A message from Karin Demarest

We are grateful to honor the incredible work and contributions of our colleague Karin Demarest as we share that she is wrapping up eleven years of dedicated service on behalf of Community Foundation Sonoma County.

Karin first joined Community Foundation Sonoma County in 2011. She played a vital role as our Vice President for Community Impact, where she led our grantmaking team and helped to steward the gifts left to the foundation by generous donors since our founding in 1983.

When Karin joined the Foundation, she brought a strong background in arts and education and a passion for listening, learning, and growing—strengths that would prove vitally important as we navigated multiple community crises, including the 2017 wildfires and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Early in her career at the foundation, Karin led our education initiatives leading our county-wide iRead campaign to encourage early childhood literacy. She also championed community health through her leadership on Sonoma County Health Action.

After the 2017 wildfires devastated the county, Karin led the launch of our Sonoma County Resilience Fund. In the early days after the fires, while our community was still reeling and on unsteady ground, Karin spearheaded a comprehensive listening tour to understand the biggest community needs and created grantmaking strategies to ensure that the dollars we raised were going where they were needed most, with decisions guided by the communities most impacted.

Five years later, the Resilience Fund continues to help support hundreds of nonprofit organizations in Sonoma County, with over $17 million in grants to date. Throughout that time, Karin has played a key role in stewarding community preparedness efforts, including the launch of the Sonoma County COAD and in providing financial assistance to the people hardest hit by the fires through her work on behalf of Rebuilding Our Community (ROC) Sonoma County.

Over her eleven years at the foundation, Karin championed supporting nonprofits in a new way: by making grants for nonprofit capacity building and re-focusing our Community Impact grantmaking to offering general operating support where possible—efforts that strengthen nonprofits’ abilities to adapt and meet the ever-shifting needs of our community,

During the covid-19 pandemic, Karin’s commitment to partnership and collaboration shone. Our Community Impact Team hosted listening sessions with nonprofits in the community to keep up with the work that was happening on the ground. Karin led our pandemic grantmaking with a trust-based approach—our Community Impact Team quickly streamlined our grants application and reporting processes to remove barriers so that nonprofits could work more effectively and more quickly to help people struggling as a result of the crisis.

While we pause to celebrate Karin, we also want to assure you that the work goes on. Elly Grogan has rejoined the foundation’s Community Impact Team as our Interim Vice President for Community Impact. Elly brings more than seven years of experience working in both the foundation’s Community Impact Team and our Philanthropic Planning Team, and she is well poised to continue Karin’s legacy of service to the community while ensuring that our grantmaking will continue uninterrupted. Please look for an invitation to meet Elly directly at one of our upcoming Coffee with CFSC events (dates still to be decided.)

Please join us in celebrating Karin Demarest. You’ll find her personal message to our community below.

Thelia Wade
Board Chair

A message from Karin Demarest

My eleventh anniversary at Community Foundation Sonoma County coincided with my 59th birthday, which inspired deep reflection and the realization that it was time for something new. So, I bought myself a beautiful new guitar (a lifelong dream) and made the big, bold, difficult yet joyous decision to leave the foundation; my last day will be November 23rd.

When you love your job and the people you’ve had the honor to work with as much as I do, a decision to leave doesn’t present itself based on good timing. A choice like this rises from the depth of intuition, becomes a little voice that speaks up in the wee hours, and then lands as a fully realized understanding of what life wants—all on its own accord. What can one do but trust that voice?

I’m incredibly grateful to have worked alongside and in support of so many kind, supportive, intelligent, dedicated, committed, adaptable, and passionate (the list is unending) advocates for our beloved Sonoma County.

The time has flown by because we’ve been through so much together and done it with a combination of tenacity, caring, humor, and passion for this community we all love so much. I am eternally grateful for your work.

I am also delighted that Elly Grogan will be stepping in as Interim Vice President for Community Impact. It’s been a privilege to work alongside Elly and to see her career grow as she steps into this new leadership role. I know that she will be a tremendous force for good as she continues working on behalf of our community and the nonprofit organizations keeping this community so vibrant.

It’s been a true honor to have gotten to know so many of you during my years at the foundation, and I hope our paths will continue to cross in the coming years as well.

Still and always, in this together!

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