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Aug 13

Charlie Hall: Changing Lives and Strengthening Community, One Day at a Time

Posted on August 13, 2013 at 12:00 AM by Communications Office

Charlie HallCharlie Hall has a passion for working with people. He puts his talents to great use by spending much of his day interacting with youth and staff at middle schools and in one-on-one conversations with families as he helps guide teens toward positive experiences or families dealing with tragedy.

Charlie has been with San José Parks, Recreation, and Neighborhood Services for over 12 years, currently serving as a Youth Outreach Specialist working on the Mayor’s Gang Prevention Task Force and the Safe School Campus Initiative Program. In this role he’s part of our crisis response and communication system aimed at preventing and deescalating violence on and near San José schools.

Shifting gears, inside and outside

When not on the front lines, calming neighborhood and school crises associated with gangs, he spends the rest of his day coordinating the activity of the Mayor’s Gang Prevention Task Force. Charlie manages contracts, tracks action items, and maintains strong relationships with task force partners that include PRNS staff, police captains, school officials, and our City community partners that provide direct prevention and intervention services to curb gang violence.

Charlie has the remarkable ability to shift gears, moving smoothly from the ground level to the observation deck, from his desk to the streets, to help keep San José youth and neighborhoods safe. When asked what it takes to manage these varied responsibilities, he said, “You have to be in the community, and at the schools, connecting with people…and you also need to be good at Outlook.”

Using technology to get results

Technology is certainly an integral part of Charlie’s daily work. His team recently obtained smart phones, a new tool to communicate with teens in a more accessible way. Some youths won’t talk to adults but they’re very willing to text a conversation.

He’s also a big fan of the “San Jose Clean” app. “Some days we can report graffiti using the app in the morning, and it’s gone so quickly that [rival gangs] that sleep in may not even see it.” Charlie is also working with students from San José State University to develop a new app to better track community contacts and program measurements.

Charlie has a great perspective on the changes he’s seen over the years. “As I’ve grown older, I realize my lens has changed,” he explains. “I first questioned a lot ‘why do we have to have another meeting…’ Now I understand why we meet, and instead think, ‘we can do this better.’”

Working together is better than working alone

He’s also seen changes in organizational culture, and he feels good about recent changes in the way his division operates with greater teamwork among staff and with structured sharing of results and ideas to get the job done better. Charlie and his division have been able to turn meetings into motivational events through thoughtful planning and effective follow-up.

He sees a similar approach working for the City as a whole. “Our program is important, but we just can’t stay in silos. If I have a question, I can call DOT or Finance, and then we’re all working together toward a common good.

“By partnering with people inside the City and out in the community, we can deliver more together than I can alone. When I’m in the community wearing a City logo, people ask me about all kinds of services. It’s important that I don’t say, ‘I can’t,’ but instead say, ‘let me find out.’”

Charlie’s outlook is an inspirational one.

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