Canal Alliance Announces Executive Director Transition
The Board of Directors of Canal Alliance announces the appointment of Omar Carrera as the agency’s new Executive Director, effective October 1, 2016. Omar will succeed Tom Wilson, who is retiring after 25 years as the Canal Alliance Executive Director.
“I speak for the entire Board of Directors of Canal Alliance when I say that we are thrilled to have Omar as our new Executive Director,” said Michael Metzner, Canal Alliance Board President. “His critical thinking skills, extensive relevant experience and demonstrated leadership as Associate Executive Director for the past six years, along with his many accomplishments on behalf of Canal Alliance, give us the highest confidence that he will be successful in leading Canal Alliance in its on-going mission to ensure that Spanish-speaking immigrants have access to the resources and tools they need to gain stability and break the cycle of generational poverty. The Board is also immensely grateful to Tom Wilson for his decades of committed service, for his role in ensuring a smooth leadership transition, and for ensuring the fiscal and programmatic stability of the organization during this time.”
Omar was born and raised in Ecuador. He has a CPA and Business Management degree with a focus on organizational performance and change. Before coming to the San Francisco Bay Area, Omar worked for Mitsubishi as a Senior Consultant. Omar successfully completed a one-year program in nonprofit management at San Francisco State University and two certificate courses at the JFK School of Government at Harvard University, one in Strategic Management and the other in Performance Measurement for Nonprofits.
After the banking crisis in 1999 that nearly destroyed Ecuador, and several years of extreme struggle trying to support his family, Omar immigrated with his daughter to the United States in 2002. Although it was a fresh start and presented many new opportunities, Omar had to start all over again. “My first paying job was at the local pet store” says Omar, “stocking shelves and cleaning bathrooms. It was extremely humbling.” Omar enrolled in English classes at Canal Alliance, and became a volunteer in the computer training program. One year later, he was hired to teach and coordinate the program. Since then, Omar has assumed increasing responsibility by serving in multiple positions throughout the organization. For the past six years, Omar has been Associate Executive Director at Canal Alliance, overseeing the planning, management and evaluation of the impact and success of Canal Alliance programs.
“I am honored and grateful for the opportunity to lead this exceptional organization,” said Omar. “Canal Alliance recognizes that immigrants arrive in the United States with many gifts and tremendous potential. By working with families to provide them with the resources, support and education they need and want, we help them overcome poverty and realize their dreams of becoming the leaders of tomorrow. In this way, our work at Canal Alliance benefits not only the immigrant population, but our entire community.”
Omar replaces Tom Wilson, who has served as Executive Director of Canal Alliance since January 1992. During this time, Tom transformed a small, neighborhood organization focused on short-term, safety-net services into a leading provider of education and social support designed to break the cycle of poverty for the immigrant community. Throughout his career, he has been a dedicated advocate and leader, working tirelessly to engage community members in Canal Alliance’s mission and to improve the lives and futures of immigrants.
“No matter the situation, Tom would always bring to the table a powerful mix of passion and persuasion,” said Thomas Peters, Ph.D., President & CEO of the Marin Community Foundation. “What made his energy so effective was the palpable caring he showed about the individuals and families that Canal Alliance serves. By policy and by example he imbued that service with respect. Throughout his tenure, Tom was steadfast in his true admiration for the grit of immigrants, and his unfailing belief in what they would contribute to the social and economic vitality of the entire community. All of us at MCF are extremely proud to have supported his leadership, his advocacy and his clarion voice.”
“We are all immigrants,” says Tom. “Unless you are Native American, you have immigrant roots. The success of the United States can be credited to its diversity, and to do other than embrace immigrants fully is to deny a successful future.”
Tom will remain engaged with Canal Alliance by working on a consulting basis to ensure a seamless and sustainable leadership transition.