Press Release - October 6, 2020

Silicon Valley Community Foundation launches Community Advisory Council

Community leaders of color will help the community foundation advance diversity, equity and inclusion in Silicon Valley

October 6, 2020, Mountain View, CA – Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) today announced the launch of its Community Advisory Council, which will convene and engage local leaders of color working to address the most significant challenges in the Silicon Valley region. 

The Council, led by SVCF President and CEO Nicole Taylor, brings together more than 20 esteemed community leaders of color who represent diverse backgrounds and extensive professional experiences that span across a multitude of sectors. The members will provide input, guidance and feedback on SVCF’s new strategic plan, which has moved into the implementation stage after a 10 month-long planning process undertaken by SVCF’s board of directors, executive team, staff and the consulting firm The Bridgespan Group. The new strategic plan calls for the community foundation to continue its work to reduce systemic disparities while bringing more voices and perspectives into that work.

Taylor says that the Community Advisory Council is emblematic of SVCF’s commitment to racial justice and equity during a historic time when the COVID-19 crisis is disproportionately affecting communities of color and reinforcing the fact that racism runs deep through our country’s foundation and systems.

“SVCF is committed to ensuring that our work moving forward firmly and unapologetically fights for the systemic changes needed to truly transform the communities we serve,” said Taylor. “The members of this Council will be instrumental in helping us implement strategies and policies that are rooted in the pursuit of abolishing social and economic inequities and racial injustices.”

Jessica Paz-Cedillos, executive director of School of Arts and Culture at Mexican Heritage Plaza and a member of the Council, believes the group will help inform how philanthropy can “double down” on equity and racial justice.

“This group of respected individuals spans the nonprofit spectrum and each member brings to the table their lived experience with injustice and the transformative power of leading with equity,” Paz-Cedillos said. “For me personally, that means investing in organizations that are place-based and led by people of color, which are often overlooked by funders yet are on the front lines of the challenges facing our communities.”

The group met for the first time in July online and plans to meet four more times through February 2021.

Marlyn Bussey, pastor of St. James AME Zion Church in San Mateo, says that the formation of the Council highlights SVCF’s commitment to ensuring that its programs are focused on the true—rather than perceived—needs of the community.

“Silicon Valley Community Foundation is laser-focused on the creation and support of such programs within underserved and under-resourced communities across Silicon Valley, as well as ensuring that community members are at the table of decision making,” said Bussey. “I am proud to serve on the SVCF Community Advisory Council.”

 “As a community foundation, we have always had the responsibility to lift up the voices of those we serve,” said Taylor. “Through the Community Advisory Council, community leaders will be able to share more of their work and what they are hearing from their constituents. In turn, SVCF can learn from them and use this knowledge to continue to shape our community foundation for the better.”

Members of the Council are:

Belinda Arriaga of Ayudando Latinos A Soñar

Paul Bains of Project WeHOPE

Milan Balinton of African American Community Service Agency

Patricia Barahona of Youth Leadership Institute

Zahra Billoo of Council on American-Islamic Relations

Michelle Blakely of First 5 San Mateo

Marlyn Bussey of St. James AME Zion Church

Andre’ Chapman of Unity Care

Rod Daus Magbaul of Pinoy Education Partnership

Edwin Diaz of Latino Family Fund de Gilroy and Gilroy Foundation

Camille Llanes-Fontanilla of SOMOS Mayfair

Raj Jayadev of Silicon Valley De-Bug

Betty Kim Duong of the County of Santa Clara, Division of Equity and Social Justice

Katrina Logan of Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto

Rita Mancera of Puente de la Costa Sur

Lorena Melgarejo of Faith in Action

Malissa Netane of Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center

Chike Nwoffiah of Silicon Valley African Film Festival

Jessica Paz-Cedillos of School of Arts and Culture at Mexican Heritage Plaza

Anita Rees of Pacifica Resource Center

Tony Roshan Samara of Urban Habitat

Debra Watkins of A Black Education Network (founder emerita)

Walter Wilson of Black Leadership Kitchen Cabinet

To learn more about SVCF’s Community Advisory Council, visit

SVCF's commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion is reflected in its work across multiple initiatives since the community foundation’s founding in 2007. To learn more about SVCF’s work in pursuing racial justice and equity, visit


About Silicon Valley Community Foundation

Silicon Valley Community Foundation advances innovative philanthropic solutions to challenging problems. We engage donors and corporations from Silicon Valley, across the country and around the globe to make our region and world better for all. Our passion for helping people and organizations achieve their philanthropic dreams has created a global philanthropic enterprise committed to the belief that possibilities start here.  Learn more at