The California Wellness Foundation has two new appointments: Rochelle Witharana as its new Chief Financial Officer, and Amber López Gamble as Director of Grants Management. Congratulations on your new roles! Read more about each appointment below.
Amber López Gamble is the director of grants management at The California Wellness Foundation. She is responsible for ensuring that the grantmaking process serves grantees and potential grantees with the highest quality and for organizing data for the Foundation to evaluate and track progress toward its mission.
She joined Cal Wellness in September 2007 and has been a valuable team member as a program assistant, an executive assistant and a project manager until becoming grants manager in September 2016. Prior to joining Cal Wellness, López Gamble served at Four Bands Community Fund on the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation in South Dakota, developing and teaching a course in entrepreneurship, as well as assisting small-business owners. She also worked as a program manager at the California Institute for Rural Studies.
López Gamble is a member of the Southern California Grantmakers Emerging Leader Peer-to-Peer Network, and Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy, Los Angeles Chapter. She recently completed a certificate in project management from UCLA Extension, earned a bachelor’s degree in [international] development and cultural change from the University of the Pacific and studied abroad at international universities, including the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa.
Rochelle Witharana has been named Chief Financial Officer of The California Wellness Foundation after serving as the foundation’s controller since 2015. She will continue to be based at the foundation’s Los Angeles headquarters. Witharana succeeds Margaret W. “Peggy” Minnich who retired earlier this month, after leading finance and investment functions at Cal Wellness for 27 years.
“I am thrilled to have Rochelle as my partner in managing the financial resources we need to support our mission and the communities we serve,” said Judy Belk, Cal Wellness President and CEO. “During the past four years, Rochelle has played a critical role in re-engineering our internal financial systems and driving our impact investing strategy. She’s a values-driven leader who will be a tremendous asset to both the board and me.”
“I am honored to have the opportunity to steward the assets, culture and mission of the foundation to best serve our community while expanding our mission-related investment strategy and promoting diverse asset managers,” said Rochelle Witharana. “Under Judy Belk’s leadership, Cal Wellness is working to change the landscape of philanthropy, and I am looking forward to helping to lead the effort.”
As CFO, Witharana will oversee the foundation’s entire financial and fiscal activities including managing a nearly $1 billion endowment and a $50 million mission related investment portfolio. She will report to the CEO and be a member of the foundation’s executive management team.
Witharana comes to the position with a deep and exceptional track record in the philanthropic, nonprofit and business sectors. Prior to joining Cal Wellness, she served as accounting manager for the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and was previously controller for the Arizona State Retirement System’s $30 billion fund, where she directed all areas of accounting as well as contributions and pension payroll of over $2 billion per year. A Certified Public Accountant, Witharana holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration and accounting from California State University, Northridge. In 2016 she was selected by the Council on Foundations as one of 24 national philanthropic leaders to participate in the Career Pathways Leadership Program.
She serves on the boards of Peace Over Violence, a Los Angeles-based organization dedicated to eliminating all forms of interpersonal violence. She also serves on the advisory board for the Clarendon Foundation, an organization that supports orphanages and disadvantaged individuals in Sri Lanka; is a past board member of Asian Pacific Women’s Center and is a member of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy.