(Photo: Valley Vision)
Taking the reins of a regional nonprofit in the middle of turbulent times seems like a daunting mission. For Evan Schmidt, the new CEO of Valley Vision as of July 1, the crises facing California are opportunities to reshape how the state and its regions address challenges and inequities.
“The social and health crises that we are facing call for a re-imaging of many of our systems,” said Schmidt.
Valley Vision is a regional organization focused on triple bottom line in the greater Sacramento region. The organization is also part of the growing California Stewardship Network (CSN) which joined with CA Fwd in 2019 and is an alliance of regional leaders working together on the state’s most pressing challenges.
“Holding triple bottom line values, or equally attending to economic prosperity, social equity, and environmental sustainability, creates the opportunity to find solutions that are durable and responsive to people, place, and prosperity,” said Schmidt, who had previously been working at Valley Vision as the director of research and strategy.
Schmidt was also a Fellow in the first cohort of CSN's Steward Leadership Program, which began in 2017 and aims to create a movement of steward leaders with an increased focus on the triple bottom line and the long-term vitality of their communities.
“The CSN Stewardship Leader Program helped me develop my leadership values around the concept of servant leadership,” said Schmidt. “I learned from the program that regional stewards are at the service of the region – building a shared vision for the future and taking action that nurtures and serves the people and places of that region. This concept of leadership really spoke to me and I could see myself in a position of leadership from this vantage – working in service for the people and places that I love.”
Schmidt will be the fourth CEO in Valley Vision’s 26-year history, after long-time leader Bill Mueller stepped down in February, and her appointment will conclude current Interim CEO Meg Arnold’s tenure over the past four months.
“I’m delighted with Evan’s hiring as CEO, confident in her well-proven abilities to lead the organization, and look forward to seeing what Valley Vision can accomplish in and for our communities under her leadership,” said Arnold.
Valley Vision also recently completed a two-year effort to build a six-county inclusive economic strategy that will highlight strategies for both near-term economic recovery and growth for the future. Our Path Forward: The Prosperity Strategy highlights six core strategies including targeting infrastructure investment and expanding demand-driven, sector-based workforce development to prepare a more inclusive workforce for the future of work in the region.
“As we think about the needs of our communities across California, the regional level is a critical place for change to occur,” said Schmidt. “Regions carry our systems and they also are responsive to needs in the community. Empathetic, just, and engaged leadership at the regional level is critical to ensure an equitable and healthy future for all of California.”
Schmidt also had previously worked at Smith & Lehmann Consulting as a senior research associate and currently serves as the co-chair of Empower Yolo, a nonprofit organization supporting families with emergency shelter and other basic needs, and was a member of the City of Davis’ Natural Resources Commission.