A CEO’s duties: Lukas cuts his ties with HCA…
Last Thursday (28th September) was the leaving party for Holborn Community Association’s outgoing CEO, Lukas (nè Lucas) Lehmann. After five years at the helm, he is returning to his native Germany, to work as CEO of Street Paper, a kind of German version of The Big Issue.
The party took place at Bedford House, was organised by Saira, with help from catering staff Hannah and Shamin, who put on a lovely spread. The highlight, of course, being a marvellous cake.
Unusually, this reporter was allowed out of Millman Street Centre to cover the event. He was introduced to several people by Mairi, who “currently helps with fundraising” after being on the Board of Trustees for ten years or so. She introduced him to HCA’s new CEO, Christina Meacham (of whom more later).
You wait ages for a CEO and then two turn up at once…
Other guests included Colleen, the Pottery guru from 1A Arts, John Leavitt, who used to chair 1A, and who now helps out with the annual Queen’s Square Fair. Crispin – Chair of the Board of Trustees – was also much in evidence.
Two former Millman Street Older People’s Services managers, Sue and Richard, also turned up to see Lukas off, as did Hanif, our Befriending Scheme Project Worker and Kate, our Befriending Scheme Organiser. HCA’s Head of Operations, Paul Crozier, was among the dignitaries, as was Javid, HCA’s new Finance Officer (who’s only been in the role for around a month), ditto Charles, our chief Administrator, and John, HCA’s Caretaker and all-round indispensable fixer-upper.
A couple of Millman Street Community Centre members also made the journey to Bedford House to ensure that Lukas was given the right sort of send-off.
The speeches began when Crispin took the stage, and, as promised, he kept his mercifully brief.
“It’s a fond farewell to Lukas after five years,” he began, remembering to call him Lukas with a ‘k’. “He has promised to come back for the opening of the new building,” Crispin continued. “Millman Street funding is on a much more stable footing; Lukas was pleased to get that resolved before leaving,” he added.
“Thank you to Lukas for all he has done, and for taking this organisation forward,” he concluded.
Then the man himself spoke. “It’s been quite an interesting five years,” Lukas began. “There’s always something to look forward to at HCA. It’s a dynamic place, always looking to do something different. The biggest highlight,” he said of the staff, “Has been working with all of you. There have been so many different people; so many different partnerships…long may it continue. Every day there’s something new,” he resumed. “I’d like to think I’d mostly handled it well,” he added with characteristic modesty. “Thank you all. It’s over to Christina now, who’s bound to succeed.”
Lukas is not moving to Germany to take up his new position immediately, confiding that he would work from home in London via the internet for the time being.
He concluded by saying that he hoped to return to HCA for the ribbon cutting when Bedford House re-opens. “I doubt I’ll be a stranger.”
Lukas then cut the cake, and Saira helped hand slices to the guests, while caretaker John popped the booze open for those with Bachanalian appetites. Sounds like a cue for a slideshow:
Amid the imbibing, your HCA hack sought the thoughts of HCA staff about our departing CEO:
“Lukas has been very supportive, welcoming, warm, and, all in all, a great guy to work with,” said Charles.
Caretaker John said: “I found hima nice guy, polite. I got on well with him; he’s got time to listen to you. He shows you respect,” he added.
“Thank you so much, Lukas,” Saira said, “For all your support for the last five years!”
Paul began to wax lyrical about Lukas but was then called away and never got to finish his quote (this hack realised only when reviewing his notes). No one likes to have words put in their mouth, but, possibly, Paul was going to say: “I’ve never liked Lukas, and I’m glad he’s going! Good riddance!”
No doubt Paul will, at a later date, either (a) agree that this is what he intended to say, or (b) demand that this reporter make a full apology for such an outlandish assertion. Time will tell if Paul either (a) has a great sense of humour about such things, or (b) never forgets a slight against him, real or imagined, and always bears a grudge…
Lukas himself revealed that he “Hasn’t really had time to stop and think,” about his departure. “Probably when I’m on the plane [it will hit me]. It has been enjoyable,” at Holborn Community Association, he added.
“Lukas took his job very seriously,” Crispin said. “During his time here, the organisation has advanced significantly.”
Quite so. It won’t quite be the same around HCA without Lukas. During his last few weeks as CEO, this reporter discovered a few things about him, though of course stopped short of incurring a super-injunction to prevent over-nosiness. What did emerge was that Lukas, despite his American-accent, is a native of Kiel, in the Schleswig-Holstein region of Germany. He is a fan of Holstein Kiel FC, currently second in 2 Bundesliga [equivalent of England’s Championship or Second Division in old money]. He himself used to be a goalkeeper and also played basketball – as a power forward – for ASC Götettingen in the German Third Division. A wrist injury which required surgery put paid to both of those sports, but he also loves martial arts.
Lukas lived in Australia briefly as a nipper, studied for his Masters Degree in Washington, had a spell in the German army, and prior to working at HCA, he was CEO of a Community Trust in the Isle of Gigha in the Scottish Hebrides, and for a Family Support charity in Edinburgh.
“He loves a meeting,” was all that Steve could think of saying when quizzed about Lukas. Paul was a little more forthcoming, revealing that Lukas is “Deaf in one ear, due to a hiking accident”, in which he fell on a branch sticking out of the ground, which went straight in his ear. Ouch!
Also according to Paul, Lukas “loves comic books,” and “Led the Bedford House redevelopment project” which has so far raised two thirds of the requisite funding. [Anyone willing to stump up another £1,000,000 or so to help us out should contact this reporter, c/o his Swiss Bank Account].
Carmen, Millman Street’s Activities Coordinator, was unable to attend Lukas’ leaving do, but later confided: “He’s a big bear!”
If not for Lukas’ departure, there would not have been a cake, and without a cake, this hack would never have realised that his name was Lukas with a ‘k’, rather than Lucas with a ‘c’…
You can’t argue with a cake…
As for the future, HCA’s new CEO Christina’s plans are of course in the early stages. She intends to get around to all three sites this week to see what’s what.
Christina: HCA’s new CEO…
Christina has been in the CEO game for around twenty years, having ran various branches of MIND, the mental health charity, in Barnet, Hammersmith & Fulham and Tower Hamlets. She also previously ran Different Strokes, a charity for young people, and also Blackfriars Advice Centre for a year.
Also new to HCA is Chloe, who is the new Media Arts Coordinator at 1A Arts, now that Leslie has returned to Australia. Chloe has already been to Millman Street Centre, today (4th October) filming and interviewing some of our members for a new project. We hope to see more of her, and learn more of her project, in the coming weeks.
But for now, another slideshow:
Holborn Community Association would like to thank Lukas for all of his hard work, leadership, friendliness and patience over the last half-decade. Naturally, we wish him all the best in his new career, and hope to see him pop into HCA now and again.
Out of reverence to Lukas’ service to HCA, this reporter restrained his tendency toward cliché, and spared you the planned music-themed nonsense featuring Kraftwerk, Die Toten Hosen, Nena (of 99 luftballons fame), Einstürzende Neubauten and other German bands which Lukas never showed any interest in. There can be few better marks of respect than that. Instead, here’s a brief pictorial of Lukas’ time at HCA:
Frightful photos and rotten reporting: Notes Smudger