In this series, we spotlight our four extraordinary Circles USA Board members: the governance team who oversees CUSA operations, advises on strategic directions, and contributes to specific projects that enhance what CUSA has to offer to its community of practice. Examples include upgrading our website, brochures, and curriculum, developing our Big View policy platform to advance systemic change based on chapter input, and connecting with national partner organizations like Ideos to strengthen our capacity for generative dialogue. While our network will not be surprised by our Board’s commitment to CUSA, we hope the scope of their collective knowledge and experience—from public policy to community organizing and spiritual leadership—will delight and inspire you.
James I. Masters is President/Director/Owner of the Center for Community Futures in Berkeley, CA. He has worked with over 500 Community Action Agencies and Head Start programs since 1966. He was with the US Office of Economic Opportunity from 1966-70; he subsequently served in several appointive positions in New York City government, including Assistant to the Budget Director, Evaluation Director in the Human Resources Administration, and Assistant Deputy Administrator in the HRA Department of Community Development.
Jim has developed and delivered more than 300 professional development and capacity building seminars, webinars, publications, and other staff development activities for OEO, CSA, NACAA, NASCSP, regional and state associations, and individual agencies. He has facilitated more than 100 strategic planning processes, as well as serving on CUSA’s Board since 2006. You may remember him presenting at our national leadership conferences, sharing his encyclopedic knowledge on the history of American policy related to alleviating poverty and even explaining ARPA funds at our most recent conference in April of 2021.
Jim has a BA in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Kansas and a MS in International Business (with Honors), from St. Mary’s Graduate School of Business, Moraga, California.
Jim shares, “I am a Circles USA Board member because I think most ‘programs’ focus too much on giving people stuff or trying to change individual behaviors, and do not focus enough attention on the social systems in which people operate,” says Jim. “Circles focuses attention on social systems. This includes building social capital by creating bridging and bonding relationships among individuals, and by changing the opportunity structure through Big View and Poverty Alleviation Systems. I look forward to continuing to demonstrate the validity of the Circles approach and growing the system to include more funders, chapters, Circle Leaders, and Allies—plus coaches, staff, and Board members.”