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The Dramatic Discovery of Solano County: How One Bay Area County Fell Off the Funder Map and What We Can Do About It!

Friday, September 30, 2016 -
11:00am to 1:00pm PDT
The Zellerbach Family Foundation
575 Market Street, Suite 2950 San Francisco, CA 94105
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Rewind Back to 2006. A report from the Irvine Foundation on Foundation Giving in California found that Solano County received substantially fewer foundation dollars compared to eight other Bay Area counties.

Fast Forward to 2016. Ten years later and according to a recent study, Solano County  continues to receive the least amount of dollars per capita despite having the highest percentage of families living in poverty.

The study points out that between 2006 and 2012, almost half of the grant dollars invested in the Bay Area went to San Francisco‐based agencies, while less than 1% went to agencies located in Solano County.  San Francisco County received almost $1,200 per capita in foundation grants, Alameda and Marin Counties each received over $200 per capita, and Solano County received just $3 per capita.

While potential reasons for this growing discrepancy might include fewer nonprofits, limited foundation presence, and lack of information about who really lives in the county, the gap in giving continues to widen at a time when Solano has a growing population and the highest rate of family poverty in the region. This challenges the ability of an already stressed system to effectively meet the need for critical health and social services

How can this trend be reversed? How can much needed resources get to some of the Bay Area’s neediest communities and families? 

Join Us To:

  • Learn about giving in the County historically and currently
  • Get a better understanding of the population in the County and the challenges they face
  • Participate in a dialogue about how to develop and strengthen partnerships between philanthropy and the nonprofit community


  • Ciara Gonsalves, Program Manager, First 5 Solano Children and Families Commission
  • Michele Harris, Executive Director, First 5 Solano Children and Families Commission
  • Gerald Huber, Director,  Solano County Health and Social Services
  • Jayleen Richards, Public Health Administrator, Solano County Health & Social Services


Ciara Gonsalves, Program Manager, has worked for the First 5 Solano Children and Families Commission since 2012, representing the agency in the health and policy arenas. Ms. Gonsalves brings a diverse skillset to the First 5 Solano team having worked in the nonprofit sector and government. Her past work involves managing healthcare marketing campaigns, managing multiple Community Health Needs Assessments (CHNA), project management, grant-making, internal auditing and preparing for external Federal healthcare audits. In addition, Ms. Gonsalves has conducted many quality improvement projects using LEAN methodology, resulting in improved operations and cost-benefit improvements.

In her current role, Ms. Gonsalves manages the Commission’s Health Portfolio and works to influence legislative policy changes that benefit children and families. Ms. Gonsalves holds both a Bachelors and a Master’s Degree in Health Care Administration.

Michele Harris has served as the Executive Director of First 5 Solano Children and Families Commission since 2014. Michele most recently served as Vice President for the Children’s Nurturing Project (CNP), a local non-profit focusing on early interventions in the areas of children’s mental and behavioral health issues, prenatal services and safety for children. Michele successfully helped CNP refine its vision and strategic plan and was responsible for streamlining agency operations and increasing fund development activities. Prior to her CNP experience, Michele spent 10 years at First 5 Solano as the Deputy Director.  In addition to managing the agency’s multi-million-dollar portfolio she developed the Commission’s Long-Term Financial Plan and established many of the policies and procedures that comprise First 5 Solano’s current healthy infrastructure.  Michele also implemented many of the innovative funding strategies and programs that have fostered an environment of collaboration across service providers to maximize connecting at-risk children and families to resources they need. These programs have contributed to healthier babies and families, children better prepared for school, and enhancing the community’s ability to work together and maximize the use of available resources.

Michele holds a Masters of Public Administration from Golden Gate University and a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Business Administration/Economics from Sonoma State University. Born and raised in Vallejo, Michele and her husband Tom are proudly raising their twin 5-year old boys in Solano County.

Gerald Huber has served as the Solano County Health and Social Services Director since 2014. Mr. Huber, who has been involved with health and human service programs at county, state and federal levels of government for more than 30 years in Minnesota, Wisconsin and New York, oversees a $289 million budget and more than 1,200 employees working in five program services areas in 22 offices throughout Solano County. Before joining Solano County, Mr. Huber worked to help transform the Medicaid program in New York as Deputy Commissioner for the Office of the People with Developmental Disabilities.  He has been honored by the Commissioner of Health and Human Services for outstanding contributions in the prevention of child abuse and neglect, received lifetime achievement awards for accomplishments in the non-profit sector and crafted welfare reform programs that have shaped national policy.

Mr. Huber holds master’s degrees in public administration, social work and human services administration, and public health administration; and a bachelor’s degree in behavioral science.  He has been married to his wife Debbie for 34 years and has two children, Dianna and Dan.

Jayleen Richards is the Public Health Administrator for Solano County Health & Social Services where she has worked since 2004. Ms. Richards started as a manager in the Maternal, Child & Adolescent Health Bureau overseeing perinatal programs and was the Comprehensive Perinatal Services Program Coordinator for Solano County. In 2008, Ms. Richards was promoted to a Senior Health Services Manager in the Mental Health Division and was the Mental Health Services Act Coordinator.

Prior to working for Solano County Health & Social Services, Ms. Richards was with Children Now for nine years—a leading state and national advocacy organization focused on improving the lives of children and families. Ms. Richards was the co-author of California Report Card and other related publications. She worked on the 100% Campaign: Health Insurance for Every California Child and focused on strategies to streamline low-income children’s access to health insurance. Immediately following graduation from University of California at Davis with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and English, Ms. Richards taught elementary school. Ms. Richards has a Master of Public Administration/Health Services Administration from the University of San Francisco.


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