Thursday, September 27, 2007

Ojai Youth Foundation Chief Leaving Post

Bosson, hired at OVYF inception in 1997, returning to work with TreePeople in L.A.

By Sondra Murphy
After 10 years of working with the Ojai Valley Youth Foundation, Caryn Bosson is stepping down as executive director of the agency. Bosson offered her letter of resignation Monday, stating that she would be working for TreePeople of Los Angeles. Her last day as director is planned for Nov. 20.
“I have faith that the right person is out there to step into this really good job and take it to even the next level with all of you,” Bosson wrote in her letter. She asked the foundation board to designate a transition team and move forward with advertising the position as quickly as possible.
Bosson is the founding executive director for the youth foundation. “I was hired to head the newly formed Ojai Valley Youth Foundation in 1997 by Council Member Steve Olsen, who was mayor, and Andy Belknap, who was city manager at the time,” said Bosson. “They, along with then Police Chief Jim Barrett were the guiding lights essentially went from a very part-time staff of two to a staff of a dozen people, youth and adult. It was overnight and it was a crazy and exciting time.”
When the grant money ran out three years later, the foundation had to build up the organization all over again and focus entirely on the local community. “Brick by brick we’ve built the OVYF into an organization that impacts the life of every teenager growing up in our community, even if he or she is not directly involved,” said Bosson. She said that the foundation, today located on Church Road, is now seeing generations of teens who started with the program return as mentors. Some are even out starting nonprofit agencies of their own. “So the impact of the Youth Foundation goes far beyond Ojai.”
“The Youth Foundation would not be all it is today without Caryn Bosson,” said Olsen. “Caryn is responsible for the success of the Ojai Valley Youth Foundation. She was the first and only executive director and started it from a grass roots organization to the foundation it is today that is helping all the youth in the Ojai Community.
Nordhoff High School’s dean of curriculum, Denise Thomas, said, “Caryn has had a tremendous impact with regards to influencing the youth in our community and especially Nordhoff students as they develop into responsible, mature adults. Her influence will be felt for many years to come as the students who have been mentored by her continue to show their leadership skills in the Ojai Valley and other parts of the world.”
Nordhoff’s student success team coordinator and AVID teacher, Laurie Arnold, also focused on Bosson’s positive influence on young people. “Caryn has always been an advocate for and believer in the youth of our community. Her core belief in the importance of connecting youth and adults in our community, that belief that her voice so enthusiastically conveys, is now embedded in the community. She has changed the way we think about kids.”
“She is probably one of the most giving, non-self serving individuals I’ve had the occasion to work with,” said Ventura County Sheriff’s Department Commander and former Ojai Police Chief Gary Pentis. “It’s going to be difficult to replace her due to her competence in collaborative efforts in the Ojai Valley.”
Said Bosson, “I am particularly proud of the fact that we formed this community organization basically from scratch.” She will continue to work with OVYF as a volunteer.
After Thanksgiving, Bosson will go back to work for TreePeople, a nonprofit organization dedicated to integrated resource management that she worked for in the ‘80s. “I have remained friends with TreePeople’s founder and President Andy Lipkis all these years. He founded TreePeople when he was 18, so he’s a prime example of the capacity of young people to change the world.” The job will enable her to work primarily from home, which is important to her as her son begins junior high this year. Bosson’s weekly trips to Los Angeles will allow her to lend more support to her mother, who lives in that area.
“I have worked with so many wonderful people over the years at the Ojai Valley Youth Foundation. It’s been an honor and a pleasure,” Bosson said. “I encourage everyone who cares about kids to get involved in this organization. And if you can’t give your time, then make a generous donation, because our kids need you. I will be so brazen as to say that you can easily do so on our web site,

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