Mark Carmona, EMBA ’07 has dedicated his professional career to helping others.
Taking on his biggest challenge yet, Carmona was named president and chief executive officer of Haven for Hope in January.
“This work is a calling for me,” said Carmona, who attended the seminary. “I like to work at a grassroots level with people and see how they can transform with assistance. I get to go into work every day and help someone.”
His 25-year career in the nonprofit social services field has included positions at San Antonio Fighting Back, the Kronkosky Charitable Foundation and most recently the Center for Health Care Services. As deputy chief executive officer for the Center for Health Care Services, Carmona worked with Haven for Hope overseeing mental health and drug and alcohol intervention programs for Haven residents.
Recognizing that running a nonprofit is just like running a business, Carmona began exploring graduate programs to assist in his calling. After much research, he selected the college’s Executive MBA (EMBA) program.
“The program spoke to me,” said Carmona, who will turn 50 this year. “The EMBA provided me with a toolkit in finance, accounting and economics, but the ideological focus was on leadership. I could take back what I was learning and immediately use it in the workplace.”
And, the skills he learned in the EMBA are serving him well at Haven for Hope. Carmona’s bookshelf is still lined with binders and textbooks from the EMBA program, and he notes that he refers to them almost daily.
He draws upon principles taught by faculty member Bill Mitchell to meet these challenges. “We learned about alignment, adaptability and agility,” said Carmona. “We also studied shared decision making and reasoning. Aligning focus is critical to building strategic relationships with 38 different on-site agencies.”
Haven for Hope provides residential housing, case management services and educational and vocational training for the homeless in Bexar County. Partnering with more than 80 organizations, Haven provides a comprehensive system of social services for the homeless.
“Who do you picture when you think of the homeless?” said Carmona. “At Haven, our average age on campus is 9, and we serve more than 160 children at any given time. The campus is home to 900 men, women and families and an additional 600-700 people in Prospects Courtyard.”
While Carmona admits this type of work is not for everyone, he relishes going to work every day and offering residents a hand up, not a hand out.
“At Haven, people can transform, regain their lives and become contributing members of society,” he said.
In March Haven celebrated its 1,000th graduate. Carmona measures success by housing and education. “One year later 93 percent of our graduates retain housing, and 74 percent are employed.”
Looking to the future, Carmona hopes to employ his business acumen to expand services for graduates off site and to evaluate the effectiveness of this model. “Founder Bill Greehey built the business model that serves as the engine for Haven. My goal is to continue building on that model and to expand services for our residents.”
His servant leadership applies to his own family as well. Driving home after a day of volunteering on campus, he asked his oldest son, Marcos, about the experience. Marcos said, “Dad, they look like me.”
Recognizing that homelessness can happen to anyone, Carmona knows that he and his family have been blessed. Following his chosen path, his goal is to help others along the way.