By Anna Hopkins, Communications and Public Relations Chair, CA/HI NAACP
The question that comes in the most to the staff and other leadership in the CA/HI NAACP is can you tell me more about Rick Callender and can I meet him?
Rick L. Callender is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Valley Water in San Jose, California. Appointed CEO by the elected Board of Directors on May 26, 2020, he oversees an integrated water resources system that includes the supply of clean, safe water; flood protection; and environmental stewardship of waterways for Santa Clara County’s 1.9 million residents.
Rick has worked for Valley Water since 1996, serving most recently as the Chief of External Affairs (CEA). As the CEA, he led Valley Water’s efforts in strategic external communications to the media, community, and the public. Rick also oversaw all government relations efforts on local, regional, state, and federal levels, as well as public policies that directly affect Valley Water.
Prior to joining the district, Rick worked as a Special Assistant to former City of San Jose Mayor Susan Hammer, as a Field Campaign Organizer for the California Democratic Party, as a Congressional Fellow for the United States House of Representatives, Subcommittee on Energy, and as a Congressional Fellow to Congressman Ronald V. Dellums. He also served as president of the San Jose-Silicon Valley NAACP from 2000 to 2008.
Rick also serves on the National NAACP Board of Directors, in addition to being President of the California/Hawaii State Conference of the NAACP. The California/Hawaii NAACP boasts 74 branches and youth units which are mobilized across the states to help ensure racial justice and equality. Rick also has served as a member of the National NAACP’s powerful Resolutions committee since 2001.
Rick earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering and Technology with an emphasis in electronic and computer technology from California State University, Chico, completed all coursework for his Master of Arts in Public Administration from San Jose State University, earned his Juris Doctorate from Northwestern California University School of Law, and is a member of the California State Bar. He has also attended and graduated from eight executive leadership programs at different universities throughout the nation.
Since last December, Rick has been visiting many NAACP Branches, over Zoom, and can often be heard talking about his vision for California and Hawaii. Rick is often heard saying, “I hope to help us to build our membership and support our youth and college members to be ready to take over the movement. The NAACP has to make sure we are growing those behind us!”
“We will be prioritizing criminal justice, environmental justice, our health needs for our community, educational equality, and economic equality. You will see the NAACP embracing and using technology and social media to make our voice stronger, more visible, more vocal and more influential.”
“We will strengthen our committee structure so that all Branches have the opportunity to have their members participate on our statewide committees.”
“My vision – and for this I will need and ask for your support – is that we will show all in California and Hawaii that we are working together – and that together we are not a force to be ignored, forgotten or mistaken.”
Rick may be new to the position of President, but clearly he is not new to the NAACP or leading organizations.
Under his leadership, we are clearly destined for success.