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President's Recap - March 2015

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Dear Colleagues,
The month of March has been full of fascinating programs, exciting journeys, and promising new opportunities for SCG and our members. I'm also happy to welcome the newest members to the SCG family: Annie E. Casey Foundation; Brach Family Charitable Foundation; Cedars-Sinai Medical Center; Entertainment Industry Foundation; Herbalife Family Foundation; Karen Hunte (consultant); Hutton Parker Foundation; Maggie Neilson (consultant); Oppenheim Family Fund;  The Roddenberry Foundation; and the Tournament of Roses Foundation.

Below are just a few highlights of upcoming events and recent discussions from the past month. And don't forget to visit the SCG website for the latest news and programs!


As part of a national effort called Foundations on the Hill (FOTH), I recently traveled to Washington, DC with SCG Director of Operations and Strategic Initiatives Karen Freeman, SCG Public Policy Advisor Jim Clarke, and a delegation of SCG members. A week-long series of events with funders from across the country, FOTH is designed to highlight the role of philanthropy in our society to advance the common good. The SCG delegation served as a powerful example of how philanthropy can be a strong partner for the public sector, providing local knowledge and strategic leadership needed to ensure complex issues are addressed in ways that best serve our communities. To present a unified voice for California philanthropy, we also engaged in several productive conversations that included the CEOs of Northern California Grantmakers and San Diego Grantmakers.


Left to right: Nancy Jamison (San Diego Grantmakers); Christine Essel ; Jennifer Duck (Senator Feinstein’s Chief of Staff), Matthew Sharpe; Wendy Garen; Erika Borg; Jill Black Zalben; Jonathan Lorenzo Yorba; Paul Vandeventer; Crystal Martinez (Senator Feinstein's Legislative Assistant).


During our action-packed visit, we met with staff from the White House Office of Social Innovation as well as Representatives Xavier Becerra, Karen Bass, Ted Lieu, Norma Torres, Diane Feinstein, Louis Capps, and Julia Brownley. Meetings were also held with staffers from the offices of Representatives Mike Honda, Darrel Issa, Adam Schiff, Mimi Walters, Mark Takano, Janice Hahn, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Linda Sanchez, and Barbara Boxer. 


Members of the SCG delegation at the US Supreme Court.


I want to thank the SCG delegation (our largest ever) for their vision, leadership, expertise, and energy—you helped make a strong impression on our policymakers that philanthropy is an important partner for positive change in our communities:

  • Wendy Garen, President & CEO, The Ralph M. Parson Foundation
  • Paul Vandeventer, President & CEO, Community Partners
  • Jonathan Lorenzo Yorba, President & CEO, The Community Foundation of Inland Southern California
  • Jill Black Zalben, Director, The Stanley & Joyce Black Foundation
  • Annette Ricchiazzi, Director of Advancement, Los Angeles Universal Preschool
  • Matthew Sharp, Senior Policy Director, The Goldhirsh Foundation
  • Ellah Ronen, Program Administrator, Annenberg Foundation
  • Erika Borg, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce


I’d also like to thank the SCG Public Policy Advisory Committee for helping to make this trip such a success. With the committee’s leadership, we plan to continue building strong relationships with policymakers. Establishing and strengthening connections between philanthropy and policymakers will continue to be an essential part of SCG's work to leverage and advance the work of our members to better serve California communities. Click here for my memo to the Committee about this year's trip.


In conjunction with our public policy outreach in Washington, DC, we are thrilled to engage SCG members in the policy conversation here in Southern California. Register now for our 2015 Public Policy Conference: Engaging Communities to Amplify Philanthropic Impact, featuring Austin Beutner, Publisher and CEO of The Los Angeles Times, and Hilda Solis, former U.S. Secretary of Labor and newly elected member of the L.A. County Board of Supervisors. We'll learn from regional and statewide experts and explore smart collective impact strategies and innovative partnerships. A breakout session for private/public foundations with Rose Chan and Bill Choi of Rodriguez Horii Choi & Cafferata. Also, a corporate session featuring Ruben Gonzalez, LA Area Chamber of Commerce, will provide space for in-depth conversations among corporate colleagues. Click here for more on conference sessions and to register now!


There is still time to apply for our 2015-2017 Senior Peer-to-Peer Network, which will be led by Fred Ali, President and CEO of the Weingart Foundation. This peer learning professional development program brings together select senior program staff from SCG member organizations to discuss and reflect on topics related to leadership development, organizational dynamics, collaborative philanthropic impact, philanthropy trends, and professional and personal goals. The deadline to apply has been extended to April 20. Please contact SCG Program Manager Kameron Green if you need an additional extension for leadership approval and to complete your application.

I would personally like to ask our CEO/executive level members to consider sending your senior staff through this powerful professional development program. You can contact me if you have any questions about this opportunity and who among your senior team might be a good candidate.


I also want to share some quick updates about other SCG events we've held in recent weeks:

  • SCG members joined a statewide webinar with Chris Hoene of the California Budget & Policy Center to learn about the state budget’s implications and how to advocate for funding priorities to counter poverty and weakened safety net services.
  • In partnership with the Education Funders Group, we held a program on the Local Control Funding Formula and the Local Control and Accountability Plan. Click here for resources.
  • We co-sponsored an event with Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy honoring Joe Lumarda and Debra Nakatomi, recent appointees to The California Wellness Foundation Board of Directors. We applaud TCWF and its efforts to build philanthropic leadership reflective of the needs of California's diverse communities.
  • SCG partnered with The Funders Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities for their Annual Conference to explore how funders can leverage land use policy and practice to achieve positive results for the environment, community, and people.
  • The SCG Foster Care Funders Collaborative met with representatives from the Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services and the Office of Child Protection to review potential projects and discuss areas for future collaboration.
  • SCG members gathered to learn about the President’s Executive Action on Immigration and its Impact on Southern California. Click here for resources and a program recap.
  • We partnered with Echo Parenting and Education for an event on childhood trauma as a public health issue with many implications for how philanthropy can effectively support communities.


To get the latest news about SCG and our region's philanthropy community, please be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Thank you!


Christine Essel
President and CEO
Southern California Grantmakers

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