James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award


The James Irvine Foundation Leadership Awards, established in 2007, recognize and support individuals who are advancing innovative and effective solutions to significant state issues. 

Nominees may be working in any field—such as education, health, housing, economic development or the environment—in the public, private or nonprofit sector. Members of the public are invited to submit nominations for deserving candidates in accordance with the policies and procedures noted on the Irvine Foundation’s website.

The Foundation provides each award recipient with $125,000 to support his or her work to benefit the people of California.  At least $100,000 is designated for core support of the leader’s project or organization, and up to $25,000 may be used for professional or organizational development activities. The Foundation also assists recipients in sharing their promising approaches with policymakers and practitioners.

In choosing the recipients, the Selection Committee considers detailed information provided through nomination materials, as well as summaries of site visits with the finalists.

2012: Patricia Dennehy, Glide Health Services, San Francisco
2012: Christa Gannon, Fresh Lifelines for Youth, Milpitas
2012: Carolyn Laub, Gay-Straight Alliance, San Francisco
2012: Craig McNamara, Center for Land-Based Learning, Winters
2012: Olis Simmons, Youth UpRising, Oakland

2011: Dr. Judith Broder, The Soldiers Project, Los Angeles
2011: Tim Carpenter, EngAGE, Burbank
2011: Dr. Steven Pantilat, UCSF Palliative Care Program, San Francisco
2011: Dori Rose Inda, Agricultural Workers’ Access to Health Project, Watsonville
2011: Martha Ryan, Homeless Prenatal Program, San Francisco

2010: Dr. Ellen Beck, UCSD Student-Run Free Clinic Project, San Diego
2010: Judy Burton, Alliance for College-Ready Public Schools
2010: Sam Cobbs, First Place for Youth, Oakland
2010: Dr. Katherine Flores, UCSF Fresno Latino Center for Medical Education & Research, Fresno
2010: Monica & Tim Sears, GRID Alternatives, Oakland
2010: Nita Vail, California Rangeland Trust, Sacramento

2009: Richard Valle, Tri-CED Community Recycling, Union City
2009: Kathryn Icenhower, SHIELDS for Families, Los Angeles
2009: Luis Santana, Reading & Beyond, Fresno
2009: Tim Dang, East West Players, Los Angeles
2009: Josefina Alvarado Mena, Safe Passages, Oakland
2009: Jennifer Vanica, Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation, San Diego

2008: Father Gregory Boyle, Homeboy Industries, Los Angeles
2008: America Bracho, Latino Health Access, Santa Ana
2008: Jose Cisneros, David Augustine, Ben Magan, Leigh Phillips & Lena Robinson, Bank of America
2008: Janet Knipe, Tonya Hightower & Tiffany, California Youth Connection, San Francisco
2008: Diane Takvorian, Environmental Health Coalition, San Diego
2008: Laurie Wayburn, Pacific Forest Trust, San Diego

2007: Ashley Boren, Sustainable Conservation, San Francisco
2007: Cesar Calderon, Soledad Enrichment Action, Los Angeles
2007: John Carlon & Tom Griggs, River Partners, Chico
2007: Yvonne Chan, Vaughn Next Century Learning Center, Pacoima
2007: Sheldon Epps, Pasadena Playhouse, Pasadena



James E. Canales
President & CEO

Based in San Francisco;
Office in Downtown LA


Prize Amount:

Guidestar Report