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Christopher Paige of California Human Development wins Nonprofit Leadership Award

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Christopher Paige

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

AWARD CATEGORY: EXECUTIVE LEADERSHIP

CALIFORNIA HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

3315 AIRWAY DRIVE, SANTA ROSA CA 95403

707-523-1155

WWW.CAHUMANDEVELOPMENT.ORG

EDUCATION: I HAVE A B.A. FROM STANFORD UNIVERSITY IN HISTORY AND HUMANITIES AND AN M.A. FROM UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY IN HISTORY. I WAS ON AN ACADEMIC TRACK WHEN I TOOK A TEMPORARY JOB WITH CHD FOUNDER GEORGE ORTIZ AND NEVER WENT BACK. IT WAS SUCH A GREAT GROUP OF PEOPLE AND AN INSPIRING CAUSE. SO, I STUCK WITH IT AND IT BECAME MY LIFE. IT’S NEVER BEEN A JOB TO ME—BUT RATHER JUST LIVING LIFE AND WORKING TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

STAFF: 200-PLUS, WITH HEADQUARTERS IN SANTA ROSA AND OFFICES THROUGHOUT NORTHERN CALIFORNIA.

Professional background:

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.

Christopher Paige

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

AWARD CATEGORY: EXECUTIVE LEADERSHIP

CALIFORNIA HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

3315 AIRWAY DRIVE, SANTA ROSA CA 95403

707-523-1155

WWW.CAHUMANDEVELOPMENT.ORG

EDUCATION: I HAVE A B.A. FROM STANFORD UNIVERSITY IN HISTORY AND HUMANITIES AND AN M.A. FROM UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY IN HISTORY. I WAS ON AN ACADEMIC TRACK WHEN I TOOK A TEMPORARY JOB WITH CHD FOUNDER GEORGE ORTIZ AND NEVER WENT BACK. IT WAS SUCH A GREAT GROUP OF PEOPLE AND AN INSPIRING CAUSE. SO, I STUCK WITH IT AND IT BECAME MY LIFE. IT’S NEVER BEEN A JOB TO ME—BUT RATHER JUST LIVING LIFE AND WORKING TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

STAFF: 200-PLUS, WITH HEADQUARTERS IN SANTA ROSA AND OFFICES THROUGHOUT NORTHERN CALIFORNIA.

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.

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

We are working on phase two of Ortiz Family Plaza, which will create an additional 15-20 affordable housing units for farmworker families.

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

Jeff Luchetti Construction for the innovative modular manufacturing process they are using to build Ortiz Family Plaza and keep costs down. Also, social media is creating new opportunities for us to tell our story and to connect our clients to services.

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

We expect continued and increased inclusion of farmworkers in the economic and civic life of Sonoma County and greater inclusion overall of farmworkers in the American Dream. However, in this election year, we are keeping a close eye on the issue of immigration reform and other issues that affect our clients.

Most admired businessperson outside your organization: I salute Henry Trione and Marv Soliand and their amazing achievements for Sonoma County. Bill Severi currently with North Bay Property Advisors is an outstanding community minded businessman who brought us the Stonehouse opportunity as well as the opportunity to purchase the land for Ortiz Family Plaza. Pat Garvey in Napa is an outstanding advocate for our farmworker housing efforts.

QUICK TAKES

Current reading: Peter May’s “The Blackhouse,” a mystery set in the Isle of Lewis in Scotland.

Most want to meet: Thomas Keller of The French Laundry (I have a cookbook I’d love him to sign!)

Stress relievers: Running, the gym, gardening and cooking

Favorite hobbies: I collect cast iron skillets and am looking for Griswold numbers 1 and 2 (hint, hint).

Social media you most use: Facebook

Buzz word from your industry you hate the most: All of them!

Typical day at the office: Could be working with staff in the Santa Rosa office, traveling to our training centers in San Joaquin County, or meeting with legislators on issues that affect our industry.

Best place to work outside of the office: In my backyard full of native California plants.

Words that best describe you: Friendly, intelligent, passionate

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