The Board of Directors of The California Wellness Foundation (Cal Wellness) has elected Elizabeth (Liz) M. Gomez as chair and M. Isabel Becerra as vice chair.
Gomez (pictured) is the executive director of Sober College LLC, a private drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility for young adults. Becerra is the chief executive officer of the Coalition of Orange County Community Health Centers. Both will serve in their new roles through December 2016.
"Both Liz and Isabel are extremely dedicated health leaders who have been on the frontlines in promoting access, equity and advocacy for underserved communities. They bring that deep commitment to the Board," said Cal Wellness President and CEO Judy Belk. "I'm looking forward to their leadership, wisdom and support as we work together in advancing wellness for all Californians."
Gomez, a member of Cal Wellness' Board since 2005, served as Board chair from January 2009 to December 2010. In addition to serving as Sober College's executive director, she is a consultant for youth programs across the country, providing technical assistance and expertise on the operation of nonprofit organizations; shelter, transitional living and independent living programs; and programs providing services for youth. Previously, Gomez was the executive director of Los Angeles Youth Network, a position she held for 17 years. Her full biography can be found here.
Gomez looks forward to continuing to work with the Board as chair.
"Joining the Board was an honor and privilege for me," Gomez said. "I have always admired how Cal Wellness honors and respects the grantees, the experts in the field working with the population directly, and how they invite that expertise back to the Foundation."
Becerra joined the Board in January 2009. She has more than 18 years of experience in program planning, operations, health policy and development activities for community health centers and private clinics in San Diego, Seattle and Orange County. In 2000, Becerra joined the Coalition of Orange County Community Health Centers, a consortium of safety net partners providing quality health care services for underserved communities. Throughout her career, Becerra has advocated for health care access for the uninsured and underserved. Becerra's full biography can be found here.
"With the Advancing Wellness grantmaking program, we are getting at the root causes of the issues that our target populations deal with," Becerra said. "I think we are going to make great strides, changes and great positive health outcomes and impacts. I'm proud to be part of the leadership team that will make that difference."
Outgoing Board chair, Eugene (Gene) Washington, M.D., stepped down after accepting a new position as Duke University's chancellor for health affairs and as the president and chief executive officer of the Duke University Health System in Durham, North Carolina. He served eight years on Cal Wellness' board and is the former dean of the David Geffen School of Medicine and former vice chancellor of health sciences at UCLA. Gomez expressed the Board's gratitude for his contributions to Cal Wellness.
"Gene's extraordinary leadership during our strategic planning was instrumental in guiding the Foundation to this exciting point in our philanthropic journey," Gomez said. "We are thankful for his service to the Foundation and congratulate him on his next venture at Duke."
The California Wellness Foundation is a private independent foundation created in 1992 with a mission to improve the health of the people of California by making grants for health promotion, wellness education and disease prevention.
Cal Wellness' Advancing Wellness grants program is designed to promote equity through advocacy and access. The grantmaking focuses on three interconnected portfolios: Bridging the Gaps in Access and Quality Care; Promoting Healthy and Safe Neighborhoods; and Expanding Education and Employment Pathways. The program also includes the Opportunity Fund to support innovation in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors.
Since its founding, Cal Wellness has awarded 7,690 grants totaling more than $912 million.