On November 4th, after not meeting in person for two and a half years due to the global pandemic, the Los Angeles Funders’ Collaborative met in person at The California Endowment. It reaffirmed for me the value of meeting in person and what can happen when folks have the time to connect, reflect and strategize.
Like Smart Growth California’s recent Climate Funders Collaborative (Baja/Imperial/San Diego region) that took place last month, we held the entire meeting outside, one of the perks of a fall day in Southern California. We met in the peaceful courtyard of The California Endowment, a place that in many ways operates like a public square for the social and philanthropic sectors in Southern California.
I always love going to the TCE campus and was so happy to return! It’s a meaningful site to me personally because it’s actually where I met my wife way back in 2009, which now that we have three children, feels like a long time ago! It’s also a place where I presented numerous trainings over the years at the Center for Nonprofit Management, facilitated multiple gatherings for both the Los Angeles Funders Collaborative and Southern California Grantmakers Environmental Funders Group, along with numerous nonprofits over the years like the Green LA Coalition and Los Angeles Food Policy Council. Needless to say, it filled me with great joy to be back in that place with people who I’ve worked closely with over the years.
Under the shade of trees and adjacent to the water feature, we started the day off with some check-ins and then walked over to the recently renamed Dr. Beatriz Solis Conference Room, which includes a larger-than-life painting celebrating her life and legacy. We shared stories of her leadership cofounding this philanthropic table, which rooted us in racial equity. Hearing stories of how Bea influenced folks in the group moved me, and help create a broader narrative about centering community leadership and voice in the work to equitably implement progressive policies and funding streams in the region.
Given the challenges of the last 2 ½ years, I asked folks to share a person, organization, or place in the region that grounds them and we then mapped that out in the courtyard, which was great to see. After an informal lunch, we explored options for how we want to move forward as a group in the next year.
We also confirmed our newest co-chair, Lisa Craypo, who serves The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation. I’m excited to work with her and our other co-chair, John Guevarra from First 5 LA. Funders also got to meet for the first time our newest Smart Growth California team member, Kriselda Bautista, who lives in Southern California and played a leadership role in the logistics for the day’s event, which also included an informal happy hour that folks lingered at in conversation with each other for a long time.
If you’d like to join this group of funders, please contact me.