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Lydia Villarreal Elected Chair of Irvine Foundation's Board of Directors

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The following is a letter from The James Irvine Foundation's President and CEO Don Howard


They play a critical role, yet the work of Irvine's Board of Directors goes largely unseen. The Chair of our Board is especially pivotal, providing guidance on the Foundation's strategy and leading the board's work.

That's why I am so pleased to announce that our board elected California Superior Court Judge Lydia Villarreal as its next board Chair. She'll begin her three-year term in January. The board was unanimous and enthusiastic in their support of Lydia assuming board leadership, and I am thrilled to work with her in this role.

Lydia brings a wealth of experience and wisdom. In 2001, she was appointed Superior Court Judge in Monterey County, following her work in the county as a deputy district attorney.

Before that, Lydia spent eight years with California Rural Legal Assistance representing migrant farmworkers. Among other accomplishments, she founded the Center for Community Advocacy, a nonprofit in Salinas that helps low-income families improve their housing and provides health and educational programs for farmworkers and others in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties.

Lydia brings a deep commitment and expertise to the issues Irvine is now tackling - expanding economic and political opportunity for families and young adults who are working but struggling with poverty. Lydia has been on our board since 2006 and was part of the decision to shift to our new grantmaking strategy.

I'd like to thank outgoing board Chair Greg Avis who joined the board in 2003. His dedication and leadership have been invaluable. Greg has been a passionate advocate for Irvine, a partner in developing our strategy, a coach, and a friend. His imprint on the Foundation is enormous, as is his contribution to the impact of our work.

We are excited to begin this new chapter at Irvine and look forward to Lydia's leadership. You can read more about Lydia here.

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