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Foundation’s new CEO sees opportunity to grow

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SAN DIEGO — Manny Rubio considers himself “truly blessed” to be the new CEO of the Catholic Community Foundation of San Diego.

Rubio, 47, was born in El Centro and grew up in San Diego’s South Bay. The native San Diegan brings to his new role a long history as an active parishioner as well as about a quarter-century of experience in the nonprofit sector.

“I saw this as essentially a marriage of my two worlds,” Rubio said of his new position, which allows him to use his professional experience for the benefit of the Church he loves.

The foundation, which was established in December of 2015, is intended to be a one-stop resource for Catholic philanthropy.

Independent of the Diocese of San Diego and with its own board of trustees, the foundation had $83 million under management as of mid-May and supports more than 175 funds established by individuals and organizations to provide financial stability to local parishes, schools, religious vocations, and social service charities.

Donors’ money is invested according to the socially responsible investment guidelines issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Over the past five years, the foundation has distributed more than $14 million in grants.

Its leadership is in transition. Rubio, who came on board in mid-April, is shadowing Gary Rectenwald, who has led the foundation as executive director since February of 2016. Rubio is expected to take the reins in early June, with Rectenwald remaining in the office in a supporting capacity through the end of the month.

Rectenwald, 71, recalled that he had been “happily retired” for about five years when he was encouraged to apply for the position of executive director. (The board of trustees recently changed the job title from executive director to CEO.)

“This is the only position that I would’ve ever come out of retirement to do,” said Rectenwald, who at the time pledged to “give it my best shot every day for five years.”

That five years has come to an end, and he couldn’t be happier with the choice of his successor or more confident about the foundation’s future.

Describing Rubio as “an ideal candidate” for the position, he praised him as “a very strong Catholic.” He noted that, unlike himself, Rubio is fluent in Spanish. And, because of Rubio’s familial ties to the Imperial Valley, Rectenwald said the new CEO is well-positioned to strengthen the foundation’s relationship with Valley parishes and schools.

“I think, of all the organizations I’ve ever worked with, this will be by far the smoothest transition,” predicted Rectenwald, who had a 30-year career as an executive with information technology companies, including IBM. He hopes to continue supporting the foundation in any way that he can.

Though always a practicing Catholic, Rubio credits his years at the University of San Diego with deepening his faith. After graduating in 1994 with a bachelor’s degree in International Relations, he served for one year with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. That year of service inspired him to dedicate his life to nonprofit work.

In 1997, he graduated from Georgetown University with a master’s degree in Public Policy. He has worked in the nonprofit sector in Washington, D.C., San Francisco and, since 1999, in the San Diego area. From 2008 until accepting his current position, he was director of grants and communications for the Sweetwater Union High School District in Chula Vista.

“I believe in the foundation,” said Father Jay Bananal, pastor of Rubio’s home parish, St. Pius X’s in Chula Vista. Both the parish and its school have an endowment fund managed by the foundation.
Describing Rectenwald as “a dear friend,” he said, “I’m looking forward to really getting to know Manny.”

Msgr. Steven Callahan, who chairs the foundation’s board of trustees, praised Rectenwald for “an outstanding job” establishing the foundation and building relationships with local parishes, schools and other Catholic institutions.

“The board of trustees is delighted to have Manny Rubio follow Gary as the new CEO. … I have no doubt that the foundation will continue to thrive under Manny’s leadership,” Msgr. Callahan said.

As the Foundation’s new CEO, Rubio sees room for expansion. In particular, he hopes to have all of the diocese’s almost 100 parishes and nearly 50 elementary and high schools with an endowment fund of their own. Unlike a donation made directly to the parish or school, which will help with immediate needs, he explained, an endowment provides support in perpetuity.

He praised Rectenwald and the foundation’s board of trustees for the accomplishments of the past five years. But, he said, “We have a lot of opportunity here to grow.”

Visit the Catholic Community Foundation of San Diego at www.ccfsd.org.

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