What the San Francisco Foundation’s New Program Leader Cares About Most

The San Francisco Foundation will soon have a new leader at the top of the program department, and grantseekers should start paying attention.

Her name is Judith Bell, and she joins TSFF as its new vice president of programs from PolicyLink, where she worked from its inception and became president in 2004. PolicyLink has always had a national focus, and Bell’s focus there was on policy development and campaign strategy at the local, state, and national levels.

“Her leadership at PolicyLink helped ignite a new national narrative around access and opportunity for all people,” said TSFF CEO, Fred Blackwell.

And, boy, is that a timely perspective to bring to TSFF at a time when issues of economic equity are front and center in the Bay Area, after years of growing inequality.

If you don't know much about PolicyLink, it's an interesting organization. It's grappled for years with the challenge of creating inclusive economies and it's also a leader in bringing a racial lens to such work. While PolicyLink works nationally, it's based in Oakland, and much of its work has focused on creating positive change at the regional and local level. It's a particuar leader in pushing for inclusive regional economies, with an eye on such factors as transportation, housing and job creation.

Bell also knows a lot about another issue area that's hot right now: access to healthy food. At PolicyLink, she led the establishment of the national Healthy Food Financing Initiative, and PolicyLink also launched the Center for Health Equity and Place. Food issues and Health funding are a big deal lately at TSFF.

In other words, Judith Bell is a veteran thinker about many of the top challenges facing the Bay Area amid record levels of stratification in the region. And her move to TSFF signals that the foundation is moving out front on these equity issues. 

Bell stated in a press release:

One of my dreams has been to someday be part of a foundation that would allow me to continue to pursue equity and provide support to the organizations doing equity work. A community foundation, dedicated to advancing equity, deeply engaged in community and with a history of advocating for greater fairness and inclusion, is a great way to do so.

Bell steps into her new role full-time on October 1.