By Mark Valentine

Smart Growth California is a TFN initiative that includes funders working together to build healthy, equitable, and sustainable communities throughout the state, with particular attention to our communities with the greatest need. This post from outgoing Smart Growth California Co-chair Mark Valentine originally appeared on the Smart Growth California blog.

Mark Valentine, outgoing Smart Growth California steering committee co-chair, along with current co-chairs
Kaying Hang of the Sierra Health Foundation and
 Craig Martinez of The California Endowment .

In March 2019, I had the pleasure of attending the annual conference of The Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities (TFN) in Miami. The conference was a birthday celebration for the organization as well as a homecoming, of sorts — the meeting at which TFN had been founded had been held in Miami twenty years earlier. Thus, in addition to the usual stellar program, there were a number of special events incorporated into the conference to mark the fact that TFN was turning 20. 

I attended that inaugural meeting in 1999 in my capacity as a Program Director at the Packard Foundation, and I was among a handful of funders to provide a start-up grant. Twenty years later it was fun to be around colleagues who also were there at the organization’s inception. It also was gratifying to see how that modest investment in TFN has paid impressive dividends over time in terms of the sheer growth of the organization and the impact it has had in shaping the field of integrated, place-based philanthropy.

While in Miami I realized that over the 20 years of TFN’s existence, there’s rarely been a year when I haven’t been in the organization’s orbit as a board member, a consultant, or as a funder. For the past 10 years, I’ve had the honor and pleasure to serve as a founding co-chair of the Steering Committee of Smart Growth California (SGC). I was first paired in that role with Emily Young, formerly of the San Diego Foundation. When she moved on to take the role of Executive Director of the Nonprofit Institute at the School of Leadership and Education Sciences at the University of San Diego, Craig Martinez of The California Endowment graciously agreed to step up to join me as co-chair.  After having served ten years in this role, I think it’s time to pass the proverbial torch to my talented colleague, Kaying Hang of the Sierra Health Foundation. She will now assume the role of Co-chair and join Craig in providing support and guidance to SGC’s talented team of Ron Milam, Kerry Hastings and Tim Mok. I’m not going far, however, as I now look forward to taking my place alongside my colleagues as a member of SGC’s Steering Committee. 

While I’ll continue to stay engaged in SGC as member of the Steering Committee, the change in my role has caused me to reflect on how much our network has evolved in its first ten years.

Read the full post here.