We had the good fortune of connecting with Jose Cruz and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jose, what role has risk played in your life or career?
In the nonprofit world, or in any business, when a person in leadership decides to take a risk, they are taking that risk for their board members and for the reputation of their cause. They are gambling that their decision, and the action that follows it will bring progress and not demoralize partners and donors.
The assessment of risk can be subjective. What I mean is, some people take things way too far. That is, they never take chances. Hence, the status quo is somewhat maintained. The potential for ground-breaking outcomes and transcending norms is minimalized. What we call “calculated risks” or no risk at all, can be real showstoppers.
It is possible that, being in the nonprofit arena, I am more inclined to take risks. The human condition vs. profit, is at stake. People need help. A meek response to the challenges being faced by a segment of our society is just not going to do.
It is said that, unless you have passion for your cause, you are probably not going to make it in the long run. Good things have happened because of the people in our network who come to our work with passion. Within reason, we are willing to put things on the line if the outcomes make a difference. Most of them are in this arena for the long run.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My nature is that I am an advocate, teacher, and mediator.
People say that I am generous to a fault. That’s not true. I am who I am.
People who are extremely co-dependent are people who need to give so that they have fulfillment. While this attribute might not work well in relationships, it is a treasure in the nonprofit world. We need people in the workplace who thrive on giving and service. I do not think that my 35 years in literacy work is an accident.
This work also calls for humility. My workplace profile is…”inspirational leader or inspirational follower”. I used to prefer the latter, but I have become accustomed to being a nonprofit CEO. For a long time, I was waiting and hoping for a leader to emerge…someone I could work for and follow. Maybe, all along, I was waiting for me.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
In a few weeks, my best friend and his wife are coming to visit in San Diego. They will be here for a week. His wife has never been on an airplane or traveled much at all. This will be her first visit to California. On our itinerary is margaritas in Old Town, visiting the seals in La Jolla, going to the zoo, playing golf at Mt. Woodson, riding the roller coaster at Belmont Park, bike-riding in Coronado, beer at New Motion brewery on Production Road in Miramar, and a harbor cruise at the Embarcadero. We make a stop at Sunset Cliffs and at the Tide Pools in Point Loma…and we will make sure to do breakfast at Hob Nob Hill.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My Shoutout: I have been asked, “How were you able to be where you are today when so many people from your community did not make it?” I never forgot the people who helped me along the way. I always wanted to be able to show them that what they did for me made a difference. I wanted them to know that I was worth it and that their generosity, patience, and compassion would produce good things. My mentor is a woman named Shula Monroe. She passed away almost 20 years ago, but she, for one, believed in me, and saw my future. And that future came to be. I don’t miss a lot of people. Life and death happen. I accept that. But I miss Shula.