My guest today is Christa Gannon. Christa is the Founder of Fresh Lifelines for Youth, Inc. (“FLY”). As a Stanford Law student in 1995, Christa volunteered with boys who were faced with spending most of their teenage years, and for some their entire lives, behind bars. She asked them what would prevent other youth from ending up like them, and their ideas became the basis for FLY.

In 1998, Christa received the prestigious George Soros Foundation award, a two-year fellowship, to take the kids’ ideas, bolster them with best practices in youth development and crime prevention, and start a pilot program. The pilot was so successful that when the fellowship ended in 2000, Christa incorporated the project into a nonprofit.

Today, Fresh Lifelines for Youth is an award-winning Bay Area nonprofit that each year
serves approximately 2,500 youth ages 11-24 who are involved the juvenile justice system
in 3 Bay Area counties.  FLY educates young people about the law, supports them to become leaders among their peers, and gives them positive mentors and role models. Providing services at less than one tenth the cost of incarceration, FLY helps young people out of the pipeline to prison and onto a new path toward healthy, productive lives. FLY also helps local juvenile justice systems become more just, humane, and equitable.

Christa has received numerous awards – no less than 34! – for her work at FLY, including the James Irvine Leadership Award, the Human Rights Award for the City of San Jose, Stanford Law School’s Inaugural Alumni Public Service Award, the Law Foundation’s Youth Advocate of the Year Award, a Bay Area Women of Influence Award, and induction as an Ashoka Fellow, one of the first in the field of Juvenile Justice in the United States.

After serving as CEO of FLY for its first two decades, Christa now serves in a formal
Founder role as an advocate and ambassador for FLY, helping with fundraising and investor
relations, and working on special projects for FLY’s strategic plan, “Imagine 2030.”

Christa holds a B.S. in sociology and law and society, graduated with honors from Stanford
Law School, and is a member of the California Bar. Christa is also a wife, mother of two children, and basketball coach.

Here’s what to expect during the episode:

  • Nonprofit executive transitions are not necessarily thoughtful, planned, nor strategic. How does one deal with succession planning?
  • Dividing the work between a CEO and a COO. It’s all about playing to your strengths!
  • Constantly listening to the whispers of the soul. What would that look like (or sound like) for leaders?
  • The lessons Christa learned after taking a sabbatical. What’s the value in “stepping away” as a founder in light of executive transitions?


You can see Christa on her website

Check her out on Twitter ( and Facebook (

Her email is and her YouTube is on

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