David Adame

by David Adame

What most notably stands out about your leadership style or what is an example of leadership success you can share with our readers?

When I joined Chicanos Por La Causa, I recognized that success requires risk. So, after years of providing social services in the community, we decided to diversify and take a risk by opening a restaurant — a completely new endeavor for CPLC.

I remember the feeling of pride that swelled in me on the day of our grand opening ribbon-cutting ceremony, having taken a risk and brought it to fruition. That intense pride was quickly surpassed by humility one year later when we locked the doors of the restaurant for good.

But the story doesn’t end there. What I have learned is that failure is not the opposite of success; it’s part of success. The key is to fail quickly, learn your lesson, and move on.

Openness to risk enables your organization to adapt quickly. By creating a culture of empowerment where employees are encouraged to innovate at the ground level, an organization is more adept at adapting to the changing business world.

That kind of bottom-up innovation is best because it comes from people with first-hand experience. As a leader, it requires trust in your people and trust in the process.

What impact has COVID-19 or the disruptions of the past 18 months had on you as a leader?

The world was rapidly changing before COVID-19. However, COVID accelerated the pace of change like we never imagined. While we recognized the importance of adapting before, adaptation has become front and center for my leadership team and me.

For us, adaptation has been based on the grassroots needs of the community. Time and again during the last 18-plus months, the community has voiced a need that extended beyond our current scope. However, rather than sit idly by, we recognized that in many cases there were no other organizations poised to answer the call, and so we asked ourselves, “If not us, then who?”

Unlike with our failed restaurant venture, however, our success during COVID-19 was literally life-or-death for many of the families we serve, so we learned from our previous mistakes going it alone and reached out to other organizations to fill in our gaps of expertise. 

As a coalition, we were able to provide critical services to the Hispanic community, which was hardest hit by the pandemic, including COVID testing and vaccinations in underserved neighborhoods, technology access for low-income students, and more Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans to small businesses than any other organization in the country.

What do you feel we can be doing as a business community to empower economic growth here?

Study upon study shows that the foundation of economic growth begins with housing. 

Safe, affordable housing is the bedrock of stability at all levels — economic, education, and even health outcomes all hinge on an individual’s housing circumstances.

Multiply those individual outcomes by the population of a particular region, and you have the makings of economic growth or economic stagnation.

Here in Maricopa County, and in many other regions across the country, we are in the midst of a housing crisis where demand far exceeds supply.

So what can the business community do to address this? It comes down to investments and real estate. 

Certainly, it’s tempting to chase the high-dollar luxury apartment projects. But for our long-term economic stability across sectors, the only solution is to build more affordable housing — and distribute that affordable housing across a particular region rather than concentrating it in areas without access to resources.

What is new and notable for your company’s near future that will impact our economy?

Our board of directors has recognized that CPLC is not the same organization that we were even a year ago. We have nearly doubled in size and our ability to effect systemic change is greater than ever. So, we are investing strategically, based on our mission of empowering individuals to achieve self-sufficiency.

We are creating systems and programs that help individuals go from being dependent upon others to meet their basic needs to being self-reliant and, in fact, contributing to the system.

As our society has more contributors starting businesses, purchasing goods and making investments, our economy will achieve greater growth and sustainability.

Name of Leader: David Adame
Position of Leader: President & CEO
Organization Name: Chicanos Por La Causa
No. of Years with Organization: 13
Main Local Office Address: 1112 E. Buckeye Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85034
Phone: (602) 257-0700
Website: cplc.org
Number of offices in Greater Phoenix: 17
Year Established Locally: 1969
City Nationally Headquartered: Phoenix

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