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Valerie Kissell to succeed outgoing People Helping People CEO Dean Palius
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Valerie Kissell to succeed outgoing People Helping People CEO Dean Palius

071520 Valerie Kissell new PHP CEO

New CEO of People Helping People, Valerie Kissell, will assume her role with the organization once Dean Palius retires on Aug. 31.

The board of directors of Santa Ynez Valley People Helping People (PHP) has announced the selection of Valerie Kissell as incoming CEO, succeeding outgoing CEO Dean Palius, who served the organization more than 25 years. She will assume the role on Monday, Aug. 17.

In her new capacity, Kissell will be responsible for providing vision, leadership, direction, and accountability to the varied social services PHP makes available to the local community, the board said. Kissell also will act as chief of staff and lead the organization’s community engagement strategies.

“All of us on the board know that Valerie is following a predecessor that set a high standard of performance," explained PHP Board President Francisca Escobar. "That said we all have a high degree of confidence that she is up to the task having successfully navigated a recruitment and selection process that was rigorous and most competitive with over 100 initial candidates required to submit written responses to key questions, make an extemporaneous presentation and participate in three sets of interviews.

"The Board faced a critical decision made equally more difficult and easier by having to select one of the three highly qualified final candidates as the next CEO.”

Kissell, a resident of Solvang, brings six years of youth and family services experience, having served as executive director of the Channel Islands YMCA. 

“I am thrilled to be a part of the People Helping People team at this critical time in our community," Kissell said. "During times when our neighbors are in survival mode perhaps experiencing crisis, trauma, or poverty, they may have no idea how to access the support systems and mainstream benefits that are available to them. I am excited to become a member of this agency and continue the mission.”

Palius is set to retire on Aug. 31. 

Lisa André covers Valley Life for Santa Ynez Valley News. 

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