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Jan. 17 – The California Wellness Foundation announced the hiring of two senior leaders deeply connected to the communities we serve: Alex Johnson, who will rejoin the foundation as vice president of public affairs, and Veronica Carrizales as its new managing director of programs.
Alex Johnson Returns to Cal Wellness as Vice President of Public Affairs
Johnson is returning to Cal Wellness after serving as vice president at Bryson Gillette, a strategic communications and public affairs firm where he led efforts to support clients working to create social change across multiple sectors, including education, government, philanthropy, and nonprofits. Before his time at Bryson Gillette, Johnson served as a senior leader at Cal Wellness for four years.
“I’m thrilled to have Alex return to our team,” Cal Wellness President and CEO Richard Tate said. “His direct experience in our work will help advance our public affairs activities in alignment with our mission, values, grantmaking and endowment investments, and his relationships with communities across California will make the foundation’s work richer and more effective.”
During his previous tenure at Cal Wellness, Johnson served in various grantmaking roles and directed work for the foundation’s long-standing commitment to gun violence prevention. His experience also includes serving as managing director of Californians for Safety and Justice, where he oversaw legislative engagement, alliance-building, communications and programmatic efforts in California.
“Throughout my career I have sought to help advance racial and health equity, and I envision my new role at Cal Wellness as a tremendous opportunity to continue that unequivocal commitment in service to the community,” Johnson said. “Moreover, I am excited about working across the foundation and with our partners to lead our policy advocacy, community relations, communications and storytelling strategies in furtherance of our North Star — advancing wellness for the people of California.”
Johnson will lead the public affairs department at Cal Wellness, a diverse team of professionals focused on government relations, community engagement and strategic communications. He will also serve as a member of the foundation’s management team and report directly to the CEO. Johnson will be based in the Cal Wellness’ Los Angeles office and will begin his role on Jan. 30.
Veronica Carrizales Joins As Managing Director of Programs
Carrizales has more than 25 years’ experience in community organizing and coalition-building. She has spent the past 15 years with California Calls, a powerful statewide alliance of community-based organizations spanning urban, rural, and suburban counties across the state. As a widely respected social justice leader, she has led efforts tied to California Call’s policy priorities of funding public services, improving government effectiveness, reforming the tax system to improve equity, and investing in economic development that results in good jobs that bring dollars into all communities. Prior to her work at California Calls, she served as a labor specialist at the UC Berkeley Labor Center advocating for low-wage workers. Her lived experience growing up in the Coachella Valley in a migrant farmworker family has fueled her passion as a social justice advocate.
“Veronica is a trusted partner to community organizations across California,” Lori Cox, vice president of programs, said. “We recognize her alignment with Cal Wellness’ mission and values and know we’ll benefit from her strategic leadership in the years ahead.”
As managing director of programs, Carrizales will help integrate grantmaking strategies across the Advancing Wellness portfolios, enhance the grant review process, and pilot potential solutions in collaboration with grantees and other community partners. She will begin on Feb. 6. Carrizales will be based in Cal Wellness’ Los Angeles office, from where she will report to Cox and collaborate with staff and partners across the state.
“Having grown up in the Inland Empire in an economically and racially segregated community, I have dedicated my life’s work to improving the health and wellness of low-income Californians by working on policy issues that address the root causes of poverty and structural racism,” Carrizales said. “I am excited to bring my experience to Cal Wellness and look forward to working in partnership with community organizations.”
About the California Wellness Foundation
With $1 billion in assets, Cal Wellness is one of the state’s largest public health philanthropies. The foundation awards approximately $50 million annually in grants and program-related investments that promote health equity, justice and advocacy for communities and individuals whose lives and wellness are too often determined by their race, income, immigration status or where they live.