Community Initiatives Spotlight Series: Rena Crittendon

DPR Construction’s Community Initiatives (CI) efforts to support organizations with a focus on “building possibilities for the under-resourced,” are driven by a group of DPR employees – DPR’s CI Champions – who volunteer to execute these programs, such as event coordination, fundraising, offering operational guidance, youth programming, and acting as a liaison between DPR and its nonprofit partners.

The CI Spotlight Series focuses on these individuals.

For DPR office coordinator Rena Crittendon, community service has always come as second nature. In addition to her daily duties, Crittendon has been a CI Champion for the past five years, leading the Bay Area community initiatives task force, while also serving on the Facilities Committee and Executive Committee for the Boys & Girls Clubs of North San Mateo County.

Photo of Rena Crittendon
Rena Crittendon has been a CI Champion for the past five years, leading the Bay Area community initiatives task force, while also serving on the Facilities Committee and Executive Committee for the Boys & Girls Clubs of North San Mateo County. Courtesy of DPR Construction

Q: Who or what inspired you to take on the role of becoming a CI Champion?

Crittendon: One of my biggest influences was Mike Humphrey, who sits on DPR’s Management Committee. We worked on the same project at the time, Mike was a project executive and I was a field office coordinator, and I recall him having so much enthusiasm for anything CI-related. Mike was a big advocate for me to take the role of being a CI coordinator to the next level, and focus our energy on our vision of building possibilities for the under-resourced.

But what continues to inspire me and the work I do comes back to the youth and the high energy at our CI events. Everyone is out there to do good, help people and have a great time. It’s not just another day at work when you coordinate activities and events for CI, so it’s rewarding to see that your planning and prep translates to participants enjoying themselves and seeing the smiles on these kids’ faces.

Q: What are some of your responsibilities as a CI Champion for the Bay Area?

Crittendon: It shifts depending on which initiative I’m working on, and currently we have a bunch of events lined up that are happening very soon. I’m in very close contact with the organizations we partner with as well, such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of North San Mateo County (BGC).

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of administrative work for them while serving on their Facilities and Executive Committees. We recently implemented a new plan and work order system to upkeep their facilities when something breaks. This BGC was also in the process of merging with another club and during that period their CEO resigned, so for the last couple of months I’ve spent a lot of time helping them find an interim CEO.

Jobsite tour with students
DPR jobsite tour with students from the Seven Tepees Youth Program in 2018. Courtesy of Rena Crittendon

Q: What is the significance of building strong relationships with DPR’s nonprofit partners?

Crittendon: A large part of my role with CI is to maintain and strengthen the relationship DPR has with our community partners. To keep from spreading ourselves thin, DPR is very specific about who and how we support as builders to create the most effective impact for under-resourced youth. For example, with the longtime partnerships we currently have, I’m not only bringing myself to the table, but I’m also bringing along DPR’s resources as well. Our partners have benefitted greatly over the years from the DPR Foundation, as well as DPR’s volunteer support for facility maintenance, operational guidance, and student programming. It feels exhilarating being able to chat with an organization, ask how they need support and be able to help them meet those needs.

Especially during the pandemic, our partners were hit with both financial and programming issues, such as the BGC. They needed to quickly open a daycare-like program for first responders that desperately required childcare, so DPR helped them get the facility ready to do that. That said, it’s important that we remain part of that organization because if we were to step away right now they would feel the impact of not having these additional resources from DPR to step in during times of crisis.

Q: What does the role of“CI Champion” mean to you?

Crittendon: This role honestly means a lot to me! I’m incredibly proud of the projects, events and partnerships we’ve developed –and it’s only going to get better from here. One of the main benefits of being a CI Champion is knowing that I am helping DPR become a great company. A big factor in achieving DPR’s 2030 mission of becoming one of the most admired companies means actively staying involved within our communities and we do just that.

Overall, the work I do is crucial in that sense because I contribute to our companywide goal by helping these organizations reach their own goals of supporting the youth they service, so it’s a huge deal.

Group of volunteers
DPR volunteers at the first She Builds event supporting Rebuilding Together's "Safe at Home" project in 2017. Courtesy of Rena Crittendon

Q: Share when you felt most proud to be a CI Champion.

Crittendon: I would say that one of my biggest accomplishments would be forming lasting relationships with our local nonprofit partners and creating annual legacy events. One of these is the She Builds program held by the San Francisco affiliate of Rebuilding Together. For the past six years our women builders have supported other women through building projects.

The other legacy event that I'm very proud of is my role in coordinating the Bay Area’s Service September renovation projects taking place the last seven years for our companywide volunteer month. After years of hosting Service September projects, we had started to call it our “Big Day of Service.” Although in 2020, one of our Bay Area superintendents, Brian O’Kelly, sadly passed away and he was constantly giving back to the community to create bigger and better renovation projects. We are very proud to say we’ve now renamed our day of service to the “Brian O’Kelly Day of Service” to live on in memory of Brian and honor his legacy of community service.

It's so special to me that we have these two legacy events that occur every year that everyone at DPR knows about now and really look forward to. So even after I step away from my CI role, those annual events would still build our communities, and I'm very proud of that.

Volunteers wearing masks and social distancing on a renovation project.
DPR volunteers during the "Brian O’Kelly Day of Service" in 2020. This day of service was renamed to honor Bay Area superintendent, Brian O’Kelly, who passed away that summer and was remembered for constantly giving back to the community to create bigger and better renovation projects. Courtesy of Rena Crittendon