Getting to Know the La Piana Team: Claudette Goldberg


This blog post is part of our ongoing series highlighting the La Piana team. This week I sat down with Claudette Goldberg, Operations Manager.

When did you decide that you wanted to dedicate your career to the nonprofit sector?

I was an accidental nonprofit employee. I became involved in the sector through community organizing projects I did with Jewish agencies in San Francisco. I co-founded Sukkot in April, a day of renewal and service that took on big volunteer projects. (Sukkot is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the 40 years of wandering in the desert. Temporary booths are constructed for living in for the eight-day holiday that occurs in the fall.) The first year we had over 800 volunteers and 12 agencies participate in the event.

What I liked about this work was the collaboration—bringing a group of people and organizations together and working toward a common goal. When you bring together a diverse group, you benefit from the different ideas and perspectives. The dynamics can be very exciting!

Is your background in community organizing?

My background is actually in the private sector. I ran several family-owned IT and software businesses. Eventually, my husband and I started a wholesale bakery and did community organizing on the side. It was through the community organizing work that I started working at The David and Lucile Packard Foundation in organizational effectiveness, what we now call capacity building. In fact, my time at Packard is how I made my first connections with La Piana Consulting. The Packard Foundation was one of the founders of La Piana Consulting.

What do you find most rewarding about your work?

What I like most about my job is that I get to work with interesting people who share a sense of commitment to the nonprofit sector. I enjoy the logistics of managing a variety of projects that need to be handled simultaneously. I get a great sense of satisfaction by helping things run smoothly.

What is something that most people don’t know about you?

Besides having been the owner of a wholesale bakery and a co-founder of the first hardware spinoff from Apple Computer, most people don’t know that I wake up at 4:45 a.m. every morning to swim. I swim competitively in the U.S. Masters swimming program.

What are your favorite types of challenges?

I like to develop systems for new processes. I enjoy testing, revising, and streamlining workflows.

What was the last book you read that really inspired you?

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. It is a single novel that weaves together many stories. To me, the most fascinating story is that of the author himself. After living abroad for many years, he returned to Afghanistan only to feel like a foreigner in his homeland. He realized that he was living in two cultures, two worlds, and he didn’t completely belong to either. It is a very American story.

If you could have lunch with anyone, who would it be?

Molly Ivins. She was an outspoken political columnist living and writing in Texas about the local and national scene. I miss her voice. She was unafraid of sharing her opinion–especially when it came to people who acted too big for their britches!

Another strong woman who I would have loved to have lunch with is Shirley Chisholm, a congresswoman from New York. She was fiery, vocal, and “unbought and unbossed!” In 1970 she authored a child care bill that passed both the House and the Senate, but was vetoed by Nixon who called it “the Sovietization of American children.”

Molly Ivins and Shirley Chisholm were both strong women who knew how to look through the fog that obscures issues and push relentlessly to resolve them. There were so many amazing women from their time. We need more like them now.

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