At DRiWaterstone Human Capital, we have the opportunity to help exceptional clients fill roles that are integral to their ability to meet their strategic and revenue goals. We are also fortunate to have placed some of the best candidates working in the non-profit and social impact space.
Meet: Ron Estrada, CEO at Farmworker Justice
DRiWaterstone led the search that recruited Ron as CEO of Farmworker Justice in March 2022. The national advocacy organization for farmworkers is based Washington, D.C., and works to empower farm and agriculture workers to improve their wages, working conditions, occupational safety, health, immigration status, and access to justice.
As CEO, Ron stepped into an organization “that needed an infusion of funds and a refreshed approach to how we were doing our work,” he says. And he’s already had the chance to make an impact – with bold ideas for change and some historical activations.
We recently sat down with Ron to catch up on his first few months in the new role, and learn more about his experience working with the DRiWaterstone team.
DRiWaterstone (DRiW): How are you enjoying your role?
Ron Estrada (RE): It has definitely met, and in some places exceeded, the expectations in terms of what the role entails as far as the opportunity to make an impact and drive results that move the needle for the farmworker community. That’s not always the case when you come into a new position. But taking a 40-year-old organization and having the opportunity to move it forward is something I was certainly looking forward to taking on, and it’s absolutely been what I expected and enjoyable.
DRiW: Describe your job search experience. What was it like working with the DRiWaterstone team?
RE: Without a doubt, there’s a significant, positive difference in working with an executive search firm. At DRiW, I felt there was a team genuinely representing me and supportive for my advancement.
There’s was an immediate connection and sense of trust. They gave me that sense of “I have someone here who’s calling it like it is and wants to see me succeed and be the best both for the organization and my personal growth.” The team was very attentive to detail and very communicative. It put me at ease and made me comfortable reaching out to the team with any questions. There was nothing that I heard from DRiWaterstone that made the role a surprise for me. It was very clear: finance and fundraising was going to be critical, there were going to be issues around leadership change (my predecessor was in the role for more than 33 years) so there were going to be some bumps that comes with such change.
DRiW: What surprised you most about your experience working with the DRiWaterstone team?
RE: I’ve worked with a handful of other search firms, but I felt right away that DRiWaterstone provided a sense of “this is real, it’s a true opportunity that you have in front of you and here’s what you need to do and our recommendations to best prepare you.” Others were more “we have a position open, would you or someone you know be interested?” So, it wasn’t really about me. With DRiWaterstone, it was a three-way communications platform – DRiWaterstone, me and the organization – and so I found that it was really well communicated what everyone’s needs were.
DRiW: What do you love about working in the non-profit/social impact sector?
RE: You really do get a chance to impact lives. My career trajectory has positioned me at the intersection of advocacy and social impact. I not only love what I do, but I truly believe I am at the right place at the right time. Representing communities that lack basic human rights and still remain largely invisible to the general public. I now have the opportunity to see my work be directed to a greater good, and that’s not often the case outside the non-profit sector.
DRiW: What advice do you have for other candidates looking to change roles in today’s job market?
RE: Number one it’s find an opportunity that you truly and genuinely care about. If you have the comfort and the flexibility to put salary and compensation aside and not make that the number one priority, definitely go with something you are passionate about. However, you also need to be true to yourself and ask the question, “Do I have the tools to elevate this position, and the wherewithal to make an impact and contribute?
I left a corporate position for a non-profit. A number of non-profits approached me, but it wasn’t until I saw Farmworker Justice and saw that they actually play this critical role in feeding the country and bringing food to tables, that many of the US farmworkers are still treated as invisible and with no dignity. I knew I could come in and make a difference. I felt this immediate connection. That’s what’s going to get you over those tough moments – where you’re having issues with unforeseen factors or just having a tough day. The fact that you’re working in a space you care about, that’s your north star.
The advice I got and advice I’d love to underscore for corporate to non-profit, especially the CEO, is be patient as you grow and do the appropriate assessments and reviews. That was advice DRiWaterstone gave and I certainly would validate it.
At DRiWaterstone, we have the pleasure to work with some of the best clients and candidates in the non-profit and social impact space. To learn more about how we can help you build high performance teams and drive growth, email us – we’d love to talk!