Caitlin Childs, our Director of Communications since 2017, left the foundation this May for an exciting opportunity as Senior Director of Communications at neighboring Napa Valley Community Foundation. We here at Community Foundation Sonoma County are honored to celebrate the past nearly 6 years of Caitlin’s hard work, dedication, and talent.
Caitlin joined our team just days after the fires began in 2017. She was in her first semester of graduate school in San Francisco, and she recalls watching her community be devastated by fires on the news while sitting in class with her classmates.
“I just had this feeling in the pit of my stomach, and I immediately knew that this wasn’t the right place for me to be right now. I had to do something.”
She reached out to Elly Grogan and asked her if she could help. Elly told her that the foundation needed a volunteer to help with communications.
“The next day, I drove up to Santa Rosa. The foundation had just launched the Resilience Fund and they were already fielding calls from donors who wanted to give. My first project was to help announce the launch of the Resilience Fund, which went on to put millions of dollars back into the community.”
After volunteering, Caitlin made the decision to leave graduate school to join the Community Foundation as our Director of Communications during one of our community’s most challenging periods.
“I was already wrestling with the reality that I had made this huge decision to go to grad school, and now I’m going to leave. But in the long run it didn’t feel like it was as big of a decision, because I knew that I would be coming here to make a difference in the community I love at a time when things felt really fragile in Sonoma County. I felt strongly that I needed to be doing something.”
For those of us lucky enough to know Caitlin, her dedication to our community comes as no surprise. Caitlin is passionate about fair housing, solutions to homelessness, and social justice. She founded her first nonprofit at 18, is a life-long volunteer, and believes deeply in the power of community. One way that Caitlin has continued to create community is through food. Caitlin began volunteering for Food Not Bombs when she was in high school to both feed people and prevent food waste. She continues this work today, baking cakes to celebrate the special occasions of underserved children for the nonprofit Cake4Kids.
“I just feel filled with purpose during those moments when you can see the impact you’re making immediately. It’s a way to expand your world. It’s easy to ignore people who seem different from us, and it’s important to me to not do that.”
Caitlin joined the foundation at a pivotal moment and told the story of our work throughout fires, floods, and the pandemic. She told the stories of people in Sonoma County who stepped up during these disasters, like nonprofit organizations, donors, and recipients of the Resilience Fund.
“I’m in the really lucky position in communications of getting to tell those stories and get those firsthand accounts from people about how much their grants have meant to them, to their organization, and to the people they serve.”
We polled the CFSC team for what words came to mind when thinking about Caitlin and her legacy with the Community Foundation. The words that came up most frequently were about her dedication, her friendship, and her generosity. Caitlin is most proud of the collaborative efforts that the foundation led during her time here, with nonprofits, fundholders, donors, and other community foundations.
“I’m really excited to continue that spirit of collaboration as I move over to my role as Senior Director of Communications for Napa Valley Community Foundation.”
We are grateful for Caitlin’s years of service to Sonoma County and can’t wait to see the impact she will make in her new role.