Building Great Futures | Kimberly Pace

Building Great Futures | Kimberly Pace

Kimberly Pace


Kimberly Pace has the unusual combination of vision and pragmatism that has enabled her to change the trajectory of the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Leandro’s growth in terms of quality programs and community outreach. Grounded in the youth development movement, Kimberly, lovingly known as Kim, has on-the-ground practical knowledge of delivering quality expanded learning programs in various formats/organizations. The pragmatics inform the vision of an organization that once only served K through 8th grade and now serves TK through 12th grade. Kim doesn’t do this alone; instead, her ability to listen, ask questions, set a high bar for research and work environment, and collaborative approach to problem-solving enables her to see a wide-ranging scope of possibilities for the future of the Club. Her ability to discern the important from the trivial enables her to carve a continuous path to the Club’s short-term and long-term goals.

Kim regularly keeps abreast of her local community’s female business, nonprofit and entrepreneur leaders. As a former President of the San Leandro Rotary Club and member of the San Leandro Improvement Association and other organizations, Kim provides working examples of leadership, problem-solving, relationship building, and expertise-gathering through her leadership in these organizations, participating in panel discussions around critical issues of importance to female executives and providing informal mentoring of colleagues when asked. She also provides successful strategies when she engages in collaborations/partnerships to enhance services to the youth and families she serves, in procuring grants for the organization or in-kind services articulating these strategies to colleagues or presentations on what works for fellow female leaders.

Kim’s leadership style is based on seeing the opportunities in problems and enabling team members to discover their innate abilities to demonstrate their own skill sets, make mistakes, and learn from them. She provides a secure environment that encourages honesty in dealing with situations and in providing professional development opportunities so that team members can add to their knowledge and gain insights and new skill sets. She focuses on providing a climate of cooperation and collaboration that fosters intuitive thinking, confidence building, and thinking outside the box. The more team members engage in this way of working, the more their confidence leads to success and, thus, blossoming leadership.

“I began my career in youth development long ago with the YMCA. Then I went overseas and studied internationally thinking I would live and work abroad. But San Leandro called me home; I worked with my mother’s property management firm in preparation to take over the family business but realized that my calling was working with youth, changing the trajectory of their lives if I could,” explains Kim. “I tell you this because the road to success isn’t always linear and one needs to be prepared for twists and turns. It took me awhile to build my career in the youth development movement, spending four years as Director of Operations and Programs first, digging into the nitty gritty of the daily work of both programming and the technical details of operations such as human resources.” Having to do both jobs prepared Kim to see the breadth and depth of the Boys & Girls Clubs and to understand the organization administratively and with boots on the ground; it prepared her for the CEO role she is in today.

According to the pioneering leader, while every generation has obstacles, the past few years have been incredibly difficult as kids and teens faced school closings, social isolation, missed milestones, and more. With the pandemic exacerbating a decade-long rise in youth mental health trends, it’s more important than ever that young people have safe, nonjudgmental adults they feel comfortable approaching about tough topics. “Normalizing conversations with our staff around mental health has been key to ensuring young people and adults have the emotional, social and mental support they need,” says Kim. “Our Boys & Girls Clubs are a Movement for the moment, whatever the moment may be. And in this cultural moment in our world, becoming a trauma-informed organization and prioritizing racial equity – priorities we’ve championed even further in these past 18 months – are the focuses that will best serve youth today and for future generations.”

One of the most significant recent achievements of the organization is being able to scale up service to youth and families in a little over six months with safety taking precedence. 

The landscape of youth safety has drastically changed in our 75+ year history. From public health crises like the COVID-19 pandemic to the Internet’s impact on bullying and self-esteem, kids face new threats to their stability and well-being each day. 

The Club’s ability to meet the evolving needs of kids, families and their community was honed during the COVID pandemic transitioning services in-person within two months of the shutdown in 2020. “We needed to learn how to keep that human connection with our families while also providing safe spaces for the youth and our staff as our No.1 job. We were the first in-person provider running school day learning hubs across our county to essential working families and continued throughout the pandemic,” elucidates Kim. “That pivoting skill set has enabled us to scale from serving 1,300 youth daily, to over 2,500 youth by January 2023.”

The organization recently opened a dedicated Teen Center and Community Hub, which will also serve an additional 2,000+ teens annually; this happened because of a successful $10.6 million capital campaign and a renovation construction completed despite the pandemic. The Club has a complete line of service from TK through graduation address the whole child.

 “Focusing on six key areas, we: create Safe Places; provide caring Mentorship; meet youth Mental Health needs; bridge Workforce Readiness gap; champion Diversity, Equity, Inclusion; and ensure our Youth Advocacy elevates issues impacting youth.”  “Our Boys & Girls Clubs don’t do just one thing, we do Whatever It Takes to build great futures for the young people we serve. This is our mantra, our promise, as we help kids become their best selves on their paths to great futures,” says Kim.

Kimberly Pace Award

" Normalizing conversations with our staff around mental health has been key to ensuring young people and adults have the emotional, social and mental support they need. "

Kimberly Pace