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A Passion for Wellness

It is a pleasure to be the new leader of The California Wellness Foundation. As we move forward with our mission of improving the health of the people of California, I would like to share some thoughts about “wellness” and what has drawn me to this work.

In my view, wellness is a state of optimal health and well-being — achieved through the active pursuit of good health and the removal of barriers to healthy living. While most people would agree that each of us is responsible for developing habits that promote health, one of the things that drew me to The California Wellness Foundation is that, as an institution, it understands that wellness is more than just a personal pursuit.

Wellness encompasses healthy communities that are clean and safe — where people’s basic needs are met, including the availability of high-quality health services and educational opportunities. In addition, a healthy community needs a diverse, vital and innovative economy. In its broadest sense, wellness provides the ability for people and communities to reach their fullest potential. This philosophy is reflected in The California Wellness Foundation’s mission, goals and the health issues prioritized for funding.

I've been fortunate in my career to have worked with mentors and colleagues who have taught me much about California in the past 30-plus years:

  • The experience I gained in rural health early in my career was beneficial in my role as director of the Department of Health Services (DHS) for the State of California.
  • As director of Health and Human Services in Long Beach, I had the opportunity to learn about the city's diversity and about urban challenges that exposed me to innovative approaches to address such social issues as homelessness, substance abuse and violence.
  • While working at both Kaiser Permanente and at DHS on the Medi-Cal program, I developed a much deeper understanding of the issues affecting health care access and quality.

My passion has been about public health and health equity for all. I bring that passion and all of my previous experiences to my new role as President and CEO of The California Wellness Foundation during this exciting and demanding time — as health foundations in California and across the nation are determining how best to use their resources to assist with implementation of health reform.

The California Wellness Foundation is well known as a grantmaker dedicated to improving the health of underserved communities in the state. I know that reputation is built largely on the work of its grantees — nonprofit health organizations that work tirelessly on issues that impact a community’s health. Those efforts have reduced suffering and improved the quality of life among many vulnerable people in this state.

Working together, we can help our communities during these difficult economic times. Let’s strive to create optimal health for all Californians.


Diana M. Bontá, R.N., Dr.P.H.
President and CEO
The California Wellness Foundation


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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