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President's Recap November 2015

Monday, November 30, 2015

Dear Colleagues,

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday filled with gratitude, family, and friends. With the recent heartbreaking events in Paris and around the world, I'm personally grateful for the opportunity to work together with each of you to make a direct and profound impact on others across the globe. I'm thankful that you and your fellow SCG members are dedicated to making Southern California and the larger world a better place for us all. And here at SCG, we are dedicated to supporting and uplifting your important work. In this season, as in all seasons, we would like to express our gratitude to you as members of the SCG community.

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

  • Garrett Devine 
  • Ashley Lautzenhiser
  • The Ann Peppers Foundation

ANNUAL CONFERENCE RESOURCES - WATCH SESSION VIDEOS NOW!Nearly 500 SCG members and philanthropy leaders attended the  this fall. If you missed it (or just want to relive the experience!), you can now access videos from conference sessions featuring Arnold Chandler, Hedrick Smith, and our many esteemed panelists on our website (accessible to members only). As a reminder, you can also access presentations, view photos on Facebook, and experience the conference through social media on 

This month, SCG member United Way of Greater Los Angeles organized another incredibly successful HomeWalk. Each year, this 5K walk/run in Exposition Park brings awareness and resources to over 44,000 homeless Angelenos who sleep on our streets every night. SCG staff were thrilled to join many of our members on the walk, including participants from more than 20 SCG member organizations! In total, the HomeWalk inspired 12,000 participants, raised more than $1.1 million, engaged 500+ volunteers, and generated more than 1,000 letters signed on-site to urge LA City and County officials to invest in solutions to homelessness during their current planning process.

Pictured left: Dennis Arriola, CEO, SoCalGas; Elise Buik, President and CEO, United Way of Greater Los Angeles; Mark Louchheim, Board Chair, United Way of Greater Los Angeles. Pictured right: John Kobara, Executive Vice President, California Community Foundation and the CCF HomeWalk team.

We'd also like to congratulate SCG member SoCalGas, who was this year's top fundraising team at HomeWalk. SoCalGas CEO Dennis Arriola (who spoke at SCG's 2015 Annual Conference) led the charge as HomeWalk's top individual fundraiser. Way to go, Dennis and the entire team at SoCalGas!

In partnership with Education Funders Group, we recently hosted a discussion with Los Angeles Unified School District Board President Steve Zimmer on the search for a new Superintendent and ways in which philanthropy can support the leadership transition. Under the next superintendent, efforts in the district to improve student achievement and teacher performance will directly impact LA's future social and economic well-being. In a conversation led by Fred Ali, President and CEO of Weingart Foundation, Zimmer shared insights into the search process and the type of candidate the Board seeks for the new Superintendent of the nation's second-largest school system, which currently serves 643,000 students.

Once the new Superintendent is hired, SCG plans to invite him or her to speak to the membership. We look forward to continuing to build a dynamic working relationship between SCG members and LAUSD.

NEW CEO AT FORUM OF REGIONAL ASSOCIATIONS OF GRANTMAKERSSCG is a member of the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers, the nation’s largest philanthropic network, consisting of 33 regional associations who represent more than 5,500 organizations around the country. I'm thrilled to announce that David Biemesderfer has been appointed the Forum's new CEO. Biemesderfer is currently President and CEO of the Florida Philanthropic Network and served as the Forum's immediate past Board Chair. I'd also like to share that I'm co-chairing a committee together with GEO President and CEO, Kathleen Enright, to help the Forum fulfill its new vision to bring together philanthropic infrastructure organizations and national affinity groups for deeper collaboration to better serve our members. In addition, SCG's Director of  Operations and Strategic Initiatives, Karen Freeman, is now serving on the Forum's Board of Directors. We are proud to represent Southern California philanthropy through this national organization.

Here are some quick updates from other SCG events we've held in the last few weeks:

In closing, I'd like to thank all our SCG members and friends for the incredible work you do during this season of hope and gratitude, and all throughout the year. I am also profoundly thankful to the funders whose 2015 operating support grants make our work possible. Please scroll to the end of this email to see the funders who have gone above and beyond to champion SCG's work!


Christine Essel
President and CEO
Southern California Grantmakers