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Lady Gaga and More! President's Recap: January 2015

Monday, February 2, 2015

Dear Colleagues,

After a restful holiday season, we are busier than ever here at SCG! We've begun 2015 at full speed, and SCG members are already engaging in powerful conversations and exploring critical topics for our communities. I am especially excited about SCG's increasingly dynamic presence in the broader Southern California region, including recent programs in Ventura, Santa Barbara, and Orange Counties. Here are just a few announcements and highlights of recent programs from the past month.

Please join me in welcoming our newest members to the SCG family!

  • Asian Pacific Community Fund
  • Cotsen Foundation for the Art of Teaching
  • Focusing Philanthropy
  • Charles Hoblitzelle, Philanthropy ConsultantMarcled Foundation
  • Samueli Foundation
  • Christina Thompson, Philanthropy Consultant
  • Three Sisters Foundation
  • Mary Tran, Philanthropy Consultant
  • United Talent Agency Foundation
  • Univision
  • J.B. and Emily Van Nuys Charities

We were proud to partner with member organization WME for a private luncheon meeting this month with the Born This Way Foundation. A small group of SCG members and WME guests met with Lady Gaga’s mother Cynthia Germanotta, President of the Born This Way Foundation.

Pictured: Lady Gaga, the Born This Way Foundation team, and SCG members

The discussion provided an opportunity for SCG members to learn more about the Foundation’s work to build a kinder, braver world. Following an informal discussion with Ms. Germanotta and others from the Born This Way team, Lady Gaga herself made a surprise visit to the meeting and spoke about her personal commitment to the Foundation’s work. We look forward to continuing to partner with the Born This Way Foundation to share their work on children’s social and emotional health. This event was also part of SCG's work to thoughtfully and creatively leverage the Los Angeles region's talent/entertainment industry with traditional philanthropy.

Last week, SCG members gathered to learn about policy issues affecting the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors at a local, state, and federal levels as the 2016 election cycle gets underway. In this program presented in partnership with the Council on Foundations and co-sponsored by Alliance for Justice, we learned about the implications of recent political shifts on philanthropy and the issues we support, including opportunities for action and advocacy. Sue Santa, the Council on Foundations' Washington, DC-based Capitol Hill expert, kicked off the program with an overview of the federal landscape and how philanthropy can support a vibrant charitable sector. We then heard from a panel of experts featuring Dr. Raphael Sonenshein, Executive Director, Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs; Pete Manzo, President and CEO, United Ways of California; and John Kim, Executive Director, The Advancement Project. To access resources from the program, click here (member log in required).

As a follow up to the SCG Annual Conference, members gathered this month for a briefing on how we can build a better future for the Los Angeles region through Smart Growth strategies and by leveraging California’s new cap-and-trade funding stream. We explored how Smart Growth investments cross a broad spectrum of funding issues including transportation, environmental health, affordable housing, public safety, and the effects of climate change. Click here to access resources from the program (member log in required). To support our members' continued work in this area, we have also secured a special SCG discount for The Funders' Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities national conference, coming to Los Angeles this March.

In January, SCG members convened and agreed to engage together on an ongoing basis to address critical veterans issues through our SCG Veterans Funders Group. I'm also pleased to share that SCG member and veterans funding expert Nancy Berglass is now helping to facilitate this work. Nancy brings broad expertise in philanthropy and grantmaking, and is a respected authority on veterans’ affairs and policies, having served as Director of the Iraq Afghanistan Deployment Impact Fund at California Community Foundation. I'm thrilled that the 30+ members of the SCG Veterans Funders Group are taking a leadership role in our long-term initiative to help increase funder knowledge of veterans issues and develop collective strategies to address the needs of veterans and their families—including through partnerships beyond SCG. If you are interested in joining the SCG Veterans Funders Group, please contact us.

We added two wonderful new staff members to Team SCG this month: Adele Lee, Program Associate, and Morgan Bennett, Membership & Operations Associate. With 235 current members and more programs than ever before, our goal is to make sure that we have the appropriate capacity to support your important work as our community continues to grow. Adele and Morgan are already helping to support the programming, steering committees, and partnerships that help you learn, connect, and take action with your SCG peers. I know that you will enjoy working with them as much as the staff and I do! You can get acquainted with the full SCG team of staff and consultants here.

Please feel free to contact me at any time if you have questions or ideas for how SCG can be an even better resource for the funder community. And don't forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to make sure you're getting the latest news!


Christine Essel
President and CEO
Southern California Grantmakers

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