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S.D. Foundation Launches New Policy & Innovation Center

The San Diego Foundation is expanding its philanthropic footprint in the area with the launch later this month of a new Regional Policy & Innovation Center.

The Center, established as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, will be located within the Foundation offices at 2508 Historic Decatur Road in Point Loma’s Liberty Station.

Opens Sept. 27

The new facility officially opens Sept. 27, with Brookings Institutions’ president John Allen as the featured guest speaker at the virtual launch event.

The Center will host a day-long government and agency session the following day.

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Due to the ongoing pandemic, all of the Center’s initial events will be held virtually.

Center officials will be aided by an advisory council, with members selected from the County of San Diego and the region’s 18 municipalities, as well as San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS), Port of San Diego and San Diego Airport Authority.

Leadership Team

The new Center’s leadership team includes Susan Guinn as president and CEO, and Shalini Vajjhala as executive director.

“We are united in our commitment to develop effective, practical and equitable solutions for improving infrastructure, creating stable, high-paying jobs and generating transformational social, health, economic and environmental benefits,” Guinn said. “We will use research and data as an enabler to secure federal and state funding that we as a region have seldom done with one voice.”

San Diego Foundation President and CEO Mark Stuart said the new Center will help bolster the Foundation’s goals and outreach.

“During the current COVID-19 crisis and past wildfire disasters, community foundations demonstrated their value in mobilizing funding for rapid response and recovery,” Stuart said. “This takes us one step further to balance our role as a community grantmaker with our long-term community changemaker vision for San Diego.”

“For lasting, systemic change, we must and will forge strategic public-private partnerships with philanthropy, government, business and others,” Stuart added.

According to Guinn, the new Center will support research and coordinated governmental and agency relationships, develop consensus regarding the region’s core needs and recommend policy solutions to assist local leaders in attracting federal and state impact dollars.

Governed By Community Leaders

The Policy & Innovation Center will be governed by a Board of community leaders, including:

Ben Haddad, partner, California Strategies

Constance Carroll, chancellor emerita, San Diego Community College District

Ernest Rady, chairman & CEO, American Assets Trust and philanthropist

Kay Coleman, president & CEO, Del Mar Venture Group

Lisa Cuestas, CEO, Casa Familiar

Mel Katz, co-founder and executive officer, Manpower Staffing Services

Mark Stuart, president and CEO, The San Diego Foundation

Jim Howell, chief financial officer, The San Diego Foundation

The San Diego Foundation, originally named the San Diego Community Foundation, was created in 1975, funded by an initial $135,000 donation from the Gildred Foundation.

A group of civically engaged San Diegans that included executives from SDG&E;, United Way of San Diego and Bank of America are credited with getting the organization up and running.

Today, the nonprofit serves a broad spectrum of local philanthropic causes and has given more than $1.2 billion to San Diego-area nonprofits.

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