Our New Executive Director: Juan Torres, MPA
by Dr. Doug Semark
For the past two years, we’ve been going through a two-year leadership transition. Supported by the Board of Directors under the leadership of Jane Tokubo, President, and Larry Kurtz, Personnel Committee Chair, my goals have been to find and train the next executive director, engage our co-workers in every step of the process, and stabilize the organization’s values, culture, and resources for a seamless move into the next chapter of our organization’s history. In other words, I needed to make myself irrelevant.
During our nationwide search for an executive director, five candidates emerged as the best available, and three of those were internal candidates. Juan Torres, our Director of Administration was selected to be the next executive director.
Juan’s history with GAP starts well before he joined our staff. It started when he was a fourth grade student in one of our elementary school programs in Wilmington, where he learned to stay Gangfree. The lessons he learned stayed with him, and eventually led him to GAP as a classroom advisor. Subsequently, he served as a Parent Project® facilitator, case manager, Assistant Director of Community Clean Up, and Director of Administration. Along the way he completed our Junior Executive program and Senior Executive Training Alliance. He also completed his Masters in Public Administration, got married, and welcomed two sons into the world. In other words, he’s been busy!
When I asked him why he sought the position of executive director, he replied
“Throughout life, I always enjoyed helping others and giving back to my community. Growing up I was surrounded by gangs and witnessed the detrimental effects gangs have on society, families and youth. I always wanted the opportunity to help create change and divert youth from gangs. GAP has allowed me to help provide this service for the last 13 years. As the future Executive Director, I am honored to continue to serve and help youth live a Gangfree life style."
GAP is such a tightly organized and collegial organization, I had to ask what his leadership stye would be. He answered
“As I become the Executive Director, I am excited to work alongside a great team of individuals who enjoy and love what they do. Our team has a great deal of experience and knowledge in gang prevention. I plan to work with them and the board of directors to continue GAP’s legacy and to continue to be the outstanding organization that we are. I’m also eager and excited to work and collaborate with other agencies to improve our communities.”
I’m happy and pleased that Juan is the next executive director and look forward to seeing the Gangfree Life® Team’s success from afar (from my vantage point four hours away), and I’ll always be committed to their success and Juan’s.