Community Connected: Grassroots to Treetops: Interview with California Community Foundation President and CEO Antonia Hernandez

By Campoverdi, Alejandra | Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy, Annual 2007 | Go to article overview

Community Connected: Grassroots to Treetops: Interview with California Community Foundation President and CEO Antonia Hernandez


Campoverdi, Alejandra, Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy


Nationally recognized for her commitment toward the betterment of underserved communities in Los Angeles and beyond, Antonia Hernandez joined the California Community Foundation as president and chief executive officer in February 2004.

Established in 1915, the California Community Foundation is one of the largest and most active philanthropic organizations in Southern California, with assets of more than one billion dollars. In partnership with its more than 1,200 individual, family, and corporate donors, the foundation supports not-for-profit organizations and public institutions with funds for health and human services, affordable housing, early childhood education, community arts and culture, and other areas of need.

Previously, Hernandez was president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), a national not-for-profit litigation and advocacy organization dedicated to protecting the civil rights of the nation's Latinos through the legal system, community education, and research and policy initiatives.

An expert in philanthropy, civil rights, and immigration issues, Hernandez began her legal career as a staff attorney with the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice and worked as counsel to the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary before joining MALDEF in 1981 as regional counsel in Washington, DC.

Hernandez is a trustee for the Rockefeller Foundation, as well as a member of the board of directors for the American Constitution Society, the American Automobile Association, and the Automobile Club of Southern California. She currently serves on various commissions, committees, and advisory boards, including the Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Center for Talented Youth at Johns Hopkins University. She is a frequent public speaker and has been awarded a number of honorary degrees and awards.

Hernandez is a member of the State Bar of California, District of Columbia Bar, American Bar Association, the Mexican American Bar Association of Los Angeles, and a fellow of the American Law Institute.

Hernandez earned her B.A. in history at UCLA in 1970 and J.D. at the UCLA School of Law in 1974.

Alejandra Campoverdi conducted the interview 22 January 2007. Originally from Santa Monica, CA, Campoverdi will receive a master's in public policy degree from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in 2008. She previously worked for the California Endowment, focusing on grants to organizations in the San Francisco Bay area and the Agricultural Worker Health Initiative.

HJHP

Your opinions on how certain issues will affect the Hispanic community have been highly sought after by newspaper editorial pages, national magazines, television talk shows, and numerous other television outlets. What do you believe has contributed to your ability to have a finger on the pulse of the Hispanic community?

Hernandez

I believe that it's all about being in the community and being connected. My parents were very much a part of a community. I come from a very large extended family and all my siblings are very involved in a variety of issues. I care deeply about what goes on in the community I live in.

So for me, it's about meeting people, going to meetings, and just staying connected. There's no substitute for actually being out there where real life happens and then being able to transfer that knowledge, that information, that experience to the policy makers, the institutions, and the voices that frame how society views the issues that affect us and how they view us as a community.

HJHP

How can the California Community Foundation (CCF) be used as a model for other philanthropic organizations operating across the country?

Hernandez

Philanthropy is no different than the mainstream of society. …

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