Christine Essel

Funding Sustainable Systems Change | Christine Essel, President & CEO, Southern California Grantmakers

Philanthropy has been called a critical part of a democratic society.  Its purpose is to improve wellbeing by preventing and solving social problems.   In 1973, four Los Angeles area foundations came together with a common vision to build a community of grant makers. Together, The Ahmanson Foundation, the Cummins Foundation, the Norton Simon Foundation, and the Carrie Estelle Doheny Foundation founded the Los Angeles Inter-Foundation Center (LAIFC). More than 40 years later, their visionary group has become today’s diverse Southern California Grantmakers (SCG), a regional association representing 300+ grant makers of all types and reflecting the evolving character of the philanthropic sector in Southern California and addressing the diverse needs of the communities served.

The philanthropic sector has adapted rapidly in the face of unprecedented challenges this year. However, even in this new environment, funders must continue to sharpen their grantmaking abilities and knowledge to keep pace with the new and increasing demands for foundation resources.   Join us for our conversation with SoCal Grantmakers’ President & CEO, Christine Essel, as we discuss their 40 -year legacy of working to create a stronger and more vibrant philanthropic community.  

As 2020 has unfolded, an unprecedented year with the COVID 19 pandemic, the resulting economic crisis, and social unrest, philanthropy, too, has been called to look at its practices and seek bold new solutions to embrace systemic change.   In a report by McKinsey & Company, entitled Embracing Complexity, it noted that “current funding practices are often built to support short-term projects …. rather than collaborative evolving approaches to create lasting change.”

Join us in our conversation today, as we talk with Christine about her unique perspective on “community” and how SoCal Grantmakers is looking to meet this critical moment and evolve its work to embrace systems change and engage in true partnerships with the diverse communities it serves.  To learn more and become involved, please visit

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