Kirk Larson

Deputy Director

At what moment did you know DISH was for you?

My first week at DISH, I knew. It was an exciting time for me personally in my life because I just got married, I moved to San Francisco and I started a new job in the same week. Our original office was one small office for Doug and Lauren and I to share, which we did for 6 months or so in the DPH building at 101. I don’t really have a pithy answer for that one, but basically from the beginning. It was super exciting. It was a great mission and it was a start-up. It’s like we’re starting from scratch and that’s very exciting to be on the ground floor. To be helping to create something that has now become DISH.

What was your first day on the job like? / What is your first memory of DISH?

My first day on the job, it was exciting. I remember riding on the bus from work to Civic Center, to 101 Grove and walking up the marble steps to the 3rd floor, just thinking, “This is the coolest thing.” Then meeting with Doug and Lauren and looking at our little office space and figuring out how the three of us were going to work in there. Starting the journey to get laptops from DPH, which they had promised. I don’t know if it was the first day, but Doug handed me what was later to become our Outcomes that we publish every month. It was our contract objectives. He said, “Create a way to track this and measure them and report them.” That was one of my first assignments and it’s one that I still remain very close to.

What is the most gratifying part of your job?

The most gratifying part of my job is being part of the DISH team. The DISH staff is a really outstanding group of people who are just doing their jobs (which are not easy) really well, especially after the most recent circumstances. Being able to support the work at the sites so that the site staff can really do what they do best; I take some pride in that.

Most recently, I’ve gotten the opportunity to meet with and talk to our funders and our peer organizations more than in the past. The past few years I’ve been doing more of that. It’s gratifying to confirm that the DISH staff is really doing fantastic work. We’re providing a level of service that is, in my humble opinion, higher than other organizations. Which doesn’t mean that we don’t make mistakes, it doesn’t mean we don’t have things to improve, it doesn’t mean that other organizations aren’t doing some things better than us but I think we’re primed to learn from them and try to get better at those things. And being humbly generous in offering what we’ve learned over the years that’s most successful to organizations. I think we’ve helped create a pretty good collaboration with other providers where the level of service has gone up and I think DISH can take some pride in that.

Mainly, it’s just being part of this team. All the successes this year are team successes and I’m happy to be part of the team. And thank goodness, because if it were just individual successes, I’m not sure I would have that many.

Is there anything you'd like to share about your experience at DISH?

I’ll just say that (since this is all about the DISH’s old-timers and we’re a dwindling species here at DISH) seeing other leaders emerge and being a part of supporting that effort of people growing and becoming leaders at DISH, bringing their own ideas and skills and care, which is the thing that everyone has in common at DISH, the care they bring to their work; that’s gratifying. It helps us keep going. People do go on to other things, so we constantly have to be developing others to step in and step up.