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Collaboration Gone Right: 9 Funders and 69 Nonprofits Make Regional Change Work

Thursday, June 8, 2017 -
11:00am to 1:30pm PDT
Northern California Grantmakers
160 Spear Street, Suite 360, San Francisco, CA 94105
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PLEASE NOTE: NCG's office at 160 Spear Street can currently only be accessed through the entrance on the Main Street side of the building. The Spear Street entrance is temporarily closed for construction.

For far too long, communities across the San Joaquin Valley haven’t had access to the same opportunities that make California golden for other regions.  Inspired directly by the voices of San Joaquin Valley Health Fund partners, over 1000 San Joaquin Valley residents came to the capital to advocate for a shared policy agenda that’s an all-in approach for racial and health equity on some of the most pressing issues facing the Valley. They showed the power of funder and community collaborations with their call for “a Golden State for All.”

Foundations often extol the virtues of collaboration but it can be difficult to conceptualize, manage, and execute. Intuitively, we know we would have greater success by working together than working alone, but finding models that we can learn from and replicate can be challenging. The San Joaquin Valley Health Fund offers a blueprint for how to engage a variety of funders and partners from multiple sectors to address complex, systemic issues and work cooperatively to improve outcomes for a region.

Nine foundations with a wide range of focus areas along with dozens of nonprofits have come together to improve health outcomes and equity in the nine counties that make up this important region- Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Tulare. This key region of California provides much of the country’s produce and generates $8.1 billion in crops but has childhood poverty almost double the state average. It’s an area that has great importance to the State but suffers from food insecurity, pesticide exposure, unsafe drinking water, domestic violence, and other barriers to a healthy, sustainable community.

The collaborative works to improve health in the region through policy and systems change on issues - from access to safe drinking water to education, climate change, immigrant integration, reproductive rights, and access to care. This collaborative is unique because it recognizes that a multipronged approach that recognizes  community leadership and promotes community mobilization to insure a healthy future for a region whose communities have long been marginalized and lack political power.

The program offers a case study of the Fund and how its experiences can be applied more broadly. The program will examine the issues of the region, how the collaborative and fund was developed, the challenges of bringing together so many partners under one big tent, lessons learned, outcomes for the region, and opportunities for further collaboration.

Lunch will be served at this program.  

Target Audience

This program is open to NCG members and non-member funders.  


  • Chet Hewitt, President & CEO, Sierra Health Foundation
  • Ellen Braff-Guajardo, Program Officer, W.K. Kellogg Foundation
  • Carolyn Wang Kong, Program Officer, Health Care and Coverage, Blue Shield of California Foundation
  • Sabina González-Eraña, Program Manager, Fresno Building Healthy Communities, The California Endowment
  • Pablo Bravo, Vice President, Community Health at Dignity Health
  • Vanessa Rancano, Central Valley Reporter, The California Report, KQED
  • Sasha Khokha, Host, The California Report Magazine, KQED   (Moderator)

Speaker Bios 

Ellen Braff-Guajardo is a program officer at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek, Michigan. As part of the Food, Health & Well-Being team, she provides leadership and oversight for on-the-ground execution of programming efforts by evaluating grant proposals, conducting background research, preparation of funding documents, grant monitoring, driving community connections and providing grantee customer service. Previously, Braff-Guajardo was the senior nutrition policy expert at California Food Policy Advocates (CFPA) in Oakland, Calif., where she engaged in legislative and policy work to increase access to healthy, affordable food with an emphasis on child nutrition programs.   She has also worked at the California Endowment (TCE) as a program officer on the Building Healthy Community/Elimination of Health Disparities team. Prior to TCE, Braff-Guajardo worked at California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. (CRLA) as a directing attorney and CRLA’s statewide Agricultural Worker Health Project Director. Braff-Guajardo earned her juris doctorate and master’s in Education from the University of California—Los Angeles and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from UC—Berkeley.  

Pablo Bravo is Vice President, Community Health at Dignity Health. He manages an $80 million portfolio of community development investments as well as a $4 million grants program. Prior to his time at Dignity Health, Mr. Bravo was the Fiscal Director for Baker Places in San Francisco, and the City and County of San Francisco Department of Mental Health Children Services and Managed Care.




Sabina González-Eraña joined the California Endowment in October 2014 as Program Manager for The Endowment’s Fresno site. Prior to joining The Endowment, González-Eraña served as the Central Valley Regional Director for the Communities for a New California Education Fund in Fresno. González-Eraña has held a variety of positions at various organizations in Fresno, including serving as the Community Building Specialist for the Central California Regional Obesity Prevention Program, as a Political Organizer/Rep for SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West, and as a Health Advocate for the Fresno Health Consumer Center. González-Eraña serves as a Steering Committee Member for Californians for Pesticide Reform, and as a Coordinating Committee Member for California Calls. González-Eraña, a resident of Fresno, earned her B.A in Film & Digital Media and Community Studies from the University of Santa Cruz.

Chet P. Hewitt is President and CEO of Sierra Health Foundation and The Center, a nonprofit intermediary he founded in 2012. Since beginning his tenure at the foundation in 2007, Chet has worked with the foundation’s board of directors to craft a bold collective impact strategy focused on achieving health equity in underserved communities and improving the well-being of vulnerable child and youth populations. Known for his collaborative leadership style and willingness to take thoughtful risk, Chet has been recognized for deepening the foundation’s connection to local communities and nonprofits while expanding its influence in California and nationally. Prior to joining the foundation, Chet served for five years as the Agency Director of Alameda County’s Social Services Agency and a year as its director of child welfare. During his time in Alameda County, he was known as the “Peoples Director” for his commitment to providing accessible and dignified service to those in need. Before his appointment in Alameda County, Chet served as Associate Director for the Rockefeller Foundation in New York and director at the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice in San Francisco. Chet has received numerous awards for his work including an Annie E. Casey Foundation Child and Family Leaders Fellowship, Congressman Robert T. Matsui Community Service Award, Grantland Johnson Intergovernmental Cooperation Award, and the Urban League President’s Award. Most recently, Chet founded the San Joaquin Valley Health Fund, a partnership of state and national foundations investing to improve health outcomes in California’s Central Valley, and co-chairs the California Executives’ Alliance, a statewide consortium of foundations working to improve the life chances of boys and young men of color. Chet serves on several boards, including Roberts Enterprise Development Fund, Public Policy Institute of California, Advance Peace, Sacramento Steps Forward, Valley Vision and Saint John’s Program for Real Change.

Sasha Khokha is the host of The California Report  weekly magazine program, which takes listeners on sound-rich radio excursions around the Golden State. As The California Report's Central Valley Bureau Chief for nearly a dozen years, Sasha brought the lives and concerns of rural Californians to listeners around the state. Sasha's reporting helped exposed the hidden price immigrant women janitors and farmworkers may pay to keep their jobs: sexual assault at work -- and helped change California law with regard to sexual harassment of farmworkers.  She's won a national PRNDI award for investigative reporting, as well as multiple prizes from the Radio Television News Directors Association and the Society for Professional Journalists. She began her radio career in waterproof overalls, filing stories about the salmon fishery at Raven Radio in Sitka, AK. She has produced and reported for several documentary films. Calcutta Calling, about children adopted from India to Swedish-Lutheran Minnesota, was nominated for an Emmy Award. Sasha is  a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and Brown University, and is the mother of two young children. 

Carolyn Wang Kong is a program officer for the Foundation’s Health Care and Coverage program.  In this role, she supports the Foundation’s grantmaking and programmatic efforts to improve access to care for vulnerable populations and strengthen systems of care in California’s safety net.   

Most recently, Ms. Wang Kong was the project director for Medi-Cal strategy and operations at Kaiser Permanente in Northern California. She has also served as practice leader of language access for Kaiser Permanente and was responsible for developing a strategy to meet the needs of 350,000 limited-English-speaking Medi-Cal members in Northern California. Her accomplishments include the deployment of video interpreting services in 21 hospitals and emergency departments, implementation of a document-translation service, and development of web-based training programs for clinical and non-clinical staff.  Earlier in her career, Ms. Wang Kong served as a cultural and linguistic services consultant at the Alameda Alliance for Health and led research on cultural and linguistic services at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.  She has also served as a board member and co-chair of the Finance Committee for the California Healthcare Interpreting Association. 

Ms. Wang Kong holds a Master of Public Health and Master of Public Policy from UC Berkeley and a Bachelor of Science from UCLA.  She is also an alumna of the Coro Fellows program in Public Affairs. Ms. Wang Kong lives in the Bay Area with her husband and two young, active boys.  

Vanessa Rancano is the Central Valley reporter for The California Report. Before joining KQED she was an NPR Kroc Fellow and a California Endowment Fellow with Latino USA. She's a graduate of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.