Leading San Francisco Mission District organization appoints new CEO after 40 years

Santiago “Sam Ruiz” retired in January 2021 as CEO of Mission Neighborhood Centers after 40 years of collaborative community service and leadership. The MNC Board of Directors and Board President Beverly Hayon have asked Ruiz to assist with the leadership transition.

Richard M. Ybarra will assume role of CEO, effective March 1, 2021

by Jackie Wright

The Board of the Mission Neighborhood Centers, Inc. (MNC), has announced its new Chief Executive Officer Richard M. Ybarra. The appointment is effective March 1. Ybarra succeeds Santiago “Sam” Ruiz who recently retired after 40 years as CEO.

As one of San Francisco’s original Settlement Houses during the late 1800s, MNC continues the same principles embracing the concept of empowerment. For over 60 years, the historic organization has focused on the wide range of culturally sensitive, multi-ethnic, multi-generational community-based services that develops leadership and strengthens families to build strong, healthy and vibrant neighborhoods. MNC has been on the forefront tackling issues of displacement of Latinos and other communities of color by collaborating with agencies building multi-use affordable housing.

“Following a rigorous search process, we believe we have found someone who is a seasoned nonprofit leader with a long history of working with our communities in California,” said Board President Beverly Hayon. “We are certain that he will lead MNC into the future while maintaining a strong connection to our founding cultural roots, and a deep commitment to the stability and strength of our current services.”

Richard M. Ybarra of San Diego, the new CEO of Mission Neighborhood Centers, is slated to take the helm March 1, with over 25 years of experience in MNC’s focus areas of children’s services, family services, youth services, aging and disability services and workforce development.

Ybarra’s extensive experience in each of MNC’s key focus areas – children’s services, family services, youth services, aging and disability services and workforce development – will provide a seamless transition to continue MNC’s work in the community.

“I’m honored and enthusiastic to have the opportunity to lead Mission Neighborhood Centers. As we face challenging times, I know we can continue building on the strong foundation that has been established by Mr. Ruiz. I look forward to meeting the community,” Ybarra said.

Ybarra brings more than 25 years’ experience to the role. He holds an undergraduate degree from San Diego State University and a master of public administration in state and local government from the John. F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

His past experience includes serving as president of Ybarra Consulting Services and CEO of Community Associations Institute in San Diego.

One of the newest projects that Ybarra will provide leadership for MNC staff to successfully administer is the new “Mission Neighborhood Centers’ Essential Services Hub” in the Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood.

Ybarra has worked extensively with low income, multicultural communities as well as many of California’s political leaders throughout his career. He worked closely with Cesar Chavez helping advance the farmworkers’ movement. 

“We are confident Richard’s experience and background will bring understanding and relevance, while complementing MNC’s past, present and future,” Hayon said. “We are happy to report that Sam Ruiz has offered his support and assistance during this transitional period at MNC. This will ensure a warm welcome and introduction to members of our MNC community.”

One of the newest projects that Ybarra will provide leadership for MNC staff to successfully administer is the new “Mission Neighborhood Centers’ Essential Services Hub” in the Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood. A response to the COVID-19 hard-hit Latino community, the Mission Neighborhood Centers’ Essential Services Hub is funded by Mayor London Breed’s $28.5 million commitment to support the Latino COVID-19 response and recovery efforts provides critical access to food, housing, health services and workforce stabilization during the current pandemic. 

The MNC hub was launched in December 2020 with a Zoom news conference. During the launch, Mayor Breed said of the MNC Essential Services Hub: “This pandemic has had far reaching impacts on people’s lives and it is crucial that trusted community organizations such as Mission Neighborhood Centers are able to meet the increasing demand and provide a lifeline to residents during this difficult time. 

“With the city’s targeted COVID-19 response investment, this essential services hub will ensure that those most in need are connected to assistance programs, such as access to health care and COVID-19 testing, financial subsidies for rent and food, job placement and training, access to food and basic needs to support families in need; like diapers and infant formula. In addition, these centers will bridge the digital divide by running learning hubs that will provide full-day in-person programming for youth from economically disadvantaged households as well as those experiencing homelessness or in foster care.”

Although financed with funds from Breed’s $28.5 million commitment for the Latino COVID-19 response, all eligible residents of the Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood will benefit from MNC’s Essential Services Hub community uplifting services.

District 10 Supervisor Shamann Walton, part of the December 2020 Zoom news conference along with then MNC CEO Sam Ruiz, Mayor Breed and Assemblyman David Chiu said the expansion of the MNC hub is good for the residents of his district. 

A response to the COVID-19 hard-hit Latino community, the Mission Neighborhood Centers’ Essential Services Hub is funded by Mayor London Breed’s $28.5 million commitment to support the Latino COVID-19 response and recovery efforts.

“The impact of the expansion of Mission Neighborhood Centers’ programs has struck a positive chord in the Bayview Hunters Point Neighborhood. We are excited to launch the first of our essential service hubs in District 10 to help our families get connected to the resources, services and emergency support they need while being impacted by COVID-19.” 

New MNC CEO Ybarra says he is honored to provide strong leadership in the face of the pandemic and other issues as indicated in recent news reports. “When everyone in society is consumed in an avalanche of epidemics, from climate and racial injustice to economic collapse, that’s when elected officials look to nonprofits and community groups for answers,” said Ybarra. “We will be working with our fellow community leaders in Bayview Hunters Point and across San Francisco to provide solutions.”

In partnership with UCSF and the Department of Public Health, the hub will facilitate COVID-19 testing referrals, provide support to families testing positive and collaboration on pop up COVID-19 testing sites.

The community uplifting services at the hub will also provide:

  • Vital financial subsidies: Subsidies are provided to address housing and food insecurities.
  • Food pantry: Critically needed food, grocery store gift cards, diapers, baby formula, wipes and emergency personal protective equipment is provided.
  • Learning hub: The learning hub will provide digitally connected, safe, full-day and in-person programming for youth from working poor households as well as to residents of HOPE SF, public housing and single room occupancy hotels, youth experiencing homelessness, foster youth and English language learners. All health and safety guidelines will be followed and enforced, requiring face masks and social distancing.

The Mission Neighborhood Centers Essential Services Hub is located at 1329 Evans Ave., off of Third Street in San Francisco. The hours of operation are 

  • Mondays, food is distributed from 1:30 p.m. until 3:00 p.m. 
  • All other services are available 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Mission Neighborhood Centers, Inc. (MNC), is San Francisco’s preeminent Latino-led community-based organization. For over 60 years, MNC has been at the forefront of providing early childhood education, social and supportive services to low-income youth, families and seniors in an engaging, inclusive, culturally appropriate environment that promotes community empowerment and economic prosperity. MNC serves 12 neighborhood centers in the Mission, Excelsior, Mission Bay and Bayview Hunters Point communities. For more info, please visit www.mncsf.org.

Jackie Wright, Jackiewright@wrightnow.biz, is on assignment for Victoria Sánchez De Alba, De Alba Communications, mainstream and multicultural public and media relations and digital marketing. Phone: 415-670-9533 | Mobile: 650-270-7810 Twitter: @victoriasdealba | LinkedIn: Victoria Sanchez De Alba