651 Yolanda Ave., Santa Rosa 95404; 707-523-0550; gire.org

Age: 63

Residence: Santa Rosa

Professional background: 27 years with the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department, retiring as elected Sheriff-Coroner in 1997. Since retirement, I have worked in the title insurance and mortgage industries and as a management consultant prior to joining Goodwill--Redwood Empire as president and CEO.

Education: Sacramento State College, numerous law enforcement management courses, graduate of the FBI law enforcement executive development course, POST law enforcement executive certificate

Staff size: 340

Describe your organization

Goodwill is known for thrift retail, but our motto is, "A Hand Up, not a handout." Goodwill of the Redwood Empire is focused on providing employment and training to those in our community -- Sonoma, Napa, Lake and Mendocino counties -- who have barriers to employment. For 38 years, Goodwill Industries of the Redwood Empire has worked with the counties of Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino, California Department of Rehabilitation, Santa Rosa Junior College and others to offer skill-development and support services to individuals.

With 300-plus employees, we currently manage 15 workforce-development programs and operate 13 retail training centers in four counties. The agency has been recognized for providing service excellence by many organizations, including Sonoma County Mayors’ Committee on Employment of People With Disabilities, North Bay Leadership Council, NAMI Sonoma County. Goodwill received a Jefferson Award for Public Service from the county of Sonoma.

Tell us a little bit about yourself

I am a native Californian who has never lived outside the state. Local politics fascinate me, although I have no interest in running for office -- again!

What is your role in the organization?

As president and chief executive officer for Goodwill, I am in touch with every aspect of the organization. Working closely with staff at all levels I get an opportunity to learn from them and hear what is important to all of our employees. Some days I am focused on our thrift retail, other days I get to negotiate with the county regarding e-waste, then there are the many social-service training and support programs that keep us striving for more. Goodwill is a complex business, and it keeps me on my toes!

What achievement are you most proud of?

In my nonprofit organization life, I've been part of a team who restored financial stability and enhanced the reputation of the local Goodwill. In an economy of downsizing, we increased the number of employees in our agency from 140 to 340.

What is your biggest challenge today?

Positioning Goodwill for the future. Recruiting qualified staff, planning for new stores and preparing for the increased demand for mission services are as challenging as they have ever been. The world has changed on the employment front in the past three to five years, and I'm learning how to navigate through the changes to ensure that we are hiring the best qualified applicants is tricky.

Revenue growth through our thrift retail is essential to continue to offer the mission services that our community expects. Creative thinking is an absolute requirement for future success.

What the next major project either under way or on the horizon?

At Goodwill--Redwood Empire we have any number of new initiatives to get excited about right now. One I am personally very enthusiastic about -- the Donate Local campaign -- was launched last spring. Community fundraising donation drives are a collaboration with other nonprofit organizations in the community that challenge the group to take action in their own fundraising success by hosting a community donation drive. 

The plan involves the group to gather their supporters to fill a Goodwill truck with donations, resulting in the group receives payment. Everyone has stuff they can and do donate, and this gives them an opportunity to support their nonprofit of choice by making those donations at a community donation drive that converts their goods to cash for the group. It is another way we can continue to keep 100 percent of the funds generated by the community in the community.

What product or service would/or is helping you do your job more effectively?

We recently started using a task-management software that allows us to assign projects without losing sight of them. It’s becoming a game-changer in efficiency.

How do you think your profession will change in the next five years?

The demands on our core services of job training and placement will increase, while government funding will continue to become more competitive. It will be incumbent on our agency to continue to grow our thrift retail to provide the financial support required to maintain our level of service to those with disabilities or other barriers to employment.

Most admired businessperson outside your organization: My late father, who taught me responsibility, integrity, moral obligation and determination.

Current reading: Leap of Reason: Managing to Outcomes in an Era of Scarcity by Mario Morino and the most recent releases by James Patterson, Stuart Wood or Lincoln Child

Stress relievers: Reading, my dogs and being active

Favorite hobbies: Reading, driving my 1964 Pontiac GTO convertible and the occasional round of golf with friends

Words that best describe you: Giving, challenging, determined

Is there something we didn’t ask that you would like to add?: I have always taken great pride in being a resident of Sonoma County. We have such an abundance of compassionate residents that give their time and talents to make our county a better place to life. In my role with Goodwill I get many opportunities to interact with the citizens in some many ways and I often find that we, Goodwill, are one of the best kept secrets in the county. Goodwill is known for its thrift retail, but so few know why their donations are so very precious to us.

I have set the agency on the path to educate our community on the true value of their donations. It is my goal to spread the word that your donations create opportunities for employment to your neighbors. And we can’t do it without community support. Become part of the best-kept employment secret in your neighborhood: Donate local; employ local.