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Palo Alto Weekly

News - July 5, 2019

News Digest

Palo Alto Chamber hires nonprofit veteran as new CEO

Charlie Weidanz, who has helped lead Abilities United and various other Peninsula nonprofits over the past three decades, will be the new chief executive officer of the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce, the organization announced last week.

Weidanz, who most recently served as CEO at Abilities United, is leaving that role just as the local nonprofit is merging with Gatepath, a Redwood City-based nonprofit that also focuses on adults and children with disabilities.

Prior to Abilities United, he had served as executive director at the YMCA, within the San Francisco and Santa Clara Valley associations, according to the Chamber's announcement.

In joining the Chamber, Weidanz will work alongside Judy Kleinberg, who had spent the past five years as both the CEO and president of the Chamber. With the addition of Weidenz, Kleinberg will continue to serve as president, with a focus on government affairs, disaster planning, the Leadership Palo Alto program for emerging executives and city leaders, and the new Palo Alto Chamber Foundation.

Weidanz will focus on the nonprofit's internal operations, including membership development, organizational programs and signature events, according to the Chamber's announcement. The statement touts the new executive team of Kleinberg and Weidenz as one that combines their "complementary skill sets, creating a dynamic leadership experience focused on organizational mission and vision that matches evolving community and business needs.

Palo Alto-based Abilities United and Gatepath merge

Palo Alto-based Abilities United and Gatepath in Redwood City, two nonprofits serving people with disabilities, have finalized their merging agreement that went into effect on Monday. The move is expected to save costs, improve their position for grants and expand their service area across two counties.

A joint marketing team will look into re-naming the combined organizations in 2020, according to Abilities United's board of directors President Jenn Wagstaff-Hinton.

Services for both organizations will continue as normal, but Wagstaff-Hinton said that Abilities United will dial back its aquatics and after-school programs.

Abilities earned $5.3 million and had a $222,057 deficit in the 2017-18 fiscal year that ended in June 2018, according to its IRS Form 990 filing. In the same fiscal year, Gatepath had total revenue of $15.6 million and a $566,789 deficit.

Both organizations will continue to serve the public out of their 13 program sites across the Peninsula. The future of Abilities United's headquarters at 525 E. Charleston Road is uncertain, as the nonprofit's lease on the property with Santa Clara County expires in four years, according to Wagstaff-Hinton.

Christopher Dawes, former CEO of Packard Children's hospital, dies

Christopher G. Dawes, former CEO of Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford, died on Saturday as a result of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), better known as Lou Gehrig's disease. He was 68 years old.

Dawes stepped down from his post as president and CEO of the hospital in March 2018 to focus on his health.

According to his biography on the hospital website, Dawes was instrumental during its developmental years, building it into the nationally renowned medical institution it is today.

"We went from being a very lovely community hospital, nicely designed and family-friendly, to a world-class children's hospital drawing patients from across the United States and around the world," said Susan Packard Orr, a longtime member of the hospital's board of directors, and daughter of its founder, Lucile Packard.

Some of Dawes' contributions as CEO include directing a $500 million program to build centers of excellence in various medical specialties, including heart and cancer care; brain and behavior; and pulmonary disease. He also developed a network of care for children and mothers, and oversaw the hospital's expansion into a state-of-the-art 361-bed facility in Palo Alto, which opened in 2017.

Born in Great Britain, he and his family moved to California when he was a child. He launched his career in hospital administration after earning a bachelor's degree in public administration from San Diego State University in 1974. A decade later, he received a master's degree in business administration from McLaren School of Business at the University of San Francisco.

He took on the role of chief operating officer at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford in 1995 after spending 10 years working in senior administrative positions at Pacific Presbyterian Medical Center in San Francisco (which later became the California Pacific Medical Center), Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose and Stanford Health Care.

—Cierra Bailey

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