By Mike Kinney
The Contra Costa Youth Service Bureau (CCYSB) recently named Marena Brown as its executive director, replacing Kim Catanzano.
Brown, a Richmond resident, has been with the CCYSB for 21 years, serving most recently as interim executive director and development officer, according to the Bureau. She will manage a department that has grown in over 30 years to a youth advocacy and mental health agency with over 40 employees serving over 350 families.
Programs at the CCYSB, headquartered at 186 Broadway in Richmond, include social wraparound services, kinship care and others addressing the struggles of transitional age youth and others.
“Marena has stepped in to lead the agency at a time of considerable change with new County contracting parameters and additional performance pressure,” said Board Chairman John Ziesenhenne, who steered the Board process for selection of a new executive director. “The Board of Directors is confident that she is the right person for this challenge.”
Brown is both elated, and prepared, to take on the new challenge. She’s no stranger to big challenges. In addition to her service to the Bureau, Brown also serves on the boards of various nonprofits, as well as the Community Housing Development Corp. and Richmond Neighborhood Coordinating Council. She’s president of the Sheilds-Reid Neighborhood Council, a member of the Kiwanis Club and an active member of committees on local crime prevention and also the North Richmond Municipal Advisory Committee. To top it off, she’s director of Christian Education and Formation.
Brown has so many hats, she’s got a name for it: “Hattitude.”
“I live, work, and play in a city that I love, and one that I will always call home,” she said.
Brown said she’s blessed and fortunate to serve on various boards, as she said they provide her with intelligence, strategies and guidance to better serve the community. She also relishes the opportunity to serve “with some great people” working to make her hometown a better place to live and work.
Brown said she’s poised to sustain and enhance CCYSB’s services. She said the nonprofit agency was founded in 1984 by African American activists to address systemic causes of violence for Richmond youth and serving historically marginalized communities of color, with an emphasis on North Richmond.
“I proudly stand on the shoulders of our founder Ms. Taalia Hasan and the many elders and activists within the City of Richmond,” Brown said.
For more information about the CCYSB, go here.