Fieldstone Has Served Me and Literacy To This Day
In 1988, my mentor set me free. At that time, and into the mid-1990s, I was immature, not in an irresponsible way, but more in the true sense of the word. I was young and unaware. I don’t think I had the vision for myself that others had for me. I was comfortable being a humble asset to whoever the boss was.
I was a 1993 LEAD graduate. I was not looking for this opportunity and I’m still not sure that LEAD was the best thing for me. I struggled to relate. I tried hard to be liked. I tried hard to be smart. Even though there was a disconnect here, the experience contributed to my growth.
Later, the Eureka Foundation invited me to join as a fellow. It was then that I began to see who I might be in the nonprofit and leadership arena. I felt valued, respected, and a true part of a community of nonprofit executives who benefited from a family of people like them, who gave good counsel, who listened, and who were understanding. I miss Eureka. I still have healthy connections from it.
Then I joined up with the Fieldstone when, yes, in 1995, I was put into an interim leadership seat…a seat I had been avoiding for years. Here’s where I made lasting connections and where I brought my CEO challenges into a risk-free environment and got answers…where I could make mistakes and not feel alone or clumsy. The opportunities to connect and learn were frequent.
In 2013, twenty years after LEAD graduation, there were issues in my organization, and I was losing confidence. All of us were still recovering from the economic crash of 2009. Funding was an issue, and there were other challenges that were unfair and that could happen any time.
In this time, I was assigned a Fieldstone coach and went through a 360 evaluation. I received much-needed fine-tuning and had reinforced for me what I already understood as being good business practices. I gained strength from this. That intervention has served me and literacy to this day. I will forever be grateful to Fieldstone, Janine Mason, Michael Carr, Kathie Lembo, and Keith Johnson for their guidance.
Today, I am the host of a podcast called “The Gap Minders” on Cloudcast Media. My co-host, Nancy Sasaki, and I, interview our region’s top community leaders. The hosts, guests, and listeners benefit from diverse perspectives on community challenges and the role that literacy plays in solutions.
What is the ripple? I sometimes find myself being a coach to emerging stars in the world of nonprofit services. I get to pay it forward. I’m grateful to the Fieldstone Leadership Network for that too.
Sometimes I ask myself, how did I get here? I probably wouldn’t be here without the people who believed in me before I believed in myself. I would not be writing this. The Fieldstone Leadership Network made a big difference.
Jose Cruz, CEO, San Diego Council on Literacy
Jose Cruz is the chief executive officer for the San Diego Council on Literacy, a model urban literacy coalition. Jose is a graduate of Fieldstone’s Executive Learning Group and was coached in the Network’s Executive Coaching Program. He has 37 of experience in the literacy field and is known for his accomplishments in supporting collaborative efforts for literacy on various scales: national (National Alliance of Urban Literacy Coalitions), statewide (California Literacy), regional (Southern California Library Literacy Network, and local. He was the recipient of the 2003 San Diego Union-Tribune, “Educator of the Year” award. In 2014, he was recognized by The Union-Tribune recognized as the Civic Leader of the Year via the Latino Champions Awards. In 2015), he was named to the San Diego High School, “Hall of Honor.” Cruz is a past-president of the San Diego Lions Club (2020/2021) and is the co-host of The Gap Minders, a podcast that focuses on resource issues that affect quality of life in the San Diego region. He is a native San Diegan, a graduate of the University of Southern California, and a proud product of the San Diego Community College District.
Each week during our 40th anniversary year, a member of our Network will share what Fieldstone means to them and how being a part of this learning and leadership community has impacted them and the work they do to serve the community.
If you have a story you would like to contribute to our collection, please contact Janine Mason.