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Pasadena Resident Antonia Hernández Receives Leadership Award from Pat Brown Institute at Cal State LA

Published on Thursday, July 2, 2020 | 11:01 am
California Community Foundation President and CEO Antonia Hernández. (Credit: California Community Foundation)

The Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs (PBI) at Cal State LA honored California Community Foundation President and CEO Antonia Hernández with its 2020 Award for Philanthropic Leadership.

The award was presented during a webinar, entitled “2020: A Call to Action,” sponsored by PBI.

Hernández took part in a vibrant discussion about the crisis in communities across the region and what can be done to create a better future. She was joined by Fred Ali, president and CEO of the Weingart Foundation, and Dr. Robert K. Ross, president and CEO of The California Endowment.

The event was moderated by Raphael J. Sonenshein, executive director for PBI.

“Under Antonia’s creative and committed leadership, the California Community Foundation has become a deeply impactful changemaker in our region, expanding beyond grantmaking to civic engagement and public policy,” Sonenshein said, citing Hernández’s lifetime of public service and dedication to creating a more just and equitable society.

A Pasadena resident, Hernández has spent more than four decades championing social justice as a civil rights attorney and philanthropist. Prior to the California Community Foundation, she served as president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), a national civil rights organization.

“Change is within our power but we have to do the hard work. It’s not easy. It’s hard. You have to engage. You have to vote. You have to be civically minded. You have to participate in the census. Change is what we do every day and it’s cumulative,” Hernández said. “I would say to all folks, please do the hard work. It’s not somebody else’s issue or somebody else’s problem. We are the solution, and if we are not the solution, we’re the problem.”

In 2019, Cal State LA awarded Hernández an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.

During the June 30 webinar, the three philanthropic leaders discussed personal experiences that launched them on their respective career paths. They also addressed the role of philanthropic organizations in seeking equity and social justice, as well as the importance of collaboration between government and the private sector.

Ali stressed the importance of speaking out against injustices and advancing the cause for social, economic and racial equality. “That’s our obligation,” he said, “and we need to take advantage of it.”

Added Ross: “We are going to have to challenge one another to step up our games in this very transformative and powerful moment. … The more we invest in advocacy, activism voice and power building, the better results get and the stronger the transformation is.”

California State University, Los Angeles is the premier comprehensive public university in the heart of Los Angeles. Cal State LA is ranked number one in the United States for the upward mobility of its students. Cal State LA is dedicated to engagement, service, and the public good, offering nationally recognized programs in science, the arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education, and the humanities. Founded in 1947, the University serves more than 28,000 students and has more than 250,000 distinguished alumni.

Cal State LA is home to the critically-acclaimed Luckman Fine Arts Complex, Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs, Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center, Hydrogen Research and Fueling Facility, Billie Jean King Sports Complex and the TV, Film and Media Center. For more information, visit

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