Monday, July 16 , 2018, 4:19 pm | Fair 75º


New Executive Director Craig Olson to Lead Hillside House Into Next Phase of Growth

He brings 28 years of broad-based management experience to the Santa Barbara nonprofit

The Board of Directors of Hillside House has appointed Craig Olson to be the nonprofit organization’s new executive director, the fifth person to lead the organization since it became a nonprofit in 1945.

Craig Olson
Craig Olson

Having served as director of administrative services since 2005, Olson stepped into his new position last Friday.

He is replacing Pam Flynt Tambo, who has been executive director of Hillside House for the past 11 years and is now retiring.

Located on Veronica Springs Road, Hillside House provides a home, therapeutic learning community and 24-hour nursing care for 59 people with developmental disabilities, making it the largest provider of these residential services in the Santa Barbara area.

Olson has worked in nonprofit management for the past 28 years. His broad-based experience has included leadership positions in operations management, program development and restructuring, financial management, marketing, fundraising, facilities operations and long-range planning, most notably at Devereux Foundation, another nonprofit serving people with disabilities, where he worked for 21 years.

“My goal has been to manage the delicate balance between dedication to mission, the need for entrepreneurial initiatives, and the application of solid business management practices,” Olson said. “Hillside House is at a pivotal point in its history and has an opportunity to reach new heights. I am excited about the prospect of moving Hillside House forward while preserving the many sound aspects of its current operation and traditions.”

Among his many duties, Olson will be responsible for shepherding Hillside House through the next crucial phase of its Community Plan. Hillside House faces a major transition as recent state mandates require that the nonprofit relocate its residents into smaller homes that are integrated into the community. In order to meet best practice models for housing and integration of people with disabilities, but still be able to provide the nursing care, therapeutic services, educational and social activities that its residents need to thrive, Hillside House has been hard at work on its Community Plan.

The Community Plan aims to develop the 23-acres of land where Hillside House now sits into a 121-unit mixed-income, mixed abilities neighborhood, including 12 smaller homes for its residents and a central services building. Tambo has been working towards this plan for 10 years. Olson will take over where she left off, guiding the plan through the approval process with local agencies and into the creation of a new Hillside House.

“Because of the breadth of his experience, particularly as it relates to the needs of Hillside House at this time, and his knowledge of our organization, Craig was the clear choice among our applicants,” said Jim Wolfe, president of the Hillside House board. “The board believes he possesses the leadership abilities and knowledge, as well as vision and persistence, to lead Hillside House to become a model of therapeutic care and community-based housing for people with developmental disabilities.”

— Curtis Lauber is the development director for Hillside House.

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