Among her many responsibilities, Dr. Fields will develop and implement talent management strategies and oversee HR, facilities, IT and more as part of the Lighthouse leadership team
In her own words, Dr. Rita Fields says she began her journey “as a homeless, high school dropout who had no hope and no vision for the future.” That was in 1991. And a lot has changed. Today, Lighthouse is thrilled to welcome Dr. Fields as its Chief Talent & Strategy Officer.
Dr. Fields will officially begin her new role August 24 as a member of our leadership team, overseeing human resources, facilities, information technology and more, and acting as the day-to-day talent and internal business operations leader for the nonprofit that once helped her through a desperate time in her life.
Almost 30 years ago, Dr. Fields was just 18 years old, homeless and pregnant, when she sought help from South Oakland Shelter. The shelter, which joined forces with Lighthouse in 2019, housed her for 30 days (the maximum at the time), providing a safe place to stay, food, and a glimmer of hope. Dr. Fields later returned and joined the nonprofit’s board. But she never imagined becoming a full-time staff member.“I cannot express how much in awe I am at the full circle nature of my life,” Dr. Fields said. “I’m really looking forward to ensuring that the people who help our most vulnerable residents are also provided with the tools they need to succeed. I am honored to do that for Lighthouse, particularly because of the incredibly impactful role it had in my own life.”
After her son was born, Dr. Fields went back to school. She finished high school in a matter of months and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in English and Psychology, and Master’s in Human Resource Management from Marygrove College, followed by a Doctor of Management from Walsh College. She is a professor of management at the University of Michigan and CEO of 313 Industries, a manufacturing company that works with the aerospace, defense and automotive industries. In addition, Dr. Fields has served as a strategist and consultant with special expertise in understanding the power of human potential.
“I consider Rita to be among the most resilient and talented people I have ever met,” said Lighthouse CEO Ryan Hertz. “She brings a critical perspective as a past homeless person and guest of our emergency shelter, and considerable skills in management and human resources. Both the people we serve, and our staff, deserve her caliber of leadership. I am beyond thrilled that she agreed to join our executive team at Lighthouse.”
In the midst of COVID-19, Lighthouse is helping more people than ever before. We typically provide emergency food to approximately 10,000 people a year. As a result of the pandemic, food is now being distributed to 4,500 individuals a week, or 1,800 families. Lighthouse has also more than tripled its emergency shelter capacity to about 100 people who are being provided with hotel rooms during the crisis.