The LA Partnership for Early Childhood investment
We are a public-private collaboration of the country’s largest private foundations, family foundations, the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, First 5 LA, and key government agencies.
A belief that investing early pays long term dividends
A desire to leverage support for the greatest possible impact
Rachel was born and raised in Los Angeles. She attended University of California, Irvine for two years, transferring to Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon where she received her B.A in Philosophy. After living in Portland for 10 years, Rachel returned to Los Angeles and received a Certificate in Graphic Design from Otis College of Art & Design. She pursued freelance design and then in 2003 was selected as the next Executive Director of her family’s foundation, Roth Family Foundation. She served in that role until December 2012, and remains an active trustee/board member of the Foundation. She is currently leading the Foundation in a special anniversary grantmaking program plan for 2016, which will celebrate the Foundation’s 50th anniversary since its founding. Rachel was hired as the Program Officer for The Crail-Johnson Foundation in August 2013.
Rachel currently serves on the board of the Crossroads Community Outreach Foundation. She also serves as an Advisory board member of Peer Health Exchange – Los Angeles. She sits on the Executive Committee and Investment Committee of the Partnership for Early Childhood Investment and co-chairs a donor-advised fund at Liberty Hill Foundation.
She served on the board of directors of Planned Parenthood Los Angeles for 6 years, chairing the Education Task Force, as well as volunteering as a sex education high school speaker with the organization for two years. Rachel also served on the Advisory Committee for Liberty Hill Foundation’s annual CHANGE LA event and the Membership Committee of Southern CA Grantmakers.
David Rattray is the President & CEO of UNITE-LA. Since 1998, he has led UNITE-LA in ensuring the continuous improvement of effective and aligned cradle-to-career public education and workforce development systems in Los Angeles, resulting in all children and youth having access to a high-quality education. Previously Rattray spent more than 20 years in the foodservice distribution industry. Rattray serves on the L.A. City Workforce Development Board and Youth Council and was vice chair of the State Workforce Investment Board’s Lifelong Learning Committee. He is also the Chair of the Board of Directors for the Linked Learning Alliance. Rattray earned his M.B.A. from the University of Southern California.
Jacqueline Chun has worked steadily in the non-profit sector for 17 years. She started her career in philanthropy directly after college at the Public Welfare Foundation in Washington, D.C. where she spent six years. Following the Public Welfare Foundation, she moved cross-country to Los Angeles and joined a grassroots immigrant rights education and advocacy organization for nearly two years. She attributes her experience at the grassroots level with providing her with an increased perspective and understanding of the non-profit sector before moving back into philanthropy. Jacqueline joined The Carl & Roberta Deutsch Foundation in 2008 and is the Chief Programs and Administrative Officer, where she is responsible for managing the Foundation’s strategic grantmaking and daily operations. She also serves on the Education Leadership Council of Southern California Public Radio, Steering Committee of the LA County Arts Commission’s Arts Education Collective Funders Council, and Home For Good Funders Collaborative. She earned her degree from The University of Rochester and lives on the westside with her husband and son.
Wendy has played an integral role in the life of the Parsons Foundation. After working at increasing levels of responsibility, she became Executive Director in 2001 and President and CEO in 2008. The Parsons Foundation is a $400 million endowment that is a quiet leader in Southern California philanthropy, supporting cornerstone and emerging nonprofits in Los Angeles County. Prior to joining Parsons, she was a founding staff member of the children’s nonprofit Crystal Stairs and was Executive Director of the Los Angeles Child Care and Development Council. She is on the board of Southern California Grantmakers, a regional association of more than 300 foundations, corporations and government grantmakers that is a leadership hub for members. She is also a senior fellow at the Luskin School of Public Affairs at UCLA, and has served on the board of the Broad Stage, is a member of the Coalition on Jobs and the Economy, and is a member of the Los Angeles County Commission on Children and Families and the State commission on volunteers, Volunteer California. Wendy is a frequent speaker and panelist at local and national meetings for philanthropy. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois and has a master’s in urban planning from UCLA.
Cynthia Harding is the Chief Strategist for Interdepartmental Initiatives for the Los Angeles County Department of Human Resources (DHR). In this role she facilitates and implements transformational initiatives of importance to the Board of Supervisors, Chief Executive Office and DHR. She provides executive level consulting services to other County Departments in order to transform service delivery, build new services or staffing models, provide oversight on executive projects or develop new entrepreneurial services. Prior coming to DHR, she worked in the Department of Public Health for 35 years in a variety of different public health programs including serving as the Chief Deputy Director, Interim Director, and running Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health, Tobacco Control, and Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Programs.
Ms. Harding is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese and taught as a visiting professor at the National School of Public Health in Brazil. Ms. Harding has a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Community Health from Brown University, a Masters of Public Health from UCLA, and a Certificate of Management from USC’s Center of Excellence in Health Care Management.
In addition to her work for the County, Ms. Harding is a musician, playing a number of different instruments from Latin America. She performs Latin American folk jazz with her husband in the Ciro Hurtado Band, and with her sister in Conjunto Jardin (pronounced con-HUN-toe har-DEEN), a group that performs the music of Veracruz, Mexico.
Kim Pattillo Brownson is Ballmer Group’s Director of Strategy and Policy in Los Angeles. Most recently, Kim served as Vice President for Policy and Strategy at First 5 LA, where she led their grantmaking in strategic partnerships on policy, advocacy, and communications with philanthropy, business, municipalities, and higher education. She also spearheaded relationships with local, state and federal policy makers to drive policy and system change. Prior to that, Kim was Managing Director at the Advancement Project, a civil rights organization engaged in policy and advocacy for communities most impacted by economic and racial injustice. She has also worked as an education attorney at the ACLU as well as in litigation attorney in the private sector; and as a management consultant at Boston Consulting Group. Kim is an appointee of Governor Gavin Newsom to California’s Early Childhood Policy Council, as well as to the California State Board of Education. Kim earned her juris doctorate degree from Yale Law School and her bachelor’s degree from Harvard University.
Jeff Sunshine joined The David and Lucile Packard Foundation Packard Foundation in 2007. He is a program officer and manager in the Children, Families, and Communities Program. He is responsible for grantmaking in early learning, and oversees the Starting Smart and Strong Initiative, a ten-year place-based initiative designed to ensure that California’s children arrive at Kindergarten healthy and ready to learn.
Prior to joining the Foundation, Jeff was director of programs at Community Foundation Silicon Valley overseeing its domestic and global grantmaking activities and initiatives. He also served as the executive director of the Volunteer Center of Alameda County and as director of volunteer programs for the Archdiocese of the City and County of San Francisco.
Jeff is trained as a special education teacher and as a mental health clinician. He practiced as a family therapist for fifteen years both in Boston and in the Bay Area. Jeff holds a B.S. in education from SUNY at Buffalo, an Ed.M. in counseling psychology from Tufts University, and a Ph.D. in human and organization development and public policy from The Fielding Institute in Santa Barbara.
John A. Wagner is the Executive Vice President of First 5 LA’s Center for Child and Family Impact (CCFI). In this role, John is responsible for leading the CCFI’s systems change efforts to change policy and practice and build public will to prioritize and improve outcomes for young children in Los Angeles County.
John first joined the early childhood advocacy and public grantmaking organization as Chief Operating Officer in December 2012, building on his nearly two decades of experience in running a number of state departments in the health and human services arena. In August 2016, John was promoted to the position of Executive Vice President. Prior to joining First 5 LA, John served as Director of the California Department of Community Services and Development from 2011-2012, and Director of the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) from 2007-2011. At CDSS, he oversaw a budget of over $20 billion and programs affecting California’s most vulnerable residents including foster children and youth; children and families receiving aid through the California Work Opportunities and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs); and children and adults in state-licensed community care facilities.
John has served as senior policymaker and advisor to both Republican and Democratic administrations in Wisconsin, Massachusetts and California. Prior to coming to California, he served as the Assistant Secretary for Children, Youth and Families for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services, where he coordinated policies and programs across many state agencies. Additionally, John served as the state’s Commissioner for the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance, overseeing the state welfare agency from 2002 to 2007.
John earned a master’s degree in Public Administration from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, a master’s degree in Public Policy from Georgetown University and a bachelor’s degree from Marquette University.
Parker has spent more than 25 years working in philanthropy and non-profit cause-related work. His expertise spans a broad range of issues from early childhood development and education reform to social justice. Working with family foundations to some of the nation’s largest funders such as the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Parker has helped shape their strategic plans, giving priorities, and communications strategies. He enjoys working with philanthropists and nonprofits to help them take their nascent ideas or programs, develop an appropriate plan for growth, and nurture the model into a successful vehicle for positive social change. Over his career, Parker has served in a variety of capacities, from grassroots organizer and nonprofit executive to business leader and grantmaker. These experiences have made him comfortable with change, exploring new ideas and strategies, and bringing new programs, initiatives, and ventures to scale.
Kaci Patterson brings over 20 years of experience in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors. Always with an eye toward human and community development, Kaci works with philanthropic institutions, nonprofit organizations, and public entities to design, operationalize and manage strategic racial justice initiatives from concept to implementation.
Prior to consulting, Kaci held entry-to-executive-level roles within the nonprofit sector, leading capacity building, education advocacy, and social justice initiatives where she facilitated networks of organizations and served over 1,000 civil society leaders and public officials worldwide. In addition to managing multi-million-dollar grant-making portfolios in the United States and abroad, Kaci has created programs recognized as breakthrough contributions in her field: the School Boards and Community Engagement Initiative (2011), B.L.A.C.C. (Building Leaders and Cultivating Change), a grassroots social activism fund (2014), and the Black Equity Initiative/Black Equity Collective (2017/2021). She has received several community and philanthropic awards for her work and was selected into the 2019 inaugural class of The Aspen Institute Civil Society Fellowship.
She has served as the Chief Strategist of the Black Equity Initiative since its inception in 2017, a racial justice philanthropic initiative she designed, and now serves as the Founder and Chief Architect of the Black Equity Collective, which launched in 2021 under her leadership. Kaci also leads the philanthropic engagement efforts of the AAIMM Prevention Initiative in her role as Senior Director for the LA Partnership for Early Childhood Investment and as a Strategic Liaison for the Center for Strategic Partnerships.
Kaci sits on the board of Social Justice Partners—Los Angeles, Tides Advocacy, and is a state commissioner in the Department of Consumer Affairs. She is a certified mediator, a graduate of Pepperdine, and holds an MBA in Organizational Management & Leadership from the University of LaVerne.
Steve specializes in crafting communications and public affairs strategies that leverage the strengths and resources of his clients. His expertise includes persuasive writing, coalition building, opinion and speech writing, social media, and grant writing, along with specialized expertise in media relations and crisis communications. A Partner at public affairs firm California Strategies, Steve spent more than a decade as a reporter, editor, and columnist in California and Washington, D.C. His career as a journalist gave Steve a deep understanding of politics and all levels of government, as he covered topical matters including growth-control measures, development and environmental reviews, transportation, and housing, and federal and state grant programs. He also served as editor of three award-winning community newspapers owned by The Los Angeles Times and covered the Missouri congressional delegation for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the federal departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services for a group of trade publications. Prior to joining California Strategies, he established his own media and public relations consulting practice in Orange County, where he provided grant writing, corporate communication, and media relations services for his clients. Cahn holds a bachelor’s degree from Notre Dame, a master’s degree in English from the University of Washington, and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri. A native of Los Angeles, Steve and his wife live in Mar Vista.
Mary brings over three decades of program management experience at non-profits, funder collaboratives, technology, and media companies. Mary is currently the Program Manager for the LA Partnership, where she provides day-to-day program support to the collaborative. Mary has served a variety of local, state, and national nonprofit organizations, providing financial management, event planning, grant writing, technical assistance, and program management services. Prior to her work with the LA Partnership, Mary worked as a Senior Producer with the Walt Disney Company’s online team and before moving to Los Angeles, she spent her career in Washington, D.C. working as a project manager for an international trade association and as a producer for Philips Media Educational Software.
When Richard Atlas retired in 1994 as a general partner at Goldman Sachs and Co., he knew he wanted to focus his philanthropy on building human capital at the bottom rung of society. That’s where his own grandparents began, as immigrants from Eastern Europe with no money and little education. His wife Lezlie’s work in child development anchored his commitment to invest in the future of children age birth to three years old.
Rich also wanted to inform and educate funders who didn’t have exposure or experience in supporting early child development to understand the long-term benefits of investing in the early years of life. So he and Janis Minton, executive director of the Atlas Family Foundation, began hosting informal gatherings, inviting other leaders in philanthropy to hear from early childhood experts about the long term health, education and economic gains from investing in the early years.
These meetings, usually over breakfast or lunch, coincided with Rich’s exposure to the importance of public policy. He realized that even if all of LA County’s leading foundations decided to fund early child development, it wouldn’t be sufficient to scale and sustain the support necessary for LA County’s large and diverse population of vulnerable children.
So Rich and Janis met with Cynthia Harding, a long time leader and early childhood proponent at LA County’s Department of Public Health. In Cynthia (who goes by Cindy) Rich and Janis had found a kindred spirit and a theme emerged: Despite being two sides of the same coin, private and public sector funders of early childhood development rarely, if ever, talked to one other. But to unleash the full potential of their impact, they first had to be at the same table.
Together, Richard, Janis and Cindy began gathering a growing group of private and public funders to discuss the biggest challenges facing families in the county’s poorest communities and how they could work together to forge large-scale change.
Funders of wide-ranging social issues began seeing the upstream value of investing in the health, education and development of infants and toddlers.
By 2007, the group had developed the trust and interest to build a more formal partnership. With multiple foundations providing seed funding, an executive director was hired and the LA Partnership for Early Childhood Investment was born.
In 2011, First 5 LA provided a matching grant of $1 million to create The Baby Futures Fund, a shared fund designed to enhance the collective impact of the Partnership. The incentive paid off: the Partnership met the matching grant more than 6 months ahead of schedule, and the Fund has now made more than $1 million in grants to help scale and sustain investments in the most vulnerable children birth to age five in LA County.
Today the LA Partnership has more than 30 members, from local foundations and First 5 LA, to the LA Area Chamber of Commerce and multiple county agencies supporting families throughout the county.