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Recognizing 100 CEOs & C-level Executives

David Adame

President & CEO

Chicanos Por La Causa

Location: Phoenix, AZ

Founded: 1969

Industry: Non-Profit

When you run a nonprofit that covers five states and broad initiatives like housing, health and economic development, there’s always too much to do and never enough time. But Chicanos Por La Causa President and CEO David Adame is careful not to overdo it.

“Even during a time of great achievements and success, we must work harder to maintain the work/life balance,” he said. “Even though there are so many new doors of opportunity open, taking the time to slow down the pace to truly assess what opportunities to pursue is vital to ensure your team doesn’t burn out or become overwhelmed.”

Chicanos Por La Causa Inc. is a community development nonprofit that provides services in Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas. Since 1969, CPLC has changed lives by developing self-sufficiency and instilling empowerment in those it serves. It focuses on advocacy, economic development, education, health and human services and housing.  

CPLC has more than 30 programs and services, 1,200 employees and 160 locations, making it one of the largest community development corporations in the nation. 

Adame’s first job after college graduation was with CPLC as director of economic development. After two years, he moved on to several impressive roles in business, nonprofits and real estate development. He served as vice president of Arizona operations for McCormack, Baron and Salazar. He worked as senior deputy director of Fannie Mae’s Arizona partnership office and held roles at JPMorgan Chase and the Phoenix office of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation. In 2008, he returned to CPLC as chief operating officer and chief financial officer before rising to president and CEO in 2015.

When he took over as CEO, Adame did a full-scale assessment of the organization and created an aggressive seven-year plan to increase impact, revenue and the percentage of self-generated operating expenses. After the company reached these goals within five years, Adame added new ones for the remaining two years of the plan.

When the pandemic hit, CPLC responded with an online communication hub for Latinos that provided bilingual information to access resources and help. 

Adame also led an innovative approach to invest in for-profit businesses that enables CPLC to provide services without being dependent on government and foundation funding. 

Adame has served on numerous boards, including the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, the AARP Foundation, the National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders, the Arizona-Mexico Commission, the Maricopa Community Colleges Foundation, UnidosUS, the Community Reinvestment Fund USA, the Creighton University Presidential Health Sciences Phoenix Advisory Board, the Arizona Housing Commission, the Arizona Coyotes Latino Advisory Council, and the Arizona Bank and Trust Board of Directors.  

Recent honors include the Individual Hero of Education Award by Maricopa Community Colleges and the Maricopa Community Colleges Foundation, the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Arizona Asian Chamber of Commerce, and the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Man of the Year. 

“David’s legacy will be as a pioneer who dreamed the impossible and never lost sight of what an organization can accomplish if they’re adaptive, willing to take risks and able to propel themselves forward without relying on the handouts of others,” his team said. “As he often implores his executive team and staff, ‘If not us, then who? If not now, then when?’”

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Did you know?

David supported himself through college working as a DJ.


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