President & CEO
Lutheran Senior Services
Location: St. Louis, MO
Industry: Aging Services
Adam Marles made a major investment of time and money to earn his law degree and then build a career at a large law firm. But he was unfulfilled, and he made the difficult choice to leave that behind to find a career where he could serve others. He found that fulfillment in his role as president and CEO of Lutheran Senior Services.
“Leaving private legal practice to enter the nonprofit aging services field was the most important professional risk I’ve taken,” he said. “After the investment of time and money involved in law school and the opportunities that were available working at a large law firm, the idea of walking away from the legal field wasn’t easy, particularly to join a field with which I had no real experience. Once I did, though, I discovered an incredibly rewarding field that allows me to serve others alongside mission-minded team members while also gaining access to the wisdom of people who have truly built the society in which we live. I haven’t regretted the decision for an instant.”
Lutheran Senior Services is a mission-driven, nonprofit network that specializes in housing, care and supportive services for older adults. It has 18 locations in Missouri and Illinois, serving more than 13,000 people a year with its senior living communities. It offers affordable housing for those with limited incomes as well as home and community services, with a Christian-inspired mission to help older adults live life to the fullest.
Marles recently laid out a five-year strategic plan with four primary goals: cultivating a culture that brings out the best in all, evolving products to meet changing consumer demand, growth through partnership, and securing a sustainable financial future.
Marles also added a chief experience officer to his leadership team dedicated to creating a culture of excellence and providing leadership for human resources, marketing, mission integration and community outreach.
Marles and LSS have been recognized with several honors, awards and leadership opportunities. LeadingAge Missouri named Marles the chair-elect of its board, and Marles has been a featured speaker at the LeadingAge National Conference and the Lutheran Services in America CEO Summit.
Marles and the LSS team won the most awards of any organization in the most recent LeadingAge Missouri Awards, netting Volunteer of the Year, Employee of the Year, Distinguished Service Award, Visionary Award and Award of Honor. LeadingAge Illinois also awarded LSS the 2022 Leadership in Action and Rising Star awards.
Marles also helped LSS earn the 2022 St. Louis’ Healthiest Employer title in its size category. The award honors organizations that prioritize the well-being of their employees.
Adam Marles can remain calm in just about any situation, even during a canoe capsize on the Amazon River. It's part of what makes him a Titan, always ready to face a challenge! While traveling, he and a companion decided to try canoeing the Amazon River. "People on the Amazon are not typically over 6-feet-tall" explained Adam, who is over 6-feet-tall. When they set out on the river in a traditional dugout canoe, they quickly learned that Adam's size and the boat design were not a good match. They took on water until the canoe sank and then they had to swim for it! These days, Adam enjoys his free time hiking and exploring state parks or spending time with his family and their three rescued dogs and cat.