About the organization: For 52 years, CAPK has served Kern County with a range of basic services. CAPK serves newborns to seniors and everyone in between. Last year alone, our Food Bank brought 13.7 million pounds of food to Kern families’ tables. Communities rely on us for education, food assistance, child care, youth programs, utility assistance, free tax preparation and more. We started in Kern County but now serve nine other counties through nearly 200 sites funded by $55 million in public and private grants.
What I do: My responsibilities vary widely as I offer direction to more than 800 employees serving close to a dozen programs. I report to a 15-member board of directors and directly oversee a team of seven division directors. I enjoy rolling up my sleeves and digging into complex situations, while at the same time allowing fellow employees opportunities to express their ideas and help get the job done.
Where I grew up: I grew up in Bakersfield, attending Franklin Elementary, Emerson Middle School and Garces Memorial High School. I am a Kern County native who returned after college because this is great place to live.
Education: San Diego State University, B.A.
Family: Family always comes first. Susan is my wife of 26 years. Our children: Emily, 24, is a teacher at Curran Middle School and finishing her master’s degree at CSU Bakersfield; Molly, 23, is finishing her teaching credentials and master’s degree in the Kern Rural Teacher Residency Program at CSU Bakersfield; Jack, 17, is a junior at Garces Memorial High School.
Hobbies: I enjoy working on causes that are important to me, spending time on home improvement projects and joining as a spectator at my children’s events. The whole family enjoys watching my son Jack participate in high school athletic programs at Garces Memorial.
What was your very first job and what did you learn from it?
I worked many summer jobs around Kern County while growing up, all of which taught me tremendous life experiences. I learned how to take pride in everything I do — that every detail matters and that communication is vital.
Who or what has been the biggest influence on your career? My grandfather, Sam Tobias, passed away when I was a freshman in college. In the years following and to this day, people will speak to me about the great respect they had for him as an honest businessman and a tremendous human being. He is still influencing me from above, many years later.
What was the best piece of advice you ever received? John Fanucchi, my teacher and coach at Garces, advised me to get back up and don’t quit.
What is the most challenging part of your job? Overseeing a large and diverse nonprofit, I am forever searching for effective methods of communicating with employees. I have found that far too often, problems come from a lack of listening and ineffective communication skills.
What is the most rewarding part of your job? Helping hardworking people find their way to the American dream.
What is the most memorable accomplishment of your career?
The stories of those whose lives CAPK has changed for the better.