Nancy Maldonado: New Leadership
By Mario A. Cortez
While the start of the work week might be lethargic for many, Nancy Maldonado, the new CEO of local nonprofit Chicano Federation, wastes no time on Monday mornings. Prior to speaking with La Prensa San Diego, she met with a planning council which informs and advises the County on how to best deliver child care services and resources to families.
“Every year the County does a needs assessment to look at where the most needs are in childcare. So with an interest in childcare from the new governor, we want to determine what would be the best use for possible resources? Where would they best be invested?” she explained. “You also have to realize that just money is not going to solve the problem with providing childcare because there are not enough program spaces, so we have to see how do we increase the capacity for increased child care.”
“So yes, pretty busy working on a couple of issues,” she added smiling.
Joining the Chicano Federation in 2017 as a program director, Maldonado’s talent and leadership was quickly noted within the organization, leading to a promotion to the chief operating officer position in 2018. Assuming the role of CEO this January, she leads the organization into its 50th anniversary and on to some major changes to better serve the thousands of families that benefit from this nonprofit.
“The Chicano Federation offers great programs, but a lot of the time they are operated in isolation, so I want to see how we can be a bit more comprehensive so when people come here they learn about our all our services and we can make sure every person and family that comes to us is fully helped,” Maldonado said.
And while new ideas are never off the table, the CEO notes that continuing to provide existing services with an even higher grade of care and quality is important. She pointed to the Barrio Logan Preschool Program and other neighborhood resources as vital to the Chicano Federation’s legacy and as programs that are “here to stay”.
Maldonado’s advocacy work and mentoring in health-related fields is not new. She holds a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and a master’s in exercise science, which informed her work as a corporate wellness consultant. Prior to joining the Chicano Federation as a program director, she served as a community health director with the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association. Her community involvement doesn’t stop at the end of her desk, as Maldonado also is also active on several boards for organizations such as the California Alternative Payment Program Association Public Policy Committee and the San Diego County Child Care and Development Planning Council.
The significance of leading an organization with such a rich history of community empowerment and neighborhood-oriented services is not lost on the new head of the nonprofit. Maldonado shared that she reached out to previous CEOs and board members to make sure she was going to perform her duties in a way which respects the Chicano Federation’s history and its goals.
“(Reaching out to previous leadership) is one of the first things I did so I could learn things I did not know and everyone I reached has been very helpful and they also have many artifacts such as articles and notes so that I can get a sense of what was going on when Chicano Federation was created, who it was created for, and to make sure that I honor the history of the roots of the organization,” Maldonado detailed.
While she is up for the challenge of leading an organization with such a rich history into its 50th anniversary, she insists that the most important responsibility she has is making sure families seeking services from Chicano Federation have all their needs fulfilled.
“A year from now I would love to say that all of our programs are the best quality programs and that when a family comes in we understand what their needs are to address them,” Maldonado closed.