GREENFIELD — The Center for Community Advocacy (CCA) in Salinas has named Jose Garcia of Greenfield as its new development director.
Garcia said in a recent interview that he was motivated to join CCA so he could have an impact on housing and homelessness in the area, a subject that has affected his own family’s life.
As a young child growing up in Greenfield, Garcia experienced firsthand not knowing where he and his family would live or have a true place to call home. He and his family lived, for a time, in a car, in a garage, at his grandmother’s house, and with other family members.
But when he was 8 years old, his mother and father obtained a house in 1997 through CHISPA (Community Housing Improvement Systems and Planning Association), a private, nonprofit housing developer that builds and develops single-family homes and apartments for low- and moderate-income people in Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz counties.
Garcia has strong ties to CHISPA as a resident in their housing and as a past scholarship recipient and intern. Then, in 2022, to complete the circle, he was named to the CHISPA Board of Directors, joining the nonprofit to keep pushing forward late CEO and President Alfred Diaz-Infante’s vision of affordable housing for all.
Diaz-Infante, for whom Garcia deeply admired and respected, in a roundabout way, was responsible for the young man’s getting the job as development director for CCA.
Garcia said he had the honor of speaking at Diaz-Infante’s Celebration of Life ceremony earlier this year, and in addition to the sadness and loss he was feeling, he also felt like Diaz-Infante would help create the bridge for the next opportunity in his career.
“I had that strange feeling like I was going to a job interview,” he said, after speaking with CCA’s Sabino Lopez and other CCA staffers at the funeral, who said they were impressed by his speech. “The universe guides you to a path you’re supposed to be on. There are so many things I want to do, and CCA does a little bit of everything. It all happened so fast.”
That last sentence could even serve as Garcia’s theme for his life and career. And, when people around him expect him to turn left, he often turns right.
For example, when it came time to pick his major and college in high school, all his teachers and counselors expected him to go into a career in finance — he was, after all, an intern at Chase Bank at age 14 — but he confounded them all by majoring in his weakest subject — English.
In many ways, Garcia, who was born in Guanajuato, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States with his parents when he was only 2, is an achiever, a man whose goals and ambitions are to make a difference in the world, especially in an area that personally affected him — housing and homelessness — drive him to succeed in everything he does.
After graduating high school, he earned his degree in English, receiving a bachelor’s degree in humanities and English in 2011 from Cal State University Monterey Bay, Magna Cum Laude, making the Dean’s List all four years 2008-11.
He followed that up by getting a Master of Business Administration (MBA), Summa Cum Laude, in 2016, also from CSUMB, earning the highest by-point GPA from the College of Business. He also received a Business Academic Achievement Award from the California State Senate in 2017.
He also has a teaching credential, teaching Adult Education classes in Monterey County, all while continuing a career in finance. In 2019, he was certified as a Chief Business Officer (CBO) and Director of Fiscal Services and received a School Business Academy Certification.
He parlayed that internship position at Chase Bank by eventually becoming business manager with positions as manager, loan specialist, finance specialist, and operations supervisor. In addition, he worked as Director of Fiscal Services at San Antonio Union School District from 2018 to 2020 and Director of Finance and Grants at Computer-Using Educators (CUE) in Walnut Creek from 2020 to 2021.
Then in 2022, Garcia again took another turn away from the path he was expected to follow.
“I was laid off at CUE due to the Covid-19 pandemic and started teaching adult classes again, but in my heart, I knew I wanted to work in a nonprofit where I could make a difference,” he said, explaining how he landed at CCA. “I put it out to the universe that I wanted to work for nonprofits that help people. I want to contribute, especially to helping people with housing. My goal is to help develop CCA, help people become conscious and independent, help people become leaders, and make CCA known as the Leadership University.”
As development director, Garcia said it’s all about building bridges.
“I’ll be involved in grants, foundations and endowments, a little bit of everything,” he said. “Grants are all about building relationships.”
As for what he does in his “spare time,” he let out a short laugh. He professes not to have a lot of it, but he is a dog lover and likes to spend time with those that he loves, friends, family and his puppies.
As for the rest of his time, he said, “Every day, I strive to be the change that I want to see in this world. I want to change the world and bring us all together.”