Side by Side, the San Anselmo-based nonprofit that serves vulnerable youth in four Bay Area counties, has announced the appointment of Dr. Christine Isana Garcia as CEO. She succeeds Mary Denton, who recently retired after over 20 years of service. Her appointment is the result of a six-month national search led by a board-appointed search committee.
Garcia, a clinical psychologist, brings more than 20 years of diverse experience in program development, leadership and strategy to the role to help Side by Side to address critical mental health challenges of underserved communities and housing needs of foster youth. Most recently, she was the San Francisco regional director at Edgewood Center for Children and Families, whose services include outpatient behavioral health, inpatient residential services, transitional housing for foster youth, a crisis stabilization unit and a school. She also brings a unique perspective to her work and the issues facing the youth Side by Side serves, as she is the product of a bilingual, multiracial, immigrant family.
“It was immediately evident to the committee that Christine’s ability to perform at the highest level, along with her deep clinical background and demonstrated success in leading organizations and teams, would align with the needs of Side by Side,” says Side by Side board member Ricki Syufy.
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Side by Side was originally founded as an orphanage in 1895 and has been at the forefront of best practices in child welfare. Today, the organization serves nearly 2,000 youth ages 5 to 26 and their family members yearly in Marin, Alameda, Sonoma and Napa counties, providing behavioral and mental health services, early intervention in schools, LGBTQIA+ support, transitional housing for foster youth and special education.
“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to lead and help develop programs and services that are responsive to the ever-changing landscape of the needs of young people,” Garcia says. “I believe Side by Side is poised to come out of the pandemic a stronger agency and continue to be a leader in this area. I look forward to working together with Side by Side’s board and staff in this endeavor.”
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Lotus Abrams has covered everything from beauty to business to tech in her editorial career, but it might be writing about her native Bay Area that inspires her most. She lives with her husband and two daughters in the San Francisco Peninsula, where they enjoy spending time outdoors at the area’s many open spaces protected and preserved by her favorite local nonprofit, the Peninsula Open Space Trust.