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Investing in Our Future: How California is Fighting Against Childhood Poverty and What Still Needs to be Done

Tuesday, September 17, 2019 -
10:30am to 12:30pm PDT
James Irvine Foundation
1 Bush Street, Unit 800 | San Francisco, CA
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Despite being one of the most progressive states in the Union, California has the highest childhood poverty rate in Country. In fact 20% of California children live in poverty, impacting almost 2 million children with 450,000 of those children living in deep poverty. Estimates show that when fully realized, savings generated by lifting these children from poverty would total $12 billion annually, on an ongoing basis, representing a dramatic return on investment.

The Governor’s new budget allocates more than $3 billion toward investments called for in the State Lifting Children and Families Out of Poverty Task Force’s End Child Poverty Plan. The Plan addresses issues such as early childhood care & education; health; housing; foster care; safety net and economic programs. What impact will these investments have, how can we leverage them, and what else needs to be done?

Join us to learn:

  • From experts and practitioners from the field
  • How existing policies faring and where are they falling short
  • How new investments adopted in the budget impact childhood poverty and what additional policies are needed to reduce California’s high child poverty rate
  • Where “on the ground” programmatic and policy efforts having the most impact
  • What is still left to be done


Conway Collis, President and CEO, GRACE 

Conway Collis is President and CEO of GRACE (Gather, Respect, Advocate, Change, Engage). Sponsored by the Daughters of Charity, GRACE is dedicated to reducing child poverty in California. He has been a public servant and advocate for social change for more than four decades.

GRACE is the sponsor of Assembly Bill 1520 (Burke), the Lifting Children and Families Out of Poverty Act, signed into law in 2017. AB 1520, the result of five years of work with over 40 organizations and in-depth research with the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality, is a critical first step to reducing child poverty in California.

A graduate of Occidental College and Stanford Law School, Collis has been a live-in counselor for delinquent boys, a Committee Counsel on the U.S. Senate Labor and Public Welfare Committee and domestic policy advisor to U.S. Senator Alan Cranston and an elected Member and Chairman of the California State Board of Equalization, California’s main state tax and revenue agency. While on the Board, he wrote and sponsored the Taxpayers Bill of Rights, tax credits for childcare and the elimination of tax benefits for discriminatory private clubs. He has also served as Chairman of the California State Senate Bipartisan Task Force on Homelessness.

In 2009, on behalf of the Daughters of Charity Health System, he successfully initiated and proposed a state Medi-Cal financing system that has generated over $25 billion for health care for low-income Californians and $5 billion for children’s health care at no cost to patients or state taxpayers.

Collis is also a member of the California State Commission on Children and Families (the state First 5 Commission), and is the founding Board Chair of the National Foster Youth Institute.

Clarissa Doutherd, Executive Director, Parent Voices Oakland

Clarissa Doutherd is the Executive Director of Parent Voices Oakland, an East Bay chapter of Parent Voices California. She comes to the organization with over a decade of experience working for grassroots, non-profit organizations. Clarissa discovered her passion for child care advocacy when she lost a much needed child care subsidy for her then 3 year old son, Xavier. Clarissa has been a strong advocate for mothers like herself who were caught in the crosshairs of ineffective public policy. In addition to supporting Parent Voices Statewide campaigns, she has worked to decrease the number of mothers in Oakland waitlisted for for child care subsidies. As a collaborative movement builder, Clarissa has forged deep partnerships with large local Government agencies including the County Social Services Agency, Public Health, and Behavioral Health Services. After stepping into leadership as the Co-Chair on the Alameda County Early Childhood Policy Committee with First 5 of Alameda County, Clarissa led efforts to refocus the group to become a cross sector collaborative which brings together community based organizations, parents and service providers to advance innovative strategies for County-wide systems change; and works to elevate parent leadership in public policy. Clarissa is the recipient of the prestigious Gloria Steinem "Woman of Vision" award, and currently sits on the steering committee for the Alameda County Early Care and Education Planning Council, the 18th Assembly District Education Advisory Committee, and the Alameda County-Oakland Community Partnership Board for the City of Oakland. Clarissa resides in Oakland, California with Xavier who is now 9 years old. 

Lisa Forti, Director of Policy, Planning and Evaluation, First 5 Alameda County (moderator)

Lisa Forti is the Director of Policy, Planning and Evaluation at First 5 Alameda County where she works with partners and stakeholders to advance First 5’s vision that every child in Alameda County will have optimal health, development and wellbeing to reach his or her greatest potential. Lisa is responsible for facilitating and supporting implementation of the Agency strategic plan, and in partnership with colleagues and stakeholders, developing an agency-wide accountability framework. She also oversees Capacity Building for First 5 staff and partners, providing grants, training, and technical assistance to organizations serving children 0-5.

Prior to First 5, Lisa was the Policy Director at the Alameda County Social Services Agency in Oakland, CA. She oversaw legislative analysis and advocacy, fund development, data analysis, evaluation and research. Lisa played a leadership role in strategic planning, capacity building, data-driven decision-making, and supported other Agency initiatives in partnership with public agencies and CBOs.

Lisa spent years in the non-profit and community development sectors as the Director of Strategy and Innovation at the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation, a nationally-recognized and innovative community developer, and as Program Coordinator at Urban Strategies Council, an anti-poverty organization leveraging research, policy, innovation, collaboration, and advocacy to achieve equity and social justice.

Lisa earned her Master of Science in Social Work at Columbia University where she focused on Public Policy pertaining to poverty and income inequality; she received her Bachelor of Social Work at Wheelock College in Boston and McGill University in Montreal.

Richard Raya, Mission Economic Development Agency

For nearly 20 years, Richard has worked at an executive level to bring community leaders, administrators and elected officials together to improve community outcomes and generate revenue, including as Chief of Staff for an Oakland City Councilmember, Executive Director of Youth Radio, and Director of Administrative Services for Alameda County Public Health Department. He is focused on working closely with MPN partners and using shared data to improve educational results for San Francisco’s children, celebrating and communicating the MPN collaborative’s successes, and fundraising.

Richard’s great-grandparents were Yaquis who came to the Bay Area after fighting in the Mexican Revolution. His parents worked as farmworkers in the fields of Northern California and came of age during the Chicano Movement. Richard earned a B.A. in English and a Master’s in Public Policy from UC Berkeley.

Target Audience

This event is open to nonprofits, members, and nonmember funders. 


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