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SCG President's Message - August 2018

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Dear Colleagues,

Last month, I was fortunate to attend the 2018 United Philanthropy Forum Annual Conference (#ForumCon18) in Boston with several hundred of my peers from regional associations and philanthropy-serving organizations from around the world. The Forum Conference brings together the leadership and staff of the organizations working to advance, inform and support the philanthropic sector’s impact on the crucial issues that confront us. Given all of the important developments taking place in the world today, this year’s conference felt incredibly relevant and timely, and delivered the impact at this moment when we needed it most.

What made the conference so outstanding? In my mind, it was a combination of several elements. Of course, I relished the opportunity to learn from and catch up with so many of my peers from across the country who engage in this hard work every day. In addition, the diverse group of speakers assembled at the conference was excellent. I was truly inspired by artist Titus Kaphar (watch his amazing 12-minute TED talk); educated by Richard Rothstein of the Economic Policy Institute (check out his new book, The Color of Law); and moved by the powerful presentation from Grant Oliphant, President of The Heinz Endowments (follow Grant on social media and view a transcript of his speech). In speaking about what courageous philanthropy looks like, Grant gave us too many good quotes to list, but this one in particular stuck with me: "Courageous philanthropy knows that we are not owed hope and are guaranteed no destiny other than the one we create." Truer words about our sector have not been spoken.

Finally, I was very grateful to see the Forum respond vigorously to requests by its members to talk openly and candidly about racial equity in philanthropy and across the country. This work is not just a passing trend. As a sector, we constantly need to look at ourselves in the mirror and make necessary adjustments to improve our work.

On that point, SCG staff and I who attended the Forum Conference were deeply inspired by it and are eager to shed even more light on these issues at our upcoming Annual Conference next month. I am especially excited that SCG’s Tuly Martinez, who served on this year’s Forum Conference Planning Committee, will be leading our own Annual Conference efforts. For more information about our Annual Conference, please see below.

A huge kudos to Tuly and the Forum staff for putting on such a great event. 

Christine Essel
President and CEO
Southern California Grantmakers


Jump To:

Annual Conference Early Bird Discount Ends 8/17

Help Needed on the 2020 Census

SCG News

Program Roundup

Coming Up

Register Today! Annual Conference Early Bird Discount Ends 8/17


Annual Conference Logo


SCG's 2018 Annual Conference, Our Common Humanity, is happening in just a few short weeks! Don’t forget to take advantage of our early bird registration rate as soon as possible to secure your spot. At #SCGAnnualCon18, you'll have access to an incredible variety of leaders and thinkers in sessions covering racial equity, economic inclusion, education, homelessness, trauma, implicit bias in philanthropy, inclusive grantmaking and disability, all structured around three tracks: Advancing Racial Equity, Diversity & Inclusion; Developing Professional Skills; and Engaging in Effective Collaboration & Partnerships.

The draft conference agenda is now available, with more details forthcoming in the next few weeks. We have added new topics and speakers, including:

Sara Goldrick-Rab

Bryant Marks

john powell

Robert K Ross

Edgar Villanueva

 Sara Goldrick-Rab 

Temple University; 
Wisconsin HOPE

Dr. Bryant Marks, Sr. 
National Training
Institute on Race
and Equity; 
Morehouse College

john a. powell
Haas Institute for a
Fair & Inclusive Society; University of California, Berkeley

Dr. Robert Ross

The California Endowment 

Edgar Villanueva
Schott Foundation
for Public Education

We are also excited that the conference will be taking place in a new, state-of-the-art facility at the InterContinental Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. With wifi access and incredible views throughout, this new venue is conducive to learning, networking and being inspired for a full day. If you have not already attended an event there, you are in for a treat.



Join more than 600 of your philanthropic colleagues to hear from thought leaders and many more changemakes in our region!

Special thanks to our Presenting Sponsors: Annenberg Foundation, California Community Foundation, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation. For information about sponsorship opportunities, click here.


Help Needed on the 2020 Census


Philanthropy California, our alliance with Northern California and San Diego Grantmakers, and The League of California Community Foundations have come together with an important request: sign onto our joint letter opposing the inclusion of the citizenship question on the 2020 Census.

Earlier this year, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced that he had directed the Census Bureau to add an untested and unnecessary question to the 2020 Census form, which would ask the citizenship status of every person in America. This decision will result in a serious undercount that will negatively impact our communities and our state.

The Commerce Department has invited the public to comment on the paperwork associated with the 2020 Census. The public has until August 7 to submit comments.

This is one of the few opportunities for philanthropy to make its case that the citizenship question should be removed from the Census questionnaire. Public comment establishes an important record for the public, Congress and the courts to consider. We hope you will sign on to our letter and encourage other funders to do so as well. If you are interested in signing on, please email Karla Mercado at [email protected] no later than Friday, August 3, 2018.

If your organization has not already done so, we also strongly encourage you to submit your own letter. You can use the following sample letter for grantmakers or community foundations that you can personalize. To submit your own letter, go to and click on the button that says “Comment Now.” You can upload your letter or enter your comment directly on the website. Follow the instructions to preview what you post and then accept the submission. All letters and comments must be submitted by August 7, 2018 to count. Please submit copies of your letter to Karla Mercado ([email protected]).

Thank you for your support and your commitment to ensuring a complete count.


SCG News


A few very exciting SCG-related announcements:

Connie Malloy


SCG is pleased to announce that Connie Malloy, Portfolio Director at The James Irvine Foundation, has been elected to our Board of Directors.

Deidre Lind


SCG Board member Deidre Lind has been named President and CEO of the Pfaffinger Foundation, one of the oldest private foundations in Los Angeles. Previously Deidre served as the Founding President of the Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles. Both Pfaffinger and the Mayor’s Fund are SCG members.

Nancy Berglass


Congratulations to Nancy Berglass, SCG's long-time consultant on issues pertaining to veterans, who has been appointed President of the National Veterans Intermediary, a national platform meant to impart shape, strategy and strength to the fragile veterans' ecosystem. Under Nancy's leadership, SCG's Veteran Funders Group has brought significant influence on the recent passage of an LA County Board of Supervisor's motion authorizing the LA Department of Mental Health to play a major leadership role on our local veterans’ landscape. Nancy will continue to guide SCG through our ongoing partnership with the County on this effort, as well as our programming at the intersection of grantmaking and veterans' affairs.

Karen Freeman


S​​​​​CG Chief Operating Officer Karen Freeman has been elected to another term on the United Philanthropy Forum Board of Directors.


On a very bittersweet note, I would like to express my deep gratitude to Charlotte Ahles, who i​​​​s leaving SCG as Director of Statewide Online Technology to work at a cloud solutions consulting firm. Charlotte started working as an intern at SCG over seven years ago, and diligently worked her way up to run technology for SCG and Philanthropy California. She has contributed so much to our organization – more than she will ever know; and while we are sad to lose her, we wish her all the best in her future endeavors.

Program Roundup


  • On July 12, members of the LA Arts Funders group took a private hard-hat tour of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures construction site. Opening in 2019, the Academy Museum will celebrate the art and science of movies—past, present and future. Its exhibitions and programs will convey the magic of cinema and offer a glimpse behind the screen, illuminating the creative and collaborative process of filmmaking.

Dianne Debicella, Community Partners; Nwaka Onwusa, The Grammy Museum Foundation;
Shawn Kravich, John N. Calley Foundation; Morgan Bennett, Southern California Grantmakers

  • On July 12, SCG's Corporate Leadership Council (CLC) met to discuss issues affecting our corporate giving members and plan future programs and events. We are pleased to introduce two new leaders of the CLC: Raul Bustillos, Bank of America Foundation, and Mary-Elizabeth Michaels, Warner Brothers Entertainment, Inc. See below for details about our next Corporate Summer Reception on August 29. For more information about the CLC or SCG's corporate giving area, please contact Dave Sheldon.
  • Kudos to SCG member and Moss Adams Senior Tax Manager Lauren Haverlock for facilitating a great Form 990: Beyond The Basics program last month. This presentation and discussion showed how to look at the Form 990 through the eyes of funders and supporters interested in the story of an organization’s return. And I want to send a special thank you to SCG Board Member and Moss Adams LLP Partner Melissa Harman for her continued support of these financial training programs.
  • At the Youth Health Outcomes through School-Based Substance Use Intervention and Prevention, we engaged funders in a discussions about their in interest in and/or strategies for improving school health services through the inclusion of substance use and mental health prevention and early intervention services. Speakers helped attendees identify effective youth engagement strategies (such as screening, brief intervention and referral for treatment) and discussed promising and best practices that can be widely disseminated.


Coming Up


We hope to see you at these upcoming events:



A Livestream Experience in Tijuana - The ‘Flip Side’ of Family Separation: What Happens to Migrants and Deportees in Mexico?

Join Philanthropy California and the International Community Foundation to hear from individuals and organizations supporting deportees and migrants in Tijuana, B.C., Mexico through their challenging first days, months and even years. Read More


A Humanitarian Crisis: The Harsh New Realities Facing Refugees and Asylum Seekers

At this program, we will discuss how the systems and infrastructure that support and protect the most vulnerable immigrants have been gravely damaged, and learn how this development impacts local communities in California, what leaders are doing to respond and how philanthropy can engage. Read More


Celebrating Biddy Mason

Join leaders from our Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation – Los Angeles program as we commemorate the 200th birthday of Bridget “Biddy” Mason, a former slave, nurse/midwife, entrepreneur, humanitarian and founder of Los Angeles's first African-American congregation. On August 15, we will lay a wreath at her headstone at Evergreen Cemetery. On August 18, we are gathering at Biddy Mason Park in downtown Los Angeles. Read More


Save the Date! New Platforms for Shaping the Latinx Narrative

Join Southern California Latinxs in Philanthropy, The Walt Disney Company, Hispanics in Philanthropy and Southern California Grantmakers to discuss how Hollywood can use storytelling through movies like Coco to change the narrative on Latinx culture. Read More


2018 Corporate Summer Reception

Join us for our annual Corporate Summer Reception at the Checkers Hotel rooftop lounge. This event is a great opportunity to catch up with peers in the corporate giving and corporate social responsibility space. Read More


New Research: Californians Working in Poverty and the Implications for our State

Join us to discuss the findings from the new Public Religion Research Institute's (PRRI) survey of working Californians who are struggling with poverty, led by PRRI's CEO Dr. Robert Jones. Read More