Staff Profile: Dave Perron, Executive Director of Bread & Roses Presents
Dave Perron has been at the helm as our executive director for the past six years helping to creatively sustain our organization. During this unprecedented time of the pandemic, we are grateful to have someone with his forward-looking outlook to help us chart a new path through uncertain waters. His experience as a visionary leader, proven fundraiser and innovative thinker have helped to keep Bread & Rose Presents on an even keel in 2020 and bode well for our continued growth in 2021.
After thirty years working at the nexus of professional sports and philanthropy, Dave joined Bread & Roses in December of 2014. Since then he has propelled us forward with new initiatives that have not only supported our bottom line but helped to brand us as a nonprofit with staying power dedicated to finding new ways to fulfill our mission. As a first-hand witness to the similarities between professional athletes and celebrity performers, his unique experience has been invaluable in furthering our organization.
Dave has a B.A. from the University of California at Davis and a graduate degree from Sacramento State. He began his professional career as a teacher at Marin Country Day School. He has served on a number of nonprofit boards and was a volunteer for Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Marin for over twenty years. A longtime resident of Kentfield, he is married to Hilary Black. His friendships and family fill his free time and he lives with the passionate pursuit of “paying it forward.”
Q. How did you first get involved in the nonprofit world?
A. As Vice President of the Prostate Cancer Foundation, my job was to build partnerships between professional athletes and sponsors including a program that raised nearly twenty million in a year including $12 million at Safeway checkout stands. Prior to this, I was the executive director of the Oakland Athletics Community Fund where I was also director of community affairs. Former Oakland A’s owner Wally Haas has been an incredible mentor for me for over thirty years, introducing me to the nonprofit world.
During this time I met Bread & Roses founder, the late Mimi Fariña, and we collaborated on a project together with the Oakland A’s and Bread & Roses. Shortly after that, Mimi asked me to serve on the Board, which I did for several years in the mid-80s. When she started Bread & Roses in 1974, she was courageous in her vision for the organization. I always strive to continue her great legacy with the same enthusiasm and unwavering purpose.
Q. You’ve been the ED of Bread & Roses for six years now. What prompted you to apply for the position and how have things changed since your time on the board?
A. My long-time friend David Harris let me know that Bread & Roses was doing a search for a new executive director. I have always been inspired by Mimi’s example and the mission of the organization to bring free live music to isolated Bay Area audiences. I had recently spearheaded a special campaign for Not for Sale, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting people from human trafficking. In linking celebrity baseball players to the cause of children who were enslaved, I had a heightened awareness of the importance of finding creative solutions to pressing social service issues.
Leading Bread & Roses for the past half-dozen years has been inspirational, challenging and uplifting. The dedicated volunteer force and staff, supportive community and family feeling continue to be motivating. The budget and outreach are bigger now than they were in the 80s. Celebrity recruitment continues to be as important as it was during Mimi’s time in helping to raise visibility and funds.
Dave's welcome reception at the Seager-Gray Gallery in Mill Valley. Photos by Ken Friedman.
Q. What have been some of your biggest successes at Bread & Roses to date?
A. It has been a fun challenge to make use of my contacts and knowledge from the sports world to raise awareness of our mission. The “Oh Say, Can You Sing?” contest with the SF Giants and the Oakland A’s is an example of a successful collaboration that has raised over 50k for Bread & Roses through the years. Building relationships and cultivating corporate sponsors continues to be a major impetus and rewarding part of my job. Successful corporate partnerships with the Bank of Marin, Bank of the West, The Bon Air Center, Schwab, Salesforce and Wareham Development are ongoing and an incredible source of support for Bread & Roses.
Q. You have a background in sports and cause-related marketing. What would you say are the similarities between performing artists and athletes?
A. Celebrity performing artists and athletes are both uniquely different categories of individuals with the same very special needs. Understanding how to honor their gifts and integrate them into the work of a nonprofit organization is an enhanced skill set. It takes practice and experience to identify the right artists or athletes in order to align their interests in support of a nonprofit mission. It’s essential to cultivate a relationship at the highest level to be a win-win for both the artist/athlete and the organization.
Q. What is significant in the power of a celebrity to bring attention to a cause?
A. I have been fortunate to know so many incredible individuals in the world of athletics like Billy Beane, Pete Carroll, Dennis Eckersley, Wayne Gretzky, Reggie Jackson, Ronnie Lott, Johnny Moseley and Arnold Palmer. Many of the sports celebrities I have known have stepped forward to help emcee our benefit events or otherwise support our organization. Celebrity artists and athletes are all genuine influencers with commitment and power who do much to draw attention to and widen our constituencies. It has been a real joy to facilitate the support of so many new artists as well as cultivate existing relationships with inspiring musicians like Joan Baez, Fantastic Negrito, Graham Nash, Kris Kristofferson, Ron Artis, and Tom Johnston who believe in the power of live performance for healing and connection.
(l-r) Jonny Moseley, Dave Perron and Kris Kristofferson at the Bread & Roses Spring Benefit at Terrapin Crossroads in 2015. Photo by Reese Brindisi
Q. In light of the pandemic, what are the biggest challenges for Bread & Roses at present to pivot and remain viable?
During this unusually challenging time, we must keep reinventing ourselves to keep our mission vibrant and to find our “sweet spot.” It is necessary to keep engaging, growing our relationships and understanding the people we serve. To keep moving forward, we must know how to fulfill the unique needs of our isolated audiences, make the best use of our volunteers, keep our staff fully engaged and raise funds to sustain it all. It is necessary to continue to adapt, change and present new programs that are relevant for the times. We must keep our creative wits at hand and stay connected to all of our sources.
By Marian Hubler, Communications Manager/Producer