Taking over

Brad Montgomery

Photo By Serena cervantes

The Torres Shelter has a new director, Brad Montgomery, 42, who comes with loads of experience. His last position was as executive director of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) in Milwaukee. NAMI has 1,100 affiliates around the country, with at least one chapter in every state. NAMI provides advocacy services, education and support groups for people with mental-health issues and their family members. His experience with NAMI has no doubt prepared him well for his new position. The Torres Shelter has been under pressure this year to get its federal grant back, something Montgomery will be challenged with. He hopes that fundraising will help to keep the shelter up and running.

What made you want to go into human services?

When I was 24 I was a regional manager for a music retailer—Trans World. They had a habit of taking over smaller chains and then keeping the name. So, you’d never see a Trans World but you’d see Peaches or Coconuts or Record Tower, or, Tape World, that were all owned by the same company. In my early 20s I was a regional manager of three stores for them, and more and more I realized that my job was to put little mom-and-pop record stores out of business; that became my specialty within the company. They’d send me to a community and then develop a price war with a little mom-and-pop record store until I forced them out of business, and I didn’t like doing that anymore.

How was the transition?

I was looking for something that meant something to me, so I started doing political and social activism and support services. My first job (political) was working for health-care reform in Wisconsin, and that was predominantly a fundraising position, so I continued with fundraising positions until I took a job as a health-care advocate through Community Advocates. We’d research all kinds of public and private governmental and nongovernmental programs in order to get people whatever kind of medical treatment they needed.

How will you raise money for the Torres Shelter?

We need about $25,000 per month. A significant portion of our funds come from individual donors, and right now we have the People Helping People Campaign, which I believe is up to 85 people generating $1,600 a month for us. And that’s doubled even in the last month. We have a major grant application that we do each year that we just submitted for this year, and it looks quite positive. I think in the area of fundraising, it’s important to highlight that we we don’t charge for our services at the shelter; the things that we provide—housing, personal items, case management—all of that is done without any charge. That’s why we have to go out into the community and ask for the funding that we need.

How will you do that?

One-on-one meetings, group meetings, standing on top of the roof yelling “We need more money!”—whatever it takes. We’re taking these first few months that I’m here and developing a financial-development plan for next year, searching out people in the community who might want to work on collaborative projects and also searching out expert advice in the community, people who have a lot of experience doing development and networking.