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Leaders in Belonging

On January 17, 2024, Prebys Foundation, the largest private foundation in the San Diego region, announced the 2024 recipients of its new Leaders in Belonging initiative. The effort provides unrestricted awards of $100,000 each to five community advocates working to advance inclusion, justice, and sustainability in the greater San Diego region. This annual award is designed to provide leaders with vital support that will allow them to continue their work and help them build movements for change.

2024 Leaders in Belonging Awards Recipients

Click on each image to read a short bio and profile for each awardee.

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Empowering youth through cultural connection and expression

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Cultivating community resilience through urban agriculture

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Amplifying access to reproductive health care through education and technology

Isabel - Final.jpg

Revolutionizing patient care through medical innovation

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Advancing health equity through community-driven initiatives

About the Initiative

  • What is the Leaders in Belonging Initiative?
    The inaugural recipients of the Leadership in Belonging Initiative work in a variety of areas that the Prebys Foundation has committed to supporting, including medical research, health care, youth success, and the visual and performing arts. The foundation, and its selection committee, is inspired by these leaders who are shaping the narrative around the type of leadership the region will need to meet the challenges of the years ahead. The initiative is designed to connect the foundation to a larger network of community expertise and knowledge. Prebys Foundation is dedicated to helping create an inclusive, equitable, and dynamic future for all San Diegans. The foundation believes that investing in and celebrating these leaders will strengthen their efforts and contribute to a more connected and welcoming region. Annually, Prebys Foundation will name five leaders with a track record of building a spirit of equity and belonging in San Diego in the fields of medical research, health care, youth success, and the arts. The five leaders chosen for the award will each receive $100,000 in unrestricted funding.
  • How does the Foundation define Belonging?
    We use the definition offered by the Othering and Belonging Institute, namely: “a world based on inclusion, fairness, justice, and care for the earth.” “The concept of belonging describes more than a feeling of inclusion or welcome. Its full power is as a strategic framework for addressing ongoing structural and systemic othering, made visible, for example, in the wide disparities in outcomes found across a variety of sectors and identity groups. Belonging, as OBI defines it, means having a meaningful voice and the opportunity to participate in the design of political, social, and cultural structures that shape one’s life — the right to both contribute and make demands upon society and political institutions. At its core, structural belonging holds a radically inclusive vision because it requires mutual power, access, and opportunity among all groups and individuals within a shared container (such as a society, organization, club, etc).”
  • When will the awardees be announced?
    Awardees for the 2023 cycle will be notified by December. They will be announced publicly in January of 2024.
  • What are the selection criteria?
    Any resident of San Diego County can be nominated. Awardees are selected based on the following criteria: Through work related to one or more of our four focus areas: visual and performing arts, healthcare, medical research, and youth success—the candidate embraces and advances a universal goal that would benefit our entire community. The candidate acknowledges and seeks to improve institutions, practices, or systems that get in the way of achieving that universal goal. The candidate offers solutions and a broadly inclusive vision for why those solutions are worth pursuing. As a leader, the candidate is adept at “bridging,” and connects with different parts of the community, is collaborative, and galvanizes others into action. The candidate has deep experience and expertise related to one or more of our focus areas. The candidate also has lived experience relevant to their work. The candidate’s story is inspiring, and the work they do will benefit from this recognition.
  • Who is on the Selection Committee?
    Selection committee members for the first cycle were: Constance Carroll President and CEO, California Community College Baccalaureate Association; Chancellor Emerita, San Diego Community College District; Prebys Foundation Board Member Irma Cota Immediate Past President & Chief Executive Officer, North County Health Services; Prebys Foundation Board Member Peter Ellsworth, Prebys Foundation Board Member Linda L. Katz, Civic/Social Activist Walter Lam President & Chief Executive Officer, Alliance for African Assistance David Miyashiro Superintendent, Cajon Valley Union School District Grant Oliphant Chief Executive Officer and Prebys Foundation Board Member Crystal Page Director of Communications, Prebys Foundation Staff Member
  • What is the timeline for the process?
    In May of 2023, the foundation invited the community to nominate leaders for consideration. The foundation received a total of 326 nominations. After an initial review by staff, a selection committee made up of members of the San Diego community as well as members of the Prebys Foundation staff and board selected the five awardees. These awardees will be announced in January of 2024.
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