NOTES FROM THE FIELD
By Madelline Romero
August 17, 2023
Kababayan's new executive director, Rizza Solis
Kababayan welcomes its new executive director, Rizza Solis. Read on, and get to know this woman who is ready to usher Kababayan to a new chapter.
How will your first day at Kababayan look like?
On my first official day at Kababayan, I have two important goals:
First, I want to familiarize myself with the organizational culture by actively engaging with the staff. This involves understanding their perspectives, and assessing where Kababayan’s strengths lie, along with identifying areas that offer potential for growth.
Second, I intend to connect with my colleagues on a deeper level by sharing my passion in helping the community and my vision for Kababayan: to foster a welcoming community for newcomers and immigrants from all walks of life by providing fair, inclusive, and human-centric services. The ultimate goal is to empower newcomers to make well-informed decisions throughout their settlement journey.
"What drives me to lead Kababayan is my own experience as a newcomer and the stories of other immigrants."
Were you a newcomer once yourself?
I emigrated to Canada alone in 2015, and some of the most difficult challenges I faced as a newcomer was finding a community for support since I didn’t have any family or friends here, and searching for a job that matched my career goals. Thankfully, I found a settlement organization that provides support to newcomers, and they played a significant role in helping me start my new life in Canada. Witnessing the incredible impact they were making in the lives of others, I realized that this was exactly what I wanted to do. Helping newcomers and immigrants settle in Canada was not just a professional goal, but a personal mission as well.
My journey in that organization began as a volunteer, and over time, I became a full-fledged member of the team. This journey has led me to where I am now, taking on the role of Kababayan's new executive director. My goal is to keep supporting and empowering newcomers in the same way that made a difference in my life when I needed it the most.
What are you most excited about joining the Kababayan community?
I am incredibly enthusiastic about leading Kababayan towards greater achievements by implementing innovative and human-centric approaches in providing services to newcomers and immigrants.
Throughout this journey, I am committed to upholding Kababayan's fundamental values: compassion, collaboration, community engagement, equity, and excellence. I firmly believe that this organization possesses significant untapped potential to expand its reach and create a more profound influence within the community they serve.
"Leadership is not about being in charge; leadership is taking care of those in your charge."
Which leaders inspire you? What are your thoughts on leadership?
My parents have always been my source of inspiration. They've held leadership positions at Couples for Christ, a Catholic lay movement, for over 30 years, and they proudly call themselves "joyful servants". Their approach to leadership has always been characterized by passion, integrity, and love, in guiding their community members.
In terms of my own perspective on leadership, I truly resonate with a quote by Simon Sinek: "Leadership is not about being in charge. Leadership is taking care of those in your charge." Just like my parents, my aspiration is to bring out the best in the people I work with, and create an uplifting environment for them. As executive director, I consider this to be one of my most important responsibilities.
I firmly believe that each member, volunteer, and staff within the organization possesses innate talents and ideas that can drive Kababayan's growth. My goal is to be the leader who recognizes and cultivates the potential in others. This aligns with my commitment in creating an environment where people are empowered to contribute and thrive.
"My goal is to uphold the core values that Kababayan stands for, build upon its 46-year old legacy, while simultaneously embracing growth for the future."
From your vast personal and professional experience, which experiences will you most likely draw from as you lead Kababayan?
At the end of the day, what drives me to lead Kababayan is my own experience as a newcomer, and the stories of other immigrants as well. While having the skills and technical expertise is important to fulfill tasks, the ability to empathize with the clients we serve holds equal significance. If I can't put myself in their shoes, it becomes challenging to support them with the genuine passion and care they deserve.
What are your interests outside of work?
Outside of work, I have a few things I really enjoy. I love taking long walks in nature – it's a chance for me to feel connected to the outdoors and clear my thoughts. Reading books is a big hobby of mine, too. It keeps me learning and helps me see things from different perspectives. Another thing I find enjoyable is dining out with friends and just enjoying a meal together. It's a simple joy that brings us closer.
But what means the most to me is the time I spend with my family, especially with my 2-year-old daughter. These moments are incredibly special and remind me how important it is to have a good balance between work and personal life.
What is your message to the Kababayan community?
To the Kababayan community, I’m truly honored to step into this role as the new executive director of this remarkable organization. I recognize the significant impact this position holds in the lives of newcomers and immigrants, and I’m fully committed to this responsibility.
My goal is to uphold the core values that Kababayan stands for, build upon its 46-year old legacy, while simultaneously embracing growth for the future. With the unwavering support of our dedicated Board of Directors, the dedication and expertise of our passionate Kababayan staff, and the contributions of our volunteers and members who pour their heart and soul into their work, I hope that you will continue to support Kababayan’s vision of building a strong immigrant community by empowering newcomers as we move forward together.