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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:



Areva Martin founded Special Needs Network, Inc. (SNN) in 2005 when her son was diagnosed with autism at age three. Ms. Martin saw the void that existed for other parents in underserved communities and took action to not only mobilize parents, but to cause policy makers and funders to make autism and other developmental disabilities a priority in these communities. SNN’s mission is to raise public awareness of autism and developmental disabilities and impact public policy, while providing education and resources to families, children and adults. 



Doniece Sandoval founded Lava Mae with the belief that everyone deserves to be clean, and being clean is a basic human dignity. Lava Mae began converting old city buses into mobile bathrooms and showers for the homeless and is becoming a global model for addressing access to hygiene and sanitation – and catalyzing collaboration of services among community partners.


Seneca Family of Agencies

Ken Berrick is the Founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of Seneca Family of Agencies, a nonprofit agency dedicated to helping children and families through the most difficult times of their lives. Seneca began in 1985 as a residential program serving just six children. Today, Seneca serves over 14,000 youth and families per year through a comprehensive continuum of child welfare, mental health and education services throughout California and in Washington State. Under Ken’s leadership, Seneca is currently advancing a new frontier in the education arena, promoting equity and inclusion through an innovative whole-school approach known as Unconditional Education. 


Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation

Dora Westerlund is passionate about helping improve the quality of life for immigrant families. Dora’s business education and life experiences led her to target efforts in providing resources to underserved small Latino businesses.  She promotes entrepreneurship as a means towards economic self-sufficiency by providing struggling businesses with tools, resources, and funding to achieve their goals and improve their quality of life. Her vision for a vibrant business community with equal access to underrepresented minority groups led to the creation of a community one-stop-shop for small businesses, now serving as one of Fresno’s most valuable assets.



Since joining Heart of Los Angeles in 1993, Executive Director Tony Brown has worked to further HOLA’s mission of providing at-risk and underserved youth with free, exceptional after school programs in academics, arts and athletics. During his tenure at HOLA, Tony has led the organization through several seasons of significant growth that includes a current $10 million capital campaign that will enable HOLA to expand its reach. Most importantly, Tony has built programming, as well as a Board of Directors and upper-level management team that is now poised to exponentially broaden and deepen HOLA’s overall impact locally, nationally and internationally. 



Under the dedicated leadership of Julia Wilson, OneJustice’s Rural Justice Initiative brings essential and life-changing legal services to thousands of low-income rural residents – immigrants, veterans, and low-income people – and revolutionizes California’s legal services delivery system by annually inspiring hundreds of urban lawyers and law students to volunteer their expertise. Julia Wilson’s tireless efforts ensure that geography no longer limits access to justice for California’s rural poor.