Chris Pasterz took a distinctive path to his role as director of SNAP’s Financial Stability core, one that journeyed through the “Land of the Long White Cloud.”
Born and raised in Colorado’s western slope, Pasterz spent 15 years in New Zealand after being introduced to the country as an accomplished rugby player. He would become a dual citizen and earn a bachelor’s degree in commerce from the University of Canterbury and a master’s of business degree from Massey University before starting his career.
Pasterz worked in senior operations roles in manufacturing and distribution for multi-nationals and publicly traded New Zealand corporations as well as national sales roles for an international logistics franchise before becoming a small business owner. He and his wife, an American whom he met in New Zealand, ventured back to the U.S. last year with their two kids, hoping to live closer to family.
When he returned to the States, Pasterz faced a quandary.
“It was a culture shock which all of my travels through Southeast Asia, South America and the Pacific did not quite prepare me for,” he said. “Re-establishing our family in the land of opportunity had my heart aching by the marginalization of our people and it had my mind racing for an answer to the question: ‘There is so much human potential, there are so many resources how can I help connect those pieces to improve the quality of people’s lives?’”
It is little wonder that Pasterz found himself asking such a question. He was raised in a family where his parents emphasized the importance of generating a positive difference. His mother was an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher and his father was a family doctor.
“My brothers and I were brought up to know the joy of serving others and the fortitude of character it takes to do our parts in making our communities better,” he said.
Pasterz says he has found an ideal professional home leading SNAP’s Financial Stability operation. The network of programs is designed to lift people of all types and backgrounds to a more secure position through education, resources and encouragement. The lineup includes credit building, money management, first-time homebuyer education, small business development, foreclosure prevention and the Women’s Business Center.
“I am now putting all of my talents, energy and skills to work for the people of our community,” Pasterz said. “I felt that the culmination of my career and life experiences to date was preparing me for an opportunity to contribute in a meaningful and impactful way, but it took a move half way around the world to realize it. The Financial Stability core contributes by investing in people’s dreams to make them become real, whether it be to own a home, keep a home, create a business, build a business or realize their personal financial goals. We connect people to the resources they need to realize and live their potential and we will never stop.”
Pasterz takes over for longtime Financial Stability Director Kerri Rodkey who retired in June after 15 years with the agency. She and her husband, Paul, are now serving a humanitarian mission in Botswana, Africa. Pasterz said that learning from Rodkey before she left helped him understand his new mission.
“It was my privilege to work closely with Kerri Rodkey as she retired after 15 years of service,” Pasterz said. “One the lasting gifts that Kerri left with me was that of ‘organization compassion.’ I did not even know the concept existed before spending two months working with Kerri, but I was enlightened as I came to understand what it was. It essentially is the idea that actions which are exhibited by organization are more compassionate than the most compassionate individual’s actions who is part of that organization. Translated – we never stop empowering people to live the best life they can.”
SNAP CEO Julie Honekamp said Pasterz “brings insight, strong leadership and compassion” to his new calling.
“We feel very fortunate to have Chris overseeing our Financial Stability efforts,” Honekamp said. “He brings an exceptional skill set and diverse background to this job. We’ve already seen examples of his creativity and energy in leading this department that is so vital to SNAP’s overall mission.”
In only his first few months with SNAP, Pasterz says he has seen how SNAP is a catalyst for positive change.
“I see SNAP as a real reflection of how our world is, which is a major contrast to view that the media would like people to see,” he said. “The world can be visceral and raw, but it is actually filled with good people, working together to support one another by creating healthy and diverse opportunities which improve our community. I am proud and humbled to be part of SNAP and continue the greatest work – building our community.”