Message from Fred Ali, President & CEO:
A Heartfelt Farewell to our Senior Vice President, Belen Vargas
Belen crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge with veteran activist Roscoe Jones, Sr. on a recent Board and staff civil rights retreat.
It is with deep gratitude for her many years of service and well-wishes for the future that I announce the departure of our senior vice president, Belen Vargas. Belen will leave the Weingart Foundation in late September to join California State University, Los Angeles as associate vice president for operations and chief mission officer.
I hired Belen in 2000 as our very first program associate and quickly realized that she had the background and skill to lead the development of a new program team and approach at the Foundation. She was soon promoted to program officer and rose through the ranks of management and leadership. In 2017, Belen assumed the role of senior vice president.
During her tenure, Belen built a strong program staff, hiring people directly from the nonprofit sector with a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. She led the development of many important programs and initiatives—including our unrestricted funding program and the rollout of our commitment to equity. Belen also directed our Developmental Disability Initiative, as well as the Foundation’s communications program. She built partnerships with nonprofits, funder colleagues and government, spearheading our work with the Southeast Los Angeles Collaborative and the Youth Organizing Capacity Building Initiative. Over the years, Belen helped to guide and mentor many of our staff members, with an intentional focus on the development of a strong team of women of color. She also was the driving force behind the development of our collaborative, grantee-focused culture.
Belen is driven by her values and her passion for expanding opportunity. I also know that her commitment to the mission of educational equity and to her alma mater, Cal State LA, is deeply personal. While the Board and staff of the Foundation will miss Belen greatly, we know that she will be an incredible asset to the community in her new role.
We thank Belen for these past 19 years of mission-driven commitment and leadership, and we wish her all the best.
President & CEO