The Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs (PBI) at Cal State L.A. honored California Community Foundation President and CEO Antonia Hernández with its 2020 Award for Philanthropic Leadership.
The award was presented during a webinar, entitled “2020: A Call to Action,” sponsored by PBI.
Hernández took part in a vibrant discussion about the crisis in communities across the region and what can be done to create a better future. She was joined by Fred Ali, president and CEO of the Weingart Foundation, and Dr. Robert K. Ross, president and CEO of The California Endowment.
The event was moderated by Raphael J. Sonenshein, executive director for PBI.
“Under Antonia’s creative and committed leadership, the California Community Foundation has become a deeply impactful changemaker in our region, expanding beyond grantmaking to civic engagement and public policy,” Sonenshein said, citing Hernández’s lifetime of public service and dedication to creating a more just and equitable society.
A Pasadena resident, Hernández has spent more than four decades championing social justice as a civil rights attorney and philanthropist. Prior to the California Community Foundation, she served as president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), a national civil rights organization.
“Change is within our power but we have to do the hard work. It’s not easy. It’s hard. You have to engage. You have to vote. You have to be civically minded. You have to participate in the census. Change is what we do every day and it’s cumulative,” Hernández said. “I would say to all folks, please do the hard work. It’s not somebody else’s issue or somebody else’s problem. We are the solution, and if we are not the solution, we’re the problem.”
In 2019, Cal State LA awarded Hernández an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.
During the June 30 webinar, the three philanthropic leaders discussed personal experiences that launched them on their respective career paths. They also addressed the role of philanthropic organizations in seeking equity and social justice, as well as the importance of collaboration between government and the private sector.
Ali stressed the importance of speaking out against injustices and advancing the cause for social, economic and racial equality. “That’s our obligation,” he said, “and we need to take advantage of it.”
Added Ross: “We are going to have to challenge one another to step up our games in this very transformative and powerful moment. … The more we invest in advocacy, activism voice and power building, the better results get and the stronger the transformation is.”