Charles brings over 20 years of nonprofit experience to ATC. Most recently, Charles served as the Executive Director of Boston CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) from 2012-2019. During his seven-year tenure, Boston CASA quadrupled its volunteer base, expanded services by 280%, and increased revenue by 600%. His previous work has included leading the first LGBTQ foster-to-permanency program in California as well as teaching at multiple universities including California State University, East Bay and Harvard University. Charles holds a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy.
ATC sat down with Charles to ask him about his life and experiences: below are his thoughtful responses. In the coming months, look out for opportunities to get to know Charles in person—we can’t wait for you to meet him!
What are some fun facts about yourself?
I love to travel and am an avid tennis player. I will often break out into impromptu song. Many times it is opera…even if my voice is not quite appropriate for it, I sing it anyway! I also have a rather dry sense of humor and sometimes people are not sure if I’m joking (but I am). My 10-year-old son is a fun-loving jokester and has helped bring out the carefree, funny side of me that used to be more subdued.
What is your connection to the Bay Area?
I am originally from South Florida and attended school in multiple states. I have family across the country but I have always had an affinity for the West Coast and the Bay. My best friend moved there and I visited and ended up staying for six years. It’s where I met my husband—he is from here. Shortly after, I moved to Boston for several years and now my family is ready to return. We have a lot of amazing family in the Bay Area, both birth and chosen family.
How did you get into this line of work?
My personal experience is a big part of what drove me to this work. Growing up, I spent several years in the foster care system and experienced a brief period of homelessness. I felt like I was lost in the shuffle and trying to figure out how to access the support system in order to survive was very isolating at times. I was fortunate to have someone I could turn to when I had nowhere else to go. This person helped me meet my basic needs until I was able to secure employment and housing stability. I will never take for granted that I had someone who offered me help and said yes when I asked for it.
The mission of At The Crossroads resonates deeply for me because I believe that the trajectory of someone’s life is often determined by whether or not they have a safe and consistent adult to provide guidance and support. Not everyone has this and I believe that everyone should. Our society tends to focus solely on tangible “services” for youth experiencing homelessness or disconnection and this is a very important piece. But it isn’t the only thing that matters. I consider kindness, compassion, acceptance, and unconditional regard to be just as important as having a place to stay.
I didn’t always have the goal of becoming an Executive Director of a nonprofit, but I had great mentors and after 20 years working at different organizations, I learned that you can’t sit back and wait for leaders you believe in to emerge. You have to grow into being that leader yourself. I believe that good leadership—leadership that creates change and impact—isn’t just about having a certain skill set or expertise, it’s about the ability to mobilize people and bring them together around a common cause.
What is your personal mission/vision/philosophy?
I think that the day-to-day responsibilities of life are daunting for most people (even if you feel like you’re alone in this, you’re not)—it can be tough. The expectation is that you put a smile on your face and that you’re grateful for what you have. I find that seeking out moments of joy as much as possible and building a support system of kind people in your life can help get you through challenging times.
Considering how difficult life can be, especially for people in certain circumstances, I believe that we have a responsibility to one another. In our society, way too often we abdicate this responsibility. We become desensitized to the suffering and struggles of the people around us. I think we need to regularly challenge ourselves to do better, to be more aware of what others around us are experiencing, and to be accountable to other people.
What makes you most excited about being At The Crossroads’ Executive Director?
I am really excited to be working with such a dedicated and passionate staff and board and to build relationships with ATC’s amazing supporters. I am also looking forward to taking a step back and learning from everyone engaged with ATC in order to co-create a shared vision for the future of At The Crossroads.