News & Events

Lissa Southerland Appointed New Chief Operating Officer

At a Time of Great Need During a Global Pandemic, Former ‘Union Settlement’ COO Primed to Take 190-Year-Old Nonprofit Well into the Future

Outgoing COO Belinda Conway Retires After 40 Years of Leadership in Human Services

BROOKLYN, NY (November 17, 2021)—Rising Ground today announced that Lissa M. Southerland joined the 190-year-old human services organization on November 1 as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer (COO). She replaces Belinda Conway, who will retire December 23 after serving as Rising Ground’s COO for the past ten years.

As former COO at Union Settlement and in leadership positions at Community Healthcare Network and Callen Lorde Community Health Center, Southerland brings many years of management experience to her new role at Rising Ground, where she will be responsible for human resources, management information systems, facilities, and other administrative functions. She will strategically operationalize the organization’s mission, which currently administers 55 programs at more than 70 locations across New York, in order to ensure resources and services are delivered to the 25,000 individuals, children, and families Rising Ground supports each year.

“We are very pleased to welcome Lissa’s experience, energy, and passion to our executive team,” shared Alan Mucatel, CEO of Rising Ground. “An effective leader, she will be instrumental in ensuring that we retain and recruit the finest staff as we move forward into the next 190 years. She appreciates that we view our employees as the heartbeat of our organization.”

Ms. Southerland commented: “Rising Ground’s historic mission really resonates with me, and I am thrilled to work with one of the leading organizations in nonprofit human services today. I chose Rising Ground because of its benchmark-setting contributions and critical impact on the individuals we serve. The scope and work of Rising Ground and its 1,600 member staff have made a real and measurable difference, especially during this pandemic, which has struck the most vulnerable and underserved population the hardest.”

Southerland earned a Bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Journalism from Georgia State University. She resides in Great Neck, NY, with her husband, Jack Dempsey Southerland III, and their four children.

Announcement of Retirement of Belinda Conway

Belinda Conway, who has served for 10 years as Rising Ground’s Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, will retire in December with more than 40 years of human services experience.

Mr. Mucatel noted that as COO, Conway tirelessly took on numerous special projects and helped navigate Rising Ground during challenging times, such as the pandemic and other times of crises. “All of us at Rising Ground are profoundly grateful for Belinda’s wisdom, compassion, and tremendous service to our employees, and the children, adults, and families we collectively support. We wish her many happy and healthy years ahead.”

Conway remarked, “I want to thank all my amazing colleagues who I’ve had the incredible opportunity to have worked with during the last decade of my career. Being a part of the Rising Ground family and its important work is something I will always treasure and fondly remember.”

Media contact: Adam H. Brill, Harrison Edwards PR, [email protected], (m) 203-727-7320.