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2015 James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award Winners



What are the James Irvine Foundation leadership awards?

The James Irvine Foundation Leadership Awards recognize Californians who are implementing effective solutions to critical state issues. The awards advance innovative, proven and replicable solutions, and contribute to better public policies and practices in the field.

The Foundation provides each award recipient’s organization with $200,000 to support his or her work, and assists in sharing their promising approaches with policymakers and practitioners. 

Meet the Grantees:

Sandra Gutierrez

Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors

Sandra Gutierrez, Founder and National Director of Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors, is working to close this gap with a curriculum that prepares low-income Latino parents to be their children’s first teachers and advocates. Designed by and for parents, the program teaches goal-setting, positive discipline, and health and wellness — directed at improving parents’ ability to support their children’s early development.

Jody Lewen

Prison University Project

Jody Lewen, Executive Director of the Prison University Project at San Quentin State Prison, is demonstrating how quality education can be a part of the solution. She manages the only fully on-site program in the state prison system to confer college degrees. The program offers both college preparatory and college credit classes to approximately 330 men.

Nancy O'Malley

Alameda County District Attorney's Office

After witnessing a dramatic increase in cases of exploited youth in the City of Oakland, Nancy O’Malley, District Attorney of Alameda County, created a program that shifts law enforcement’s approach to the issue — treating exploited minors as victims rather than criminal offenders.  

Bill Pace & Beth Sirull

Pacific Community Ventures

Bill Pace and Beth Sirull believe helping small businesses succeed is key to tackling this challenge. As Chair and President, respectively, of Pacific Community Ventures (PCV), they are linking small business entrepreneurs with expert advisors and private investors to help expand economic opportunity in low-income neighborhoods. They back many of these companies with loans ranging from $50,000 to $200,000.