Tim Strauch, a California Volunteers Commissioner, has recently been appointed to be the President and CEO of OneOC. OneOC, formerly the Volunteer Center of Orange County, is a leading nonprofit that focuses on recruiting and placing volunteers in local nonprofits as well as providing volunteering, giving, professional and organizational development, consulting, and coaching business services to local nonprofits.
Describe how you were drawn to service – your path and how service became such an important element of your life and work.
Community service and volunteering were a big part of my family’s upbringing. My parent’s lead by example and volunteered as sports coaches, at local community organizations and church. My mom ensured that her three kids also volunteered and many of these experiences shaped my understanding of being part of a community and the importance of community service in making a meaningful difference for people. I took on a part-time position with the South Coast YMCA during undergraduate and graduate school. I served in many capacities during those 5 ½ years while going through school. The most impactful experience for me was leading a summer sports program for 20 disadvantaged youth in San Juan Capistrano. That experience taught me that you really can make a difference in the lives of youth and family through community service.
As a leader in the nonprofit world and someone dedicated to finding innovative capacity building opportunities, what words of wisdom do you have for others who are interested in pursuing a service-driven career?
First and foremost, having a passion for community service has to be in your wiring. Second, being able to leverage human capital. I believe that nonprofits can thrive by fully leveraging their number one asset – their people! Third, continue challenging yourself to grow as a leader. Nonprofits have a growing leadership gap and there will be opportunities for those who can lead teams, innovate and balance a budget. Last, have a mentor or personal board of advisors who can provide sound advice and challenge you to grow.
What inspires you the most about the work that you do?
The ability to connect our community together through service – our OneOC team, board, nonprofits, companies and community leaders addressing community needs is very rewarding. The next phase of our work at OneOC has the potential to be transformational and I look forward to this journey together.