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Downtown Streets Team CEO Eileen Richardson to retire

Former venture capitalist started nonprofit to give homeless people a way out of destitution

Since launching in 2005, Downtown Streets Team has grown to 16 communities across northern and central California. Embarcadero Media file photo by Sammy Dallal.

After 17 years at the helm of the Downtown Streets Team, CEO Eileen Richardson will retire, according to the nonprofit organization.

An interim CEO will be named while the board of directors and senior management begin the search for her replacement, the organization said in a June 24 statement.

Richardson, formerly a venture capitalist and CEO of the music streaming service Napster, launched the nonprofit in 2005 in partnership with the Downtown Association of Palo Alto. The organization aimed to address the crisis of homelessness in Palo Alto, starting out with a budget of less than $40,000 and four homeless team members. The organization gives jobs to people who clean city streets and helps them achieve self-sufficiency through personalized case management, employment services and a voucher program for basic necessities such as food and housing.

Downtown Streets Team CEO Eileen Richardson is retiring from the nonprofit after serving at its helm for 17 years. Courtesy Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce.

The nonprofit has expanded its Downtown Streets teams, known for their bright yellow T-shirts, into 16 communities across northern and central California. It serves more than 400 unhoused persons annually and now has more than 100 staff members and an annual budget of $14 million, the organization said. Under Richardson's leadership, the Streets Team has helped employ or house more than 4,000 team members experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity, the organization said.

Richardson has received many accolades for her work, including being named a tech world visionary by The New York Times. She was nominated for Visionary of the Year by the San Francisco Chronicle and received the James Irvine Foundation's Leadership Award and CalTravel's Advocate for the Homeless Award, the organization noted.

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In 2014, Richardson and the Downtown Streets Team also took over running the then-struggling Palo Alto Food Closet, which provides groceries to in-need clients.

"I think I can say that I've changed some lives for the better in my time here, but my greatest joy is having had the opportunity to empower the staff at DST to help transform so many more," Richardson said in a statement to staff.

In recent years, Richardson was also at the heart of controversy. In January 2020, she and other members of the executive team were accused of sexual harassment and creating a hostile working environment and drinking culture by multiple former employees.

The nonprofit also settled a wage-theft lawsuit last August after allegedly failing to pay 72 employees for uncompensated overtime and failure to allow meal and rest breaks. The allegations claimed millions of dollars in losses.

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Sue Dremann is a veteran journalist who joined the Palo Alto Weekly in 2001. She is a breaking news and general assignment reporter who also covers the regional environmental, health and crime beats. Read more >>

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Downtown Streets Team CEO Eileen Richardson to retire

Former venture capitalist started nonprofit to give homeless people a way out of destitution

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Tue, Jun 28, 2022, 9:51 am

After 17 years at the helm of the Downtown Streets Team, CEO Eileen Richardson will retire, according to the nonprofit organization.

An interim CEO will be named while the board of directors and senior management begin the search for her replacement, the organization said in a June 24 statement.

Richardson, formerly a venture capitalist and CEO of the music streaming service Napster, launched the nonprofit in 2005 in partnership with the Downtown Association of Palo Alto. The organization aimed to address the crisis of homelessness in Palo Alto, starting out with a budget of less than $40,000 and four homeless team members. The organization gives jobs to people who clean city streets and helps them achieve self-sufficiency through personalized case management, employment services and a voucher program for basic necessities such as food and housing.

The nonprofit has expanded its Downtown Streets teams, known for their bright yellow T-shirts, into 16 communities across northern and central California. It serves more than 400 unhoused persons annually and now has more than 100 staff members and an annual budget of $14 million, the organization said. Under Richardson's leadership, the Streets Team has helped employ or house more than 4,000 team members experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity, the organization said.

Richardson has received many accolades for her work, including being named a tech world visionary by The New York Times. She was nominated for Visionary of the Year by the San Francisco Chronicle and received the James Irvine Foundation's Leadership Award and CalTravel's Advocate for the Homeless Award, the organization noted.

In 2014, Richardson and the Downtown Streets Team also took over running the then-struggling Palo Alto Food Closet, which provides groceries to in-need clients.

"I think I can say that I've changed some lives for the better in my time here, but my greatest joy is having had the opportunity to empower the staff at DST to help transform so many more," Richardson said in a statement to staff.

In recent years, Richardson was also at the heart of controversy. In January 2020, she and other members of the executive team were accused of sexual harassment and creating a hostile working environment and drinking culture by multiple former employees.

The nonprofit also settled a wage-theft lawsuit last August after allegedly failing to pay 72 employees for uncompensated overtime and failure to allow meal and rest breaks. The allegations claimed millions of dollars in losses.

Comments

MyFeelz
Registered user
Juana Briones School
on Jun 28, 2022 at 6:09 pm
MyFeelz, Juana Briones School
Registered user
on Jun 28, 2022 at 6:09 pm

Getting out before she gets sued bigtime. I know too much about this MLM travesty to talk about publicly, lest I get sued by HER.


felix
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 28, 2022 at 6:41 pm
felix, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Jun 28, 2022 at 6:41 pm

That’s quite a record - wage theft, abuse and harassment of employees. Add drunkenness around employees to her list.
Then her Board Chair lied to the City Council in service of getting the DTST contract, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, renewed, after also accusing a respected news reporter of lying in an article about the group.
She should have left years ago, taking him with her.
DTST is the poster child for why the City needs to get serious about monitoring groups it contracts with.


FormerDSTemployee
Registered user
another community
on Jul 26, 2022 at 11:23 am
FormerDSTemployee, another community
Registered user
on Jul 26, 2022 at 11:23 am

The best news is they’re going with an outside hire for CEO! Glad her son didn’t get to take up the mantle, he’s worse than she is.


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