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CCRC President & CEO Dr. Michael Olenick celebrates 20 years

A lifelong advocate for children and families, CCRC President and CEO Dr. Michael Olenick celebrates this month 20 years of service at the agency.

In this twentieth chapter of his story, Olenick looks back with pride at the evolution of CCRC.

“If you look at our trajectory over the last 10 to 11 years, we’ve gone from serving between 13,000 – 15,000 kids a month to serving now 45,000 – 46,000, and that’s still growing,” said Olenick.

That growth is impressive considering the adversity faced by the agency in the early 2000s, when CCRC was plagued with internal fraud and a resulting lawsuit from the state. But the next 10 years of reorganization under Olenick allowed the agency to regain the community’s trust and support.

“In 2012, the same people suing us in 2003 came to me and said, ‘I hope you’ll apply for the money in San Bernardino because you’re the only one who can manage it,’” Olenick recalled of the contract conversation around San Bernardino Alternative Payments. “And that’s a pretty big testament to how much change occurred in that 10 year period.”

Even beyond the time spent at the helm of CCRC, Olenick has dedicated his life to organizations and boards that strive to improve the lives of children.

“I’ve had the opportunity to chair the California Resource and Referral network for six years, Child Care Aware of America for two years, Child Care Alliance of Los Angeles for four years. I never thought I would chair all these organizations, but it’s given me perspective on what’s possible,” explains Olenick.

Helping children and families is a calling he’s felt since early on in his career.

“Back in the 1970s, I played in rock and roll bands. I never ‘made it,’ as they say, but I did play with some fairly well-known people at some point,” he recalled. “When I got to end of my music career, my mother said to me, ‘You’ve always liked kids, why don’t you get a teaching credential?’ So, I did.”

He worked in the classroom with kindergarten age children for four years before he decided to pursue his PhD. His degree helped propel Olenick to a position of leadership in the field, but he said leading an agency of over 1,200 staff requires a shared belief in a singular mission.

“You don’t do this by yourself,” he said. “I can come up with great ideas and our executive team can come up with great ideas, but if you don’t have buy in from staff [it doesn’t work]. If you don’t feel supported, how are you going to support the children and families we serve?”

Between his work at CCRC, his service on various boards, and family life, his down time is little to none.

“The hard thing is finding time to get in all the walking,” he said of one of his favorite past times. “I only did 127,000 steps last week.”

As for what’s ahead, Olenick doesn’t expect to be sitting in his same office 20 years from now, but he imagines CCRC will have a seat at even bigger tables, finding ways to help children and families thrive.

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