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Chief Executive Officer

Allen R. Cress Chief Executive Officer
Allen R. Cress
Chief Executive Officer

With a career background in Emergency Medical Services, Allen has always been in the “human services” field. As an emergency responder, he understands what it means to truly help others, whether in a state of crisis or just in everyday life. He also knows the importance of managing a business entity that is both successful and efficient.  After finishing his undergraduate studies at UCLA Allen, along with his two business partners, started a private ambulance service with the three of them and three used ambulances.  Over the course of the next fifteen years, under Allen’s guidance as the CEO, that little company grew to more than 800 employees and 180 ambulances.  His fundamental passion of helping others extended beyond the U.S. borders; he has and continues to extend his knowledge and training by coordinating the donation of ambulances, medical supplies and training to a variety of communities throughout Latin America.
In early 2000 Allen and his family bought a home in rural Southern Oregon so he could split his time between Westmed in California and the small veterinary practice he and another business partner owned in Cave Junction.  After retiring from EMS in 2010, Allen was able to spend most of his time focusing on his family, the veterinary practice and his humanitarian efforts.  He overcame tragedy and transition when his business partner in the animal hospital passed unexpectedly at an early age. But as life would have it, Allen was steered in the direction of Southern Oregon Aspire by a close friend that also works in the organization. She knew he would be a perfect fit and that his life would be forever changed for the better by the organization and the people supported by it.
Although he thought he had reached the pinnacle of his career in EMS – often referring to himself as an “EMS guy”— he now recognizes that was all preparatory to what would become his true vocation.
Allen originally applied for a house manager position within the organization, but didn’t get it. A few months later he was called by the Executive Director to see if he might be interested in a position as the Vocational Manger, as he possessed such a strong and successful business background. And just like that…he became part of Southern Oregon Aspire. It was quickly evident to the board, staff and people supported by Aspire that Allen was the perfect replacement for the retiring Executive Director. His new found love for the people supported by Aspire, along with an incredible group of staff made the decision easy for him to apply…and a great decision by the board to hire him.
As CEO, it’s Allen’s responsibility to ensure Aspire continues to serve people with Intellectual and Developmental disabilities for years to come. To that end he is tasked with keeping Aspire relevant in the community, financially viable and, most importantly, focused on the mission of “Inspiring Unlimited Opportunities for People to Create the Life They Choose”.
In Allen’s words… “When we do that – support people in the lives they choose – we find that their lives and ours are so much richer for it. As people with intellectual and developmental disabilities become more integrated into our lives in the workplace, the grocery store and, I dare say, our hearts, we begin to see our world from a different perspective. It becomes a brighter place. As we move forward our focus needs to be helping people find meaningful work and other activities that take place outside our walls, where they can interact and develop relationships with people that aren’t paid to support them. If you’re interested in having your world become a brighter place, consider making a little room for the people we support. Opportunities to serve this worthy group of people come in several forms – as an employee, a volunteer, a donor or an advocate, your life will change for the better.”
A Defining Moment…
“On my second day on the job at Aspire I watched a young man in services with us throw something of a tantrum. He started yelling and throwing things. He made some of the people around him nervous. Once his manager ensured everyone’s safety, he stood next to me as we watched the young man’s outburst wind down. The manager then taught me what may be the most valuable lesson I’ve had to date since coming to Aspire. He explained that what I was watching was not that young man’s fault. He told me that the young man was born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome; that he hadn’t chosen this life. That was a defining moment for me. It was right then that I came to understand that the people we serve really do need our support. This worthy group of individuals, capable of learning and growing and contributing to the world around them, could truly benefit from my efforts. This was a humbling lesson for me. And that young man? With proper supports from a very talented staff, he has learned and grown and hasn’t had a similar outburst in well over a year. He’s ready now for a job in the community. His success, along with the success of so many other people here, are why I’m here.”

To contact Allen…
Southern Oregon Aspire office 541-476-8241
Direct Line: 541-237-3039
Email address: acress@soaspire.org