San Diego

303 A Street, Suite 100
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 684-4810
Hours: Monday to Friday, from 9AM to 5PM


CEO San Diego opened in November 2011 to break the cycle of reincarceration and stem the persistence of poverty by addressing the immediate and long-term income needs of San Diego's formerly incarcerated population. Our program is designed to develop and promote self-sufficiency through job readiness training, employment experience, cognitive-behavioral interventions, vocational certifications, assistance with all aspects of the employment application process, and retention services once employed with businesses in the community.

CEO San Diego is the largest non-profit employer of justice-involved individuals within the region, providing nearly 400 unique individuals with income earning transitional jobs immediately upon enrollment into our program. This is accomplished by our wonderful staff of 33 individuals on an annual budget of approximately $7 million.

Impact in San Diego County

Our re-entry employment services are part of a larger eort toward responsible and inclusive development, as CEO is ultimately working to improve our environment and economies of the cities we serve. During our most recent fiscal year (July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020), CEO has had the following impact within San Diego County.

  • 358 formerly incarcerated individuals enrolled in CEO’s evidence-based programming.
  • $1.55 million in wages paid to formerly incarcerated individuals through our transitional work crews
  • 45,000 bags of litter and debris removed from our community’s streets, highways, and open spaces.
  • 154 individuals placed in jobs within the community

CEO San Diego Leadership Team

Site Director

Rob Smith is the Site Director of our San Diego office, overseeing all aspects of the Social Enterprise and our vocational services. Rob has 20 years experience as a nonprofit leader, specifically focused in underserved communities. He is also a lived experience expert in understanding the challenges of extreme poverty, domestic violence, sexual assault, drug addiction and incarceration from early childhood until his release from state prison in 2000 that was the existence of his life. Overseeing the CEO office in San Diego Robert has been able to combine the best of both his worlds; his relentless hustle and grind mentality has propelled San Diego’s office to the second largest site next to NYC; his deep understanding of and ability to partner/broker between justice involved communities and public systems has contributed to expanding San Diego CEO’s footprint across the local region.

Social Enterprise Operations Manager

Claire Brown is the Manager of Social Enterprise Operations at CEO San Diego. Her team of 25 full-time staff provide transitional work opportunities to hundreds of program participants annually through partnerships with Caltrans and the City of San Diego Environmental Services Department. She has worked in the criminal justice space with the Orleans Public Defenders, done microenterprise consulting with Fund 17, and supported social enterprise incubation with the Deshpande Foundation India. In her spare time she enjoys exploring the outdoors and tending to her plant babies. She holds a BA in Political Science and Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship from Tulane University.

Program Manager

Mary Harmer is the Program Manager at CEO San Diego. She supports the team’s effective delivery of vocational services offered to participants. She joined CEO San Diego in 2014 as an intern and served four years in the role of retention specialist, supporting participants to maintain employment in the community for one year. Mary also serves as an advocate for CEO participants in the San Diego Homeless Court Program. Mary has over ten years of experience as a non profit professional, and prior to CEO she was the marketing and events coordinator at The Salvation Army of Greater Philadelphia. Mary holds a BA in History from Messiah College and a MA in Peace and Justice Studies from the University of San Diego.

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Our Partners

As we look to the future, we remain committed to our mission of providing immediate, effective, and comprehensive employment services for justice-involved individuals. We are proud of our growing impact in San Diego County and proud to partner with dedicated community partners in the pursuit of a stronger, cleaner, and safer community. We sincerely thank the following community organizations and foundations for their financial contributions* and/or partnerships in support of our mission.


Alliance Healthcare Foundation*

Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank*

Pacific Western Bank*

San Diego Bar Foundation*

San Diego Foundation*

California Department of Corrections


City of San Diego*

City of San Diego Parks and Recreation*

City of San Diego Transportation and Stormwater*

County of San Diego*

Custody to Community Transitional Reentry Program (CCTRP)

Restoring Citizens

RJS Law*

San Diego Chamber of Commerce

San Diego County Probation Department*

San Diego County District Attorney’s CARE Center*

San Diego Homeless Court

San Diego Public Defender

San Diego Workforce Partnership*

Sheppard Mullin*

South County Economic Development Council

Tradition One

The Lighthouse Community

In The News


Apr 19, 2024   |  By County News Center

Second Chance Job Fair for People Seeking Reentry Employment

More than 150 people attended an employer seminar and job fair this week for National Second Chance Month. The job fair is designed to help justice-involved individuals reenter the workforce through committed fair chance employers.

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Apr 18, 2023   |  By County News Center

Job Fair Hosted for Justice-Involved People Seeking Employment for Reentry

As part of National Second Chance Month, more than 200 people, many of whom had been previously incarcerated and are now looking for a fair chance to be part of the workforce, attended an employer seminar and job fair.

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Jan 26, 2023   |  By San Diego Union Tribune

Opinion: As a 58-year-old who was in prison for 40 years, I didn’t even know how to use a cellphone

After serving almost four decades in prison, I look at my wonderful life and can’t believe how blessed I am to have a career, a home and a loving fiance. It wasn’t a given, and it took hard work and a commitment to learn that helped me get on a ...

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Jan 26, 2023   |  By San Diego Union Tribune

Opinion: How do we help formerly incarcerated people lead better lives? Digital skills training

When the pandemic took hold in 2020, remote work became a reality for millions of Americans — making digital skills even more necessary for job seekers.

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Jan 26, 2023   |  By San Diego Union Tribune

Opinion: I got out of jail in February. Let me tell you about the job training that changed my life.

Some of my happiest memories are of my days playing baseball in San Diego’s Logan Heights, as the pitcher on my Little League team, the Little Padres, at Memorial Park. My mom loved to watch me and my older brother, who was our catcher.

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Jun 15, 2022   |  By San Diego Union-Tribune

Opinion: After prison, it was hard to find work and start over. I now make it easier for others.

It’s been 22 years since I walked out of prison with a GED diploma, a handful of program certificates I earned “inside” and a mixture of fear and optimism about what was ahead of me. Looking back from the place where I now get to help people who are in ...

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Jun 15, 2022   |  By San Diego Union-Tribune

Opinion: I was facing years in prison for a burglary charge. Here’s how I turned my life around.

In June 2019, a South County Superior Court judge gave me a choice between accepting 12 years to life in prison or choosing the stringent conditions of a plea agreement and rebuilding my life after a burglary charge. I chose my life. After a year in the George Bailey Detention ...

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Apr 11, 2022   |  By Quiana Pugh

The need for consistent SNAP benefits during reentry

Jordan, a Center for Employment Opportunities participant in San Diego, didn't think he'd need access to the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). While transitioning back home, Jordan's sober living facility provided meals. Even if he had been eligible, Jordan didn't want to apply for a benefit he didn't need ...

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Feb 24, 2022   |  By The Guardian

California gives people leaving prison just $200 to start over. After 50 years, that could change

A California lawmaker wants to increase the allowance that people released from prison receive to cover basic needs for the first time in nearly 50 years.

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Jul 07, 2021   |  By

Opinion: Addressing biases and barriers can help solve worker shortage

Employers across California are asking, “Where can we find workers?” The truth is that many hundreds of thousands of Californians are locked out of opportunity. And it doesn’t have to be that way. Many of our state’s most pressing economic challenges are the consequence of inaction. In this case, more ...

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Oct 23, 2020   |  By Times of San Diego

San Diego ‘Gets It Done’ — 7,000 Tons of Trash Removed from Public Spaces

Three years into a citywide effort to keep San Diego clean and safe, Mayor Kevin Faulconer brought together partners of the city’s Clean SD program Tuesday to highlight the progress in removing more than 7,000 tons of trash, debris and waste from public spaces across the city.

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Sep 10, 2018   |  Kusi News

San Diego Center for Employment Opportunities helps former inmates find jobs

One local organization is giving jobs to hundreds of people who were formerly incarcerated. Elizabeth Alvarez was live with Robert Smith from the Center for Employment Opportunities to talk about how the organization helps former inmates get back on their feet after prison.

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