PHP announces retirement for CEO Dean Palius planned for August

After 25 years of highly distinguished service as the leader of Santa Ynez Valley People Helping People Dean Palius has decided to step down at the end of August. The Board of Directors reluctantly accepted Palius’ resignation but understands and supports his decision to change his pace of life.

“The Board is extraordinarily grateful for the quarter century that Dean dedicated to building a highly regarded and respected organization that has made such a profound difference in the lives of so many. He has graciously agreed to stay with PHP to advise the Board on the recruitment and selection of his successor,” said PHP Board President, Francisca Escobar.

Palius received a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors at Humboldt State University.  He followed that with a Master of Arts degree from the University of California at Santa Barbara with an emphasis in public administration and public law.

Palius started his career at the City of Santa Barbara working his way up to the position of Personnel Director and Chief Labor Negotiator.  In 1979, he left the City and formed a consulting business, Alternative Management Services, focused on productivity improvement, cost accounting, and human resources management.  After 17 years in consulting, Palius landed at PHP, first as a Board member and then became the first Executive Director in May, 1995.

From the outset, Palius dedicated his work at PHP to positively impact the lives of those less fortunate. He was able to creating partnerships, resources, and initiatives that focus on furnishing basic needs assistance to help individuals and families “get back on their feet” and then supporting them to further improve their lives.  Much of this work took the form of helping to remove barriers to success and easing access to services by establishing Family Resource Centers at neighborhood schools, implementing programs to reduce domestic violence and child abuse, and furnishing parenting education.  

Palius was particularly interested in changing the life trajectory of youth, especially those with limited resources at home.  So, PHP developed services directed at improving social and academic outcomes for students including after school programs, mentoring, preventing alcohol and drug abuse, and promoting physical and mental wellness by ensuring access to medical care and counseling programs.

Following the lead of its 1992 founding Board members, under Palius’ guidance, PHP has been able to fulfill the founders’ vision of creating a one-stop, under 1-roof system of safety net services furnished by PHP and other partner agencies to lend a hand-up to those in need. This system reduces the exasperating and often humiliating practice of contacting and travelling to multiple agencies, sometimes with children in tow; completing numerous applications; and often telling and retelling traumatic stories. 

During his 25 year tenure, PHP grew from two to eighteen programs and an $80,000 budget to  $2.3 million which includes $500,000 annually in donations of food, Christmas toys, office space, and professional services.  In 1996, with the support of the PHP Board, local realtor Herb Bundgen, and a loan approved by the senior management of Santa Barbara Bank & Trust, Palius negotiated the purchase of PHP’s current Solvang Service Center at the southwest corner of Alisal Rd. and Maple Street. PHP has occupied this building for the past 23 years, virtually cost-free, by renting space to other non-profit organizations and two retailers.

Palius has been an avid fundraiser and grant writer on behalf of PHP and has amassed an impressive track record of success. PHP has received funding from $2,500 to $400,000 from federal, California, and local governmental agencies; local, regional, and national foundations; and businesses and corporations. PHP also has nurtured three very successful and unique home-grown fundraising events, Vino de Sueños (Wine of Dreams), Wine Country Bike Trek, and the Santa Ynez Valley Polo Classic.

PHP is considered a leader in quality of services having won recognition from the County’s Commission on Women, the Non-profit of the Year from the Solvang Chamber of Commerce, and the Working Families Award from the Santa Barbara Action Network (SBCAN).  PHP has also been honored for its commitment to inclusion and diversity in its staff and Board of Directors.

“Dean’s experience, contribution, entrepreneurial spirit, sense of humor, and compassion for and desire to help those less fortunate will be missed by all at PHP and those we work with and serve,” Escobar said.  “We are pleased that during his remaining tenure he has agreed to take on the tasks of consulting with and assisting the Board with recruiting and selecting the next CEO and working with Board and staff to ensure a smooth transition to the next administration. That speaks volumes about who Dean is and his dedication to PHP.”

Over the past six years, Palius has shown an extraordinary commitment to PHP’s continued success.  Together with the Board of Directors and training and support from the Weingart Foundation, the organization has taken steps to create sustainable organization, program, and financial structures.  Approved budgets have been developed to accommodate the building of reserve funds for the inevitable ‘rainy day’ and a small endowment has been established.

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