Abogando Juntos | Advocate Together

This month, we're giving you the details on the Feb 29 Nonprofit Advocacy 101 workshop. We also check in with Healthcare Hero Isoke Femi and Development Director Mary Ott.

Kim Bender

Dear Friends,

A few weeks ago, on February 29, the Healthcare Foundation co-sponsored Nonprofit Advocacy 101, a free workshop held at Santa Rosa Junior College for local nonprofit leaders seeking greater roles and collaboration in advancing bolder advocacy initiatives on behalf of the communities they serve. I’m pleased to report that the workshop was a great success. 

If you were not able to join us for this sold-out event, we offer below a report highlighting insights from some of our amazing speakers and participants, as well as some vital resources.

And for everyone interested in leveraging our collective voices for systemic changes toward greater equity and justice in Sonoma County, stay tuned for future advocacy convenings and opportunities to align and build power toward the greater good.

Also in this month’s newsletter, we offer another in our series of inspiring conversations with our generous donors. I’m thrilled to say that this latest conversation is with my dear friend Isoke Femi, a long-time Santa Rosa resident and, until her recent retirement, a moving force in the Center for Social Justice at GLIDE Foundation, where we worked together for several years.

Finally, this month we speak with my wonderful colleague Mary Ott, the Healthcare Foundation’s indefatigable development director, who shares her unique perspective on the community-building at the heart of our mission.

As I hope this month’s offerings underscore, the success of the work we do at Healthcare Foundation is owed to the way its mission and values are lived each day through the personalities and relationships that make up a truly community-based approach. 

In fact, that is a major reason for this newsletter every month, whether we are sharing the voices and perspectives of our remarkable Board and staff, our diverse and compassionate supporters, or the extraordinary grantees, colleagues and community partners we work with across our region and county: Our work succeeds best when we appreciate the remarkable community that we are, and all that we can accomplish when we stand up for each other and advocate together.

With gratitude,

Kim Bender
Executive Director

Donor Spotlight: A Conversation with Isoke Femi

Isoke Femi

Isoke Femi and her wife Anne have lived in Santa Rosa since 1998. They had enjoyed living in other parts of the North Bay before that, but Santa Rosa felt most like home, according to Isoke. “It’s a growing community,” she says of Santa Rosa today. “It was smaller when we got here; it had a little more of a hometown feeling to it. But even now, Santa Rosa has a vibration to it that is accepting, there’s a lot of diversity here.”

Isoke recently retired from GLIDE Foundation in San Francisco, where she worked for many years as the Maven of Transformative Learning in the storied nonprofit’s Center for Social Justice. In that role, Isoke shaped programs and facilitated discussions among staff and community members that sought opportunities for understanding and empathy across the categories that tend to divide people. 

One of the larger programs she worked on at GLIDE was a yearly trip to Alabama with staff and  community members, including members of the UCSF Medical School faculty and administration, to learn from and dialogue with counterparts and colleagues at the intersection of racial, social and health justice. The annual Alabama Pilgrimage has to date, according to Isoke, included a total of about 30 UCSF healthcare professionals and staff since the program began in 2018.

Isoke and Anne have been supporters of the Healthcare Foundation since 2021. We recently spoke with Isoke about why she chooses to support the Healthcare Foundation and what health equity means to her.

What makes you want to support the Healthcare Foundation?

In all honesty, when we looked at our financial picture, we realized that we’re not giving enough. We decided that this year we’re going to amp up our giving. When we were younger we’d been on the receiving end of help, so we realized we don’t even know how to think about this! So we have an organization that’s helping us with our financial planning. I think it was Kim [Bender] who made me think of the Healthcare Foundation.

Full Article (2 min read)

Nonprofit Advocacy 101 Workshop: Bolder Advocacy for Sonoma County Leaders

Amy Holter of Community Foundation Sonoma County, Kim Bender of the Healthcare Foundation, J. Mullineaux of the SRJC Foundation, and Stephanie Martinez of the Peter E. Haas Jr. Family Fund at the Bolder Advocacy 101 workshop on Feb 29, 2024

Many nonprofit executives and boards believe that advocacy, especially lobbying, are off limits for nonprofit organizations. And yet all of us in this space, including our donors, our grantees and the people we all serve, want to see us investing in lasting solutions to social issues, instead of continually putting bandaids on problems that never seem to change. We see that what is necessary is systemic, large-scale policy changes that require everything from grassroots organizing to lobbying our legislators. But is it appropriate and legal for nonprofits to engage in these activities? Turns out many of us already are engaging in various forms of advocacy, and there’s a lot more we can legally do as nonprofits.

To find out exactly what we can and can’t do, the Healthcare Foundation participated in 2023 in a six-month Building Power Cohort hosted by Northern California Grantmakers. One goal we articulated—in our smaller cohort with the San Francisco Foundation, facilitated by an executive at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation—was to present a free workshop for Sonoma County nonprofits, to share what we were learning about how to safely advocate for change while staying within IRS guidelines.

We accomplished that goal last month when the Healthcare Foundation, along with the Community Foundation Sonoma County, Peter E. Haas Jr. Family Fund, and the SRJC Foundation, co-hosted the Nonprofit Advocacy 101 workshop for 75 local leaders. After a stirring keynote speech by Henry A.J. Ramos, Senior Fellow at the Institute for Race, Power and Political Economy at The New School, our colleagues at Bolder Advocacy, a program of Alliance for Justice, led the training for a very full room of engaged participants who were all Sonoma County–based nonprofit CEOs, EDs, and Board Chairs.

As Henry said in his opening remarks, “Today’s nonprofit leaders must come together as never before to create new conditions and opportunities for a more inclusive economy and a better way forward for all.… Democracy is not a spectator sport. In order to work, it requires activism, organizing, and collective action.”

Following the training, Bolder Advocacy moderated a panel with Karym Sanchez, ED of North Bay Organizing Project, and Cynthia King, CEO of CAP Sonoma, who shared their approaches to advocacy at their nonprofits, including some wins and some challenges. At the end of the day, participants broke out into small groups to discuss where they are in their advocacy journey, what they have learned, and a concrete step they could take over the next 30 days to further the use of advocacy at their organization.

Full Article (3 min read)

Staff Profile: A Conversation with Development Director Mary Ott

Mary Ott

Mary Ott joined the Healthcare Foundation in 2020. Today, as its Development Director, she is responsible for building relationships that support the work of the organization. This includes not only creating and managing the necessary fundraising campaigns but engaging and collaborating with donors, sponsors, Board members, and the full range of community partners who make the pursuit of health equity a tangible reality. 

Significantly, Mary is also responsible for managing the organization’s various community events, including the annual Wetzel Awards and the annual Noche de Amor community celebration and fundraiser. 

“Our goal this year is to raise the majority of funds prior to the event,” she says of 2024’s Noche de Amor, which will take place on June 8, “so that guests can truly enjoy their time together, mix and mingle with friends, and make new friends — not to mention the good food, locally sourced wine, and fantastic live entertainment!”

Full Article (3 min read)

Sponsorships Available Here

Check out our Noche de Amor 2023 photo gallery here!

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