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Pathways to Preventing Gun Violence and Strengthening School Safety

Tuesday, February 26, 2013
9:00am PST
Inner City Arts
720 Kohler Street, Los Angeles, CA 90021
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Last December, in the wake of the tragic events in Newtown, Connecticut, Southern California Grantmakers (SCG) invited members to share ideas and suggestions about how we might best respond to members' needs and interests regarding gun violence prevention and ways that philanthropy can respond to this complex issue collectively.

In response, we invite you to join a funders' discussion about current national and local agendas on preventing gun violence and strengthening school safety. Joined by Dan Gross, president of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, participants will gain insights about the national, social and political climate and hear updates on federal efforts to address the issue.

The program will also include a panel conversation moderated by Diana Bontá, president and chief executive officer of The California Wellness Foundation (TCWF), and will feature: 


Panelists will address:

  • ways that philanthropy has responded to the issue of gun violence in the United States;
  • what we know works, best practices and lessons learned;
  • potential onramps for foundations to effectively address gun violence and strengthen school safety; and
  • how philanthropy can partner with the public sector and/or engage in advocacy at regional and national levels to effectively address the issue.


Given their longtime leadership in this area, TCE and TCWF, along with Dan Gross, were called upon by the Biden Taskforce to advise on national policy recommendations to reduce gun violence. The panel will explore violence prevention strategies through a public health approach, with a particular emphasis on addressing root causes.

In light of the broad relevance of this topic, SCG invites participants (both current SCG members and eligible non-members) to extend this invitation to one nonprofit leader to join you as your guest.

This program is presented in partnership with The California Endowment and The California Wellness Foundation.


Diana Bontá
President and Chief Executive Officer, The California Wellness Foundation
Dr. Diana Bontá is the president and chief executive officer of The California Wellness Foundation (TCWF), a private independent foundation with a mission to improve the health of the people of California by making grants for health promotion, wellness education and disease prevention. She brings to TCWF 40 years of experience in health care, public policy and corporate health philanthropy. Before joining the Foundation in 2012, Bontá was vice president of public affairs for Kaiser Permanente, Southern California Region. Prior positions include an appointment by California Gov. Gray Davis to lead the state's Department of Health Services and service as director of Health and Human Services for the City of Long Beach. She is a trustee for the Archstone Foundation and the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and has served as a trustee of the Health Professions Education Foundation for nine years under the leadership of three governors. Bontá was a U.S. Mexico Border Health Commissioner and recent member of the DHHS Office of Minority Health Advisory Committee. She holds a doctorate and master's degree in public health from the University of California, Los Angeles, where she also serves as an adjunct professor.

Guillermo Cespedes
Deputy Mayor, Los Angeles Mayor’s Office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development (GRYD)
Deputy Mayor Guillermo Cespedes guides the conceptualization, implementation, and coordination of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s comprehensive gang reduction and youth development initiative. Cespedes has implemented the “GRYD Model” in areas of Los Angeles most impacted by gang related violence. These programs include: the Summer Night Lights Program, the Multi Generational Family Gang Prevention Program and the Gang Intervention Incident Response and Case Management Program. Cespedes is a senior policy fellow at the UCLA Graduate School of Social Policy, and serves on the Advisory Group to the USAID Central America Regional Security Initiative Programs. In 2010, he made policy recommendations while in service to California Attorney General Kamala Harris, as a member of the Transition Policy Team on Gangs. Cespedes received a master’s degree in social work from Columbia University and completed post graduate studies in family systems theory and practice. 

Dan Gross
President, Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence
Dan Gross is the president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and its sister organization, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. He is one of the foremost leaders in the gun violence prevention movement, having co-founded and directed the Center to Prevent Youth Violence (CPYV, formerly PAX). Since 1998, the CPYV has provided innovative public health and safety programs such as the ASKing Saves Kids and SPEAK UP programs, designed to protect children from the dangers of guns in the home, at school and in the community. CPYV is now one of the largest gun violence prevention organizations in the U.S., with a budget of $2 million. Gross founded CPYV after his brother was severely wounded in a shooting at the Empire State Building in February 1997.

In 2001, the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence was renamed the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, and the National Council to Control Handguns (HCI) was renamed the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violenceundefinedin honor of Jim Brady, who was among those shot during the 1981 assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan, suffering a serious head wound. Together with his wife, Sarah, Brady subsequently lobbied for stricter handgun control and assault weapon restrictions. The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, also known simply as "the Brady Bill", was named in his honor.

Julio Marcial
Program Director, The California Wellness Foundation  
Julio Marcial is a program director at The California Wellness Foundation (TCWF), where he has made approximately $20 million in grant recommendations to support a public health approach to understanding and preventing violence, including: prevention programs; intervention services; mental health and counseling services for trauma-exposed youth; and re-entry services and job placement for currently and formerly incarcerated youth. He is a member of the Juvenile Justice Standing Committee of the California Board of State and Community Corrections, and a member of the Nurse-Family Partnership Statewide Advisory Board, the Alameda County Re-entry Network Committee, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Unity Networks to Increase Thriving Youth (UNITY) Steering Committee and the World Health Organization Violence Prevention Alliance Advisory Committee. Marcial was an American Sociological Association Undergraduate Fellow at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and held a fellowship at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. 

Beatriz Maria Solís
Director, Healthy Communities, South Region, The California Endowment
Beatriz Maria Solís joined The California Endowment in 2007 as Los Angeles regional senior program officer. In 2009, she was tapped to be director of healthy communities, south region, for the Endowment’s 10-year strategic program, Building Healthy Communities. In this role Solís is responsible for advancing the vision and strategic direction of the initiative, as well as helping achieve established goals and outcomes through the organization’s philanthropic efforts in Southern California, which spans a six-county region. Her professional experience includes service as director of cultural and linguistic services for L.A. Care Health Plan and as a research associate for the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, where she was responsible for several original research projects on women’s health. Solís earned both a master’s degree and doctorate in Public Health from the University of California Los Angeles.