|January 20, 2014 • VOL. 52, NO. 2 • Oakland, CA|
| St. Vincent de Paul-Alameda County
names new executive director
"I love St. Vincent de Paul," says Blase Bova, the new executive director of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Alameda County. "It's the most amazing organization."
He believes many others in the Oakland diocese will feel likewise — once they roll up their sleeves and volunteer.
Bova, who has more than 15 years of nonprofit management experience with St. Vincent de Paul, stepped into his new role Dec. 2. He most recently served as executive director of the St. Vincent de Paul in Marin County. Before that, he served as director of operations and director of development at St. Vincent de Paul of Phoenix.
Bova graduated with a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's degree in sociology from the University of Missouri. He has a certificate in fundraising management from Indiana University and completed the executive program for nonprofit leaders at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business in 2008.
"Oakland is a great challenge" he said, with "so many programs doing so much good."
In his new role, he said he hopes to "bring more community connections" to that work of doing good. Among his immediate goals is to "raise our profile in the community," offering East Bay residents the opportunity to shop in its retail stores, donate items and to volunteer.
Increasing volunteers could also lead to increasing the society's financial resources, offering potential donors the ability "to see how far their money can go."
He described the Marin operation as much smaller than Oakland's, and as a place he needed to work to improve the society's name recognition.
His work in Phoenix, which is the largest St. Vincent de Paul in the nation, was "a great grace for me," where he learned all aspects of the nonprofit's organizations, particularly in development and special works, including programs serving transients, ex-offenders and in the prevention of violence.
"I think of myself as a program guy," he said.
He will have plenty of opportunities in Oakland, with programs such as workforce development and the Kitchen of Champions, which turns out several classes of skilled kitchen workers a year.
Among the social enterprises Bova mentioned was Redux, an Alameda gallery where artists take items and repurpose them into art.
Volunteers can also work with the artists to create products that can be sold at the gallery. The volunteers' labor, he said, adds value to those recycled materials — as well as some fun to the volunteers' experience. Profits go to support the programs that serve low-income individuals and families.
Bova expects to become a familiar face in the diocese, where he will be out meeting potential volunteers and benefactors. "The Catholic community is the place to start," he said, noting the 37 active conferences in parishes. In meeting the volunteers, he said, he hopes to "keep them as excited as I am about how many opportunities there are for volunteers," he said.
"Once they're here," he said, "they're going to fall in love."
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