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In her years with Community Action Marin, dynamo executive director Gail Theller has witnessed CAM grow from a fledging with a $40,000 annual budget to a huge, multi-program, multi-site service agency with an annual budget exceeding $10 million. And she’s not done yet.
Personally and professionally, Gail thrives on empowering people, especially women. Countless poor women have gone to school or work because Gail has seen that CAM provides affordable, quality childcare. She has increased the number of day care programs for infants and established the million dollar Hamilton Children’s Campus, serving 150 children in Novato.
Gail finds creative ways to say, “Yes.” When the AIDS epidemic surfaced, she positioned CAM as a key provider of services. By developing unique peer-run programs, Gail has helped Marin’s homeless and mentally ill to take control of their lives. Some of her programs serve as models in other parts of the country.
Successful collaboration is another of Gail’s trademarks. Working with Goodwill, Gail and CAM developed Marin Jobs and Career Services. Since 1997 they have placed more than 600 at-risk residents in permanent jobs paying at least eight dollars an hour. The Helen Vine Detox Center, another successful partnership, serves more than 800 Marinites a year.
Over the years, Gail has nurtured Marin’s most valued, successful organizations: Homeward Bound, the Farmer’s Market, the Food Bank, the Marin Child Care Council and Ritter House. Currently CAM is fiscal agent to emerging organizations such as Isoji (serving Marin City) and the Marin Continuum of Housing and Services.
Gail’s strength and courage are also evident in her personal life. She has dealt openly with being gay, overcome an alcohol problem and donated a kidney to her sister. Gail is a beacon, showing us how to serve with generosity, compassion and dignity.