Kevin MacDonald, executive director of the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center, has a passion for people.
MacDonald was born in Mountain Lakes, N.J., the third of seven children. His father was a college accounting teacher and his mother a homemaker. MacDonald has two sisters and four brothers.
Seeking out service
“I always knew I wanted to work in a nonprofit organization since high school,” MacDonald said.
His life of service started in his teens, when he volunteered to work with people with disabilities.
MacDonald’s mother was an important influence.
“She always encouraged us to volunteer and to give back,” he said. “We all did our different things, and I volunteered at The Arc, which served people with disabilities.”
Another important influence on MacDonald was a neighbor with Down Syndrome. Their friendship sparked MacDonald’s desire to help others.
After graduating with a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio, MacDonald returned home to New Jersey to become the Director of Residential Services for The Arc-Morris County Chapter in Morris Plains, N.J., the same nonprofit he had served as a high school volunteer.
“They offered me a job when I graduated from college,” he said.
MacDonald directed the largest community based residential program in New Jersey for people with developmental disabilities.
“I had a great time working in that program,” he said. “I loved working for them. The people were great.”
Moving to California
After three years in the position, MacDonald moved to California to attend the University of California at Berkeley, where he obtained an MBA with a concentration in public/nonprofit management.
After completing his degree, MacDonald decided to stay in California.
“The weather and all the outdoor activities you can do 12 months out of the year made California really attractive,” he said.
His connection to The Arc in New Jersey landed him a position as assistant executive director at The Arc-California.
Located in Sacramento, he became an advocate and lobbyist for people with developmental disabilities on system-wide issues including state budget, entitlements and legislation.
“It was great to learn the legislative system in Sacramento while working for The Art at the state level,” MacDonald said.
Running, hiking, climbing
MacDonald is also an avid runner having competed in the Los Angeles and New York marathons.
His current passion is backpacking in the mountains with his two adult sons.
“We’ve climbed Half Dome in Yosemite a couple of times,” he said.
MacDonald said next on the list is a climb on Mt. Whitney this summer.
His short stint in Sacramento put him in position to become the Chief Executive Officer of The Arc Los Angeles and Orange counties. Located in Downey, he served 23 years in the position which served more than 400 individuals with developmental disabilities and a staff of more than 70.
SCV Senior Center
As a veteran leader in the nonprofit arena, it was no surprise that when the SCV Senior Center began looking for a new executive director MacDonald got the call. He was hired in July 2016.
“I loved my job at The Arc, but I was looking for a new challenge,” he said. “I wanted to see what was happening up in Santa Clarita and met with the board. I saw it was very exciting, what was happening with the new center and expanded programs.”
“What really attracted me to the position was the quality of the board,” he said. “I was also very excited to work on the new Senior Center.”
The SCV Senior Center is run by the Santa Clarita Valley Committee on Aging. Board members include President, Peggy Rasmussen; Vice President Elizabeth Hopp; CFO Julie Sturgeon; Secretary Mary Jane Hartman; Immediate Past President Rick Patterson; and board members Vinod Assomull, MD; Chris Avelino, MD; Brent Braun; Steve Chegwin; Mike Dean; Bill Lively; Greg Nutter; Vanessa Wilk; and Bonnie Teaford.
MacDonald said improvements to the programs, and the new facility, are realized for the SCV Senior Center, he is most proud of the staff.
“In a short time, the staff have grown from 43 to 83 members. The combination of veteran leaders and young hard-working individuals puts the Senior Center in good hands,” he said. “I am very fortunate to have wonderful staff to care for, prepare food and provide for Seniors every day. You can’t teach love and caring and we have an abundance of those qualities in our staff.”
The new building constructed to house the SCV Senior Center is nearing completion with a grand opening expected in April.
It will offer an outdoor space for concerts, increased educational offerings, the latest technology with computers and iPads, a place to socialize around the fireplace, increased exercise and dance options, evening movies and a larger, more modern dining and banquet facility.
“This will be a welcoming place, a place to make connections, a place of community,” he said.
MacDonald said despite assistance from the city of Santa Clarita and the County of Los Angeles in building the new SCV Senior Center donations are still being sought to complete the building.
“It is three pieces coming together,” said MacDonald. “The county, the city and our partners — we cannot do it without them.”
For information about the campaign for a new SCV Senior Center, please www.newseniorcenter.com or (661) 259-9444.