With offices in Fresno, Bakersfield and Merced, Catholic Charities helps more than 140,000 people each year.
Written by Gabriel Dillard
Jeff Negrete has been appointed the new executive director of Catholic Charities Diocese of Fresno, replacing Kelly Lilles, who served with the organization for 11 years.
Negrete is a past market president for iHeart Radio in Fresno, overseeing stations including Power Talk 96.7, Soft Rock 98.9 and B95. He takes the helm of Catholic Charities from his most recent position as director of fund development at Poverello House.
“After evaluating many qualified candidates to lead our organization forward with the kind of compassion, leadership and experience we were seeking, we couldn’t be happier to welcome Jeff Negrete to the Catholic Charities family,” said John A. Ferdinandi, Catholic Charities board chair.
Negrete starts his new position Nov. 13.
Lilles leaves Catholic Charities for a position with Sante as its director of marketing/physician services, education and foundation.
She was hired as the Catholic Charities development director in December 2007, and was promoted to executive director in June 2011. She led the agency from a deficit of $650,000 to more than $3.7 million in savings and investment accounts as of December 2017.
It was during her tenure last year that a gunman opened fire in front of Catholic Charities’ downtown facility at 149 N. Fulton St. Two Catholic Charities clients were killed, as well as a worker for Pacific Gas & Electric Co.
In an October 2017 article in The Business Journal, Lilles described what it was like to return to work with her staff the day after the April 18, 2017 tragedy.
“We kind of came together at six in the morning and said: ‘what do we do? And they said: ‘we’re going to serve our clients. They’re outside lining up. They’re here to support us and they still need assistance,’” Lilles said.
Catholic Charities assists families in crisis with food, clothing, financial case management, basic necessities and most recently, education and job training. With offices in Fresno, Bakersfield and Merced, Catholic Charities helps more than 140,000 people each year.
“We can’t thank Kelly enough for her years of devotion to Catholic Charities as she fully committed herself to our mission and changing the lives of individuals and families in crisis,” Ferdinandi said. “Kelly entered the organization when it was in great need and thanks to her collective body of work, she is leaving it in a much better position than when she arrived over a decade ago.”
Lilles said she will continue to stay involved with the organization.
“Change is not always easy, but now is the perfect time for this type of transition,” Lilles said. “Catholic Charities continues to address systematic poverty, while inventing new and creative ways to get families out of crisis situations and on the road to self-sufficiency. Catholic Charities has and always will hold a special place in my heart, and I will continue to be involved as a donor and volunteer in years to come.”
Negrete has served on a number of community nonprofit boards. He said he has always admired the commitment of Catholic Charities to its mission.
“I’m honored to join such a dynamic leadership team, and I can’t thank Bishop [Armando X.] Ochoa and the Board of Directors for putting their faith in me to lead this great and giving organization. It’s a great responsibility that I fully embrace,” Negrete said.
Catholic Charities is run by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno.