Donor Spotlight: Gene and Suzanne Valla

1.5 min read. Gene and Suzanne Valla have been making a difference in Sonoma County for over 40 years.

For well over a decade, the Vallas, who have made their home in Dry Creek Valley since 1981, have been active supporters of local nonprofits serving Sonoma County. It was through their association with the Community Foundation Sonoma County that the Vallas came to learn of the Healthcare Foundation, and the Valla Family Foundation soon became one of our Healthcare Hero sustaining donors to the work of eliminating health inequities in northern Sonoma County.

The Vallas remain particularly enthusiastic about the Healthcare Foundation’s MHTP program, as they stressed in a recent conversation.

“The need for mental health services is critical. That’s why the Healthcare Foundation’s focus on Health Education and Professional Development is so important to us,” they said. “And the Mental Health Talent Pipeline Project, providing scholarships to bilingual and bicultural students, is a foundational program.”

Gene and Suzanne have closely followed, and supported, the continuing evolution of the MHTP program, which was launched as a pilot project in 2018 and has since expanded to full-tuition scholarships for graduate students pursuing their master’s in counseling psychology at USF Santa Rosa with a commitment to serving local Spanish-speaking communities. 

MHTP has awarded 21 scholarships to date and, more recently, has secured several otherwise scarce or nonexistent paid traineeships locally for students serving clients in their final pre-licensure practicum year.

“The program’s support for paid traineeships in Sonoma County is pivotal in developing licensed bilingual and bicultural healthcare professionals right here in northern Sonoma County,” agree Gene and Suzanne. “Growing this program is paramount in our minds.”

The Vallas have been among those key donors helping to realize MHTP’s two-fold strategy of addressing the region’s dearth of mental health services for Latinx residents through support of local aspiring bilingual/bicultural clinicians. 

The Healthcare Foundation thanks Gene and Suzanne Valla for their staunch support of MHTP and for all they do for the health and wellbeing of our region. When it comes to northern Sonoma County’s greatest assets, we concur with the Vallas that, in addition to the great beauty of the environment, “The strengths are in its residents.” 

Given the increasing challenges facing our region’s underserved communities, including the need for accessible quality mental health services, the Vallas add, “We hope that many will join us in addressing those needs.”

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