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September 11, 2015

Cecilia Laiché
The California Wellness Foundation
(818) 702-1911

Cal Wellness Announces New Management in Finance, Operations and Human Resources

Pictured from left to right: Cal Wellness Chief Operating and Financial Officer Margaret (Peggy) W. Minnich, Cal Wellness Director of Human Resources Gail Watts, and Cal Wellness Director of Financial Planning and Reporting Rochelle Witharana.

Woodland Hills (CA) – The California Wellness Foundation (Cal Wellness) has appointed management staff who will help to lead the Finance and Operations Department and the Human Resources Department.

The staff appointments are:

  • Margaret (Peggy) W. Minnich, promoted to chief operating and financial officer;
  • Gail Watts, hired as director of human resources; and
  • Rochelle Witharana, hired as director of financial planning and reporting.

“Our staff provides that vital link between our grantees and the funding they need to do their work. Each staff member is dedicated to implementing Cal Wellness’ mission and goals on a daily basis,” said Judy Belk, president and CEO. “I am looking forward to working with Peggy in her new capacity, and I welcome Gail’s and Rochelle’s contributions as we work to advance wellness for all Californians.”

As the Foundation’s chief operating and financial officer, Minnich oversees all finance, information technology, grants management and administrative activities. She is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the Foundation, and, working closely with the CEO, helps develop and implement Cal Wellness’ vision and strategies. Her full biography is available here.

Watts works in conjunction with the Foundation’s president and CEO to oversee all human resource and talent management functions. This includes developing and administering employee compensation and benefit plans, policies and procedures. She is also responsible for driving professional growth, performance management and development of programs that support the Foundation’s human resources’ infrastructure. To learn more about Watts, read her full biography.

Witharana is responsible for the development of the annual operating budget and preparation of all financial and management reporting, including Cal Wellness’ tax and regulatory filings. She also oversees cash management, investment portfolio performance, rebalancing, and implementation of, and compliance with, the Foundation’s investment policy. Her full biography can be found here.

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 sector.

Since its founding in 1992, Cal Wellness has awarded 7,690 grants totaling more than $912 million.

Our Work

  • We use our resources to advance our mission through grantmaking, investments, sharing our learning and lifting our voice.
  • We fund direct services that address the urgent needs people are facing in their communities, particularly the needs of low-income individuals, people of color, youth and residents of rural areas.
  • We recognize, encourage and strengthen leaders to be powerful agents of change.
  • We support advocacy and civic engagement so that communities can build power and create public policies that reflect their vision, will and needs.
  • We trust and invest in nonprofit organizations so that they can operate at full capacity.
  • We partner with community-led organizations, philanthropic organizations, businesses, government and individuals who want to improve health and wellness for Californians.

Our Mission

To protect and improve the health and wellness of the people of California by increasing access to health care, quality education, good jobs, healthy environments and safe neighborhoods.

The California Wellness Foundation • City National Plaza, 515 S. Flower Street, Suite 1100 • Los Angeles, CA, 90071 • Tel: (818)­ 702–1900

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