By Tom Henderson • Staff Writer • 

Sargent to lead the troops at YCAP

Jeff Sargent
Jeff Sargent

Means is retiring after leading the McMinnville-based social service agency for seven years. Her final day will be June 30.

Federal Executive Boards, created by President John F. Kennedy in 1961, help federal and state agencies outside Washington, D.C., collaborate with one another. Sargent joined the agency in 2002 as a management analyst and became acting director in January 2014.

A McMinnville resident since 2006, Sargent holds a bachelor’s in political science from the University of California at Los Angeles and a master’s in business administration from Southern California’s Pepperdine University.

He spent seven years working for advertising agencies as an account executive, then spent two years with the Peace Corps in Estonia, one of the former Soviet republics. When he returned, where he added Estonian to a repertoire of languages that already included French, he spent two years as a development officer with the United Way of the Columbia-Willamette.

He has seven years on the Gallery Theater board and twice served as its president. He is also active in the McMinnville Rotary Club, where he has served as fundraising director and auction chair.

Sargent already knew Means through Rotary, which she joined about two years ago, and been hoping for a chance to succeed her at YCAP. “I have had my eye on that role and that organization for some time,” he said.

He said he and his wife, Julia, had been longtime supporters of the local helping agency. As a result, he said, “When the job came open, I was really excited about the opportunity.”

Sargent said, “I’m very fortunate in that I have a really good federal job. But I want to work closer to home. I want to work in my own community and be involved with real, tangible benefits in people’s lives here.”

The leadership has created an excellent organization with a solid financial foundation, he said, but there is always room for improvement anywhere.

“I believe I can strengthen what YCAP does,” he said. “I feel like I am a good collaborator. I am a good facilitator. I run what equates to a small business within the government.”

Part of his agenda as he enters the job is some new planning and training sessions,” said Sargent.

“Another one of my goals is to build more partnerships and support with businesses in Yamhill County,” he said. “There are a lot of businesses that are aware of the social needs out there and want to do something to help.”

Founded in 1980, YCAP is part of a network of more than 1,000 community action agencies created around the country to promote the health, education and general welfare of Americans in need.

According to YCAP statistics, roughly 10 percent of the families, 15 percent of the individuals and 24 percent of the children in Yamhill County, which counts about 95,000 residents, live below the poverty line.

YCAP helps them obtain food, clothing and housing, and assists with heating and electricity bills. The agency also has programs dedicated just for helping young people.

By hosting a homeless camp downtown, McMinnville Cooperative Ministries sparked renewed debate about homelessness, fostering heightened awareness. And Sargent said YCAP is well positioned to play a role in addressing the issue.

“It’s a bigger issue than any one agency can handle,” he said. “I think we can work together to find some solutions that can make a difference.”

Sargent said he brings numerous strengths to the position.

“I have a broad background,” he said. “I’m also very comfortable speaking in public about things I am passionate about. I look forward to getting out into the community and talking about the great work that YCAP does.”

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