FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 10, 2014
Adriana Godoy Leiss
The California Wellness Foundation
Beltrán-del Olmo created a pioneering multilingual communications program at the Foundation and introduced its journalistic storytelling tradition.
Woodland Hills (CA) – Magdalena Beltrán-del Olmo has announced her retirement as vice president of communications of The California Wellness Foundation. Her last day at the Foundation will be February 6, 2015. She plans to devote more time to her son, Francisco, and continuing her leadership in autism advocacy.
Judy Belk, Cal Wellness’ president and CEO, expressed her deep appreciation for Beltrán-del Olmo, who introduced the Foundation to a journalistic storytelling tradition in the 1990s when the concept was new to philanthropy. Beltrán-del Olmo strategically implemented a first-rate, multilingual communications program that embraces the dynamic diversity of West Coast news media.
“Although I’ve only had the opportunity to work side-by-side with Magdalena for nine months, for years I’ve admired from afar the growth and impact of the Foundation’s far-reaching communications efforts under her leadership,” Belk said. “I wish her well as she devotes her time, passion and talents to her son and to increasing community knowledge about autism and being a voice for the cause.”
Beltrán-del Olmo joined the Foundation in August 1996 as its first director of communications and was appointed vice president in April 2002. She built the nationally recognized, multilingual program that forged new territory by leveraging the Foundation’s clout and resources to elevate the work of grantees and the voices of unsung nonprofit leaders. She also played a key collaborative role in the Foundation’s landmark public education campaigns focused on violence prevention and teenage pregnancy prevention.
“I thank the Board and staff for 18 ½ wonderful years of teamwork and camaraderie,” Beltrán-del Olmo said. “I am proud of our legacy of pursuing the Foundation’s mission to improve Californians’ health and wellness. Over the past few months, I’ve seen how Judy’s dynamic vision will take the Foundation to new levels.”
Beltrán-del Olmo has served as an ambassador for the Foundation, having held several leadership positions throughout the nonprofit world, including service on the boards of the Communications Network, Hispanics in Philanthropy and, most recently, Southern California Grantmakers. She was appointed by the California State Senate to serve as a commissioner for the nation’s first blue ribbon panel on autism. Her full biography is here.
Beltrán-del Olmo expressed that, down the road, she may explore a possible “encore career” in efforts that will support low-income, underserved families that are disproportionately affected by autism. She pointed out that the spectrum disorder is now recognized as the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the United States.
However, she notes that her priority now is Francisco, whose father, the late Frank del Olmo, wrote annual Christmas columns in the Los Angeles Times (the first of which can be found here) about the family’s struggle with autism, before his untimely death in 2004. That year, Beltrán-del Olmo continued her late husband’s tradition by writing her own column, “Frankie Finds the Tears for His Father.”
As Beltrán-del Olmo wrote in a column for Los Angeles magazine in 2010, increasing waves of young adults are graduating from early intervention programs every year, and there is a dearth of employment, housing and higher-education services to help them achieve meaningful adult lives.
“Our society is simply not prepared to help the increasing number of adults with autism we see today, which is why I must devote more time to my 22-year-old son.”
Highlights of Beltrán-del Olmo’s work during her nearly 19 years at Cal Wellness are featured in a special tribute section.
The California Wellness Foundation is a private independent foundation created in 1992 with a mission to improve the health of the people of California by making grants for health promotion, wellness education and disease prevention.
On Oct. 1, 2014, Cal Wellness introduced its Advancing Wellness grants program designed to promote equity through advocacy and access. The grantmaking focuses on three interconnected portfolios: Bridging the Gaps in Access and Quality Care; Promoting Healthy and Safe Neighborhoods; and Expanding Education and Employment Pathways. The program also includes the Opportunity Fund to support innovation in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors.
Since its founding in 1992, Cal Wellness has awarded 7,523 grants totaling more than $899 million.