Meet Norayma Cabot, APCH’s New CEO
If you kept up with our recent CEO Log series, you know that our search for a new CEO was a long, and at times, challenging process. And if you follow us on social media (hint, hint! @apch2830) you also know that we were delighted to share that at long last, we found the right person to lead APCH into the future. On Monday, September 26th, we welcomed Norayma Cabot to APCH as our new CEO.
We sat down with Norayma to talk about nonprofit work, her advice for the young people at APCH, and her own story of growing up right here in Los Angeles. We hope you will join us in welcoming Norayma home as we embark on this new chapter for APCH together. Enjoy!
What drew you to nonprofit work?
I’ve been in the nonprofit sector for over 20 years, and what drew me to the work was really the people. Through this work, I found an incredible group of people coming together to do right by the communities they serve. I found people with heart, passion, and dedication that were really trying to make a difference in the world, and that was so inspiring. It felt like I had found my people, and that’s what resonated with me most and why I fell in love with this work. For me, it’s that connection and collaboration, that common purpose of supporting communities that have greater needs, that really moves me. We always say “Welcome to the family” and as I got into the work, I really felt that the whole nonprofit community is a family, that this is where my heart is and this is what I wanted to dedicate my life to.
In your leadership roles, what aspect of leadership do you enjoy most?
I enjoy bringing people together. That’s what I enjoy most. Early on, I didn’t aspire to be a CEO. But the higher I got in my career, the more and more I realized I could make a difference as a leader, and now I see leadership as an opportunity to influence and advocate for people. I’ve worked in some organizations where I felt that the resources and support weren’t enough to do the work, and I found myself frustrated. The work is hard enough and without that support from leadership, it just gets harder–it creates burnout, and it’s unsustainable. I felt like I could change that, like I could create a culture within an organization that really focused on those doing the work, those actually delivering the services day-to-day. I thought to myself, the better I can support them and the more resources I can bring in, the happier people will be and the more effective and impactful our work will be.
That’s the part I really love about leadership–that I get to collaborate with and support people that are amazing at what they do. They are all experts in their own areas, and I get to bring them together to build a common vision and help move an organization forward in meaningful ways. We often say “We get to do this work”, and I feel that when you create that environment where people do feel seen, supported, and a part of something bigger, it really just becomes a calling and yes, the work is hard and you might be tired at the end of the day, but you go home feeling really good about what you did.
What’s the most important piece of advice that you have for the young people at APCH?
The most important piece of advice I have is to build a community around you. Find people that you feel connected to, that move you, inspire you, and motivate you. We all face different challenges throughout our lives, and the bigger our network of support is, the safer we feel to take chances, to try new things, and to explore.
I would also say, dream big because you really can achieve anything you set your mind and heart to. The real question is, are you willing to put in the work? For me, failure means that something didn’t work that way that time, but how do we keep going? What can we learn from that failure and what can we do differently next time? I’m very stubborn (my whole family will tell you), but my stubbornness has gotten me far–I will try things over and over in different ways until I find something that works. I think there’s a real strength in persistence. So stay focused, work hard, and understand that life is always changing and you have to embrace it.
Find your passion and let that be your driver, and then find people around you who will uplift you. Build community with those positive people so that when you do need help you can call on them. Sometimes we all need a little pep talk and a push, and I think that the people who are willing to do that for you are so important.
What was it like for you growing up in LA?
I distinctly remember this day in college in my sociology class, when we were doing a project called “a Tour of LA.” The project took us through different communities of Los Angeles and we would look at the socioeconomic indicators that made communities affluent, low income, etc., and identify the differences. The first thing we had to do was map out our tour and identify census tracts. Out of curiosity, I looked up my own census tract and found out that I lived in a low income community (I was in my 20s at the time). I remember going home and asking my mom, “Are we poor?”, and she said “Well, what did you think?”. I remember thinking to myself, “Well I didn’t think we were rich, but I didn’t think we were poor.”
I look back at growing up in East LA, and I knew people that had taken a different path than I did, that got involved in gangs and violence. It was difficult at times, but my parents were very supportive and really kept me focused on school and instilled in me the importance of education. I think that I appreciate and understand what it’s like for a lot of our APCH members, and I also hope that I bring a sense of opportunity. Yes, there is so much happening in the world, and no you don’t have control over it, but you do have control over your own life and your decisions. It’s going to take a big force to change what these communities look like. Is it possible? Absolutely. I believe that children can grow up in safer neighborhoods where the community itself is looking out for our kids, and until we get there, there are people who care and want to be a supportive force.
I am grateful for the experiences I’ve had growing up in LA because they have given me an appreciation for the people in my life who have supported my journey. Looking back at what I’ve faced and seeing how it’s shaped me into someone who wants to bring that sense of care, love and compassion to other people, that’s what it’s really done for me. Not only has it given me a sense of gratitude, but it’s instilled in me a sense of responsibility to advocate for others.
We are so excited and grateful to have Norayma with us, leading us forward into A Place Called Home’s fourth decade of service to South Central.
To learn more about our work and how you can invest in the success of hundreds of young people in South Central, visit apch.org.