St. Vincent de Paul has found a new CEO in David Calzi.
The current CEO, Ed Wnorowski, will retire in January after more than a decade of service. Calzi will succeed him Jan. 10.
Calzi, a parishioner of Holy Trinity Church, spent nearly four decades as a public accountant before his most recent role as director of industry partnerships for the University of Louisville. He’s also spent much of his professional career serving on boards for local companies and nonprofits, including the Catholic Education Foundation, Community Foundation of Louisville, Endeavor Louisville, Evolve 502, Greater Louisville Inc., Leadership Louisville, the Muhammad Ali Center and Bellarmine University’s board of trustees.
At U of L, Calzi’s job is to make connections. He’s focused much of his time “bringing industries to the university, helping them find talent, solve problems and grow through research and innovation,” according to a press release from St. Vincent de Paul. Calzi said he’s proud of the work he accomplished at U of L and looks forward to making connections in his new role, all in service of the community he calls home.
SVDP’s mission is to house, feed and support those in need with compassion and dignity. Its services include supportive housing programs, thrift stores, family support centers and free meals.
Board and selection committee member Jim Smith said he sees how Calzi’s personal purpose for living aligns with SVDP’s mission. In a letter submitted with his resume to be considered for the position, Calzi wrote: “My personal purpose has been and remains to be of constant service to others so they are enabled to see what is possible and achieve it.”
Calzi said during an interview at The Record offices last week, he has always sought ways he can help, enable and build community.
“We all have a purpose in life,” he said. “I want to be in service in a way that — and even in my professional life — that allows for, and I get involved in situations that I have the opportunity to help and enable others to see what could be possible. And then once you see what’s possible, actually
Smith said Calzi is focused on youth and team building, two things that will benefit St. Vincent de Paul.
“We have a very good organization at SVDP,” he said. “Dave will not only be good for the present for SVDP, but he’s going to be extraordinary for the future. He’s going to build strength wherever he goes.”
Wnorowski, described by those who know him as a “jeans and denim shirt guy,” spent his tenure at SVDP with his boots on the ground, involved in all aspects of the work. Smith is confident that Calzi will do the same.
“He’ll know every brick, he’ll be part of it,” Smith said. “He’s not afraid to touch any part of this organization. If there’s a problem, he’s going to get with them and solve the problem.
“We hate to lose (Ed) but we love to have Dave follow in his footsteps.”
Calzi will spend time learning the ins and outs with Wnorowski before he retires in January.
“I’m trying to get a running start as much as I can,” Calzi said of the transition into his new role. “The responsibilities are very different than what I’ve had at U of L and then previous to that. But in some respects, there are many similarities because it’s going to be my job to connect — to connect the community into what we’re doing.”
He said homelessness and the needs that surround it have existed for a long time but that it’s been exacerbated in the past several decades. He’s looking forward to collaborating with other providers to help solve the issue.
“I don’t see competition; what I see is collaboration because there’s still need out there,” he said. “So we’re still not meeting all of the needs. Whether it’s with affordable housing, or the services, it’s obvious that we’re not. So to me, there’s enough work for everyone to do.”
He hopes to work closely with government, higher education providers and businesses to bridge gaps and provide necessary services to those in need.
“This community is a special community and I think we have opportunities here,” Calzi said. “Given the sense of community that Louisville does have, and the fact that we’re not L.A. or New York, we may be able to wrap our arms around this issue and make even bigger strides than maybe some other communities because of the nature of the community that we have.”
Calzi stressed the importance of the work SVDP does and the full breadth of services it offers.
“We have a wonderful organization here but they need support,” he said. “We need support. It’s a very humble organization that needs this community’s support.”
The opportunity to lead SVDP is more than a job for Calzi.
“I’m doing this out of a sense of service for the community and I’m honored and I really do see it as a reward,” he said. “I don’t see it as a job. I see it as a reward.”