Shirin Vakharia, Marin Community Foundation

TITLE: Program Director

FUNDING AREAS: Health and Aging

CONTACT:, (415) 464-2541

IP TAKE: Vakharia prides herself on her multicultural heritage and the joy she gets by giving support to worthy programs; the flip-side is having to say "no" to other worthy causes. 


Shirin Vakharia describes herself as a “truly global citizen.” The daughter of a Puerto Rican mother and Indian father, she was born and lived in India from age three to seven. “What triggers my memories of India the most is food, especially street food.”
After earning a B.A. and M.A. from the University of Cincinnati, she settled in Napa in 1999, and until 2010 worked as Prevention Coordinator for Napa County’s Health and Human Services Agency.
In January 2011, she joined the Marin Community Foundation as Program Officer for arts, social justice and interfaith understanding, and manages a $2 million portfolio of grants.
“The challenge is there’s never enough money. I say ‘no’ more than I say ‘yes.’ People think being a grant maker is a dream job, but it’s surprising how many more you disappoint than make happy.”

Shirin Vakharia has described herself as a “truly global citizen” (her mother is Puerto Rican, her father is Indian, and she lived in India as a child.) Her world view makes her a perfect fit for the Marin Community Foundation. Originally hired by the foundation in 2011 as a program officer for arts, social justice, and interfaith understanding, now she's the program director for their Community Health and Aging program.


Vakharia graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a bachelor's degree in psychology and immediately began pursuing her master's there in the field of community counseling. With these degrees in hand, Vakharia worked as a program director at IKRON Rehabilitation Services for two years. In 1999, she settled in Napa, California and began working as a prevention coordinator at the Napa County Health and Human Services Agency. Here, she gained experience in grants management, contract administration, and strategic planning by coordinating programs to reduce problems associated with alcohol, tobacco, and drug use. After an eleven year stint at the agency, she joined the Marin Community Foundation (MCF).

At MCF, Vakharia  says her biggest challenge is not having enough money to go around. “I say ‘no’ more than I say ‘yes,’ she explains. “People think being a grant maker is a dream job, but it’s surprising how many more you disappoint than make happy.”

Over the years, Vakharia has won several awards including the Child Abuse Prevention Council Citizen of the Year Award and the County Alcohol and Drug Administration Association of California Prevention Award. She used to serve as a Grants Committed Member for the Napa Valley Community Foundation and as an Advisory Committee Member for Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Bay.

In her spare time, Vakharia enjoys a diverse food as "spectator sport" by cooking, dining out, and finding cheap ethnic foods. She's also an avid traveler, reader, and music lover.