New President of the Board of Directors, David Neagle
David Neagle is the new President of Ritter Center’s Board of Directors. The change in leadership is especially timely given the constraints of Ritter’s current space and the need for a permanent new home. David’s lifelong career in banking makes him an excellent fit for Ritter’s drive to move to a new building that can properly house its staff, serve its clients and fulfill its mission.
David first began serving on the board by joining the Finance Committee. At the end of his first year, he had a better insight into Ritter Center’s client services and the various sources of funding. Over time, the necessity of finding a new, larger location in San Rafael became more apparent as Ritter added more services to assist its clients and be true to its mission.
A resident of San Rafael for more than 25 years, David was thrilled to work in his hometown of San Rafael for the last 10 years of his career. Ritter Center was a client of the bank and his colleague was leaving the Ritter Center Board. David had long wanted to understand the very complex issues surrounding homelessness, and felt this was the right time to join the Board. Today, David is recently retired, and after serving 7 years on Ritter’s board under the amazing leadership of Margaret Trezevant, it seemed again like the right time to make a move – this time as Board President.
“Within the first 5-6 months of my serving on the board, I realized the complexity of the work Ritter does in our community. At that time, we were doing everything we could to serve the most basic human needs out of a very small building and service area. I also learned that the majority of our clients are housed, and it is Ritter’s support that helps them remain in their homes.”
David notes that Ritter Center continues to meet the additional challenges brought on by the pandemic.
“Today, with Mark Shotwell at the helm as our Executive Director, we are navigating the pandemic landscape as best as we can. Mark was originally hired as the Whole Person Care Program Director and subsequently accepted the position of Executive Director. Under his leadership and with strong Board support, Ritter Center continues to make strategic decisions in order to manage our growth while holding true to our mission and ideals.”
“With a building that we own, we can control our future literally and figuratively. I often pause to reflect on how hard it is for many of our clients to survive in the elements. Studies have shown that living on the streets shortens your life expectancy significantly. I’ve learned that the majority of those experiencing homelessness in San Rafael and Marin, are from right here. They grew up here or have lived here for many years. Perhaps they had to contend with serious medical conditions, behavioral health issues or circumstances relating to their family. Regardless of the reason behind their struggle, they are not able to cope without support. Any preconceived notions I had about those experiencing homelessness have shifted; the scope is larger than I initially thought in terms of population and challenges. I understand that when your primary focus is figuring where out your next meal is coming from, or where you will spend the night, it is all about how to survive,” said David.
That’s one of many areas where Ritter Center (as a Federally Qualified Health Center) plays a major role. With a food pantry and case management services, Ritter offers a robust slate of services to help people get back on their feet. These include medical services, food and housing assistance, as well as providing treatment for behavioral health issues. Helping people to help themselves leads to self-sufficiency and the growth and maintenance of one’s personal dignity.
David recalls a recent experience that is validating of the work Ritter is doing.
“I met with a case manager in downtown San Rafael when a former client approached us and shared with both pride and gratitude that she was now living in an apartment and working in the community. The conversation with her case manager was heartwarming and inspirational. A moment later, San Rafael Police Department community liaison Lynn Murphy stopped by to share the progress we are making in Marin County.”
“I am grateful for the leadership of Mark Shotwell and the opportunity to work together with the Board to secure Ritter Center’s future. Mark continues to develop the relationship with the City of San Rafael, which is further strengthened by the commitment of our employees and Board members. San Rafael is accessible from all parts of Marin due to the downtown transit terminal so clients can reach us as their circumstances dictate. A committed staff, a strong Board with expertise in health services, development and finance coupled with compassion and empathy for our clients (and potential clients) will be key to achieving Ritter’s longer-term goals,” said David.
David closed by focusing on the future.
“’A new building with state of the art medical exam rooms and an expanded food pantry will let us serve all who need our help.”
“Right now, we are hitting our stride. Between staffing up and the recent addition of our new Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Saima Firdoos, Ritter Center is equal to the challenge. Ritter Center can be a big help in terms of navigating daily life. We know that there are many to support with food, shelter, and free or affordable medical care. Folks don’t have to ask if they can afford the hospital bill–we don’t turn people away or give up on anybody. Instead, we focus on how we can help get you back on your feet”.
Thank you for your time, dedication, and commitment to our mission, Dave. We are delighted that you are our new President of the Board of Directors.