenure at the national office, Ekstrand served as interim CEO for five months while the national board restructured and conducted a nationwide search for a new CEO.
Prior to joining Easterseals national office, Ekstrand worked eight years at the affiliate level of Easterseals. He spent four of those years as the CEO of TouchPoint Autism Services, the largest provider of autism services in Missouri. As CEO of TouchPoint, he led a turnaround of the financially distressed organization, a name change/rebranding from the “Judevine Center for Autism,” mergers with two other nonprofits and an affiliation with Easterseals to help create the organization now known as Easterseals Midwest. He served as President and COO of Easterseals Midwest for four more years. Today, with an operating budget of over $75 million, Easterseals Midwest is the largest provider of services to people with disabilities in Missouri.
Ekstrand says he felt a strong pull toward Easterseals Arkansas. "Sometimes, you experience an overwhelmingly strong sense that you are exactly where you belong and you are doing exactly what you are meant to be doing,” he said. “That is how I feel about my moving to Little Rock and my joining Easterseals Arkansas as their new CEO. I am humbled to be joining a strong, impactful organization that has a 75-year legacy of serving Arkansans with disabilities and their families. I am looking forward to helping Easterseals Arkansas expand its impact and its financial sustainability so that it can provide help, hope, and answers for another 75 years."
Ekstrand’s life partner, Deanna Lewis, currently serves as the CEO of Easterseals South Carolina. They met while Ron worked at the national office. Between the two of them, they have nine children and three grandchildren. For fun, Ekstrand and Deanna enjoy hiking, cooking together, tailgating, and spending time with family and friends.
About Easterseals Arkansas:
For 75 years, Easterseals Arkansas has provided exceptional services to empower children and adults with disabilities to live, learn, work and play in their communities. The purpose of Easterseals Arkansas is to change the way the world views and defines disabilities by making profound, positive differences in people's lives every day. Easterseals Arkansas' services include developmental preschools in Little Rock and Stuttgart, pediatric speech-language, physical, and occupational therapy and our Center for Training & Wellness, which assists adults with finding jobs and learning new skills.