Save Mount Diablo
Deepening and Growing Sector Roots and Connections
Ron Brown is Executive Director of Save Mount Diablo, which works to preserve the lands on and around Mount Diablo for the environment, for recreation, and for visual enjoyment. Ron was recently honored as Business Person of the Year by the Walnut Creek Chamber of Commerce for his efforts bridging the nonprofit and business communities to better serve the East Bay – and it’s a skill he brings to CompassPoint’s work across the Bay Area as a board member.
Ron’s early career choices reflect that of a person still defining his path. He went from studying pharmacy to joining the Air Force to computer programming to serving as a police officer. Ultimately, he says, “I realized none of that was satisfying to me, so I found my way to a recreation and leisure studies degree at San Francisco State. From there I became the Director of the Contra Costa Jewish Community Center.” And it was there he found his calling for the nonprofit sector. “I was there for 14 years, then I worked for the Diabetic Youth Foundation, organizing recreational camps and educational programs and activities for diabetic youth and their families. Twelve years ago, a friend told me about the ED job at Save Mount Diablo. I had the finance, fundraising, community relations, and strategic planning skills they were looking for in an ED. I also lived at the base of Mt. Diablo and wanted to learn more about it and get involved.” It was and continues to be a perfect fit.
His connection to the sector, its values, and the people striving to make a difference has only deepened with time. Ron says, “If you step back and look at the potential of nonprofits in the community – you can look at the ways they are working to heal the world and making it a better place for us and future generations.” It’s a connection that CompassPoint helps fuel. As a board member, he relishes the organization’s ability to connect nonprofits to the skills and resources to help them fulfill their promise. He says, “I was on the board of The CBO Center [which merged with CompassPoint in 2010] which was doing programs for nonprofit organization capacity building in the East Bay. There I witnessed the great strength people can get from attending classes and simply by hanging out with others in the sector. And with CompassPoint’s larger scale, it is possible to be able to have a larger impact among nonprofit organizations and their staff and I wanted to be a part of that.”
One of the things Ron values most about CompassPoint is “how the board and staff are thinking about some serious, big issues in thoughtful, progressive, and innovative ways.” He adds, “I really like how we take the work we and others are doing in the sector and help shape it to have a genuine impact on social equity and quality of life in this world. We’re not just here to provide homeless shelters but to end homelessness; we’re not just here to feed the hungry but to end world hunger. That’s what our sector is here to do – to banish these things from the earth. And that’s what I believe CompassPoint can help organizations do by giving us the tools and training, the relationships, and the out-of-the-box thinking that can help us achieve a just and sustainable world. CompassPoint, by facilitating discussions within and across sectors in the community, helps us keep perspective and to make other people aware of the issues and values that are important to us. We have to be thoughtful in how to maximize these opportunities.”