The Community Action Center (CAC) of Northfield, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to providing programs that meet the basic needs of individuals and families, has hired a new executive director.
Current CAC Executive Director Jim Blaha, whose forthcoming retirement was announced earlier this year, has served the organization for the past 18 years. Scott Wopata, a current Northfield resident and well-known community collaborator, will fill the position, officially beginning in his new role on September 17. He will soon become a familiar face around the organization, as he plans to start working alongside CAC team members throughout the summer. As executive director, Wopata will help guide the long-term strategic vision of the CAC, manage the organization’s fiscal matters and drive fundraising efforts, among many other duties.
Wopata attended St. Olaf College, where he graduated with a degree in economics and pursued significant study in education, statistics and accounting. He brings extensive experience in nonprofit management, capacity building and detailed planning. Most recently, Wopata has served as executive director of the Northfield Union of Youth, where he led the organization through a resurgence, recruiting a robust board of directors, fostering record-setting youth participation, spearheading growth in supportive services and fortifying a healthy financial position for the organization.
Relational, Accessible Outreach
“For years, CAC leadership, staff, volunteers and client stories have built a reputation that the CAC transforms lives,” says Wopata. I’m honored to be selected to lead this organization and humbled to follow Jim’s legacy as a kind and compassionate leader. The CAC’s work is a reminder of the importance of community and the need for working together, and I feel privileged to join an incredible team of individuals who are committed to a vision of relational, accessible outreach.”
Wopata also brings with him unique planning expertise, which he gained during seven years as an insurance technical specialist. In this role, he served as the point person for complex and catastrophic property damage claims, directing responders, local authorities, accountants and engineers on how to rebuild and recuperate after damage.
Actively involved in community engagement, Wopata is a qualified mediator for the Rice County Dispute Resolution Program and serves on the Northfield Promise Connectedness Action Team. He also served as a youth pastor for nearly 10 years at Rejoice Church and as the head coach for boys soccer at Northfield High School for 7 years.
“We are excited to have Scott on board,” says Kim Decker, CAC succession planning committee chair. “His excitement to get started, passion and expertise in engaging communities will be a great asset to the CAC and the Northfield community.”
Collaborating for Continued Success
Throughout the summer, Wopata will begin collaborating with others at the CAC. Blaha, who wraps up his nearly two-decade tenure in early October, will work alongside Wopata for several weeks to ensure a smooth transition. “Scott’s fresh ideas and innovative outlook will serve as wonderful additions to the CAC,” says Blaha. “I have confidence that the organization and community will continue to thrive and meet the needs of our Northfield neighbors. I look forward to watching the CAC experience continued success and tackle challenges in new ways.”
Wopata explains that he has a passion for relational outreach and relationship building, which he believes can help strengthen the fabric of the community.
“The CAC is well-positioned to continue strengthening its vision to alleviate poverty,” adds Wopata. “Working with others to creatively and strategically address the needs of the Northfield community is something that inspires me, and I look forward to getting started.”