Rajni Dronamraju is the Senior Manager, Charitable Giving at Genentech. Rajni told us about her passion project, and why she's interested in learning from her funder peers in our community.
Tell us what you do in your work.
I’m leading our company’s latest signature charitable giving program, called The Resilience Effect, to address a major public health issue. For more than 40 years, our company has pursued groundbreaking science to improve the lives of people facing serious and life-threatening diseases. We were inspired to embark on this new initiative by the growing scientific evidence linking childhood trauma and long-term chronic illnesses. The Resilience Effect is focused on supporting the best minds to find ways to prevent and heal the effects of childhood adversity in our local community. We’re trying to intervene for young children at a point when we can change the trajectory of their lives.
How’d you get started in this work?
I’ve always been passionate about social issues, and I’ve done a lot of work advising companies and foundations on their philanthropic strategies, mainly in global health. I wanted to be more engaged with my own local community, so I was excited when the opportunity came up to develop a Bay Area program to address childhood trauma, such as abuse, neglect, witnessing violence, and living in extreme poverty. It was easy to see at the outset that this is one of those issues that everyone should care about. The potential to work alongside some of the most passionate and experienced leaders in this field is particularly exciting for me.
What keeps your company interested in this work?
Our approach to giving is similar to the how we develop our medicines – identify an unmet need, explore the underlying issues, and follow the science to find innovative solutions. We know it isn’t an easy or clear path, but we’re in it for the long haul. Since childhood adversity is such a complex issue, we expect this to be a long-term commitment, with discoveries and setbacks along the way. Our employees can bring a variety of unique skills to the table to help solve this problem, which is one reason why our senior leadership is excited about the initiative.
What’s next on your agenda (workwise)?
We’re looking for specific ways that our employees can be personally engaged in this initiative, especially those with helpful expertise, like in basic science, evaluation design, or communications. We’re also interested in ways we can learn alongside other funders in the Bay Area. If we’re successful at a local level, then the hope is that we can scale up and make an even bigger impact for children nationwide.
What can you imagine in 5 years if the Resilience Effect is successful?
I’d like to see widespread recognition of childhood adversity as a serious public health problem. I’d like to see primary care providers seamlessly integrating approaches to preventing, screening, and addressing the effects of trauma in clinical settings, while shifting the cultures of their organizations to be more trauma-informed. I’d hope to see clearer ways to measure the impact of toxic stress on the developing brains and bodies of children, so that we know if specific solutions are working or not. I hope to see greater collaboration and smart partnership among the many sectors working to improve outcomes for young kids.
Do you have questions for Rajni or ideas for collaboration? You can contact her at:
LinkedIn: Rajni Dronamraju