The 2022 report, Cultivating Hope Through Action: How Public Private Partnerships are Strengthening Child and Family Well-Being in LA County chronicles the impact of philanthropic and public sector partnerships on the County’s child welfare system. Join us for an interview on Cultivating Hope and the path forward with Wendy Garen, President and CEO of the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation and Lizzie Cohen, Associate Director of the Center for Strategic Partnerships, moderated by Daniel Heimpel, Vice President of the Montecito Journal Media Group. During the quarterly meeting, we will also have an opportunity to reconnect with DCFS’ Interim Director, Brandon Nichols, learn pertinent Departmental updates, and engage in a Q&A.
Elizabeth “Lizzie” Cohen
Associate Director, Center for Strategic Partnerships
Elizabeth Cohen is Associate Director for the Center for Strategic Partnerships, a joint venture between Los Angeles County and philanthropy that works to help partners in both sectors achieve their shared goal of improving outcomes for children, youth and families using an equity lens. Lizzie leads the Center’s Youth Development and Empowerment work, as well as the Center’s faith-based recruitment efforts, working with partners to identify, build, and advance joint initiatives to better serve youth and families throughout the County. Lizzie has both private sector and political experience, formerly serving in the Office of Scheduling and Advance for President Barack Obama and working at Facing History and Ourselves, a major educational nonprofit organization. She is a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center and Bates College.
President & CEO, The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation
Wendy has played an integral role in the life of the Parsons Foundation, becoming President and CEO in 2008 after working for the Foundation for more than twenty years.
Wendy is currently Chair of the Los Angeles County Commission for Children and Families, serves on the advisory board of the Center for Philanthropy and Public Policy at USC, is Vice Chair of LA Partnership for Early Childhood Investment, and serves on the LA Coalition for the Economy & Jobs. She is a founding member of the Non-Profit Sustainability Initiative, the Los Angeles County Center for Strategic Partnerships, and the Los Angeles County Arts Recovery Fund.
Wendy formerly served as Chair of Southern California Grantmakers, helping transform the organization into an engine of collaboration and transformation increasing membership from 100 to more than 300. She was also on the board of the Broad Stage, First 5 Los Angeles, and The Trusteeship, the local affiliate of the International Women’s Forum. As a member of the Women’s Leadership Board at the Harvard Kennedy School, she traveled with delegations to Egypt and South Africa.
Prior to joining the Parsons Foundation, Wendy was Executive Director of the Los Angeles Child Care and Development Council, Program Manager at Children’s Home Society of Orange County, and founding staff member of the children’s nonprofit Crystal Stairs.
Wendy is a sought-after speaker and panelist at local, national and international meetings. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois and has a master’s in urban planning from UCLA.
Vice President, The Montecito Journal Media Group
Daniel Heimpel is an award-winning journalist, philanthropy expert and educator (U.C. Berkeley, USC and UPenn). He is currently the executive editor of The Giving List, a magazine and website that connects exceptional nonprofits with high-capacity individual and institutional donors. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Interim Director, Los Angeles County Department of Children & Family Services
Brandon Nichols became Acting Director of DCFS in April 2022. He is well respected throughout Los Angeles County and is an accomplished professional with more than 20 years of expertise in child welfare, foster care, adoptions, and mental health.
Mr. Nichols previously served the DCFS as Chief Deputy Director and Acting Director. Prior to that, Brandon served as an attorney for the Los Angeles County Counsel’s Office where he represented and advised DCFS for a number of years. Most recently, Mr. Nichols played a significant role in efforts to provide mental health services to inmates throughout the Los Angeles County jails, and worked as the Executive Director of the County's Jail Closure Implementation Team that focused on decarcerating and closing the Men's Central Jail.