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COF Interviews Jonathan Lorenzo Yorba, President & CEO, The Community Foundation Serving the Counties of Riverside & San Bernardino

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Q&A on Community Leadership: Highlighting Impact at Philanthropy Week in Washington - Jonathan Lorenzo Yorba, President & CEO, The Community Foundation Serving the Counties of Riverside & San Bernardino

Interview by Kim Bluitt, Council on Foundations Member Relations Director, Pacific  

Now in its second year, Philanthropy Week in Washington, March 16-20, 2015, was a week-long series of events and activities that highlighted the role of philanthropy in our society. Hosted by the Council on Foundations, the week provided an opportunity for philanthropic leaders to spend time on Capitol Hill highlighting the impact of philanthropy in Member’s districts and states as well as to other Washington based audiences. The leadership of foundations and grantmakers across the country has played a major role in improving communities. This year we highlighted the power of place based initiatives and collaboration to help empower communities.

The centerpiece event of Philanthropy Week was Foundations on the Hill (FOTH), hosted by the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers in collaboration with the Council.

Kim Bluitt spoke with California delegate, Jonathan Lorenzo Yorba, President & CEO, The Community Foundation serving the Counties of Riverside & San Bernardino, to learn more about his experience during Philanthropy Week.

KB: What prompted you to attend Philanthropy Week and Foundations on the Hill?

JLY: I attended Philanthropy Week and Foundations on the Hill for three primary reasons, each of which falls under the broad category of “Community Leadership.” First, I am Chair of the Government Affairs Committee for the League of California Community Foundations. Although the Committee does our primary work at the California State Capitol, with the understanding that “all politics is local,” the reality is that one also needs to have a presence in Washington, DC to be fully effective.

Second, I am on the Community Foundations National Standards Board, and it was important to talk with the Senators and Representatives (and their legislative staff) about the important role philanthropy plays in improving the quality of peoples’ lives.

And last yet certainly not least, I am on the Public Policy Advisory Committee for Southern California Grantmakers. Wendy Garen (SCG Board Chair), Chris Essel, SCG President and CEO), Jim Clarke (SCG consultant), and Karen Freeman (SCG Director of Operations & Strategic Initiatives) organized the largest California contingent of foundation leaders to participate in Foundations on the Hill; our group also included representatives from Northern California Grantmakers and San Diego Grantmakers.

KB: Did you learn as a result of your attendance?

JLY: I lived in Washington, DC in the early 1990s, so I’m pretty familiar with how things work in general in Washington, DC. Yet I learned an important distinction between what occurs in a Members’ district office versus their Washington, DC office: The local office is better equipped to address the day-to-day needs of constituents; the office in the District of Columbia is best for handling policy and macro-issues.

KB: What is something actionable your foundation will now do as a result of your participation?

JLY: As the President and CEO of The Community Foundation that serves the Counties of Riverside and San Bernardino, I will relay to my Board the activities and events that occurred during Philanthropy Week and Foundations on the Hill. We will then determine collectively if there is something actionable that The Community Foundation will do moving forward.

KB: Which event or activity during Philanthropy Week was most inspiring to you?

JLY: It was an honor to be able to speak face-to-face with our national elected officials about how philanthropy and the federal government can work together in partnership to address the many needs of the communities that collectively comprise the United States. Walking around the Capitol, the Supreme Court, the Library of Congress and other impressive buildings on Capitol Hill provided inspiration and generated awe.

KB: What was a key takeaway from your meetings with your Members of Congress and the Senate?

JLY: I heard from various Members of Congress and the Senate about the importance of accountability and about ensuring that if we are to fully speak as one voice, we need to also include corporate foundations as our partners.

KB: Do you recommend other members of the philanthropic sector attend Philanthropy Week?

JLY: I absolutely and unequivocally recommend that as many members of the philanthropic sector attend Philanthropy Week. Why? Quite simply: There is strength in numbers.

See more at: http://www.cof.org/blogs/re-philanthropy/2015-04-14/community-leadership...

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