My guest for this episode is Christa Gannon, the founder and CEO of FLY program – Fresh Lifelines for Youth—which was formed as a nonprofit in 2000. FLY began with one staff member and a handful of volunteers serving youth in a few neighborhoods in San Jose. Today, with 55 staff and more than 200 volunteers, FLY serves approximately 2,500 youth annually in 25 cities throughout the Bay Area. The agency and Christa have received numerous local, state, and national awards.

Christa is an honors graduate from University of California Santa Barbara, where she earned a B.S. in Sociology and Law and Society and was a first-team Academic All-American basketball player. Christa continued on to Stanford Law School, graduating with honors, and is now a member of the State Bar of California.

While at Stanford, she created a volunteer program using law students who taught basic law curriculum to incarcerated youth. The program received a California State Department of Education award for violence prevention, and the course and model became FLY’s flagship program. After completing a yearlong clerkship for Federal Judge Napoleon A. Jones, Jr. at the Southern District Court of California, Christa was selected as one of ten people in the United States to receive funding from the George Soros Foundation to develop an innovative criminal justice program. With this seed funding Christa launched FLY.

In recognition of Christa’s abilities, in the fall of 2000, she was selected to be California’s State Coordinator of Law-Related Education. For several years in that role she supported individuals and organizations that wanted to start law-related education projects.

Christa has received numerous awards including: • 2001, City of San Jose Human Rights Commission, Human Rights Award  • 2003, Santa Clara Law School Bay Area Woman of Distinction Award* 2006, Stanford Law School – Inaugural Alumni Public Service Award • Winter 2009, Jefferson Award from CBS 5 News • Winter 2010, Named an Ashoka Fellow one of the first juvenile justice fellows in the country • Fall 2013, In Harmony with Hope Award, Social Entrepreneurs Who Change Young Lives •

In 2018, Christa was one of 10 nonprofit executives in California to receive a 2018 Cal Wellness Sabbatical Award Christa is a former member of Stanford’s National Haas Advisory Board.

She sits on the Board of Directors of the Silicon Valley Council of Nonprofits and is a guest lecturer at Stanford University. Christa is also a wife and the mother of two children.

In this interview, Christa shares words of wisdom for other nonprofit executives, based on her 21+ years of experience.

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