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Catholic Charities names Jilma Meneses chief executive officer

May 11, 2017
Christina Gray

02 Jilma Meneses MUGSan Francisco raised Jilma Meneses has been named new chief executive officer of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, the organization said April 27.

Meneses, an attorney, currently serves as the chief operating officer and chief general counsel for Concordia University in Portland, Oregon. She has also served as dean of Concordia’s law school. She will assume her new post July 1, 2017, and replaces Jeff Bialik in the top role at the archdiocese’s social services arm.

Meneses grew up in San Francisco’s Mission district and is a graduate of UC Berkeley and Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland.

In a phone interview with Catholic San Francisco, Meneses said her family was served by Catholic Charities in the years after they first emigrated from Central America. She called the experience “transformative.”

“It is an honor to be returning home to the Bay Area and joining Catholic Charities, an agency that values all aspects of humanity by protecting and empowering vulnerable populations,” said Meneses, who is married and has two grown children including a Congolese daughter she adopted at age 9.

She said her immediate challenge will be to amplify the support of both the Catholic and the non-Catholic community as Catholic Charities, like other nonprofits, anticipates funding cuts from the Trump administration.

Catholic Charities already has a lot of support from Catholics and non-Catholics, “but we have to increase that,” she said.

“We have to really make it known how important it is now, more important than in many years, for us to stand together,” Meneses said. “Whether it’s a $10 donation or a $10 million donation it doesn’t matter. We’re asking them to join us.”

Organizing the broader San Francisco community to stand together in support of this cause may take a new approach, said Meneses, whose vision includes “rebranding” Catholic Charities in a way that persuades others to “join a cause, not just help the poor.”

“We will have to demonstrate that an investment in Catholic Charities is not just for the poor or vulnerable person; it’s for themselves, their children and the community as well,” she said.

Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone welcomed Meneses, saying, “I look forward to welcoming Jilma Meneses and know that Catholic Charities will continue to thrive under her leadership. We are grateful to have found an extremely qualified leader who is passionate about our mission to lead Catholic Charities as our new chief executive officer.”

The archbishop also thanked Bialik for his eight years at Catholic Charities saying the organization is “stronger than ever because of his vision and leadership.”

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