Christopher Paige of California Human Development wins Nonprofit Leadership Award
I joined CHD in 1975 as a Program Planner in the CETA 303 Program. In 1979 I became CHD's Chief of Operations with responsibility for all CHD programs. I served as Deputy CEO under the organization's only two CEOs prior to being asked by the Board of Directors to step into the CEO role. I have had a long-standing interest in justice for farmworkers dating back to the end of the Bracero Program and early job training efforts to assist farmworkers under the War on Poverty. I've been actively involved in La Cooperativa Campesina de California since its inception, providing leadership in the planning and program development relating to disaster assistance, dislocated workers, immigration reform, health care, and equity for farmworkers in the Decennial Census counts of 1990 and 2000.
I have been an active participant in the Workforce Investment Boards of Sonoma and San Joaquin Counties, and the North Central Counties Consortium. I was also recognized by the Central Valley Opportunity Center in 2005 with the Dolores Huerta Lifetime Achievement award. I am a past Board member and past President of the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs (AFOP), a member of their Farmworker Hall of Fame and a winner of the President's Award for exceptional contributions to improving the lives of migrant season farmworkers.
Describe your organization:
Celebrating 50 years, California Human Development (CHD) is a nonprofit, human services provider leading the War on Poverty across 31 northern California counties. We create opportunities for people who struggle in the grips of poverty to achieve self-sufficiency, serving farmworkers and people of low income from all walks of life. Through training and employment, affordable housing, immigration assistance, disABILITY services and recovery from addiction, we give those who labor most a hand up to the American Dream. Our services are made possible through a wide reach of public, non-profit and private partnerships, touching more than half-a-million people over five decades. Together, we build stronger individuals, families, and communities-one precious life at a time.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a married father of two grown children and three grandchildren. My wife, Tina, and I are coming up on nearly 50 years of marriage…amazing and unbelievable! For many years Tina worked with the Community Child Care Council – so we were both in the nonprofit sector. We love to travel and spend time with our family. I'm a longtime volunteer with Sutter Care at Home, in particular their Human Race fundraiser. I can be found at the end of the original and fastest centipede in the Human Race. Additionally, I am active on the Board of Sutter Care at Home and the Redwood Arts Council. I've been all over the world and consider Sonoma County to be the most marvelous place of all to live, work and raise a family!
What is your role in the organization?
Chief Executive Officer…IE: Chief Cheerleader for an able staff and great partners out fighting poverty and advocating for our clients.
What achievement are you most proud of?
CHD itself is an amazing achievement! I feel blessed to have participated in the growth of this agency for the vast majority of my career and gratified by so many lives made better through our programs. Additionally, two specific initiatives stand out as especially significant.
First is the acquisition of Santa Rosa's historic Stonehouse, with help from the Trione Family and Community Foundation Sonoma County. Women (and women with children) who struggle with addiction now have a solid home for residential treatment, a place where they can feel safe and supported in their quest for sobriety. I personally have seen dozens of women rebuild their lives and become happy, successful members of our community thanks to Stonehouse.
Secondly, I am very proud of Ortiz Family Plaza, which is under construction now in northern Santa Rosa. This complex will provide 29 affordable homes for low income, farmworker families. Literally years in the making, Ortiz Family Plaza is the result of a great deal of help from government, private and philanthropic partners, and our development partners Phoenix Development and Integrity Housing. When it opens this spring, Ortiz Family Plaza will provide stability for work-authorized farmworkers who play a crucial role in the Sonoma County economy. The complex creates much-needed affordable homes for people who live in Sonoma County year-round and whose children are growing up here.
What is your biggest challenge today?
Securing the resources to do the job properly and working to get programs aligned with early interventions and upstream investments. It's so important that we get in early, to invest in people through education and training as opposed to doing things after the fact. In Sonoma County, fair immigration policy is crucial and can have far reaching impact across agriculture, hospitality, construction, and the future of our youth-many of whom immigrated here as young children and have known no other home.